5 Best Parks To Check Out In Minnesota (2023)
The beautiful state of Minnesota is home to 67 state parks and one national park. With over 10,000 lakes and tallgrass prairies, there are many parks in Minnesota that are known for their unique and fantastic range of landscapes. So whether you are visiting Rochester, Duluth, the Twin Cities, or the North Shore, you will never be too far away from a park. And within these magnificent parks, you can enjoy experiences like hiking to a waterfall, running into a herd of buffaloes, or climbing a fire tower. Throughout the year and in every season, the stunning natural spaces of Minnesota offer visitors many opportunities to explore and admire.
5 Best Parks To Check Out In Minnesota
Here are some of the best parks to check out in Minnesota.
1. Voyageurs National Park
The Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota is one of the most famous national parks in the Midwest. The park was named after the French-Canadian fur traders that used to frequent this area in the past. The park is primarily made up of rugged terrain, but it is mainly defined by water. The majority of the park is made from the confluence of four major lakes on the US-Canadian border.
Set against the backdrop of a stunning southern boreal forest, the park is spread over 218,000 acres. Established in 1975, the park welcomes 250,000 visitors every year, all of whom flock to the park to engage in the various outdoor activities available here. There are 282 camping sites that are perfect for RV, tent, or even houseboat camping, depending on your personal preference. You will find many anglers flocking to this park to fish for bluegill, largemouth bass, lake trout, and many other species of fish. You will find that nearly all of the lakes in the park are open for fishing. Some of the other activities you can enjoy while here include boating, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing. This is also a great spot for bird watching. There are over 50 miles of trails available that let you explore the park’s interior peninsula and backcountry.
It is possible to reach the visitor’s center of the park by car, but the Kabetogama Peninsula and the heart of this national park can only be accessed by boat, plane, or by crossing the frozen lake during the winter months. Many visitors often opt to stay at the city of International Falls to make it their launching point for exploring this national park.
There are several historical sites located here, including the Ellsworth Rock Gardens that are well worth exploring, along with the many trails and ecosystems that can be found throughout the park.
To make the most of your trip, it is best to spend a couple of nights at one of the campsites here, which can only be accessed through boat travel. There are also several public and private campgrounds located on the inland shores of the park that cater to car camping.
If you have a few extra days to spare, take the time to explore the many shorelines, smaller lakes, and inlets of the Voyageurs. This national park is also one of the best places to catch some of the most brilliant starscapes in the US, including the stunning full spectrum of the aurora borealis.
2. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a unique park located in the heart of Minneapolis. Spread over an area of 11 acres (4.5 hectares), this stunning park is located near the Walker Art Center. The park was reopened recently in June 2017 after undergoing a series of reconstructions that unified the Walker and Sculpture Garden into one 19 acre campus. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is one of the biggest urban sculpture gardens in the United States, having over 40 permanent art installations and many other temporary pieces of art that are moved in and out of the garden from time to time. The garden attracts millions of visitors every year who come from near and far to view the iconic works on display here, including Spoonbridge and Cherry. Other notable installations include Wind Chime by Pierre Huyghe and Hahn/Cock by Katharina Fritsch.
The centerpiece of the garden is the famous Spoondbridge and Cherry fountain that has been designed by husband and wife Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden was designed by Edward Larrabee Barnes and landscape architects Quinnel and Rothschild.
3. Minnehaha Park
Another green space located in Minneapolis, the Minnehaha Park, is a famous city park that graces one-half of the Twin Cities. The park is home to the Minnehaha Falls, and the lower reaches of the Minnehaha Creek flows through here. Officially known as the Minnehaha Regional Park, the park is an integral part of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board system and is located inside the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Landscape architect Horace W. S. Cleveland designed the Minnehaha Park in 1883 as part of the Grand Round Scenic Byway System. In the 1800s, this park was part of the famous steamboat Upper Mississippi River ‘Fashionable Tour’.
The park is an important historic site as it is home to many preserved ancient sites, including the Minnehaha Princess Station, which was a Victorian train depot constructed in the 1870s; the Longfellow House, which was built to resemble the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s house in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and the John H. Stevens House that was built in 1849 and moved to this part in 1896.
Of course, the main feature of the park is the Minnehaha Falls, which is a favorite spot for many photographers. This waterfall is so famous that there is even a poem dedicated to this fall – The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The waterfall is located on Minnehaha Creek, close to the confluence with the majestic Mississippi River, near Fort Snelling.
4. Teddy Water Park
The Teddy Bear Park in Stillwater is an excellent outing for the entire family. The park is free and open to the public all through the summers. The park features a giant teddy bear and a tree with multiple slides, bridges, a rock wall, a train designed for small kids, and sandboxes. The park has many equipments for very young kids, which makes it great for families with infants and toddlers. There is also an amphitheater here that hosts many children’s programs throughout the summer. You can even pack a picnic lunch here as there are three round picnic tables located north of the main building. There is also a gazebo with benches.
5. Barn Bluff
Barn Bluff, or He Mni Can-Barn Bluff, is one of the most popular natural features along the upper Mississippi River. This is a popular green space that is important to the area not only for its geology but also due to its association with native and prehistoric people. Barn Bluff was also important for the exploration of the entire upper Mississippi region during the early 19th century. This location was used for travel, tourism, recreation, and industrial use from the mid-19th century to now. The bluff later even served as a limestone quarry.
Barn Bluff overlooks the downtown area of the town of Red Wing and towers around 400 feet above the majestic Mississippi River, providing some stunning views of Lake Pepin to the south.