Top 10 Parks for Every Occasion in Minneapolis
In Minneapolis, we have no shortage of parks, no matter what setting you're looking for. Click below to check out 10 “Perfect Parks” (and one Bonus Park) to match your occasion, or just to reconnect with nature.
Please note, because of the warming weather and new restrictions regarding COVID-19, a lot of Minnesotans are taking to the outdoors for a breath of fresh air and a break from their homes. This means walkways and popular outdoor locations are likely to be busier than usual. Please continue to practice social distancing in these settings, remaining at least 6 feet away from passerbys and others near you.
Perfect park for a nature getaway: Mississippi River Gorge Regional Park
Want a quick getaway into the wilds of nature without driving for hours Up North? This Mississippi River Park is just minutes away from the city. The wooded shoreline brings you up close to the legendary Mississippi as it meanders in the shadow of the downtown skyline. Take a leisurely walk along the picturesque Gorge Trail (an easy three-miler) in the company of birds and wildlife. Plus, your fur-baby (dogs on leash) is welcome on the trail, too. As you immerse yourself into these beautiful surroundings, instantly feel the calm and serenity of the woods, wildflowers and river gorges. You’ll feel the Zen from this nature getaway and let the to-do lists wait another day.
Perfect park for a quick urban escape: Gold Medal Park
When you need an immediate break from the hurry-up pace of work or craziness of life in general — discover Gold Medal Park, a slice of green space and sunshine in the downtown Mill District. This 7.5 acre park pleasantly disrupts the skyline as a quick urban escape. You’ll marvel at the spiral sidewalk leading to a 32” mound and an urban forest of 200+ trees, with artsy sculptures dotting the landscape. Snap your pics of the Mississippi River, the historic Stone Arch Bridge and the famed Guthrie Theater nearby! Plus, we bet you’ll want to grab an ice cream at Izzy's and lounge on the series of stylized benches that invite you to linger and contemplate what’s next.
Perfect park for the coming of Spring: Loring Park
If you yearn for warm and sunny days, let us introduce you to Loring Park. Loring is the “Central Park” of Minneapolis, a hip gathering spot midway between downtown and uptown (just walk across the architecturally bold Loring Greenway Bridge). Stroll the pathways along the three-tiered Gardens of the Seasons and feel the splashing water of Berger Fountain. The chill vibe will make you forget that you're in the heart of a bustling city. Try out horseshoes, checkers and chess games (a regular park ritual), play with your dog, or do yoga. Grab some tasty take-out from a local cafe and meet up for a picnic, or enjoy an outdoor concert.
Perfect park for Summer in bloom: Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary
Where do you find the idyllic summer garden in the heart of the city? Make tracks to Eloise Butler — a wildflower garden and nature getaway, that for more than a century, has been devoted to the gorgeous blooms of summer. You’ll go ga-ga over Showy Lady Slippers orchids, native irises, cardinal flowers; prairie asters, sunflowers, blazing stars, and goldenrod. Even if you don’t know plant names, their kaleidoscopic colors will draw you in. You’ll be surrounded by the sights and smells of summer while walking a short, winding trail among thousands of wildflowers and native plants in woodlands, marshes and prairie grasses. Listen for songbirds and warblers, too. Squeezed for time? A quick visit is doable in an hour.
Perfect park for Fall color on the river: St. Anthony Falls Park and Nicollet Island
You don’t need to go far to find perfect Fall colors on the river…especially when we turn you on to St. Anthony Falls Park and Nicollet Island, right in the center of downtown. You’ll see wonderful vistas of the legendary Mississippi River and downtown skyline and hear the roar of the majestic St. Anthony Falls even before you see it. Fall color bursts of purple, crimson, orange and gold along tree-lined landscapes create classic Insta-worthy photos. Take a trek on downtown trails--St. Anthony Falls Heritage Loop (1.8 miles) and Nicollet Island Loop (2.1 miles). Check out historic Main Street including theater, shops, restaurants, live music, and plenty of nightlife.
Perfect park for Winter fun: Theodore Wirth Regional Park
If you’re in search of a cool winter adventure, explore the hot spot of winter fun — Theodore Wirth Park, with acres of city forest and trails. Follow your “Bold North” mantra to get out and embrace the outdoors. Try out cross-country skiing or snowboarding (lessons and rentals available) or snowshoe trails. Revert to your inner child and go tubing or sledding. Enjoy being in nature with a woodsy backdrop, and then look up and catch a birds-eye views of the downtown skyline. Indoor winter fun won’t disappoint either, with Wirth Chalet for tasty morsels, adult beverages, fireplaces to warm up, and cozy spots for conversation.
Perfect for a historical walk in the park: Mill Ruins Park and Stone Arch Bridge
At Mill Ruins Park, the city’s birthplace, you’ll see historic walls of flour mills and discover 1800s Minneapolis as the world’s powerhouse flour producer near Saint Anthony Falls. At historic Stone Arch Bridge, you can walk the length of this stone marvel before staking out a prime viewing spot to ooh and aah over the stunning view of the downtown skyline. Afterward, head to nearby Main Street and Nicollet Island eateries and pubs.
Most romantic park: Lyndale Park Garden
Where is the most beautiful place in town to stroll with your sweetie? We propose to you, Lyndale Park Garden, a 1.5 acres park on the northeast side of Lake Harriet, and holy grail of beautiful gardens. In Spring, thousands of blooming tulips speak the language of love. In Summer, you’ll be surrounded by thousands of roses, the ultimate flowers of love. In Fall, wildflowers and buzz-worthy pollinator-friendly plants add more sweetness to your words of love. Be sure to check out the grand Heffelfinger Fountain or nearby Peace Garden (with Japanese bridge and crane sculpture).
Perfect park for family picnic and outdoor fun: Minnehaha Falls Park
If you’re in search of the perfect family picnic spot, make it Minnehaha Falls Park. This 167-acre park has public grills for your picnic barbecuing, playgrounds for the kiddos, botanical gardens to explore, and plenty of space to spread out. But first, you’ll feel the mist before setting eyes on the majestic 53’ waterfall. Take the staircase trail to the base of the falls for an Insta-worthy photo. Check out popular Sea Salt Eatery right next to the falls for fish tacos, beers, wines (April -Oct.)
Perfect “best kept secret” park: Tower Hill Park and Witches Hat Observation Deck
If you’re wishing for a park that is off the radar, we think Tower Hill Park fits the bill. Although this 4.7-acre park has been around for more than a century, it’s still a ‘best kept secret,’ better known to locals. Because of the park’s wooded and hilly terrain, you’ll see amazing views of the city skyline. You’ll love the prairie garden, the tower’s historical arches and green spires, and the “Witches Hat” observation deck. If you want to climb the stairs to the 110’ octagon-shaped observation deck with Romanesque window-design, it’s open only on the first Friday after Memorial Day weekend, as part of the Pratt elementary school annual ice-cream social fundraiser.
Bonus Park! Perfect park for your best friend: Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park
In search of the “best of” urban escape for you and your dog? Your fur-baby will show total devotion when you head to this favorite-of-many off-leash dog park — located on the south side of popular Minnehaha Regional Park. You and poochie can play on more than six acres of partially fenced parkland including woods and trails. Head to the beach for some fun in the sand and river wading. Bring drinking water and dog waste bags, as none are supplied at the park. Enter at East 54th Street and Hiawatha side of Minnehaha Park only. Open 6 a.m. – 10 p.m. Dogs must be vaccinated. Purchase $5 daily permit online (or annual permit).