Minnesota offers a wide variety of parks and gardens for its residents and tourists. These parks feature beautiful scenery, artwork and plant and animal life.

Minnesota is widely known around the state for its dedication to parks and gardens for the public. Many of these facilities are free to the public and feature a wide variety of trails, activities and restaurants that make use of the state’s natural resources. A unique facet of the parks and gardens system throughout the state are the focus on providing an outlet to nature even in urban settings. Some of the most elaborate of Minnesota’s parks and gardens are found within the confines of city limits. Visitors can experience waterfalls, historic sites, sculpture, unique flowers and plant life and even endangered animal exhibits.

Minnehaha Park

An urban retreat for residents and visitors to Minneapolis, Minnehaha Park offers a 193-acre park located in the middle of the city. With approximately 850,000 visitors per year, the park is one of the most popular outdoor attractions in the metropolitan area. Situated along the limestone bluffs of a tributary of the Mississippi River, Minnehaha is most recognized for a 53-foot waterfall that leads into the waterway. Paths around the area allow people to enjoy natural wild flowers and plant life such as oak and maple trees, very similar to how the site appeared for generations.

Various historic attractions are also located in the park, including a replica of the Longfellow House from Massachusetts and a 1849 house that was the first wood frame residence for Europeans west of the Mississippi in Minnesota. Sculptures and art also decorate the park, allowing bikers and pedestrians to explore as they traverse the long trails. Families and individual visitors can also make use of the picnic shelters, wading pool, volleyball court and off-leash dog park. There is also a seafood restaurant on location, the Sea Salt Eatery, open from April through October each year. Minnehaha Park is open year round and free to the public.

Minnehaha Park

4801 South Minnehaha Park Dr.

Minneapolis, MN 55417

612-230-6400

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

Located near the Walker Art Center and Loring Park in the urban center of the city, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a site that features a number of artistic pieces placed within a green atmosphere of tall bushes, flowers and trees. Large metal structures are located throughout the gardens, each representing different styles from different artists. One of the crowning pieces has become a major iconic image for the entire state: the Spoonbridge and Cherry, a large spoon with a cherry.

The 11-acre site also features a tropical greenhouse called the Cowles Conservatory, giving Minnesota residents and tourists a chance to experience palm trees as well as equatorial plant life and flowers throughout the year. The outdoor sculpture garden is open year long from 6AM until Midnight, while the conservatory is open 10AM to 5PM Tuesday through Sunday. The entire park is free to the public.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Cowles Conservatory

726 Vineland Pl

Minneapolis, MN 55403

612-230-6400

Como Park

Owned and operated by the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation division, the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory is a 384-acre park located within the city. Visitors can experience a wide range of attractions geared towards all age groups. The facility offers a large area surrounding Como Lake dedicated to family and individual activities. Visitors can make use of 1.67 miles of paved paths, a fishing pier, picnic shelters, pavilions, paddleboat rentals, an amusement park, a golf course, a historic carousel, the Black Bear Crossing restaurant and mini-golf. The zoo offers an exploration of animal life housed in art deco facilities.

Como features a seal island, a large cat exhibit, a variety of aquatic life, primates, birds, African hoofed animals and polar bears. The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is a half acre indoor and outdoor facility with a number of different wings dedicated to a variety of plant life including bonsai trees, ferns, orchids and seasonal flowers. The park itself is open year round. During the winter, the zoo and conservatory are open from 10AM until 4PM. During the summer, hours are extended until 6PM. Admission is free to the public, however a $2 donation is suggested for adults and $1 for children.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

1225 Estabrook Drive

Saint Paul, MN 55103

651-487-8200

Resources

“John H. Stevens House” Minneapolis Parks and Recreation: http://www.minneapolisparks.org/default.asp?PageID=4&parkid=274

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