Now that the sun has finally come out, it’s time to start planning some activities to enjoy while it’s warm. Sure, there’s plenty of camping and boating to be had, but what about something that requires a little less planning? Each of these 13 outdoor activities is completely free. The only thing you have to do is show up!
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Minneapolis Sculpture Garden - Minneapolis
At long last, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center will reopen in June 2017. The renovation will bring many exciting changes to the beloved garden, but they won't change the fact that it will always be an ideal place to spend a warm day.
Address: 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis.
2. Duluth Rose Garden - Duluth
Duluth has plenty of great outdoor activities, too. Besides strolling through Canal Park as you wait for ships to come in, a great option is the Duluth Rose Garden. A Duluth landmark for over 50 years, it's a beautiful place to stroll. The best part? You'll have a spectacular view of Lake Superior between the roses.
Address: 13th Avenue East & London Road, Duluth.
3. Como Park Zoo & Conservatory - St. Paul
St. Paul's Como Zoo may be the most perfect Minnesota attraction. In the winter, the greenhouses are a warm place to escape the elements. And in warmer months, the beautiful park is a fantastic place to stroll. While donations are appreciated, the park is completely free to enter.
Address: 1225 Estabrook Drive, St. Paul.
4. Minnehaha Park - Minneapolis
With plenty of greenery, walking trails, and of course the gorgeous Minnehaha Falls, Minnehaha Regional Park is an ideal outdoor activity. Whether you choose to stay up top or climb the stairs to the very bottom, you'll get a great view. And if you're too hot from all that walking, you're in luck: on a windy day, count on the mists of Minnehaha Falls to cool you.
Address: 4801 South Minnehaha Drive, Minneapolis.
5. Franconia Sculpture Park - Shafer
This Minnesota sculpture park is a bit more quirky than the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. But that's what makes it so fun. Dozens of whimsical works populate an otherwise empty field in Shafer, Minnesota. Visitors are free to photograph, climb, and otherwise interact with the sculptures however they see fit. One of the most beloved pieces is the wacky, colorful playground, complete with a swing!
Address: 29836 St. Croix Trail, Shafer.
6. Alexander Ramsey Park - Redwood Falls
Alexander Ramsey Park is the largest municipal park in Minnesota. It comes complete with a beautiful waterfall that you can view from below or above. Other features of the park include picnic areas, trails, and even a zoo.
Address: 99 East Oak Street, Redwood Falls.
7. Park Point Beach - Duluth
On a sunny day, Park Point is probably the best place in all of Duluth. A walk up a tall, sandy hill leads to a breathtaking view of Lake Superior. You'll also be able to rows of houses stacked up on the hill in Duluth. After taking in the view, time to swim! Lake Superior is notoriously cold, but it may be warm enough to dip a toe or two in.
8. Garvin Heights Park - Winona
This park isn't very well known in Greater Minnesota, but it offers an unbeatable view of one of Minnesota's prettiest cities. Follow a half-mile road up the bluff, then get out to walk the rest of the way on foot. When you reach the top of the hill, you'll be greeted by a million-dollar view of Winona - for free.
Address: Garvin Heights Road, Winona.
9. Hawk Ridge - Duluth
Here's another hilltop destination with a stunning view. Hawk Ridge rises high over Duluth, offering visitors a chance to see over the tops of trees to Lake Superior far below. The area is actually a popular bird-watching location, so bring your binoculars. You're bound to spot hawks, eagles, and more.
Address: 3980 East Skyline Parkway, Duluth.
10. Munsinger Clemens Gardens - St. Cloud
The Munsinger Clemens Gardens offer a peaceful oasis in an otherwise busy city. A stroll along the paths lined with flowers, shrubs, and trees is a perfect chance to unwind. Visit during a music event for an added dose of beauty.
Address: 1515 Riverside Drive Southeast, St. Cloud.
11. Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge - Rochert
Way up in northwestern Minnesota, forest and prairie join in this stunning wildlife refuge. It hosts hundreds of species of plants and animals over more than 40,000 acres of land. Visitors are free to travel alongside marshes and through forests offer up-close glimpses of migratory birds.
Address: 36716 County Road 26, Rochert.
12. Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden - Minneapolis
This garden is actually located in Theodore Wirth Regional Park in Minneapolis. It's a colorful display of Minnesota's native wildflowers, including bluebells, lady's-slippers, sunflowers, and more. Birds and butterflies also make homes in the park.
Address: 1 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Minneapolis.
13. Chain of Lakes Regional Park - Minneapolis
Chain of Lakes may be the most popular park in all of Minneapolis. Miles of walking and biking trails connect six lakes, each with its own personality. Whether you're looking for a busy lake full of people watching or a more quiet experience, you'll find it in the Chain of Lakes.
Address: Shorelines of Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet, Minneapolis.