The Perfect Picnic Spots in Minneapolis-Saint Paul
Grab your fully loaded basket or some tasty takeout from a local restaurant and make your way to one of these scenic spots for a memorable meal alfresco.
Autumn in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro region brings many things — changing leaves, cooler temperatures and a desire to spend time outside soaking up the crisp air. And what better way to get outdoors than with a picnic?
The metro area has countless picturesque picnic spots — whether your preferred backdrop is a sandy beach, a shady patch of the forest or an island in the middle of the Mississippi River. Here are our top picks for the perfect picnic spots.
Minneapolis boasts several lakeside picnic options, including Lake Hiawatha Park with its 241 acres of greenspace surrounding Lake Hiawatha. After lunch, try your angler’s hand on the fishing pier or take a stroll around the walking path. There’s also Theodore Wirth Regional Park, positioned right on Wirth Lake. Pick up a pizza from Black Sheep Pizza or Broadway Pizza, and after noshing on a few slices and soaking up the breathtaking views, test your bow-and-arrow skills at the park’s archery range. Haybales are provided, but bring your own equipment and targets. Looking for a grab-and-go picnic you can enjoy during a hike instead? Check out Mill Valley Market, located in the Trailhead building in the heart of Theodore Wirth. The market serves up picnics in to-go baskets or totes, and each one comes with a trail map and compass to help you find the perfect spot to enjoy your lunch.
Just northwest of Minneapolis in Maple Grove, you’ll find a superb picnic spot at the Town Green bandshell on Arbor Lake. Bring your own meal or grab takeout from nearby 3 Squares Restaurant or Fiesta Cancun Mexican Grill & Bar. The area offers plenty of greenspace to spread out your blanket, or you can make use of the smaller tables and Adirondack chairs. Watch the ducks and geese gather at the water’s edge, smell the flowers, admire the fall foliage and enjoy stunning sunsets. To cap things off, head a few steps over to the Maple Grove Rotary Music Plaza, which features specially made, weather-resistant instruments that never have to be tuned.
Over in Bloomington, you can order takeout burgers and malts from Snuffy’s Malt Shop and head to Normandale Lake Park. Walk off your lunch on one of the park’s many trails or relax while fishing. Bloomington is also home to Hyland Lake Park Reserve, where you can play 18 holes of disc golf before settling in by the lake for your post-round picnic.
Wolfe Park in St. Louis Park sits right on Wolfe Lake in the heart of the Excelsior & Grand district. Enjoy a lakeside picnic and check out the stunning Veterans’ Memorial Amphitheater. The park features a fishing pier on the lake, so make sure to bring your fishing pole.
Centennial Lakes Park in Edina is one of our favorite spots for an intimate picnic. The park is home to three lakes connected by long, pondlike canals reminiscent of Italy’s famous Venetian waterways. Although you won’t find any gondolas here, you can rent a paddleboat to see the park from the water.
Munch by the Mississippi
The mighty Mississippi River offers a stunning backdrop for outside chowtime, and the metro area has plenty of riverside spots to choose from.
Enjoy city vibes and river views at Boom Island Park in the heart of Minneapolis. For an authentic experience, pick up some delicious seafood from The Anchor Fish & Chips on your way to the island. Can’t get enough of the views? Take a leisurely stroll around the island’s walking path.
But wait, there’s another island picnic option! Raspberry Island is Saint Paul’s last true island and features stunning views of both the river and the city skyline. Grab takeout from Joseph’s Grill and then take the 7-minute drive to the island, which is accessible by car.
Farther north upriver, there’s Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park in Anoka County. Bring your rollerblades or bike and cruise around the river after your picnic.
If you prefer your picnics in the sand rather than the grass, check out the beach at Lake Nokomis Park in Minneapolis. The park offers rentals for several water-based activities, including kayaking, canoeing and sailing. Nearby takeout options include 5-8 Club, Hamburguesas El Gordo and Mel-O-Glaze Bakery.
Is a spectacular sunset a nonnegotiable for your picnic? Head to Antlers Park on Lake Marion in Lakeville. Work up an appetite with a few rounds of horseshoes in the park’s sand horseshoe pits, then use the community grills for a barbecue. Cap off your outing watching the magnificent sunset colors reflect off the lake.
Burnsville’s Crystal Beach is another perfect spot for a sandy picnic. Once you finish eating, challenge your crew to a spirited volleyball match on the sand courts. If you’re feeling courageous enough to brave the cold water, take a dip in the lake’s swimming area to cool down.
For an Instagram-worthy beach picnic, visit Schulze Lake Beach located along the beautiful trails of Lebanon Hills Regional Park. Take a scenic hike or bike ride, then grab a picnic table and grill up your favorite meal at the community grills. Not in the mood to make your own food? Get takeout sandwiches from Mason Jar Kitchen and cupcakes for dessert from Cupcake Bakery, both right down the road from the beach.
Nosh in Nature
If you’re searching for a more traditional picnic spot — something with acres of greenspace and towering trees — we’ve got you covered.
Golden Valley’s Brookview Park offers tree-lined walkways, picnic tables and community grills, as well as playgrounds, and sand volleyball and tennis courts. Three One Six Bar + Grill is just a 7-minute walk from the park, making it a convenient spot to pick up a takeout lunch.
North Valley Park in Inver Grove Heights offers a unique opportunity to fall in love with fall color during your picnic, thanks to its 58 acres of forestland. In addition to plenty of trails, visitors can enjoy a game of disc golf or pickleball.
For a picnic outing the kiddos will love, head to Veterans Park in Richfield. If you’re in the mood for some history, check out the striking memorial dedicated to the country’s veterans in the middle of the park. As the city’s largest park, it’s also home to Wheel Fun Rentals Mini Golf Course and Malt Shop, an 18-hole miniature golf course. Grab a grilled cheese and a malt after your round, then rent a four-wheel double surrey bike — which holds four passengers — and take a family ride. Or split up and rent a couple of three-wheel deuce coupe bikes, which hold two passengers each.