Escape to Adventure! Discover the Great Outdoors in the Twin Cities!
You don’t have to look far to find a great outdoor adventure in the Twin Cities. Minnesota is an outdoor enthusiast’s utopia, filled with recreation opportunities at every turn. From the athlete to the wanderer, the land of lakes and rivers has something for all. Whether it’s meandering along a wooded trail, drifting down the Mississippi in a canoe, or getting your adrenaline pumping on a mountain bike drop – take a look at what outdoor adventures await you in the land of summer fun.
Theodore Wirth Regional Park
The Quaking Bog Walk at Theodore Wirth Regional Park should be on any outdoor enthusiast’s bucket list. The 5-acre bog, tucked into the wooded hills, is crossed by a series of boardwalks floating over islands of sphagnum moss. Dragonflies, frogs, and songbirds are common companions on this nature trek. Expect to see unique mosses, wildflowers, and ferns along the loop which is a family favorite for many. Make sure to bring extra clothes in case the kids get muddy!
Other prime attractions include the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary, home to more than 600 plants and 130 bird species; Wirth Lake, which has a spectacular beach, floating swim dock, fishing pier, sand volleyball court, picnic area, and playground; and 12 miles of single-track, exhilarating mountain bike trails, complete with steep rock climbs, descents, and drops.
Is the heat getting to you? Cool off at Cascade Bay, an award-winning outdoor waterpark featuring summer fun for everyone! Relax in the leisure pool or drift down the lazy river as the sun warms your back. Looking for a little more adventure? Try out one of seven exciting, twisting, and turning waterslides or test out your putting skills on the nine-hole miniature golf course. Little ones have their own special swim time, while those looking for a workout can see what Cardio Bay has to offer. Sand, sun, and splashing await at this summer getaway.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Need a break from the hustle and bustle? Lose yourself in the 14,000 luscious acres of the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Bloomington’s peaceful haven for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and viewing plants and animals. The refuge is one of the only urban wildlife refuges in the United States and is located less than a mile from Mall of America.
More than 45 miles of trails open to hiking, biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing beckon you to see where they might lead. Whether you relish enjoying a quiet moment viewing wildlife, trying your luck with a rod and reel, or learning about the area’s plants and wildlife, this gem in the heart of the south metro is the perfect escape to nature in the big city.
Brookview Golf & Lawn Bowling
If you’ve never tried lawn bowling, what are you waiting for? Check out this fun and relaxing sport at Brookview Golf & Lawn Bowling in beautiful Golden Valley! Similar to bocce ball, lawn bowling is played on a large, rectangular green divided into parallel playing strips. Great for families, this sport is one for all ages and abilities!
And for golfing enthusiasts, Brookview offers both an 18-hole regulation course and a Par 3 9-hole course, fun for beginners. The Regulation Course is mature and moderately bunkered with beautifully maintained greens and fairways. Bassett Creek flows through the course, crossing six holes. Make sure to check out the driving range and golf shop and stop in for a bite at the Three One Six Bar + Grill after an afternoon of hitting the tees.
Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway
Did you know that Minneapolis is consistently named one of the top biking cities in the nation? With numerous bike trails to choose from, you’ll never be bored! We recommend checking out the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a 50-mile route weaving through seven segments of Minneapolis and her breathtaking parks.
The circular byway, which you can bike in segments of course, is the country’s longest continuous system of public urban parkways, taking you through woodlands, wetlands, lagoons, gardens, and along rivers. See beautiful landmarks such as the Minneapolis downtown riverfront, the Mississippi River, the Chain of Lakes, Victory Memorial, or Theodore With Park. Feel like a kid again cruising through town on your bike!
Historic Holz Farm
Experience rural life as it once existed in Eagan at the historic and charming Holz Farm! Bridging past and present, rural and urban, this picturesque 1870s farm offers a walking tour and several events throughout the year that are a step back in time. Be transported to a simpler era filled with nostalgia, country air, and the chance to appreciate the area’s history.
The Spring Festival offers an afternoon of old-fashioned fun Sunday, May 21 with hayrides, house tours, live music, and more! Other events throughout the year that may tickle your fancy include Coffee on the Front Porch, an Old Fashioned Picnic, Cookies & Quilts, Farm to Table Dinner, and Harvest Festival.
The cool mist of crashing Minnehaha Falls on a hot summer’s day will refresh even the weariest of travelers. View the falls from above or adventure down a short stairway to see the 53-foot cascade from below. For the full experience, a 2.1-mile trail brings park visitors from the base of the falls through the Mississippi River Valley and back.
Established in 1889, Minnehaha Regional Park attracts more than 850,000 visitors each year. Don’t let the fun stop at the falls! Photo opportunities abound at three beautiful gardens. The Longfellow Gardens features a replica of Henry Longfellow’s home in Cambridge, Mass. And even your four-legged best friends will have a blast at one of the best off-leash dog parks in the region. Plus, make sure to save time for a stop at the Steven’s House, built in 1849, a round of disc golf, a splash in the wading pool or a paddle down Minnehaha Creek through 22 miles of wetlands, woodlands and cityscape from Lake Minnetonka to MInnehaha Falls.
Caponi Art Park
Art meets nature in a big way at Caponi Art Park, located on 60 acres of rolling, wooded hills in Eagan. The park is designed as a single, unified work of art along meandering trails formed by the natural topography, embedded with pieces along the way. Miles of walking paths, a sculpture garden, the Theater in the Woods amphitheater, and pockets of reflection space create a living work of art in the great outdoors.
Expand your experience by taking in one of many performances throughout the year, finding your inner rockstar in a Pound! class or making it a mission to find all 55 sculptures throughout the park.
Wheel Fun Rentals
Imagine cruising along with your sweetie on a gorgeous summer day near a beautiful lake on a tandem bike. Don’t have one? No problem! Wheel Fun Rentals is the place to go if you’ve ever wanted to try a tandem or surrey bike. Located in Richfield’s Veterans Park, this one-stop-shop has it all for those wanting to experience Minnesota summers on wheels. Pedaling along solo or with family and friends is a relaxing way to see the sights of the Twin Cities after a long winter. The park also features a challenging yet playful 18-hole mini golf course, complete with a malt shop for a tasty treat after perfecting your putting skills. What says summer more than bikes, ice cream, and golf?
Mississippi River Canoe Trips
The outdoors can be enjoyed by anyone, which is the mission of Wilderness Inquiry. If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure in the heart of the Twin Cities, look no further. What better way to explore the mighty Mississippi than on a guided canoe trip! Paddle along in a 24-foot cedar strip canoe captained by an experienced guide. Follow the river’s current as it winds along miles of shoreline, taking in the wildlife and learning the human history of one of America’s greatest rivers. National Park Service rangers join selected trips to provide cultural and natural history interpretations. A shuttle brings paddlers back to their vehicles. Don’t miss out on this safe, fun, family-friendly opportunity to view this beautiful river up close!
Whether it’s sitting on the shores of Lake Bennett taking in a summer concert or watching your kids play on the zipline at the brand-new inclusive playground, there’s a bit of paradise for everyone in Central Park’s six sections. The 225-acre park is divided into six distinct areas connected by beautiful walking trails. Sneak away to the secluded woodlands and wetlands of the North section for a peaceful afternoon stroll. Maybe an afternoon workout in the summer breeze sounds good to you. If so, four fitness pods around the Frog Pond provide outdoor fitness equipment (elliptical, hand-bike, and more) to get those bodies moving in a fun, unique atmosphere. The park is also home to the serene Muriel Suhlin Arboretum and Harriet Alexander Nature Center. If the kids need to burn off energy on the landmark Rocket Slide and you need a place to reenergize, spend an afternoon at Central Park in Roseville. You’ll be glad you did.
Did you know that Igbo is the third most populous Nigerian ethnicity with a large community in the Twin Cities? If learning about new cultures intrigues you, Igbofest is an adventure you won’t want to miss. The free family outdoor festival takes place Aug. 12, 2023 at North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park with a full day of food, fashion, and popular musical acts from the Igbo community.
Try tantalizing African cuisine, shop for African jewelry and apparel at the world market, or see how Igbo crafts are made. Marvel at Igbo dance performances and traditional processions and join in the dancing! Feel like a world traveler by learning about an amazing culture in Brooklyn Park, one of the most diverse cities in the nation.
Roseville in Bloom
“Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m heading to Roseville, want to go too?” Poetry aside, if you’re looking for the ultimate Instagram photo opp amidst colorful pops of art, taking the Roseville in Bloom tour is a Twin Cities bucket list must-do. See the work of Minnesota’s best artists on 6-foot roses scattered throughout Roseville. Each flower is one-of-a-kind and tells a story specific to the artist who gave it life. No two are alike!
This public art trail is sponsored by area businesses. Make a game of seeing how many you can photograph! And make sure to scan the QR code at each rose to find exclusive deals from area businesses. Supporting local businesses and supporting the arts – a win/win.