Search Results For -playground

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20 Twin Cities Beaches, Parks & Playgrounds to Try This Summer
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Nature Playgrounds in the Twin Cities – Get Back to Green
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Cavell Playground, Minneapolis

20 Twin Cities Beaches, Parks & Playgrounds to Try This Summer

Tired of heading out to the same old swimming spot? Culled from reader suggestions, our own summer jaunts to the beach, and other fun attractions we’ve been visiting over the past month, we’ve assembled 20 of the best Twin Cities beaches and swimming holes we think are worth checking out. But hurry; as we know all too well here in Minnesota, beach season won’t stick around much longer.

Please note: Inevitably, there will be some closures, changes and cancellations. Please always call or check ahead to confirm an activity before heading out.

20 Twin Cities Beaches, Parks & Playgrounds to Try This Summer

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Nature Playgrounds in the Twin Cities – Get Back to Green

Nature Playgrounds are a growing trend for good reason; scientists keep finding connections between nature to child development and well-being.


It used to be, according to my children, that in order for a park to be authentic, it needed at least a slide and a set of swings. I was less enthusiastic about taking them to places like state parks simply because I felt I’d have to go the extra mile to “prove” that playing and exploring in a natural environment could be just as fun as clambering around a commercially manufactured jungle gym. Don’t get me wrong – the local playgrounds can be a lot of fun, too. And some are really inventive! But I have to say that I get a deeper satisfaction from watching them play in a more natural setting: digging, figuring out how to climb that tree, following paths, building forts. They become immersed in tossing rocks into the water, scouting frogs, collecting wildflowers. They also gradually forget that “playing at the park” requires a plastic treehouse.

So here’s what I find really cool: incorporating natural elements into new playground designs seems to be the trend. More places are popping up where kids get the opportunity to interact with the landscape and, perhaps, develop a greater appreciation for it. Here are 11 places I’ve discovered that have those goals in mind:

Note: Some of these nature playgrounds maybe be closed during mandatory closures in Spring of 2020 but hiking and walking paths should still be available. Please call ahead before visiting anywhere during this time.


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Cavell Playground, Minneapolis

Cavell Playground, a quiet neighborhood park in NE Minneapolis, was built into a hillside near one of the highest points in the city.

  • Cavell Playground Chess Table
  • Cavell Playground Equipment
  • Cavell Playground Equipment
  • Cavell Playground Sand Factory
  • Cavell Playground - 4Square and Hopscotch
  • Cavell Playround Sign

Besides a playground and a tot lot, this park offers tennis courts and a baseball field. The tot lot includes a structure we call the “sand factory”. Kids can haul sand up with a pulley system and dump it down tubes to the ground. This is surprisingly engaging for bigger kids as well as the little ones.

One of my favorite features of this park is that they took the time to paint four-square and hopscotch courts on the sidewalk. Not many parks do that anymore.  Bring a ball or a rock.  In case you’ve forgotten how to play, here are some instructions for four squares and instructions for hopscotch.

There is a picnic area with built in chess boards on the tables — bring your own pieces. The table top is a little loose, enabling sore losers to knock over the men after they lose. However, the chess board is metal, so if your checkers or chess pieces are magnetic, the loser will have to work harder to disrupt the board.

I did not see a grill, but if you bring your own, Cavell Playground is only a couple blocks from Ready Meats (Johnson Street and 36th) – where you can grab a few burgers or brats and some sides for an impromptu picnic. Picnic tables at this park are not reservable, but it is usually a very quiet park.

Also nearby is Hill Valley Cafe (Central Avenue and 33rd) and the Audubon Neighborhood shops and restaurants (Johnson Street and 28th), including Northeast Coffee Shop.

Sledding at Cavell Park

With the popular Columbia Golf Course sledding hill only a few blocks away, this park can be a forgotten gem for sledding with smaller children. Unlike many parks, the downhill slopes go into the park instead of toward a street or sidewalk. There is plenty of open space. Find more sledding hills here.

Sand Wasps at Cavell Park in Late Summer

During one late-summer visit to this park, we saw a lot of wasps hovering around the sand and cut our visit short. While I don’t mind bees, yellow jackets are a good enough reason for me to stay away. That is why I’m sharing this information on sand wasps from MPRB. It turns out these were probably not yellow jackets, but male sand wasps. While they look similar to yellow jackets, sand wasps are non-aggressive and native pollinators. Males don’t have stingers and females will leave you alone unless you invade their nest.

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