Summer is the perfect time to leave the beaten path around the neighborhood park and explore some of the more unique playgrounds in the Twin Cities. We’ve been trekking to all corners of the metro to find and share new places to climb, slide, splash, swim and entertain your little bundles of energy this summer. Here’s our list of the 10 Best:
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.
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.