Twin Cities Parks & Playgrounds Search

Please check ahead before heading to Twin Cities Parks in 2020. Many amenities are temporarily closed to support social distancing.

Discover a new outdoor play space! The Family Fun Twin Cities Parks & Playgrounds Search directory is your one stop for the best Twin Cities Park Guide. We share some of the best playgrounds in the Twin Cities in this directory. We are so passionate about how awesome our parks are that we don’t want you to stop with 10 parks or even 150 parks! There are so many parks in the metro area, you could visit a new one every day for some free Twin Cities family fun and still not have seen them all in 5 years.

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Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

12805 St Croix Trail S, Hastings, MN 55033, Minnesota Campus
300 E. Cove Road, Hudson, WI 54016, Wisconsin Campus
Admission: $0.00
Admission is free! Enjoy the quiet, serene world of nature.
Call 651-437-4359 to register for activities.
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Tue. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Wed. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Thu. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Fri. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Sat. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Sun. 08:00 AM - 04:30 PM
Carpenter Nature Center is open everyday except Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day.

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center provides a unique opportunity for families to learn and explore the outdoors. The park is approximately half an hour east of the Twin Cities near the junction of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers. Hiking trails wind throughout the pines, savanna, prairies, ravines, an apple orchard, and along the river.

The Nature Center also offers classes, camps and activities for families, including story times and bird banding.

Carpenter St Croix Valley Nature Center Orchard

The orchard boasts 13 varieties of apples. There is not a pick-your-own option, but families can purchase apples when visiting during the harvest season. Learn more here.

Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center

Carpenter's Eagle Ambassador

Carpenter's Eagle Ambassador, Phoenix, is a young male bald eagle who was found on the side of a road when he was less than a year old. At the time that he was brought to the Raptor Center, he was very thin, exposed to lead, and unable to fly and unable to be returned to the wild. In May of 2017, he was re-homed to Carpenter and can be viewed at the Visitor's Center.

Story Times at Carpenter Nature Center

Preschool story times are offered once a month on Fridays from 10 am  to 11 am. Check out the Family Fun Calendar for the next date. These story times are designed to introduce young children, ages 2 through 5 and their grown up to nature in a fun and safe environment. It includes a nature story, an art or craft project, outdoor exploration, and live animal observation. Pre-registration is required; call 651-437-4359. Each child costs $5.00 (or $3.00 for Friends of CNC.) No charge for the chaperone.

Annual Events

The Park hosts several family friendly annual events, including:

  • February: Masters of the Sky.
  • April: Earth Day Birding Festival.
  • August: Carpenter Art Festival.
  • September: Fall Raptor Release.
  • October: Applefest.

Summer Camp at Carpenter Nature Center

Carpenter offers three levels of summer camp -- a single half-day camp, and week-long camps for ages 5-11 and for ages 10+. All camps have a nature theme. We feature Carpenter camps in our annual summer camp guide, where we update prices and dates annually.

Summer Camp at Carpenter Nature Center

Birthday Parties at Carpenter Nature Center

Carpenter has facilities available for rent. They now also offer Birthday Adventures programs. Choose from pre-planned programs or work with the staff to develop a program geared toward your child's nature interests. Find this and other nature-centered party ideas in our annual Twin Cities Birthday Parties for Kids: Party in the Park.
Birthday Parties at Carpenter Nature Center

Related Articles:

Twin Cities Spring Nature Play & Programs Guide


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We can help you find some of the best playgrounds Minneapolis, St. Paul and greater Minnesota. Looking for specifics like a playground, swimming spot or bike trail? Want to find the perfect place to a pitch a tent or your city's best sledding hill? Search by all of these amenities and more in our Twin Cities Parks & Playgrounds Search by selecting a category from the drop down menu or typing in the keyword of your choice in the search box. You can even enter an address and select a radius to search by city or region of the Metro. Plus, find park hours, fees, directions, pictures and other extras.

We've currently reviewed over 400 parks in this directory, but we would love to hear from you! What do YOU think are the best parks in the Twin Cities? How about the best parks in Minnesota? What parks did we completely miss? What is your favorite little unknown gem? We really want to share all your favorite indoor playgrounds and outdoor parks! Let us know and we'll add a review here.

Twin Cities parks are great for hiking, biking, rollerblading, kayaking, canoeing and other fun physical games. But, they are also just great for hanging out in a hammock and picnicking while the kids explore and enjoy some of the best playgrounds in Minnesota. Want to get even greener? We have a big list of the best nature playgrounds for kids and families in Minneapolis and beyond.

Quick List of the Best Twin Cities Parks by City

Want to explore what we consider to be the very best parks in each community of the Twin Cities Metro Area? Consult our quick list below:

Bloomington Parks

Burnsville Parks

Chanhassen Area Parks

Eagan Parks

Inver Grove Heights & South St Paul Parks

Maple Grove Parks

Minneapolis Parks Nearby Nature Activities

Roseville Parks

Woodbury Parks

Inside Parks and Indoor Waterparks

In Minnesota indoor playgrounds are a necessity! I know we think of outdoors when we think of parks, but with our long, dark and cold winters, some indoor active games are a must. You can even have indoor picnics at these parks. This such a great way to stretch the summer feeling into the winter! Check out some of the best indoor playgrounds in the Twin Cities this winter.

Outside Parks and Outdoor Waterparks

Minnesota has these, too! And during our short summer, we want to take advantage of them as much as possible! best In fact, the Minneapolis and St. Paul Parks are some of the best outdoor playgrounds twin cities - actually in the country. They win awards - every year! Look and See. Every. Single. Year. So get out to our area parks, make up some fun games to play.


Some of the best beaches in the Twin Cities are hidden little gems. Anne has her favorite 20 Twin Cities Beaches, Parks & Playgrounds to Try This Summer. She revises the list every year to keep us in the know.

Shakespeare in the Park at Twin Cities Parks

One of my favorite ways to enjoy our parks is with a play or musical in a park. It doesn't really have to be Shakespeare, it can be the latest Disney princess musical or even a puppet wagon. In fact, sometimes Open Eye Figure Theatre's driveway tour has some park stops. Watch our Performing Arts page each summer to find these fun, free park events.

Music in the Parks - Minneapolis, St. Paul & Suburbs

Nothing says easy summertime fun like music in the parks! The best thing is, there is seriously a concert every night of the week from Memorial Day until Labor Day. Obviously, some get cancelled due to weather, but pick any nice night, take a look at the Family Fun Twin Cities calendar and you can find music in a park. No sign up, no tickets, no money, no commitment. Show up, bring a picnic, play at some of the best playgrounds in Minnesota and relax to great music.

Movies in the Parks at Twin Cities Parks

One thing I love about Movies in the Park is that they tend to screen at some of the best playgrounds in Minneapolis and the greater Twin Cities. I love to make it a full evening with a picnic and some fun outdoor kid games and Park Games for Kids. This is a good time to see newer kids movies that you didn't catch in the theater or to introduce your kids to your own childhood favorites without having to gamble on library DVD quality.

Tot Times

Active indoor games for preschoolers are something we are always on the search for when the weather is uncooperative. The parks have a lot to offer with their tot times and open gym slots. For instance, they often offer riding toys, hula hoops, games to play with preschoolers, balls of all kinds, climbing structures, fun games for toddlers, etc.

Looking for the Best Playgrounds and Parks Beyond the Twin Cities?

If you are traveling outside the metro, you'll want to check out some of our favorite day-trip parks. If you are going further than that, we have a list of great family-owned websites to direct you to the best parks around the country so you don't have to depend on national websites or random internet searches.

For more outdoor play ideas:

Twin Cities Parks & Playgrounds - Mini Golf Courses Twin Cities Parks & Playgrounds - Beaches

Check out our Parks and Playgrounds Pinterest Board.

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