Discover a new outdoor play space! 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.
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park is actually two parks. The west side of the river is run by Three Rivers Park District; while the east side of the river is an Anoka County Park. Three Rivers has recently approved a plan that will include a name-change in the future to help make this distinction. However, like the downtown Minneapolis river parks, this distinction matters less to visitors than park staff. The two sides are connected by the dam walkway and can be enjoyed together.
One important distinction would be where to park. Both sides of the River sometimes offer unique activities. While you can walk across the dam, you may want to find parking closer to the activity you are attending. Also, the east side charges a daily fee for parking ($6/day or $30/year), but the west side does not charge for parking - unless you are coming as a group in a bus or van.
Each side of the park also has its own visitor center and slightly different park hours (which are unlikely to effect family visits). The Coon Rapids side of the park opens an hour later than the Brooklyn Park side and closes a half-hour after sunset, while Brooklyn Park stays open until 10 p.m.
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park - East Side
The 446-acre Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park is one of the most popular in Anoka County. It is a year-round destination, especially during the cross-country ski season. Picnicking, fishing, in-line skating, walking, and bicycling are favorite activities in the park. The boat launch is heavily used during the summer. Sign Up For Anoka County Parks Activities Here.
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park - West Side - Soon to be Mississippi Gateway Regional Park
The Mississippi River defines the boundary of this 160-acre park and there are many opportunities to see our nation’s greatest river up close. Owned and operated by Three Rivers Park District, the actual dam spans the river between Brooklyn Park and Coon Rapids. From the 12-foot-wide observation walkway on top of the dam, enjoy spectacular scenery, the roar of the water, and rainbows in the mist. The walkway is also a major bike path over the river. An accessible fishing pier and observation deck is below the dam.
Follow the more than two miles of trails along the bank of the river and disappear into the beauty and quiet of nature. Walk past several "deserted" islands and explore wetlands and woods. Look for signs of the abundant wildlife that live in or visit the park—mink, beaver, hawks, osprey, deer, turtles and river otters. In winter, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are popular activities here. Sign Up For Three Rivers Programs Here.
In September of 2018, Three Rivers approved the final master plan for Mississippi Gateway Regional Park, combining Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park and the Brooklyn Park Environmental Nature Area into one regional park facility. Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park West Side is owned and operated by Three Rivers Park District, and the Brooklyn Park Environmental Nature Area is owned and operated by the City of Brooklyn Park.
The master plan includes new features, including an education and information center, play areas, a tree canopy walk, a beginner cross-country ski loop and an area for snowshoeing. Enhancements to existing features are also planned, including picnic areas, dog off-leash area, archery range, river access for paddling and fishing, and paved trails.Some portions of the park will be left more wild, with non-paved trails and field learning stations for exploring nature.
Coon Rapids Dam Visitor Center - West Side
Since North Mississippi Regional Park was taken over completely by Minneapolis Parks in 2016, Three Rivers has been adding more offerings at Coon Rapids Dam. So, while in past years, the Brooklyn Center visitor center has closed for the winter with reduced hours in spring and fall, it has remained open year-round beginning in the winter of 2016/2017.
As with other Three Rivers visitor centers, families can find outdoor education and recreation programs and explore exhibits including the many native reptiles, amphibians, and river fish on display.
Every other Sunday is “Free Family Funday” when a free nature program is offered. Programming for preschoolers includes “My Preschooler and Me” and “Big River, Small Fry” programs. Outdoor recreation opportunities include “Snowshoe Along the Mississippi,” “Snowshoe Day Date” and “Basic Winter Survival.” The center also offers snowshoe rentals for you to explore the park on your own.
Archery at Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park - West Side
The Three Rivers portion of this park offers occasional family archery programs. At these events, experts instruct families in the basics of shooting safely and accurately. The program offers fun games for testing skills. Equipment provided. We've compiled a list of Twin Cities archery ranges here.
For more outdoor play ideas:
- 10 of the Best Twin Cities Playgrounds
- 20 Twin Cities Beaches, Parks & Playgrounds to Try This Summer
- Nature Playgrounds in the Twin Cities - Get Back to Green
Check out our Parks and Playgrounds Pinterest Board.
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 are 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.
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. Let's enjoy our parks:
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.
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.