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Marie Property/Main Property Parking, 365 Marie Avenue West St. Paul, MN 55118
Farm Entrance, 1701 Charlton St., West St. Paul, MN 55118
Preschool Entrance, 1715 Charlton St., West St Paul, MN 55118
Lily Property, 680 Highway 62 (between Dodd Road & Delaware Avenue) Mendota Heights, MN 55120
Shepard Farm, 8946 70th Street South, Cottage Grove, MN 55016
Admission: $0.00
Fees for Programs Vary
Most Activities Require Online Pre-Registration. Scroll down for a registration link
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 08:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Tue. 08:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Wed. 08:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Thu. 08:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Fri. 08:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Sat. 08:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Sun. 08:00 AM – 04:00 PM
Park Open Daily Sunrise to Sunset. The office is usually open 8am-4pm. There are no public buildings.

Considered a hidden gem by local families, Dodge Nature Center is a great place to bring kids. Featuring nature walks, educational programming and a working farm, people of all ages will have lots of fun outdoors. The main office and property is located in West Saint Paul, but Dodge also manages natural areas in Mendota Heights and Cottage Grove. Different programs are offered at all of the properties, so be careful to note the location and entrance when attending an event.

In keeping with its mission to “provide exceptional experiences in nature through environmental education”, the unique Dodge Nature Center in West St. Paul-Mendota Heights is ideal for an unstructured ramble outside, and also offers outdoor education, community events and indoor programming in their beautiful farm buildings. There is a charge for the programs, but a family walk through the Dodge property costs nothing and the acres of trails are open to the public during daylight hours seven days a week.

Kids playing tug-of-war at Rock the Barn at Dodge Nature Center in South St. Paul, Minnesota
Rock the Barn at Dodge Nature Center

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Dodge Nature Center
Family fun exploring the nature center grounds

Here’s what you might find on your walk:

  • A working farm – The nature center keeps farm animals to educate and during the warmer months, it’s possible to observe them in their yards. You can’t access any of the barns or go beyond the fenceline without participating in a program (which we have done – and it’s great!), but guests can still get close to a variety of animals while exploring. Grab a map and see if you can find your way to the orchard and bee apiary.

Collage of spring farm baby event at Dodge Nature Center in South St. Paul, Minnesota
Spring at Dodge Farm

  • Native habitats including prairies, woodlands, and wetlands, ponds & streams, oak savannas and hardwood forests.
  • Wildlife – we trailed turkeys, spotted turtles from the boardwalk, and checked out the raptors, including a hawk, owl and bald eagle exhibit. You could also look for signs of the more elusive raccoons, turtles, deer, coyotes.

Young girl watching wild turkeys at Dodge Nature Center
Wild turkeys on the grounds

  • Ingredients for nature play – in our wandering we found hills to scale, natural bridges, and plenty of building materials. There was even a nature playground that is used daily by the onsite Dodge Nature Preschool, but I was assured the public is welcome to play when school’s not in session (sorry, I couldn’t get a picture of it, but my own preschooler would have loved it).

Boy building a fort in the Dodge Nature Center Play Area, South St. Paul, Minnesota
Nature Play and Fort Building

Indoor Activities at Dodge Nature Center

Moving indoors, the Nature Center offers all kinds of classes, tours and events aimed at a wide span of ages. We have, for instance, taken part in their homeschool science classes, taken farm tours through St. Paul ECFE, and observed other parent-child programs.

Dodge Nature Center Year-Round Fun

Watch for year-round family-friendly events on our Family Fun Calendar.

Winter Maple Syrup

Each year around March, Minnesota maple trees come to life with a burst of sap. Dodge Nature Center joins in the the fun with maple syruping events and activities.

Spring Farm Babies

One of our favorite places to find Minnesota Farm Babies. The farm usually offers additional events in the spring to help visitors welcome all the new babies.

Summer Farm Activities

Of course summer is the best time to visit — the miles of trails are easily accessible, animals are more active, the weather is best and the hours between sunrise and sunset last the longest.

Fall Halloween Fun

Each year, Dodge Nature Center hosts a popular Halloween event for families.

Birthday Parties at Dodge Nature Center

Families can book birthday parties at the center for up to 15 children. Parties include time with a naturalist and access to the schoolhouse. You can choose between a variety of naturalist programs.

Find More Birthday Parties in Parks & Nature Centers Here.

Summer Camps at Dodge Nature Center

Summer camps are offered for grade school and preschool aged kids June through August. Campers explore the outdoors.

Twin Cities Summer Camps: Nature & Outdoor Adventure Camps

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