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At 4,900 acres, Elm Creek Park Reserve is the largest of Three Rivers' parks. This park features amenities for almost every outdoor activity, including the Winter Recreation Area, Eastman Nature Center, miles of hiking and biking trails, a swimming pond, a huge playground and much more. Elm Creek is also home to a variety of wildlife such as eagles, sandhill cranes, deer, bluebirds, beavers, loons, Trumpeter Swans and hawks.
Swimming at Elm Creek Park Reserve
Elm Creek Swimming Pond offers a mix of pool and lake with filtered, chlorinated water and a sandy beach and bottom. Giant beach umbrellas provide shade. Other amenities include a changing shelter, concessions and bathroom facilities. A pass is required for ages 1 year and older. The pond is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. daily. However, Lifeguards are only on duty at specified times. Passes are required for everyone over the age of 1 and cost $5.00 per person for a daily pass or $18 per person for a seasonal pass.
Historic Pierre Bottineau House
Located near the entrance of the park on the south end, the historic Pierre Bottineau house is only open for special programs and by appointment. This restored 1854 wood-framed house has been transformed into a mini museum of the life of frontiersman Pierre Bottineau.
About Pierre Bottineau:
Besides having a library and a park in Northeast Minneapolis named after him, Who the Heck was Pierre Bottineau? Forgotten Minnesota answers that question here. Families can participate in public programs or schedule a visit to learn about him in a more, too.
Disc Golf at Elm Creek Park Reserve
One of three pay-disc golf courses in the Three Rivers district, Elm Creek's 18-hole golf course starts at the chalet and follows the cross-country ski trails, tubing hill and terrain park. The course features two par-4 holes and offers championship-calibre holes that demand distance as well as accuracy. Availability is dependent on the weather and the condition of the course. The cost of disc golf is $6/round or $45/season. If you are looking for a place to play free, check out Hyland Visitor Center or Lake Minnetonka Regional Park.
Family Archery at Elm Creek Park Reserve
This park is one of several that offers family archery programs. Skilled instructors teach families the basics of shooting safely and accurately. Range includes stationary targets and elevated platform. The program includes fun games for testing skills. Equipment provided.
The 30-acre archery range is on the northwest side of the park and can be used outside of special programs with the purchase of an Archery Pass at $6/day or $35/year. Supervised children may attend for free and do not need a pass.
Trumpeter Swans at Elm Creek Park Reserve
Three Rivers Park District launched the Trumpeter Swan Reintroduction Project in 1966 and in 1968 the Trumpeter Swan Society was formed. Beginning with a single pair of swans, Minnesota now boasts over 12,000 birds. Elm Creek is one park where these birds build nests and raise their young. You may just catch site of Swans while visiting the park. However, Three Rivers asks park visitors to respect both the Trumpeter Swans and the park habitat by following all park ordinances, remaining on designated trails, not getting too close to the birds, and avoid feeding them.
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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.