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Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden
1 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55422
612-370-4903
Admission: $0.00
Pay Parking Lot: $1.50 per hour.
Scroll to the Bottom for a Registration Link
Hours of Operation:
Mon. Closed
Tue. 07:30 AM – 06:00 PM
Wed. 07:30 AM – 06:00 PM
Thu. 08:00 AM – 08:00 PM
Fri. 07:30 AM – 06:00 PM
Sat. 07:30 AM – 06:00 PM
Sun. 07:30 AM – 06:00 PM
2023 Garden Season: April 18-October 15; Weekends only October 16-31

A beautiful garden full of flowers, plants and hundreds of bird species, the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden & Bird Sanctuary (“EBWG”) is a great place for a family hike or picnic. It is actually the first public wildflower garden in the nation.

The garden is managed by the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board (“MPRB”) and is traditionally open from 7:30 a.m. until one hour before sunset, six days a week (closed Mondays) between opening day in April and the October closing. However weather plays a big role in the opening and closing of the park. We recommend checking the Minneapolis Parks website – especially in early spring or late fall.

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Exploring Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden with Kids

The Trails of the Garden can be fun “hiking” with small kids or more in depth exploration with older kids. A 2/3-mile trail features 49 interpretive stations for guided and self-guided tours. In 2019, the boardwalk was expanded to increase accessibility to the gardens for visitors. Bigger kids and adults may enjoy hiking the hilly terrain around the main garden.

Little girl looking through binoculars as mother helps
Whether you visit in early-spring or late-summer you’ll find new wild plants to explore with kids.

What to Pack:

The Minneapolis Park Board recommends that you pack your go bags with insect repellent, water bottles, hand sanitizer, sunscreen and/or sunhat, raingear, and masks for all. You may also want to add the items on our Birding Checklist & What to Pack for Birdwatching.

Self-Guided Tours

Garden Guidebook can be borrowed or purchased for $5 at the Visitor Shelter. Follow the station numbers to learn more about plant species within the Wildflower Garden.

Family Fun Adventure Backpacks at Eloise Butler

The Garden offers loaner Family Fun Adventure Backpacks that are filled with activities to do together while exploring. Start your visit with a stop to the Visitor Shelter to borrow a backpack or a Garden Scavenger Hunt for a fun way to explore the Garden with your family. Binoculars are also available to borrow.

Ladyslipper Flowers can be found at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden in Minneapolis Minnesota in Spring
Visitors will find “spectacular seasonal displays of native wildflowers in woodland, wetland and prairie areas,” including our somewhat rare State Flower, Lady Slippers, in EBWG

In the event that backpacks are not available or the visitor shelter is closed, you may want to pack a bag of your own:

  1. Birding Necessities. We have created a Birding Checklist of What to Pack for Bird Watching;
  2. A Garden Map and Guide. EBWG offers printable Garden Map and “What Will I See at the Garden?” social narrative guide. Find links at the bottom of this page.
  3. Wildflower Guide Book. The Garden’s official flower identification book, Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden And Bird Sanctuary, which was published in 2001, is a small enough paperback to tuck in your purse and bring along. We link to Amazon at the bottom of this page to purchase this book. However, you may have the best luck purchasing this item directly from the visitor center, as Amazon is frequently sold out of this book.
  4. Scavenger Hunt. City of Lakes Waldorf School offers a printable scavenger hunt created by one of its families. We link to it at the bottom of this article.

Martha Crone Visitor Shelter

Nestled in the garden is the Martha Crone Visitor Shelter where visitors will find natural history displays, natural history reference materials and friendly staff and volunteers waiting to help with Garden-related questions. The Martha Crone Visitor Shelter in the Wildflower Garden is traditionally open from 10 a.m. until one hour before sunset Monday-Saturday and from 12 p.m. until one hour before sunset on Sundays.

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden House
Rendering of Visitor Center, where annual visitors can learn more about the variety of habitats in the garden. Courtesy of MPRB.

10 Fun Facts About Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden to Share With Your Kids

  1. Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden is part of Theodore Wirth Regional Park, which offers tons of recreation and nature exploration opportunities.
  2. The Garden spans 15-acres of Theodore Wirth Park’s 740 acres, including the original three acres of bog, meadow and hillside that made up the Wild Botanic Garden when it opened in April of 1907.
  3. It is the oldest public wildflower garden in the United States, dating back to the early 1900s.
  4. Eloise Butler was a retired botany teacher and the first curator of the garden. She and other botany teachers petitioned Minneapolis Parks for this natural botanic garden. When Eloise Butler died in 1933, her ashes were spread in the garden and you can find an oak tree that was panted in her honor in the garden.
  5. Martha Crone was Eloise Butler’s assistant and the second curator of the garden, who cared for it until 1959.
  6. The garden was created to to preserve the area’s native flora as the city grew and urbanized.
  7. Diverse areas within the garden each create a different habitat and foster different types of plants, animals and birds.
  8. The Garden is home to more than 500 plant species.
  9. It also welcomes over 130 bird species throughout the year.
  10. According to MinneapolisParkHistory.com, at the time EBWG opened, Theodore Wirth Park was named Glenwood Park.

Eloise Butler is a good place for urban birding
The Garden is home to more than 130 bird species

Programs and Tours at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

Guided tours and special programs (i.e. free botany classes) are regularly available at the wildflower garden. While some have nominal fees, most are free. All require pre-registration. You can preregister in the following ways.

Hummingbirds landing on a yellow flower. Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden is a good place for birding
Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden offers Saturday morning early birding programs

Parking at Eloise Butler Gardens

NOTE: The Garden parking lot is a pay lot. You will need a Minneapolis Parks Parking Permit sticker, or use the pay box to park. Payment receipts or sticker must be displayed on your car’s dashboard to be valid. Parking at Minneapolis Park Lots ranges from 75 cents to $1.50/hour. This lot costs $1.50/hour to park.

Improvements on Hold

Construction originally set to begin in the summer and fall of 2022 at the gardens are on hold due to construction costs. Updates will include adding a new family-friendly bathroom, replacing a tool shed, expanding the visitor center (which is quite small), and some upgrades to the front entrance. 

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