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.
Lake Elmo Park Reserve is popular with families for swimming, fishing, camping and hiking. Of its over 2000 acres, 80 percent is set aside for preservation and protection, with a goal to return it to a pre-settler condition resembling in the mid-1800s. When away from the developed areas, visitors can spot a variety of wildlife. I recall rather bold raccoons circling our campsites at night.
Lake Elmo Park Reserve Beach
The beach may be the most popular destination at Lake Elmo. It is a man-made, chlorinated swimming pond, so you get the feel of a real beach with the chemical cleanliness of a pool. Find more beach rules here.
The Playground at Lake Elmo Park Reserve
Lake Elmo has a good sized play area near the beach. As far as play areas go, this is a pretty fun one, but probably still not worth the vehicle fee on its own. However, with its close proximity to the beach, families can spend a day at the park. It's a bit too far away to be able to watch kids on both the playground and the beach at the same time, but close enough to go back and forth several times during the afternoon. You can expect everyone to sleep well after a day at Lake Elmo.
There are other smaller play areas scattered throughout the park.
Fishing in Lake Elmo Park Reserve
Lake Elmo Park Reserve has a fishing pier near the campground and boat launch. It has a nearby play area for when the kids tire of sitting still. The Minnesota DNR says this is a hard lake to fish and it has fewer fish species than nearby St. Croix Lake.
Archery at Lake Elmo Park Reserve
Lake Elmo Orienteering Courses
Orienteering is kind of a cross between geocaching and cross country. It is a sport that combines racing with navigation. To practice orienteering at Lake Elmo, you will need a map of the park and a compass. There are three levels of courses, all originating at the Eagle Point trailhead parking lot. If you don't have a map, you can purchase one at the park office.
Birthday Parties at Lake Elmo
The picnic shelters are available to rent for Birthday Parties and other private gatherings. Again, because of the great beach, this is a popular place to host birthdays. Pavilion rates are $150 - $300/day. For more birthday party ideas, we have compiled FFTC's Ultimate Guide to Birthday Parties in the Twin Cities.
Camping at Lake Elmo Park Reserve
Lake Elmo used to be my go-to spot for hike-in camping. It's been over a decade since we've camped there; and since they no longer allow dogs in campgrounds, we are unlikely to go back. However for a family, Lake Elmo may be a good choice for camping. It also has modern campgrounds if hauling kids and equipment up a trail is not your thing. It has that great beach. And, it is really close to Minneapolis/St. Paul. Family campsites run $19-$37/night depending on amenities. For other nearby camping ideas, Anne has compiled FFTC Family Camping Guide: Minnesota State Park Campgrounds.
Prairie Restorations at Lake Elmo Park Reserve
Washington County planted 16 acres of prairie (and prairie seed production plots) in Lake Elmo during the fall of 2018. You can find this prairie land west of the Rustic Campground. It help provide local seed sources for plantings. Up to 40 more acres will be planted in the coming year. Prairie areas are kept mowed to a height of 10" throughout the growing season to help the native grasses establish.
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.