Twin Cities Parks & Playgrounds Search

Please check ahead before heading to Twin Cities Parks in 2020. Many amenities are temporarily closed to support social distancing.

Discover a new outdoor play space! 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 our 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.

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Maplewood Nature Center – Permanently Closed, Nature Playground Open

2659 East 7th Street, Maplewood, MN 55119, United States
Admission: $0.00
Use of facilities is free of charge. Many programs are free or inexpensive. See Website for Class and Event Pricing
Register by credit card online, by phone, or by mailing a check.
Hours of Operation:
Mon. Closed
Tue. Closed
Wed. Closed
Thu. Closed
Fri. Closed
Sat. Closed
Sun. Closed
Trails and Preserves: Open 1/2 hour before sunrise to 1/2 hour after sunset every day of the year

During the summer of 2020, the City of Maplewood made the decision to not re-open the Maplewood Nature Center. Due to COVID19 and  budget concerns, the Nature Center will not re-open, but trails and the pond will be maintained. The nature playground will remain open. The staff will be laid off and the city will explore new ways to use the building. Read more here.

Take some time to add a little nature play into your busy schedules! Amenities at Maplewood Nature Center include a visitor center and nature play yard, as well as trails, gardens, and picnic areas on a 40-acre preserve operated by the City of Maplewood. For more information about Maplewood Nature Center and its programs visit the website or call ahead.

Maple Wood Nature Center

Maplewood Nature Center

Maplewood Nature Center's Visitor Center

The visitor's center offers families a quiet reading corner with children's books and wildlife puppets. The younger kids will enjoy the crawl-thru log and touching skulls, antlers, furs and taxidermy subjects. While older children will enjoy exploring the live animals and informational signs and boards. Check out a pedal-power energy bike that powers a fan and lights. 

Neighborhood Preserves:

The Nature Center is the home base for Maplewood's 14 beautiful open space sites scattered throughout the city. These nature preserves are sanctuaries for birds and wildlife, and provide a place for residents to hike, relax, and enjoy nature close to home. These preserves include Gladstone Savanna and Fish Creek Natural Area, both of which host nature events during the year.

Exploring the Trails

Trails wind through oak woods and marsh and are open every day from dawn to dusk. MNC recommends starting with the visitor center to learn a little about the surrounding environment before heading out on your hike or nature exploration. A helpful Phenology Calendar tells you which seasonal wildlife and plants you'll most likely observe. While you are there, check out a nature backpack or bingo game. In the winter you can also rent snowshoes.

Maplewood has recently renovated its trails to be sustainable. They ask that visitors respect this by carrying out whatever they carry in, not disturbing wildlife, and not introducing new plants or animals (this includes your dog). You can grab a map and self-guided trail brochure in the Visitor Center or download a PDF copy here.

Make your hike an adventure by requesting one of these four self-guided activities from the Nature Center.

  1. Self-Guided Nature Trail: Match pictures with the posts as you walk the trails.
  2. Nature Bingo Hike: Try to match four pictures in a row as you hike.
  3. Waterworks Scavenger Hunt: Hunt for artsy items on stormwater structures while learning about waterworks.
  4. Tree Quest: Follow the clues to find and identify ten trees on the trail.

More Like This: Twin Cities Quests, Scavenger & Treasure Hunts for Families

The Nature Center Play Yard

The Nature Center Play Yard, which adjoins the visitor center, is designed to connect children with nature by using natural features such as materials for building forts, a small Discovery Trail that connects to the main trail system, climbing rocks and smaller rocks, stumps and logs, touchable native plants, a shrub tunnel and sand and chalk. You can borrow sand toys from the Visitor Center. There is also space for picnics.

10 Fun Things to Do in Maplewood's Nature Play Yard

  1. Build a fort with the branches
  2. Explore the Discovery Trail that begins at the small arch bridge
  3. Conquer the kids' climbing rock,
  4. Scramble over natural stumps, rocks, and logs
  5. Create chalk drawings on the sidewalk (you'll find the chalk in the mailbox)
  6. Employ the senses to explore the native plants and flowers. Feel free to touch and smell as well as look and listen.
  7. Bring a picnic and enjoy an outdoor meal at the picnic tables
  8. Dig, build, shape and sift in the sand pit.
  9. Burrow through the shrub tunnel
  10. Watch butterflies in the nearby butterfly garden

Geocaching at Maplewood Nature Center

This park is part of Maplewood's Geocache Passport Program. Stop by City Hall or the nature center for a packet or download this PDF.

Birthday Parties

Birthday Parties at Maplewood Nature CenterMaplewood offers naturalist-led birthday parties for as low as $80.00  (up to 12 children). There is also a $100.00 option (13-15 children). The organized party includes various themes, including an outdoor hike, snake, salamander, or toad party. Parties are geared to ages 4+. Parties include a decorated room and party favors. Parents provide the food. 

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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.

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.

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Quick List of the Best Twin Cities Parks by City

Want to explore what we consider to be the very best parks in each community of the Twin Cities Metro Area? Consult our quick list below:

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Inver Grove Heights & South St Paul Parks

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Tot Times

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