Twin Cities Business Listing

Mill Ruins, 102 Portland Ave S., Minneapolis, MN 55401
Water Works, 425 W River Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55401
Hours of Operation:
Mon. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Tue. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Wed. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Thu. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Fri. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Sat. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
Sun. 06:00 AM – 12:00 AM
6 am-midnight in developed areas; 6 am-10 pm in undeveloped areas

Part of the larger, Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park, Mill Ruins Park may not be your first choice to visit all by itself. However, it is connected to Father Hennepin Bluffs Park by the Stone Arch Bridge, it is at the entrance of the St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam and it is across West River Parkway from Mill City Museum. In fact, if you plan to visit Mill City during decent weather, visiting Mill Ruins and the Stone Arch Bridge can give you a practical view of much of what you learn on the museum’s tour.

Water Works

Completed in 2021, Water Works is a pavilion area within Mill Ruins Park. MPRB has created it to be “an oasis of native plantings among the concrete ruins”. It also adds a nice gathering area to the park, including three gas firepits, indoor and outdoor dining, open green space, as well as relics and native plantings to explore.

The north side of Water Works contains a much-needed playground, the Nature Play Lab. According to the Minneapolis Parks Foundation, this children’s garden and nature-themed playground, will include sensory-engaging plants that kids and adults can explore.

Enjoying The Mill Ruins With Kids

To my preschooler, “park” and “playground” are synonymous, so she was vocally disappointed in Mill Ruins Park (this was before Water Works was built). However, if I had only referred to it as “the ruins” and dropped the word “park”, I’m sure she would have been open to the fun. When walking along the ruins, kids can watch for ducks. There are sturdy ruins that are appear okay for kids to climb and some that are probably not. Since things are not really well-signed, I think parents can use their best judgment. We highly recommend downloading and printing this Mill Ruins Quest Activity Guide PDF from Minneapolis Parks & Rec. It gives kids a focus when they visit. If you can combine this park with a visit to Mill City, bigger kids will get more out of both visits. Minnesota Historical Society also sometimes offers Family Walking Tours of this park.

Bigger kids may enjoy the walking tours of  Water Works at Mill Ruins Park and the Central Riverfront created by the Minneapolis Parks Foundation. Note: during the 2024-26 closures of Stone Arch Bridge you will not be able to complete this tour in one walk as it takes explorers across the Stone Arch Bridge from Mill Ruins to Hennepin Bluff Park. You could explore each side of the river separately during this time.

Keep up-to-date with the Stone Arch Bridge project and closures here.

Mill Ruins Park

Mill Ruins Park is Part of Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park

Honestly, I’m never sure where one park ends and another begins along the Central Mississippi Riverfront, but it doesn’t really matter. Besides Mill Ruins, the larger regional park includes:

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