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North Mississippi Regional Park is hidden behind the I-94 freeway wall and offers spectacular views of the Mississippi River and the surrounding woods and prairie. The park was formerly held jointly between the Minneapolis Park Board and Three Rivers Park System, but it has recently been shifted entirely to Minneapolis Parks.
North Mississippi is the home of the Carl Kroening Interpretive Center and is a favorite of my children. You can read more about the interpretive center at the link above.
The walk from the interpretive center to the play area is through a beautiful prairie. If you choose to follow it, the path winds full-circle back to the building following along the river on the way back. There is wildlife to see if you look and places to stop and explore, including a life-size Lincoln log area. I'm not certain it was meant for climbing on, but we did.
The playground equipment is pretty standard, but the wading pool/splash pad is beautiful. The pool opens Memorial Day weekend and closes on Labor Day. The playground and pool area also offers picnic space. There is not a lot in the way of nearby restaurants, but there is room to grill if you bring your own food. The interpretive center also sells a few snacks.
In the summer, watch for the Nature Pop-Up Education Station while you’re at the playground or splash pad.
This would be a good park to bring the bikes and take a family bike ride. It has bike trails running through it that connect with other city trails. Whether biking or walking, watch for deer, fox, beavers, otters, muskrats, woodchucks, chipmunks and other small rodents. It is also a good place to bird watch. You may spot raptors, including bald eagles and red-tailed hawks; waterfowl; wading birds like the great blue heron and a variety of songbirds.
Nature Play Area and Adventure Trail
The eagerly awaited Nature Play Area and Adventure Trail is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019. They will be located next to the interpretive center. You may have noticed that there is already a giant Lincoln Log structure in that area. With a goal to foster imagination and connection with nature, MPRB will be using more materials like logs, sticks, rocks and water to add to this natural theme.
Also planned for the park is an "adventure trail". It will feature dynamic components to entice hikers to climb, hop, run, swing, and jump their way through the park. Of course, the park trails already offer plenty of fun, especially when paired with the adventure packs available at the nature center.
North Mississippi's nature play area will be unique among the growing list of other Nature Playgrounds in the Twin Cities because it will be the first accessible nature play area in Minneapolis. Accessible play elements will include an ADA aggregate path connector, transfer platforms, and ADA fixed-in-place nature play pieces. Find more resources for special needs in our Twin Cities Special Needs ShortList.
Update Fall 2019: Note this information came from a press release and email exchanges with park staff in June of 2018. I have not seen any additional information via press releases nor have I seen anything I would label a "nature play area" (more than that the whole park is kind of a nature play area) or "adventure trail" (more than that the whole park is kind of an adventure trail). We will keep watching and keep you updated.
Birthday Parties at North Mississippi Regional Park
This park has three picnic shelters available to for the public. The can be reserved for birthdays and other events between April 15th and October 15th. Permits are available by the half day (9-3 or 4-10) or for a full day. Reservations can be obtained by calling 612-230-6400 during business hours, online or in person. The Beaver and Turtle shelters each hold 50 people and can be rented for $125/half day and $250/full day. The larger shelter holds 150 people. A half-day rental is $225 and a full day is $450. See Kroening Interpretive Center directory page for indoor birthday parties.
Paddle Share Program at North Mississippi Regional Park
Beginning in late August of 2016, The Minneapolis Parks have teamed up with the National Park Service and others to test a pilot program that will allow park users to rent kayaks to explore Mississippi.
These kayak stations will work much like the Nice Ride bicycle program. Users reserve their kayak online for a specific date and time, watch a safety video, sign a waiver and pay for the reservation. They will then receive a code to unlock a kayak and equipment (including life jacket) at North Mississippi.
Users can paddle upriver or downriver, but the rental equipment must be returned to the return station at Boom Island Park their rental expires. All stations are aligned with Nice Ride stations so users are able to paddle downriver and then bike back to where they started. Sounds good in theory.
Articles Related to North Mississippi Regional Park
- Summertime Together: North Mississippi Regional Park Play Area
- Carl Kroening Interpretive Center
- Twin Cities Spring Nature Play & Programs Guide
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.