Parks offer incredible sights, sounds, and learning opportunities

Date: Wednesday, April 20, 2022

An adult and child at rest in a kayak. The child is waving at the camera.With nearly 60,000 acres spread throughout the seven-county metro area, our regional parks offer something for everybody.

Relish the morning dew on lush, gently rolling hills, listen to the chattering birds from high atop spruce trees, or marvel at the rich, vibrant colors of flowers in full bloom. Looking for more of an adrenaline rush? Launch your kayak on a creek or river, revel in a night sky exploding in fireworks, or dance along to rip-roaring rock-n-roll sounds blaring from a bustling bandshell.

With an abundance of spring and summer activities in the regional parks, the time to plan is now. Our regional parks partners have you covered in the second of our two-part showcase of some of the best ways to enjoy the Twin Cities region.

Watch movies and butterflies in Minneapolis

The popular Music and Movies in the Parks series returns shortly after Memorial Day. Listen to a wide range of music — including swing, folk, rock, bluegrass, classical and more — from talented artists at picturesque Nicollet Island Park, Minnehaha Park, or the Lake Harriet Bandshell. Enjoy some of today’s most entertaining movies airing at various park locations throughout the city all summer long. The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will release schedules and locations soon.

The annual Festival de la Monarca returns to Lake Nokomis Park in September to celebrate the monarch butterfly’s amazing 2,300-mile migration from Minnesota to Mexico. Come and enjoy art, music, dance, games, food, and more and help raise awareness to preserve the monarch habitat.

A campground in the trees.

Washington County offers paddling, camping and s’more

Visitors to Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park and Square Lake Park can use contactless rental stations called iPaddlePorts to conveniently rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards from their personal mobile devices beginning Monday, May 23. Whether you’re a beginner or looking to meet fellow veteran paddlers, Square Lake offers pristine water quality along with paddle programs ranging from introductory classes to advanced water yoga.

Washington County also offers 185 scenic campsites in beautiful Lake Elmo Park Reserve and St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park with incredible access to prime hiking, fishing, boating, and sightseeing spots. Or, you can simply gather around the fire pit and enjoy your favorite summertime treats with family and friends.

People walking through the conservatory's sunken garden.

Spring has sprung and water is splashing in Saint Paul

Find inspiration for your home and garden at the Spring Flower Show in the historic Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park. The exhibit runs until May 1, featuring a primary color scheme of red, blue, and yellow with white and silver accents. Red and yellow bulbs will dominate the show with blue hydrangeas adding contrast. Don’t worry if you miss out. The beautiful floral show is updated seasonally, and the Summer Flower Show begins May 7.

Flowers need water — and so do you. Frolic at the Phalen Regional Park Beach and Splash Pad beginning May 27. On June 4, the park will host WaterFest, a free family festival celebrating our regional lakes. The annual event provides an opportunity for outdoor, hands-on learning about clean water, wildlife, and land and water conservation.

A crowd of people watching fireworks.

Enjoy food, fireworks, and music in Bloomington

An estimated 40,000 people will celebrate Independence Day at Summer Fete in Normandale Lake Park. The annual festival features great music, food, family fun, and the largest fireworks display in the Twin Cities.

Summer Fete features two entertainment stages, headlined by legendary R&B and soul group Jam Factory, followed by the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. More than 20 popular food trucks and vendors will offer an incredible mix of delicious meals and treats for every appetite. In addition, community groups and other participants will provide fun activities for kids and families. Free parking is available in the Normandale Lake Office ramps north of the park. Visit Bloomington Parks and Recreation for more information on Summer Fete, the Thursday Blockbuster series of concerts, and other summertime activities.

A person singing into a microphone at a parks event.

Eat, listen, and play at multiple music festivals in Dakota County

Listen to great music while basking in sprawling, majestic views of the countryside in one of the Twin Cities’ most beautiful settings. Whitetail Woods Regional Park in Dakota County is hosting concerts throughout the summer.

The free Summer Solstice Festival on June 21 will feature an impressive lineup of musicians, food trucks, and activities designed to entertain the entire family while promoting a more inclusive culture and diverse experience. Bring a blanket or chair along with a healthy appetite to the Music in the Park series and enjoy a wide range of performances. Kids can romp in the Fawn Crossing Nature Play Area before the concerts, and the entire family can enjoy a sunset hike along the many paved trails around Empire Lake when they’re done.

Visit all of our regional parks this spring and summer

The Met Council partners with 10 city, county, and special park districts throughout the metro area. We work with these agencies to:

  • Acquire and develop parks and trails
  • Protect natural resources
  • Provide outdoor recreation for public enjoyment
  • Ensure equitable access to anyone who wants to enjoy the parks and trails

Find a regional park

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