^^ That is Kuchen. Pronounced coo-ken, it means cake in German and holds special significance for our family. She’s the new baby at our house. Seven pounds of absolute sweetness. She’s a six-month-old Teddy Bear—half Shih Tzu, half Bichon. She just started puppy “kindergarten”, and we are working on introducing her to the world a bit more.
In an effort to get her some extra exercise and socialize her with other dogs and humans, I started researching some Minnesota dog parks where we can take her to play. My goodness, there are some really great options. Just one more reason why our state is the best state.
Our family has started a dog park bucket list for Kuchen, and in the process, we learned some pretty standard (and important!) rules of thumb that are common among all dog parks.
- Keep your dog licensed and updated on all vaccinations.
- Clean up after your dog. No one wants to smell, see or step in your pup’s mess. Also, refill any holes your dog may dig while he is playing.
- Clean up after yourself. Don’t litter or leave cigarette butts on the ground.
- Keep your dog leashed until you are certain you are in an off-leash area.
- Be aware of situations that could be problematic for your dog. You know your pooch better than anyone, supervise him and be responsible for his actions.
- If you bring kiddos along, make sure they are equally as supervised as your four-legged pal and never let your children approach unfamiliar dogs.
Now the fun part—where are going to play first?
Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park, Minneapolis
Minnehaha Park is stunning and every family should visit whether they have a dog or not. But knowing the park offers more than six acres designated to off-leash puppy play brings a whole new level of awesome for our family. From woods to water to the best fetchin’ sticks around, the park has it all. There are even plenty of squirrels to chase—or as our family calls them “Mother Nature’s tennis balls”. Clean-up bags are available throughout the park, which is incredibly convenient. Annual permits range from $35 to $60 depending on residency, or daily permits are $5. The park is open daily from 6 AM to 12 midnight.
Alimagnet Dog Park, Burnsville
This Minnesota dog park is fancy. In fact, “Dog Fancy” magazine voted it one of the best dog parks in the nation—and it’s justified. The park has so much to offer dogs and dog owners, it makes the $20 annual household permit worth every penny. The park has seven acres of completely fenced play space with a double-gated entry. Small and special-needs dogs have a designated play area. Water-loving dogs can run and splash in the small pond. And owners don’t have to worry about bringing home a messy, muddy pooch. The on-site dog washing station means your buddy will be cleaned up before you head out. And speaking of clean up, the park offers free pick-up bags. This is a great park for year-round puppy fun; it’s lighted for use at night and during the winter months when it gets dark so early, and the shelter and water bowls are heated for super chilly days. The park is open daily from 5 AM to 10 PM.
Wilson Park, St. Cloud
Bring the whole crew for this one. Not only will your four-legged pal enjoy a spacious off-leash play area, the park offers tons of stuff for kids and family members to enjoy. The large, grassy dog park is fenced on three sides and the fourth side offers access to the Mississippi River beach. Pups can play in the water, and the kiddos can fish or splash around as well. The park outside of the fencing offers tons to do as well: barbecue pits for picnics, a large playground, and basketball courts. Make sure your dog is licensed in the city where you live; you will need to obtain a permit to play. Annual permits can be obtained if you are in the area often. Otherwise, daily permits are an easy $2 and can be obtained at the entry.
Bryant Lake Regional Dog Park, Eden Prairie
This park offers more than nine acres of off-leash play space for you and your pooch. If you bring a six-foot, non-retractable leash, you can also enjoy miles of paved trails and some breathtaking scenery. Water is available for your dog. You will need to purchase a pass: $45 annually or $6 per day. Just remember, the beach and picnic areas are not open to dogs.
Bloomington Dog Park, Bloomington
This dog park is huge! With 25 acres of hills and trees and grassy areas, dogs of all sizes will love it, and small dogs have a designated area. If your pooch likes water, she can take a dip in the pond on the premises. The park even provides a water hose for washing your pal off before heading home. There’s also a puppy water fountain so everyone stays hydrated. Make sure your furry friend is licensed in the city where you live. Dog owners are limited to two dogs per handler. The park is open from 7 AM to 10 PM every day.
Keene Creek Dog Park, Duluth
This dog park is smaller (just under an acre in size), but it is fenced in with a double-gated entry. Owners should bring water for their dog(s). They do have a separate play area for smaller pups weighing less than 20 pounds. The park is open from 8 AM to 10 PM daily and access is free.
Elm Creek Reserve Dog Park, Maple Grove
This one is big and beautiful. With 29 acres of parkland and 20 miles of trails and woods, your pup will run out of energy before she runs out of room to play. And you will love the scenery. There’s even a fenced wetland pond for dogs who like the water. Bring a six-foot, non-retractable leash for the trails and campground area, but avoid the beach and picnic areas as dogs are not permitted there. The park is open from 6 AM to 10:30 PM every day. Daily passes are $6 or $45 annually.
Bald Eagle-Otter Lakes Regional Park, White Bear Township
This park offers ten acres of fully-fenced, off-leash play space. Wooded foot paths and prairie grass offer lots of places for your pooch to explore. Mailboxes throughout the park offer free pick-up bags. The park is open 30 minutes before sunrise until 30 minutes after sunset, and it has hours designated for small dogs to play Tuesdays from 6 to 7 PM and Saturdays from 10 to 11 AM. There is no charge to use this dog park.
Woodview Open Space, Roseville
Because Kuchen is a tiny nugget, we are excited about this one. They have lots of small dog play hours, which means she will get plenty of time to make friends her own size at this park on Tuesdays from 6 to 7 PM, Thursdays from 5 to 6 PM, Saturdays from 10 to 11 AM and Sundays from 1 to 2 PM. The park is open to all dogs from sunrise to sunset outside of the small dog hours. The park has plenty of woods and trails for your pup to explore. And while the primary space of the park is only partially-fenced, this is the only park we researched that offers a fully-fenced handicapped-accessible area.
Battle Creek Regional Dog Park, Maplewood
If you’re looking to get your steps in while making sure your pup gets her exercise, this is the park to visit. It’s huge, first of all, with 35 acres of fully-fenced room to roam. The miles and miles and miles of walking trails provide plenty of opportunities for you to burn some calories alongside your canine friend. The park is free to use.
Dakota Woods, Rosemount
Your four-legged friend can explore 16 acres of woods and open spaces at this park. It has looping trails for two-legged friends to get some exercise as well. Waste bags are provided, but water is not, so bring something for your pooch to rehydrate after an afternoon of play. An annual pass is $40 plus tax and a daily pass is $5. The park is open from 5 AM to 10 PM daily.
Jean & Carl Frank Canine Park, Rochester
I couldn’t find a ton of information about this dog park, but from what I did read on the Facebook page and in reviews, it looks really great. It has a doggie obstacle course for those pups with Westminster in their sights (wink, wink), and the terrain and scenery look amazing. It isn’t completely fenced in, so it might not be great for all dogs. The park is free to use.
Kiwanis Recreation Area, Mankato
This is another park that is fun to visit without a dog and even more fun to visit with one. The park itself is huge with 100 acres of walking and bike trails, an archery range, picnic spaces, and canoe and kayak areas for the whole family to enjoy. There are also two large fenced-in, off-leash dog parks. The dog parks have a water supply and pick-up bags are provided. The park is open from 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM every day.
So, no matter where you’re living or where you’re heading, there’s a place for your pup to run and interact with other dogs to get her tail waggin’. Check them out! Kuchen and I hope to see you—and your pooch—sometime soon!
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.