Though it may be better known for its big-city shine, amidst the heady throb of urban life in Minneapolis, Minnesota, there are small pockets of quieter recreation to be found in its many beautiful, multi-purpose parks! From nature-based to recreational, from gardens to dog-friendly areas, these parks are a great place to venture solo, with a group, or with the family (including four-legged members!). Let’s take a look at some of the best parks in Minneapolis!
Parks and Lakes
Above the Falls Regional Park
First on our list of great parks in Minneapolis is Above the Falls Regional Park. Open from 6 am until midnight in developed areas, and until 10 pm in undeveloped areas, Above the Falls Regional Park spans the east and west banks of the Mississippi River between Plymouth Avenue North and Camden Bridges, and boasts plenty of amenities—including beautiful sightseeing, a playground and tot lot, walking and biking paths, softball and baseball fields, a wading pool, public art, and more! This is a great park for folks and families of all ages to visit, let off some energy, and enjoy a scenic park adventure with great views of the Mississippi River along the way!
Brownie Lake Park
Offering a slice of rustic nature without sacrificing the nearness to city life, Brownie Lake Park is open from 6 am until midnight in developed areas, and until 10 pm in undeveloped areas, with biking and walking paths allowing you to soak in the gorgeous outdoor scenery however you prefer!
But that’s not all—while the lake does not permit motorized watercraft, you can bring a kayak or canoe, cast off from the on-site canoe launch located on the north side of the lake, and experience absolute tranquility on the waters of Brownie Lake itself. A visit to this park is a great way to cool off and rejuvenate on a warm summer day!
Open from 6 am until midnight year-round, Fuller Park provides an idyllic, classic park experience! In addition to its outdoor amenities, including a half-court basketball court, playground and tot lot, pickleball court, and wading pool. Fuller Park also has a recreation center—open to the public from 3-9 pm on weekdays and 12-6 pm on weekends—which offers a community kitchen, computer lab, craft room, and more! Stop by the park to enjoy some amazing outdoor fun, and contact the recreation center for access to indoor amenities!
Historic Main Street Park
Get a taste of the historic, rehabilitated commercial and industrial parts of Minneapolis’s Main Street—and its wooded, picnic-friendly counterpart across the way—all in the same day! Historic Main Street Park is open from 6 am until midnight in developed areas, and until 10 pm in undeveloped areas, with biking and walking paths and picnic areas perfect for individuals, groups, and families to go sightseeing and then grab a bite to eat at their own preferred pace. This is a great park for casual day use as well as brushing up on local history and enjoying those bright, sunny days near the riverbank; it’s an experience everyone in the family is sure to love!
Shingle Creek Park
Located on the west bank of Shingle Creek and open from 6 am until midnight, Shingle Creek Park is another fantastic slice of nature inside Minneapolis’s sprawling reaches, boasting such amenities as walking and biking paths as well as a baseball field, hockey rink, ice rink, soccer field, and wading pool. For those looking for a more nature-based experience, the winding Shingle Creek offers a small, lovely waterfall you can enjoy as you make your way along the walking path. Whether you’re interested in a rambunctious, energy-burning park experience or a leisurely, beautiful stroll, you’re bound to have a wonderful visit to Shingle Creek Park!
Please note: All dog parks are open from 6 am-midnight; for all off-leash parks, a permit is required before you can bring your dog to visit the park and can be purchased on an annual or daily basis. In order to obtain a permit, your dog must be vaccinated against rabies. Dogs in heat, aggressive dogs, and dogs declared as dangerous animals under city code or potentially dangerous under state statutes should not be brought to off-leash parks. Please come prepared to clean up after your dog at any park you plan to visit!
This gorgeous, shady park in the southwest area of Minneapolis is beloved by canines and humans alike! It’s a great place to beat the heat and play with your dog in the fully-fenced north corner of the larger Loring Park. There are also plenty of comfortable places for owners to sit and relax inside the dog enclosure, keeping an eye on their four-legged family members while the canines run, wrestle, and play together!
Lake of the Isles
Located at the south side of the Lake of the Isles, between West Lake of the Isles Parkway and West Lake Street, and adjacent to the soccer field, this dog park is a definite favorite in the area! Not only does it have plenty of wide-open space for canines to run, chase, fetch, and wrestle in a safely-enclosed area, but it also boasts a designated location for the smaller four-legged visitors to call their own! A great option for owners who want to ensure their small dogs have their own space to enjoy!
Next on our list of great parks in Minneapolis is Franklin Terrace. Standing adjacent to Riverside Park, Franklin Terrace Dog Park is a fantastic, rustic-feeling dog park framed by hardy trees and full of plenty of raw dirt for dogs to race across and dig in! A great, woodsy dog park option where both humans and canines can soak up that wonderful, pure-nature feeling while remaining close to the heart of Minneapolis!
This beautiful, urban-style park has plenty of fenced-in space for dogs to enjoy, and great shade and benches for owners to relax on while they watch them play (or snuggle with their four-legged friends!). Please be aware that due to its location in a flood storage area, Lyndale Farmstead Dog Park uses crushed granite as its primary surfacing. Some dogs’ feet may have sensitivity to this material, so it’s important to pay close attention to your dog and ensure his or her paws are in good shape after running and playing at Lyndale Farmstead!
This park is the perfect option for dogs (and owners!) who are water lovers! This partially-fenced park borders national park property on one side and a body of water on the other, with plenty of woodland shade and shoreline for dogs to sniff, explore, splash, and swim in. (Note: Posted signs will let owners know when hiking trails turn to national parkland, necessitating that all dogs be leashed from that point forward).
St. Anthony Parkway
Next on our list of best parks in Minneapolis is St. Anthony Parkway. Boasting both great forested shade and plenty of wide-open space for dogs to run, sniff, play, and explore, St. Anthony Parkway is a great off-leash option! With secure fencing and all the room, your canine companions need to let off their energy and enjoy nature in their own way, you can’t go wrong with a visit here!
This fully-fenced park, with its ADA-compliant entrance, is a great option for those near the Victory neighborhood! Sprawling across nearly 3 full acres, dogs and owners have plenty of space to play with other canines, find a more private corner to chase frisbees, balls, and sticks, or walk the path around the inside of the dog park together.
Gardens & Bird Sanctuaries
Located on the northeast shore of Lake Nokomis at the conjunction of Woodlawn Boulevard, this section of Lake Nokomis Park plays host to a stunning ensemble of natural beauty. Its walking path winds between a lush variety of garden patches, from thick grasses to lavish blooms.
Visitors can often catch a glimpse of caterpillars and butterflies among the flowers—particularly monarch butterflies, as the naturescape is a certified Monarch Waystation perfect for these butterflies to feed, breed, and thrive in; you’re also likely to spot many of the gorgeous birds who frequent the area. Nokomis Naturescape is a great place for a peaceful, stunning stroll through well-cultivated nature!
Open 6 am-midnight year-round, this park is an absolutely fantastic place to get away from the bustle of life and sink into the breathtaking beauty of nature! Between wide expanses and secluded areas, you’ll find so much to explore and absorb in Lyndale Park—from rich art and architecture to nature’s own splendor, and so much more! Visit the Annual-Perennial Garden, Butterfly and Hummingbird & Perennial and Border Gardens, Peace Garden, and Rose Garden to take in all the variety this wonderful park has to offer!
Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
Featuring more than 40 works of public art all along its walking paths, the stunning Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a real sight to behold! Visit the memorial arbor, drop by the outdoor Cowles Pavilion, snap pictures of the wonderful creations, and even interact up close and personal with some of the art displays. This is a great learning and recreational trip the whole family can enjoy!
Located on the northwest side of Minnehaha Regional Park and open annually from 6 am until 10 pm every day, Longfellow Gardens is a botanical enthusiast’s dream! Its attractive array of perennials and annuals, combined with its amenities including walking and biking paths and public art, make this one of the most attractive locations for many to visit in Minneapolis.
Roberts Bird Sanctuary
Last, but not least on our list of the best parks in Minneapolis is Roberts Bird Sanctuary. Nestled deep in the lush heart of the woods, the timeless serenity of Roberts Bird Sanctuary beckons guests to come witness countless species of birds in their natural habitat while still achieving that up close and personal experience. Down the maintained paths and boardwalks within the sanctuary, you might spy yellow-throats, great horned owls, hawks, doves, wrens, and more—maybe even a bald eagle!
Take a guided tour for your best chance of spotting birdlife, or strike off on your own to see what you can find for yourself! This fantastic park is open from 7:30 am-10 pm daily, and birding is most encouraged in April-May when migratory species such as warblers make their most numerous appearances. Bird enthusiasts won’t want to miss this location!
Explore the Best Parks in Minneapolis
We hope you enjoyed this guide and are excited and ready to visit some of the best parks in Minneapolis—where urban and nature collide! Which park or parks are you most eager to check out? Let us know in the comments below!
If you love exploring a variety of unique parks, check out our park information here.
Still looking for more fun adventures? Then checkout all the great things to do in the Twin Cities!
Ready for more Minnesota advice, info, and guides? Whether you’re a local or a passerby, discover the best of Minnesota that our great state has to offer!