Whether you are visiting or a resident, you will find a ton of great things to do in Cottage Grove, Minnesota. Located only five miles outside of St. Paul, this suburban city is an ideal location for those who are moving to the area and looking to enjoy a quiet life with big-city resources nearby.
Some folks come into town to visit family who has moved to the area, and others are looking to find fun things to do after recently moving. Either way, there are always some fun things to do in Cottage Grove and in the nearby area. Below is a list of great things to do in Cottage Grove, that will keep the entire family busy if you are on a trip or residing in the area.
1. Afton Apple Orchard
With over 250 acres just outside of Cottage Grove, the Afton Apple Orchard invites thousands of guests each year to come and pick a variety of fresh produce, including their beloved apples. Enjoy a beautiful afternoon out on the orchard, picking the produce you want. During the fall season, you can enjoy a fun afternoon with festival activities and a corn maze 15 acres wide. Enjoy your fall pumpkins and start your holiday preparation when you visit Afton Apple Orchard.
2. Hamlet Park
The weather in Minnesota is beautiful, especially during the warm months. This is why picnicking and lunch outside at Hamlet Park is a local favorite. You have amenities and clean picnic tables to enjoy your lunch. Grills are even available to use so that you can feed your crowd fresh and fast. Afterward, take your kids out on the playground, play a game of tennis or go for an easy stroll on the approximate two-mile trail surrounding the park. Enjoy nature’s finest beauty with ponds, prairie grasses, woods, and even the waterway for your viewing pleasure.
3. Minnesota Children’s Museum
Just a few miles away in St. Paul, the Minnesota Children’s Museum is available and accessible Wednesday through Thursday every week. The exhibits at the Minnesota Children’s Museum are interactive with the children, giving them the ability to not only learn about different experiences but gain interaction with other children. Bring the entire family for hours of fun and excitement, giving your children the opportunity to embrace history, science, and social studies all in one central location. Children of all ages can enjoy the museum and have access to learning about Minnesota and the world at large.
4. Cottage Grove Florist
Get the freshest and brightest floral bouquet while you are in town when you visit Cottage Grove Florist. Whether you are having a seasonal celebration, wedding, or other large reception, you can choose one of the oldest florists in the area. They have been serving the Cottage Grove community since the 1980s.
Choose from a variety of Halloween, Thanksgiving, or even fall bouquets to display for your upcoming gatherings. Visitors to the area enjoy stepping into the Cottage Grove Florist and smelling the different flowers that are freshly picked and available. You can even have your own unique bouquet designed by local floral designers.
5. Caribou Coffee
Located conveniently in Cottage Grove is the community pick-me-up coffee shop, Caribou Coffee. Whether you are coming in to start your day or need a little something to get through the afternoon, there is something for everyone. Choose between hot, iced, and blended coffee that has year-round flavors or seasonal favorites. There is also a kids’ menu to give them a treat without all of the coffee. Grab a bagel to go, or enjoy a local favorite ham, egg, and Swiss croissant any time of the day.
6. Zywiec’s Garden Center
Find your happy place and get lots of pleasure when you visit Zywiec’s Garden Center in Cottage Grove. You can find a variety of shrubs, herbs, trees, perennials, and annuals to plant your garden with year-round. Zywiec’s does not only keep your favorite plants in stock but there is also a full range of garden supplies and even unique gifts.
When you are shopping for soil and fertilizing supplies, pick up a new garden flag or a new planter for your window sill so that you can add more herbs to your supply. Anyone who enjoys lots of time outdoors and spending time gardening will find Zywiec’s to be one of their favorite places.
7. St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park
One of the fun things to do in Cottage Grove for locals is to escape into nature at St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park. If you have a small boat, kayak, or canoe, there is a boat launch available so that you can get out on the water for the day and enjoy some peace of mind. Visitors to the area find it ideal for modern camping and enjoy the sounds of nature as they escape into the woods for a quick getaway from the big city.
8. Minnesota Zoo
There is something for everyone to see and enjoy when you visit the Minnesota Zoo. The variety of animals found in this zoo include everything from mammals in the Sahara to Monk Seals from Hawaii. Animals from the land and sea meet in one location for a day of adventure. Check the Zoo’s calendar for programs and events that take place throughout the year. As the holiday season starts to approach, so do the nighttime events at the Minnesota Zoo. Visitors get to enjoy a different view of the zoo during these events.
9. Cassini’s Pizzeria
Everyone loves a hand-made pizza, and that is exactly what you will find when you dine with Cassini’s Pizzeria. Enjoy pizza while dining or take it to go, but either way, you will be returning to this family-owned restaurant. Daily there are pizza specials available whether you come in at lunch or make it your dinner stop for the evening. Enjoy your favorite Pepsi product when you dine with it. Your meal isn’t complete unless you add some of the apps and sides available.
10. Whistling Well Farm
Stroll through the orchard, visit the garden and take a stop in the country store when you visit Whistling Well Farm. Visitors come in throughout the year to enjoy the different crops, vegetables, and flowers that are available to purchase. During the harvest season, there is an abundance of Mums that are grown locally and make great additions to your home and businesses in Cottage Grove.
It is a nice getaway for families from the nearby cities to enjoy a slower pace and the changing seasons. Homemade jams, jellies, and butter is available within the country store, allowing you to get your favorites and return back for more.
11. Mall of America
Just a short drive out of Cottage Grove is the grand Mall of America. If you are looking to do some serious shopping, this is shopping central and has anything and everything you could need. In addition to all of the stores, there is the entertainment district that has something for the restless ones in your group who need a break from shopping the racks and have a little fun at Nickelodeon Universe. Finish your visit off in the food court, with everyone having the option to choose from whichever restaurant they want.
12. Star Trail Snowmobiles
If you are visiting Minnesota in the winter or have recently moved to the area, you are in for a real winter treat. In Washington County, snowmobiles are all the rage once the snow gets thick on the ground. It is truly one of the most fun things to do in Cottage Grove. With almost 150 miles of established trails, you can rent and ride snowmobiles for true winter fun. Make sure you stay on the marked trails for your safety. This is something that your family or even a large group can enjoy as you take on the trails and get to see Minnesota in its true winter beauty.
13. River Oaks Golf Course
If golf is your game, and you are looking for a relaxing day out on the green, then your best bet is to head over to River Oaks Golf Course. You can easily set your tee time up online and venture over to the course. Because of the views found around the property, this is also a great venue for weddings and large events. The food on the property is also delightful after you have enjoyed a good game and experienced the seasonal views that Minnesota has to offer.
14. Minnesota Wild
You cannot visit Minnesota without catching a hockey game. Located just a few miles away in St. Paul is the Xcel Energy Center where the Minnesota Wild Hockey team calls home. Visit their season schedule online and score tickets for a truly wild and authentic Minnesota experience. The ice really heats up when the team skates out and takes on their opponent.
15. Cottage Grove Bike Park
This isn’t just a stroll around the bike park, at the Cottage Grove Bike Park, you can really get your biking on by taking on the dirt jumps, mountain cross-track, and a pump track so that you can really put your biking skills to the test. Local bikers who are fitness enthusiasts take on the tracks regularly to keep their skills up to date before they head off on biking excursions. Beginners are also able to take advantage of the skills park, test what they know and build their skills with the established tracks.
16. Whispering Garden’s
Cottage Grove cannot have too many nurseries and an abundance of plant life for locals and visitors from the city to enjoy. The self-proclaimed best-kept secret, Whispering Garden’s is a local nursery that has been a part of the Cottage Grove community for many years. Add the decoration and design you want to your garden with supports, trellis’ and accents available. Unlike other nurseries in the area, they offer a variety of unique plants that are not native to the area for the local community to enjoy. These plants, flowers, and trees are also treated organically with minimal chemical use.
17. Ravine Regional Park
There is a great place to really get out and stretch your legs when you are in Cottage Grove, and that place is Ravine Regional Park. There are over 500 acres of park to enjoy with thick woods and even open fields. You can take a morning, afternoon, or even the whole day out on the water fishing, enjoying the peaceful waters that Minnesota has to offer.
The trails available have some paved options if you want a designated walkway. There are also more rustic trails available for those who want a little more private hike throughout the park. In the winter, this park turns into a ski haven for the locals, and many of these trails become ski trails that are available through the winter months.
Cottage Grove Packs a Punch
From apple picking, hiking, and sightseeing to fantastic eateries, wild animals, and museums, you will find a ton of great things to do in Cottage Grove, Minnesota.
If you know of other amazing things to do in Cottage Grove, please let us know by leaving a comment below.
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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.