Oakdale, Minnesota, might be overshadowed by the nearby Twin Cities, but there are plenty of things to do in the town itself! Lying on the outskirts of St. Paul, this medium-sized town has a population of about 27,000. Here, you will find a thriving locale that is all about supporting local artisans and businesses, enjoying the outdoors, and coming together as a community. Here are the top 14 things to do in Oakdale, Minnesota!
1. Relax on a Forest Therapy Walk
Sometimes the best thing to do is recenter yourself is to get out in nature and spend some time away from your daily routine. The forest is the perfect place to do this! Forest therapy, also called forest bathing, is all about immersing yourself in nature and stepping out of your usual mindframe. With about 34 percent of the state covered in woodland, Minnesota is the perfect place to do it!
This unique therapy is hosted periodically throughout the year. During this time, you will get the chance to do a guided walk with a forest therapy professional. Just make sure that you register ahead of time, as there are a limited number of spots in the class! Forest therapy might just be the perfect way to get away from your regular stresses.
2. Take a Painting Class
Taking classes in your community is a great way to learn new skills, gain new perspectives, or just have fun. You can find painting classes hosted regularly in Oakdale at the Oakdale Discovery Center. This is a great opportunity to try your hand at something new, especially if you have always wanted to learn how to paint.
The painting classes hosted at the Oakdale Discovery Center offer the chance to learn how to paint with acrylics and are led by a professional artist. Many of these are seasonally themed! You don’t need to bring any of your own materials, but there is a registration fee to reserve your spot in the class.
3. Go Snowshoeing With a Drink
The greater St. Paul area averages 52.1 inches of snow every year, so it should come as no surprise that winter sports are popular here! One of the best is snowshoeing. In Oakdale, you will often find community events where visitors can go snowshoeing through the moonlit forest before enjoying food and entertainment.
One of the most popular events of the year is the Snowshoe, Sip, and Sample. This annual event happens in mid-February. On this night, attendees over 21 can enjoy a night of snowshoeing, playing vintage games, listening to live music, and trying beer and wine samples. It’s the perfect way to drive away the winter blues!
4. Hit up a Local Eatery
Oakdale might not have the same variety as nearby St. Paul, but there are still many great restaurants in the area! Local options range from intimate pub fare to fine dining and everything in between.
There are also plenty of ethnic food options. Some local favorites include Wild Boar Bar and Grill, where you will find a range of beer options and signature cheese curds, and Sgt. Peppers, which serves upscale American options. You can also find one-of-a-kind venues like JW’s Bierstube, a German sports bar serving authentic German food and beer. No matter what kind of atmosphere you prefer, you can find it all in Oakdale.
5. See a Show
With St. Paul, only a hop, skip, and a jump away, you will have plenty of access to shows! But you can also find some great performances and other events happening in Oakdale itself throughout the year.
These include everything from art shows to plays, concerts, and much more. Throughout the summer, locals attend a free concert series in Walton Park. In the fall, you will get the chance to see displays from local artists. And of course, there are seasonal community shows throughout the year.
There are also special events hosted regularly at the local theaters as well as the Oakdale Discovery Center. If nothing in the immediate area catches your eye, there is always something new and exciting going on in nearby St. Paul!
6. Play a Game of Pickleball
If you have never heard of pickleball, don’t let the silly name throw you off. This one-of-a-kind sport is growing in popularity! In Oakdale, you will find the Oakdale Pickleball Club, which meets regularly for community games.
Pickleball is a combination of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. It takes a lot of skill but is also a great choice for anyone looking for something that is fun and open to everyone! The Pickleball Club welcomes players of every skill level, so don’t worry if you’re still a beginner — or even if you’ve never played before.
This is a great way to have fun, get fresh air and exercise, and meet new people in the community.
7. Enjoy a Family Snowshoe Walk
In case you couldn’t tell, snowshoeing is a pretty popular activity in Oakdale. There are regular events for every demographic, including a Family Moonlight Snowshoe and Bonfire. This annual walk offers visitors of all ages the chance to enjoy a leisurely walk through the Oakdale Nature Preserve. The trail is lit by luminaries to help guide your way.
This offers the unique chance to experience a winter wonderland at night! When the walk is over, join the community around a bonfire for hot chocolate, s’mores, hot dogs, and other treats.
You can bring your own snowshoes if you have them, but rentals are also available. This is truly a one-of-a-kind event that you won’t want to miss when you’re in Oakdale!
8. Attend a Winter Holiday Event
Oakdale has an active community, and no time of the year is busier than around the holidays. During this time, you will find all kinds of events scheduled. One of the biggest and most popular is the annual Winter Wonderland hosted at the Oakdale Discovery Center.
There is no entrance fee, but attendees are asked to bring items to donate as part of the community food drive. This is a great family event, with opportunities to meet and talk to Santa, go to a petting zoo, and eat s’mores around a bonfire.
You won’t run out of activities at the Winter Wonderland — before you go, be sure to make some crafts, get your face painted, and participate in the candy cane hunt.
9. Visit a Trampoline Park
If you have never visited a trampoline park before, be ready to unleash your inner child at one of the best things to do in Oakdale. Skyzone St. Paul (actually located in Oakdale) is every kid’s dream come true. With a whole building full of trampolines of all kinds, as well as climbing walls and other playscapes, this is the ultimate opportunity to go wild.
If you want to keep things simple, feel free to participate in the freestyle jump. But there are also tons of other attractions, events, and even classes at Skyzone! Jump into a foam pit, take on a climbing wall, crush the ninja warrior course, or participate in team dodgeball (on a trampoline court, of course).
This is also the perfect place for kids’ birthday parties and other events, so keep it bookmarked!
10. Learn About a New Topic
Oakdale is all about community engagement. Here, you will find tons of open classes offering the chance to learn about new topics. If you love learning and expanding your worldview, keep your eye out for local classes available to you.
You will find classes on topics such as pigeon keeping, plant identification, painting, and chicken keeping. All of these are open for enrollment and taught by professionals. While most of them require a small registration fee, you can depend on them being affordable and providing all the materials you need.
If you are looking to learn a new topic, want to meet new people, or simply need to fill a weekend, one of these community classes could be perfect for you.
11. Buy Some Local Goods
Every winter, Oakdale hosts an indoor market. During this time, visitors get the chance to buy from local vendors, artists, and other businesses. If you love farmers’ markets, this is the place to be!
The indoor market takes place on select weekends throughout the winter. The vendors change annually but include everything from local farms to restaurants, boutiques, and more. You will find local art, jewelry, baked goods, preserves, fruit and vegetables, and much more.
Many people use this opportunity to buy holiday gifts for their loved ones. With the market opening for the season in mid-November, it is the perfect place to find one-of-a-kind gifts.
12. Visit The Oakdale Discovery Center
There are many events hosted at the Oakdale Discovery Center throughout the year. But the center itself is a fascinating place, serving as everything from a nature reserve to an event venue, art gallery, peaceful retreat, and much more. It is not hard to see why it is at the center of Oakdale community events!
The on-site art gallery features local artists throughout the year. The exhibits change, offering visitors the chance to see artistic styles from photography to watercolors, sculptures, and mixed media.
The Discovery Center sits on 200 acres of preserved land. This includes nature trails, a forest garden, sports facilities, picnic areas, and a playground.
13. Play a Round of Golf
Oakdale is a great place for golf enthusiasts! Oak Marsh Golf Course is a beautiful 18-hole green located in the heart of town.
The course offers a great challenge, with wetlands and marsh as well as 31 bunkers. You are free to play a round on your own or take advantage of the on-site instructors in the practice facility.
In addition to the course, the property also features a banquet hall, which is a popular venue for weddings, corporate events, retirement parties, and more. Oak Marsh offers catering and other services that are perfect for whatever event you are planning, whether large or intimate.
14. Support Local Artists
Oakdale is all about supporting local artists, which is why it hosts the annual Art Discovery Fair! This event occurs just before Christmas every year, so you get the chance to buy beautiful, one-of-a-kind gifts for your friends and family.
You will find goods from artisans of every kind here, from wood crafts to jewelry, sculpture, paintings, pottery, and more. You’ll also get the chance to chat with the creators and learn more about their creative process.
This event is the perfect opportunity to patronize local artists while shopping for unique gifts that your loved ones can enjoy all year.
Many More Great Things to Do in Oakdale
You might think of Oakdale as a simple suburb of the Twin Cities, but in reality, it is so much more than that. This pleasant town is full of things to do, from community sports to outdoor adventures and holiday events. If you’re looking for fun things to do in Oakdale, there are tons of options — no matter what you’re into.
Did we miss one? If you’ve discovered another activity that should be added to our list of great things to do in Oakdale, please let us know.
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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.