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This is one of the most spectacular urban delights of south Minneapolis. Winding its way from the south shore of Lake Harriet, Minnehaha Creek cuts a 5-mile path along 50th Street on its way to the Mississippi River. Picturesque Minnehaha Parkway, running parallel to the creek, is a splendid drive featuring lush gardens and large shade trees. The route can also be traversed by foot or bike via the trails. The culmination of the gurgling and bubbling creek as it rushes to meet the mighty Mississippi is the cascading splendor of Minnehaha Falls and 170-acre magnificent Minnehaha Park. One of the city's most-used stretches of parkland, it features several large picnic grounds, formal gardens, playing fields, hiking trails, and undeveloped natural areas. Four different staircases, made of local stone, lead from the uplands to various spots along the creek bottom. There they connect to a trail that follows the creek to its confluence with the river across from St. Paul's Hidden Falls Park. A separate paved trail connects the park to historic Fort Snelling State Park. Of special historical significance is the John H Stevens House Museum that was recently moved to park grounds south of the Falls.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory opened in 1873 and is spread across 759 acres (307.16 hectares). Owned by the city, it features a large cat exhibit, a seal island, a primate facility, a zone for aquatic animals, African hoofed animals and a polar bear exhibit. It is a great place for family outings where you get to learn in a fun-filled environment. Since it is a huge space, chances are that you might miss out on some attractions which are just an added incentive to come back again. Explore their various themed gardens, take a ride on the historic carousel, or visit the children's gallery and check out their frog conservation exhibit. Don't miss out on Como Town, their amusement park, as well.
Theodore Wirth Regional Park is Minneapolis's third largest nature park that is operated and managed by the Park & Recreation Board of Minneapolis. The park currently covers 843 acres (341 hectares) and is almost as big as the famous Central Park in New York City. The park features an 18-hole golf course, a 9-hole 3 par course, a lake, a skiing trail, fishing facilities and more. This is a great place to spend your day off from work by getting some much-needed exercise to keep your body in shape.
This paved public trail follows the bed of the Soo Line Railroad from St. Paul to Stillwater. Whether biking, inline skating, running or walking, it will take you from the city to the country in 19 miles. The trail runs through residential neighborhoods, past parks, and through North St. Paul along Highway 36. Many of the municipalities have created access paths to the parks that sit along the way. A slight detour will take you to the Maplewood Community Center. Enjoy the view as you pass Lake Phalen, past the small community of Mahtomedi and into historic Stillwater. The last train passed this way in 1987, and markers along the way point out where some of the old train stations sat. There are also markers that tell about some of the wildlife along the way. Maps are available from the DNR office.