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Nature & Wildlife

Top Rated Attractions in Minneapolis/St. Paul

Search Radius (Miles)
Lake of the Isles

Some of the city's largest and most elegant homes frame Lake of the Isles. This man-made lake is well stocked with panfish, attracting anglers of all ages in the warm months as well as the cold. Swimming is not advised, but the setting is delightful for sunbathing, a picnic or reading a book under a large shade tree. In winter, park officials designate skating areas and erect a warming house. Walking, jogging or biking around its 2.7 miles of shoreline provides outstanding views of the downtown and the surrounding neighborhood. The serene atmosphere of Lake of the Isles makes it the lake of choice for canoeists. The southern portion of the lake is connected to the city's largest lake, Lake Calhoun, by a quiet channel.

Minnehaha Regional Park

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.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

In close proximity to the Walker Art Center sits what many consider one of the boldest and most unique displays of art in the country, if not the entire world. Inaugurated in 1988, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden is a showcase for more than 40 works of art including major sculptures by George Segal, Ellsworth Kelly, Jenny Holzer, Henry Moore and Franz Lipschitz. The entrance to the 11-acre garden is bordered by Ampersand, a pair of colossal granite columns by Martin Puryear. The garden's centerpiece is the 'Spoonbridge and Cherry' sculpture and fountain by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen. The small conservatory is also home to a Frank Gehry-designed giant fish with scales of glass that rests on its tail.

Bde Maka Ska

Connected by a channel to the Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska is the largest of the five lakes comprising Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. The lake attracts a younger crowd to the sandy beaches for volleyball, sunbathing and picnics. Walkers, in-line skaters and bikers proliferate on the three miles of paved paths circling the lake. Windsurfers, canoeists, kayakers and sailors fill the lake during the warmer months while ice fishing houses dot its frozen waters during the winter.

Fort Snelling State Park

A great place to hike, bike, ski, fish, canoe or just take in nature, Fort Snelling State Park offers a wealth of outdoor activities. Filled with trails that link Minnehaha Park and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, other attractions here include Gun Club Lake, Snelling Lake, and Pike Island, which sits at the convergence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers. The park also hosts numerous events, and one popular trail leads hikers to the historic Fort Snelling. A day-use only park, visitors should consider beginning their visit with a trip to the Thomas C. Savage Visitor Center.

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

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.

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