Test your nerves as you balance your way across a swinging bridge, gaze out over Lake Superior, or spot fleeing white-tailed deer just minutes outside of the city. Minnesota's favorite State Parks for families supply a plethora of enticements:
Fort Snelling is Minnesota's most visited park, and for good reason. Despite its proximity to the city, the park boasts sublime swathes of nature, linking up with the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Reserve. Look out for white-tailed deer and watch meandering rivers converge. Other attractions include hikes to the historic Snelling Fort, swimming in Snelling Lake, biking to Minnehaha Park, or exploring serene Pike Island.
Children delight in the swinging bridge that crosses the Middle River in this park. Yelps of laughter arise from the park's swimming area, while wooded trails wind through prairies ablush with wild flowers. Enjoy a picnic in the sunshine, or visit the historic log cabin and the steam-powered grist mill.
Best known for its striking lighthouse, this history-packed park is perfect for families. Take the lighthouse tour and enjoy panoramic views of Lake Superior. There are 12 miles worth of hiking trails and 8 miles of biking trails to explore.
Snowmobile your way across acres of parkland in order to visit art galleries in pretty towns. Follow the Gitchi-Gami Trail, and walk along the Mississippi River. Minnesota's State Parks are filled with highlights for hikers:
A huge variety of hikes present themselves to visitors at Itasca State Park. From strolls along the gentle, mile-long path that follows the Mississippi River, to excursions on the 20 mi. long Paul Bunyan Route, there's something for every fitness level and constitution. You can hike part of Minnesota's Pine to Prairie Birding Trail, or stop off in the towns of Hackensack, Pine River, and Pequot Lakes. Hike, bike, or snowmobile your way to stunning scenery and engaging cultural events.
Almost 10,000 acres of parkland unfold here, revealing waterfalls (including the state's highest) and points of historical interest, interrupted by swathes of whispering hardwood forest. Hike 23 mi. of trails of various difficulty levels, and 12 mi. on the Superior Hiking Trail. You'll find idyllic beaches on the lakeside in summer, and snowshoeing opportunities in the winter.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails accompany hiking and biking trails in this spectacular state park. Come and discover historic sites and see several waterfalls on the Gitchi-Gami State Trail. Flame colored forests crown pinnacles of rock along the Superior National Forest Trail. During migration season, you can observe hawks flying by at the Skibo Vista Scenic Overlook.
White water raft past billion-year-old rock formations, or snowmobile at high speeds across the countryside. Adventure sport fans will find plenty of fun in these Minnesota State Parks:
If your idea of adventure is fishing, Whitewater is the Minnesotan destination for you. Springs feed the Whitewater River and the pretty Trout Run Creek, making for idyllic days out amidst dramatic landscapes. Hike 10 mi. of trails, or snowshoe through this glorious park come wintertime.
Even the most adventurous will get a thrill when they look over the edge of Jay Cooke's famous Swinging Bridge and see the river gorge far below. 50 mi. of hiking trails are joined by 8 mi. of biking trails and 6 mi. of equestrian trails. In the winter, cross country skiers will find extensive exploration opportunities on 34 mi. of trails. Speed freaks can snowmobile over 8 mi. of trails to connect with the nearby Willard Munger State Trail. Don't forget to have a go at archery, climb to Oldenburg Point, and see the Pioneer Cemetery.
Glacial deposits, potholes, and billion year old lava flows form the landscape of this dyanamic State Park. The St Croix River slices through dramatic cliffs at Taylors Falls. Come kayak fast paced rapids, or canoe in the slower moving sections of the river. Hiking trails through the forest are particularly beautiful in autumn and lead you past the park's geological attractions.