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Sometimes, you just need some good old fashioned fresh air. 

For those Twin Cities residents seeking a fun, reliable, outdoors adventure — without having to drive too far — look no further. Here are 5 outdoor destinations to explore on a day off.


Wood-Rill SNA

Wood-Rill SNA.

Wood-Rill SNA.

Get lost in imperiled Sugar Maple "Big Woods" forest without leaving the Twin Cities. Wood-Rill Scientific and Natural Area (SNA) comprises 141 acres just north of Lake Minnetonka, and features towering trees that date back 350 years. There are designated hiking trails that will take visitors through an ecosystem the DNR says is "increasingly rare in the developing metro-area."

Important note: SNAs are immensely valuable protected sites, often home to rare plants and animals. Each comes with very specific visitors guidelines — in place to ensure the habitat remains undamaged. At Wood Rill SNA, dogs are allowed but must be on a leash. Biking is permitted only on the designated trail.

Address: 917 Old Long Lake Rd, Wayzata, MN
Click to see map


Augsburg Adventure Park

augsburg adventure park

Need to let some of the little ones burn off some energy? Centrally located in the Twin Cities, the all-inclusive Augsburg Adventure Park in Richfield gives families plenty of play options. That includes various musical instruments, an "adventure zone," a wheelchair-accessible whirl, a "Quiet Grove" for children who may need a sensory break, plus benches and picnic tables.

The playground is open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. No pets except for service dogs. It's free and open to everyone. It's also just a stone's throw from the 150-acre, family friendly Wood Lake Nature Center, if you'd like to visit two great spots while you're out.

Address: 7000 Nicollet Ave, Richfield
Click to see map


Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

MN landscape arboretum lights m turtinen

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a Swiss Army Knife destination. Those looking for a natural getaway can lose themselves on the trails. Specialty gardens provide curated, visually stunning displays of cultivars. If you want an event, the Winter Lights walking tour is once again back for the season.

Admission is $15 for everyone 16 and up, free for younger guests and members. Don't bring your dogs however, as only service dogs are allowed for non-member visitors.

3675 Arboretum Dr, Chaska, MN
Click to see map


Franconia Sculpture Park

The Walker's Sculpture Garden (currently cherry-less) isn't the only large, outdoor sculpture park in the Twin Cities area. Franconia Sculpture Park is a free, must-visit spot featuring dozens of works from various artists, ranging from quirky (yes, that is a portion of a Cheez-It box on a tree) to the abstract (long, metal tendrils shaped into a flowing sculpture).

An excellent place to not only get some outdoor time with family, but see some unique, striking pieces while you're at it.

Address: 29836 St Croix Trail N, Shafer, MN
Click to see map


Crosby Farm Regional Park

crosby farm winter s mclaughlin

A flexible natural space, Crosby Farm Regional Park is a hidden gem along the Mississippi River in St. Paul. Its nearly 7 miles of trails can take you through thick wooded bottom lands, around and through the adjacent marsh, and to the banks of the Mississippi — where you can easily spot the tip of Fort Snelling State Park's Pike Island.

But the entrance near the parking lot also includes a large, often-burning, sheltered fire pit, places to sit, and paved trails around parcels of restored prairie. A lovely spot to escape into the outdoors with friends or family, without having to leave the city. Dogs are welcome — but must be leashed.

Address: 2595 Crosby Farm Rd, St Paul, MN
Click to see map

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