12 Attractions in Burnsville, Minnesota

Last Updated on February 13, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Burnsville is a charming city located in Dakota County, Minnesota, about 15 miles south of downtown Minneapolis. This vibrant suburb has a population of over 60,000 residents and offers visitors a variety of attractions and activities to enjoy.

From scenic parks and trails to museums and entertainment venues, Burnsville has something for everyone. The city’s convenient location near the Mall of America and Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport also makes it easy to access.

Whether you’re a local resident or just visiting, Burnsville’s attractions offer fun and memorable experiences. This article will highlight 12 of the top things to see and do in Burnsville to help you plan your Minnesota getaway. We’ll cover everything from outdoor recreation to cultural sites and family-friendly destinations. Let’s explore some of the best Burnsville has to offer!

1. Minnesota Zoo

The Minnesota Zoo is one of Burnsville’s most popular attractions. This large zoo sits on 485 acres and is home to over 4,300 animals representing over 800 species. Visitors of all ages will enjoy seeing exotic wildlife like Amur tigers, African penguins, Bornean orangutans, and pygmy marmosets up close.

The zoo’s naturalistic habitats allow guests to observe animal behaviors you can’t easily witness in traditional zoo exhibits. Walk through the Northern Trail area to see gray wolves, black bears, and other North American species. Don’t miss the popular Tropics Trail either, where you can spot beautiful birds from around the world. Special animal feedings and demonstrations run daily too.

With indoor and outdoor viewing areas, the Minnesota Zoo offers year-round family fun. An IMAX theater, multiple dining options, and a rides area for kids make it easy to spend an entire day here exploring with the whole family.

2. Twin Cities Premium Outlets

The Twin Cities Premium Outlets located in Eagan sits just over the Burnsville border, making it easy to access during your visit. This large outlet mall contains over 100 brand name and designer stores with impressive discounts.

Shoppers can browse goods from popular retailers like Nike, Under Armour, Michael Kors, Kate Spade New York, and more. The outdoor shopping center provides a pleasant experience to find designer fashion, footwear, housewares, and electronics for less. Make sure to visit customer service when you arrive to pick up a coupon book for additional store discounts and deals.

Whether you shop till you drop or just pop in for a few items, the outlet mall makes shopping affordable and fun. The center also has plenty of dining options when you need to refuel as well as complimentary Wi-Fi.

3. Buck Hill

Buck Hill is Burnsville’s very own ski and snowboard hill that offers winter fun for all ability levels. It contains a total of 15 runs ranging from beginner to advanced skill sets. Riders can take lessons, practice on the skills course, zip down groomed trails, or hit terrain park features.

For those seeking adventure beyond classic downhill skiing and snowboarding, Buck Hill has other activities too. These include snow tubing hills, a scenic sky ride on the Summit Chairlift, and winter ziplining. The ski chalet sells food, equipment rentals, and lift tickets for full days of family fun. Night skiing options under the lights run on certain days too.

4. Burnsville Performing Arts Center

The Burnsville Performing Arts Center (BPAC) provides top-tier entertainment and culture. This premier venue can seat over 750 guests for productions in the main theater hall. Additionally, a black box theater space allows for more intimate shows and events.

Throughout the year, patrons can catch concerts, comedy shows, dance performances, musical guests and more at BPAC. National Broadway touring companies also make stops at BPAC, giving locals a chance to enjoy hits like “Wicked,” “The Lion King,” and “Hamilton” without traveling far.

Before performances, visitors can enjoy art displays in BPAC’s visual arts gallery as well. Free artist receptions often coincide with new exhibits. With exceptional entertainment and theatre arts, BPAC appeals to creatives and performing arts fans alike.

5. Cliff Fen Park and Beach

Nature lovers find scenic solace at Cliff Fen Park, located just west of Minnesota River. It houses hiking and biking paths that wind through prairie lands and a restored 100-acre fen. Benches allow visitors to stop and observe native flowers and wildlife along the trails too.

A section of Cliff Fen Park lies along the riverfront, creating a beach area equipped with grills, picnic tables, playground equipment and restrooms. In summer months, families flock here to swim, canoe, fish or relax in the sand. Winter provides access to cross-country ski trails that make use of the park’s rolling slopes and forests.

Whether you walk the trails, picnic lakeside or launch a kayak, Cliff Fen Park’s mix of prairie and waterfront access makes for an idyllic natural getaway. Admission to use the park and its amenities comes free of charge as well.

6. Ames Center

Burnsville’s Ames Center provides a mid-size venue to host well-known musical and comedy acts in an intimate theater setting. The renovated former high school auditorium has a capacity just under 1,500 with excellent acoustics and views. Nationally touring artists perform here regularly along with local theater companies and symphonies.

Unlike Burnsville’s larger performance spaces, Ames Center focuses mainly on hosting concerts and comedy shows from favorite musicians and comedians. However, you may also catch a community talent show, dance recital, or even a public lecture on occasion. The center’s old school charm combined with modern upgrades makes it a favorite for live entertainment.

7. Alimagnet Dog Park

The Alimagnet Dog Park spans over 20 acres to give pups room to roam and play off-leash. It contains spaces dedicated for both large and small breed dogs to socialize and get exercise. The park provides waste bags and stations, water fountains, and benches for owners as well.

Beyond the fenced off-leash areas, Alimagnet Dog Park features walking trails and a pond that dogs can access while leashed. Owners will find scenic views and environments to walk their four-legged friends. With plenty of parking and no admission fees, this dog park makes it easy to spend hours with man’s best friend.

8. Burnsville Ice Arena

Figure skaters, hockey players, and curling teams all utilize Burnsville’s Ice Arena located within the city civic center. The complex contains one NHL regulation-size rink plus another smaller studio ice sheet. It serves as a practice facility for Burnsville High School’s hockey teams but also provides public open skate times daily.

Visitors can rent skates and safety equipment to take to the ice for casual fun or more intense hockey scrimmages during allotted slots. Additionally, the arena offers skating lessons for kids and adults plus curling leagues and workshops. Only high quality ice surfaces get used and maintained here, even in the warmer months. So when winter arrives, the arena switches the rinks back to frozen sheets eagerly awaited by the community’s skating fans.

9. Village Shops at Burnsville

The Village Shops at Burnsville provide a small shopping district with boutiques, cafes, salons and services. Locally owned businesses like Linda Ho Boutique, Brutta Beauty Bar, and Cuppa Java Café line the streets alongside upscale chains like Sur La Table. The mix of retailers makes for great shopping and casual eats coupled with friendly service.

Parking comes free and easy at this walkable shopping village. Visitors can browse goods while admiring landscaped greenspaces and public art around the area. From stylish clothing to kitchenware to custom cakes, the Village Shops cover plenty of shopping needs and unique gifts not found elsewhere. Even if you don’t buy anything, strolling the district makes for a pleasant outing.

10. Crystal Lake Park and Beach

Sitting adjacent to Crystal Lake, this aptly named park provides beach access ideal for warm weather fun. Visitors can swim, wade, kayak and stand-up paddleboard on the lake’s calm waters. Fishing piers, picnic tables, grills, sand volleyball courts and restrooms serve guests too.

For those looking to stay out of the water, Crystal Lake Park still amuses with playground equipment, walking paths and hiking trails. Wander through woods and prairie lands bursting with wildflowers in spring and summer. Grab a permit at the park office for an open picnic shelter or to reserve a group campsite as well. With amenities for individuals, families and even gatherings, Crystal Lake Park entertains all.

11. Kraus-Hartig Brewery and Bierhall

This family-owned brewery and bierhall in Burnsville supplies quality craft beers and genuine German fare. Kraus-Hartig Brewery brews European style lagers and ales on-site in full view of the bierhall restaurant area. Their seasonal bocks and Oktoberfest brews get especially popular.

Of course the menu compliments the beers perfectly with sausages, soft pretzels, schnitzel sandwiches and more. Hearty plates come out piping hot from the kitchen while servers deliver put frothy pint after pint. The laid back atmosphere encourages guests to unwind over a beer sampling flight or two. With both indoor and patio seating, Kraus-Hartig Brewery makes an ideal spot for knocking back a cold one, even on Minnesota’s crisp days.

12. Minnesota River Quadrant Trail System

Outdoor adventurists and nature lovers find reward in Burnsville’s Minnesota River Quadrant Trail System. Still undergoing expansion, this multi-use path already provides over 15 miles of trail spanning through woodlands, wetlands and prairie. Hikers, runners, mountain bikers and even horseback riders share the scenic trail system peacefully thanks to thoughtful layouts and width.

The Quadrant Trail connects to other parks and trails in Apple Valley, Lakeville and beyond too. But focusing your jaunt within Burnsville alone still nets visitors plentiful sights from technicolor wildflowers to the steady riverfronts. Trailheads with parking access pop up across the city including at Terrace Oaks Park, Cliff Fen Park and Crystal Lake Park. Exploring the Quadrant Trail provides healthy outdoor challenge amid gorgeous vistas accessible nearly year-round.

Conclusion

From museums and performance venues to natural parks and pet-friendly destinations, Burnsville’s attractions delight visitors of all types. Families, couples, solo travelers and even furry companions find options to learn, play and unwind in memorable ways. Burnsville’s convenient location near Minneapolis and the Mall of America further bolsters its draw as a worthy Minnesota getaway.

When planning your next Twin Cities area vacation, consider adding these 12 Burnsville attractions to your itinerary alongside Minneapolis excursions. Their diversity and charm make Burnsville a destination ready to impress and entertain on its own too. Whether enjoying winter sports atop Buck Hill or summer concerts under sunny skies, Burnsville stands ready to welcome you.

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