12 Attractions in Coon Rapids, Minnesota

Last Updated on February 18, 2024 by Emily Johnson

Coon Rapids, located in Anoka County, Minnesota, is a vibrant suburb of Minneapolis-Saint Paul with a population of over 60,000. Known as the “Hub of the Northwest Metro,” Coon Rapids offers residents and visitors many recreational, cultural, and historical attractions to enjoy. This article will highlight 12 of the top attractions that make Coon Rapids a great place to live, work, and play.

Founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1959, Coon Rapids is one of the largest suburbs in the Twin Cities metro area. Located only 20 minutes from downtown Minneapolis, the city spans 22.93 square miles along the Mississippi River.

Coon Rapids boasts over 100 parks, excellent public schools, affordable housing, and a diverse population. Key industries include manufacturing, retail trade, educational services, and health care. The city has invested heavily in revitalizing its downtown district, opening restaurants, stores, and the popular Coon Rapids Boulevard attraction.

Whether you’re a longtime resident or just visiting the area, this guide covers 12 attractions showcasing the best of Coon Rapids. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, sports to shopping and dining, there’s always something to see and do in this dynamic Minneapolis suburb.

1. Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park

Spanning 400 acres, Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park is one of the most popular parks in the northwest metro area. Outdoor enthusiasts flock here to walk, run and bike over 15 miles of scenic trails that wind through prairie grasslands, wetland areas, and woodlands overlooking the Mississippi River.

The park also features picnic areas, a dog park, basketball and volleyball courts, a playground, and access to the bay at the base of the Coon Rapids Dam. Visitors can rent boats and paddle near the dam or walk out on one its spacious pedestrian walkways for a one-of-a-kind view.

The nearby Coon Rapids Dam Visitor Center provides educational displays about the history and ecology surrounding the Mississippi River and dam. From wildlife viewing to boating to special events, Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park provides endless four-season recreation.

2. Anoka-Hennepin Regional Athletic Complex

Known locally as the “RecPlex,” the Anoka-Hennepin Regional Athletic Complex is one of the premier recreational sports facilities in the metro area.

The massive complex contains 8 indoor sheets of ice for hockey and figure skating, 16 indoor tennis courts, a professional golf training area, a large cardio and weight training fitness center, walking track and ample multi-purpose space.

Outside you’ll find 8 turf multi-purpose athletic fields, baseball and softball diamonds, and additional green spaces for sports like lacrosse, rugby, and soccer. Local sports leagues and associations call the RecPlex home. Visitors can purchase day passes to ice skate, play tennis or golf, and work out in the fitness center.

With its vast array of athletic facilities all in one place, the Anoka-Hennepin Regional Athletic Complex draws athletes and sports enthusiasts from across the entire Twin Cities region.

3. Sand Creek Park

Encompassing 680 acres just north of downtown Coon Rapids, sprawling Sand Creek Park offers both active and passive recreation amid wetlands, woods and prairie areas. Visitors delight in hiking and biking over 7 miles of trails that wander through unique ecosystems like oak savannah habitat.

The park contains the historic Rush Meadow Boarding House site, a large outdoor amphitheater that hosts concerts in the summer, playgrounds, picnic areas, basketball and tennis courts and access to sand volleyball. In winter a large sledding hill opens for snowboarders and tubers.

The nature center provides naturalist-led educational programming plus the chance to check out exhibits or relax near the fireplace. With an abundance of recreational facilities and natural areas, Sand Creek Park appeals to all ages and interests year-round.

4. Bunker Hills Golf Club

Avid golfers won’t want to miss playing the superb greens at Bunker Hills Golf Club, ranked among the top public golf courses in Minnesota. This 18-hole, par 72 championship course meanders over hills and valleys, offering golfers striking scenery and challenging play.

The impeccably maintained fairways, greens and sand traps appeal to golfers at all skill levels. Make sure to book a PGA golf professional to help analyze and improve your golf game. The beautiful timber and stone clubhouse features an Irish pub-themed restaurant and bar so you can refuel after a round.

Golf Digest awarded Bunker Hills Golf Club its prestigious “Best Places to Play Award” three years straight. Conveniently located in Coon Rapids, it’s one of the most popular golf destinations in the Twin Cities area.

5. Coon Rapids Boulevard

The centerpiece of Coon Rapids’ efforts to revitalize its downtown lies along Coon Rapids Boulevard. The mile-long corridor along the old Riverdale Mall has transformed into a vibrant attraction showcasing retail, restaurants, recreation, and the arts.

Popular shops and eateries line the brick street overlooked by sleek apartment buildings featuring cozy rooftop gathering spaces. The Boulevard Fountain pays tribute to the river and former power plant that gave birth to the city over a century ago. Locals and visitors of all ages delight in the indoor recreation found at places like the Boulevard Athletic Club and Play it Again Sports.

Cultural enrichment occurs thanks to entities like the Anoka County Library, Coon Rapids Campus of Anoka-Ramsey Community College, and the Coon Rapids Ice Center which hosts theater and live music. With free parking ramps and zero traffic, exploring Coon Rapids Boulevard proves an easy and engaging way to spend an afternoon or evening.

6. Northtown Mall

As one of the largest indoor shopping centers in Minnesota, Northtown Mall provides over 125 retail stores for visitors to explore. All the popular national chains like Macy’s, JC Penney, Kohls, and Dick’s Sporting Goods occupy Northtown alongside specialty clothing boutiques, shoe stores, jewelry shops, and electronics retailers.

When you need a bite or caffeine fix, places like Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Starbucks, and Chipotle await. The mall also delivers family fun thanks to amenities like giant LED screens, soft seating areas, a ping pong lounge, and indoor play area. Northtown Mall underwent a recent multimillion-dollar renovation that produced luxury finishes like terrazzo floors and a modern glass atrium entry.

Conveniently located right off Highway 10 in Coon Rapids, Northtown Mall provides locals and visitors from neighboring suburbs an ideal spot for everyday shopping needs or spending a day window browsing and hanging out.

7. Anoka County Parks

Coon Rapids sits in an ideal location surrounded by numerous Anoka County parks that offer delightful seasonal recreation.

Rush Lake Regional Park provides beach swimming, boating, fishing access and hiking trails around water and wetlands. Located 15 minutes south in Fridley, Springbrook Nature Center encompasses miles of woodland trails plus small zoo animals and native plant gardens. 20 minutes north near Anoka, the Rum River Central Regional Park offers visitors tubing down the Rum River plus picnicking in beautiful natural surroundings.

Other Anoka County parks found within a half hour drive provide opportunities like camping, archery ranges, horseback riding trails, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and more depending on the season. With 20 parks spanning over 11,000 acres, Anoka County contains amazing outdoor recreation readily accessible to Coon Rapids locals and visitors.

8. Minnesota National Golf Links

Avid golfers also relish playing rounds on the links-style Championship Course at Minnesota National Golf Links, ranked among the state’s top public courses. This 18-hole, par-72 course sprawls over hills and valleys, presenting golfers with striking panoramas and challenging play no matter which set of five tees you choose.

The undulating fairways, turf greens, pot bunkers and knee-high native grass surround rough and waste areas modeled after legendary Scottish courses. Experienced golfers find the challenging combinations of yardages, angles and penalties exhilarating rather than frustrating. Make sure to enjoy a meal or drink on the patio overlooking the scenic course after your round.

Conveniently located just minutes from Coon Rapids off Highway 610, Minnesota National Golf Links shouldn’t be missed by any serious local or visiting golfer.

9. Coon Rapids Civic Center

Known locally as “The Rapids,” the Coon Rapids Civic Center provides a convenient downtown venue for local performing arts. You’ll find seasonal stage plays and musicals performed in the 300-seat theater featuring comfortable seating and great acoustics.

Community music recitals, dance performances, comedy and improv shows frequently occur thanks to a special sprung floor stage added specifically for dance. Outside groups can rent the space for events and meetings.

The Rapids also houses the home ice of the Coon Rapids Senior Cardinals hockey team and hosts public skating sessions. While smaller in scale than downtown Minneapolis venues, locals love having the Coon Rapids Civic Center located right in their own community.

10. Gateway Shopping Area

The busy commercial area known as the “Gateway” offers visitors all types of popular retail stores and restaurants. With quick access right off Highway 10 on Coon Rapids Boulevard, it provides ideal shopping and dining for locals and visitors from nearby suburbs.

Retailers like Home Depot, Costco, Target, Sierra Trading Post, Best Buy, and Hobby Lobby sprawl across several shopping centers conveniently connected by parking lots and roads. Most evenings, locals pack eateries like Outback Steakhouse, Crave Restaurant, Old Chicago, and Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill located in the Gateway district. The new Hy-Vee grocery and Lifetime Fitness also drive visitors to the easily accessed area.

Thanks to abundant parking and limited traffic, the Gateway shopping district serves as the go-to option for Coon Rapids residents satisfying their retail and dining needs.

11. Anoka County Farmer’s Market

For the freshest local produce, unique artisan foods and handcrafted wares, don’t miss the Anoka County Farmer’s Market. Conveniently located in downtown Coon Rapids, this producer-only market runs Saturdays mid-May through October. 80 vendors sell veggies, fruits, eggs, honey, maple syrup, baked goods, garden plants, soaps, art and more—all grown or created within 50 miles.

Special events occur like Master Gardener clinics, live music performances, recipe contests and STEM activities for kids. The first hour allows those with sensitivities to shop before heavy foot traffic arrives. With strict rules ensuring everything sold is locally homemade or homegrown, the Anoka County Farmer’s Market provides an authentic taste of Minnesota.

12. Coon Rapids Little League Complex

With 12 fields all in one location, the Coon Rapids Little League Complex in Lion’s Coon Creek Park stands as one of the largest little league facilities in the state. Hundreds of youth baseball and softball players take to the fields and dugouts each spring and summer. Concessions, bleachers, batting cages, playgrounds and walking paths allow friends and family to enjoy the games or just have fun at the park.

Teams across age groups from t-ball through age 16 play organized league games here against fellow teams from across the northwest metro. Tournaments also frequently occur on the major and minor league fields. The complex buzzes with activity from the first pitches of the season in April through the championships in July.

Conclusion

Whether you call Coon Rapids home or are just visiting the Twin Cities area, make sure to check out these 12 top attractions showcasing the best this Minneapolis suburb has to offer. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences to shopping and dining fun, you’ll find no shortage of great activities and amenities to enjoy right in the “Hub of the Northwest Metro.” With its parks, recreation, arts, retail, history and thriving downtown district, Coon Rapids provides engaging opportunities for guests of all ages and interests year-round.

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