12 Parks in Rochester, Minnesota

Rochester, Minnesota is home to numerous beautiful parks that offer plenty of recreational activities for residents and visitors alike. From scenic walking trails and picnic areas to sports fields and playgrounds, Rochester’s parks have something for everyone. This article will highlight 12 fantastic parks located throughout the city and provide an overview of the amenities and attractions offered at each one.

Whether you want to take the kids to the playground, have a family picnic, go for a jog on wooded trails, play sports with friends, or simply relax in nature, you’ll find the perfect park in Rochester. The city parks also frequently host community events like summer concerts and holiday celebrations. Read on to learn more about 12 of the top parks to check out in Rochester, Minnesota.

1.Quarry Hill Nature Center

Quarry Hill Nature Center is one of the most popular parks in Rochester. This park spans over 700 acres and contains a mixture of prairie, marsh, and woodland areas. Some of the highlights of Quarry Hill Nature Center include over 20 miles of hiking trails, ski and snowshoe trails in the winter months, and educational programs about nature and local wildlife. Visitors can hike, bike, cross-country ski, snowshoe, bird watch, and more at this park.

Some of the facilities available at Quarry Hill Nature Center include a visitor center with interpretive natural history exhibits, an outdoor amphitheater, picnic areas, and restrooms. The park also features the John E. Herman Animal Hospital and Rehabilitation Center where injured and orphaned local wildlife are rehabilitated before being released back into their natural habitats. With so much to see and do, Quarry Hill Nature Center is a must-visit park for anyone coming to Rochester.

2.Silver Lake Park

Silver Lake Park encompasses 525 acres featuring beautiful gardens, a beach and swimming area, fishing docks, walking trails, cross country ski trails, and more. The park surrounds Silver Lake, which is a popular spot for swimming, boating, and fishing during summer months. Visitors can rent canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards, hydro bikes, and fishing boats during the summer.

Other amenities at Silver Lake Park include playground equipment, picnic areas with shelter rentals available, basketball courts, sand volleyball pits, horseshoe pits, an 18-hole disc golf course, and access to hard-surfaced bike/walking trails. The park also connects to Rochester’s extensive trail system. With its variety of activities and natural beauty, Silver Lake Park appeals to visitors of all ages.

3.Soldier’s Memorial Field Park

Soldier’s Memorial Field Park is conveniently located downtown and includes sport fields and courts, playgrounds, walking paths, and more across its 93 acres. Visitors will find facilities for baseball, softball, football, soccer, tennis, sand volleyball, inline hockey, basketball, and more. Soldier’s Field frequently hosts tournaments and events on its fields.

The park also features a skate park, two large playgrounds, public art installments, fishing access to the Zumbro River, and access to downtown Rochester’s network of pedestrian/bike trails and amenities. Soldier’s Field Park provides plenty of options for sports, fitness, and family entertainment in a central location.

4.Cascade Lake Park

Cascade Lake Park encompasses 200 acres of woodlands, wetlands, and prairie areas surrounding scenic Cascade Lake. Visitors can relax at the gazebo, walk along the ADA accessible trail around the lake, fish for crappie, bass, bluegill, trout, and other fish, picnic in the reservable shelters, play at the playground, and more.

The park also connects to other trails spanning across Rochester, so visitors can hike or bike to other parks and attractions easily. Additional amenities include parking, grills, electricity access, canoe and kayak rentals, and modern restrooms. The natural beauty and serenity of Cascade Lake Park attract nature lovers, families, and anyone looking to relax in an outdoor setting during their visit.

5.Mayo Park

Mayo Park offers visitors oak savannas, wooded areas, wetlands, prairie restoration areas, and 2.5 miles of accessible trails spanning its 196 acres adjacent to Mayowood Village Museum. Birdwatchers will enjoy spotting songbirds, raptors, waterfowl and more along the trails and observation decks overlooking the marsh areas.

Visitors can bring dogs on leashes to enjoy the trails, have picnics, geocache, snowshoe during winter months, and access downtown Rochester’s extensive trail system. Mayo Park provides the sights and sounds of nature just minutes from urban amenities and attractions. Educational programs are also offered at Mayo Park.

6.Grand Rounds Scenic Byway – Parklands

Rochester’s Grand Rounds Scenic Byway encompasses a 49-mile paved, multi-use trail encircling Rochester and connecting various parks and attractions. Visitors can walk, run, inline skate, bike, and cross country ski along this picturesque trail during winter months. Some scenic areas along the Grand Rounds Byway include parks near the Zumbro River, Bear Creek, Game Haven, Northern Heights, Cascade Lake, Silver Lake, Essex Park, Soldier’s Field, and more.

Trailheads and parking areas conveniently allow visitors to access the trail at various points. The Grand Rounds Byway offers an easy way to enjoy Rochester’s natural beauty, parks, and conservation areas during a longer hike, run, or bike excursion when exploring Rochester.

7.Essex Park

Essex Park spans 250 acres nestled between Mayowood Village Museum and Historic Essex Park. The park consists of agricultural land, woodlands, and grass prairies maintained by the park staff and volunteers. Visitors can hike or snowshoe over 5 miles of mowed trails that traverse forests, meadows, wetlands, and hilltops offering gorgeous views. Interpretive signs educate hikers about the native plants and wildlife along the trails.

Other amenities at Essex Park include archery ranges, picnic areas, geocaching opportunities, birdwatching spots, benches beside a peaceful stream, and access to the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway trail network. Essex Park provides visitors with an escape into nature while still close to downtown Rochester.

8.Northern Heights Park

Northern Heights Park features scenic wooded landscapes overlooking the Zumbro River across its 140 acres. Visitors will find hiking and mountain trails weaving through the park. One of the highlights is viewing Blue Heron Rookery nesting spot beside the Zumbro River during spring and summer months.

Other amenities include a playground, picnic shelter rentals, fishing access, hard surface trails, and a connection to the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway trail network. Northern Heights Park allows visitors to fish, play, picnic, or simply relax while taking in gorgeous river valley views during their time in Rochester.

9.Gamehaven Park

Gamehaven Park consists of 225 acres of restored prairies, wetlands, woodlands bordering the Zumbro River, and scenic farmlands.

Visitors can hike, geocache, cross country ski, snowmobile during winter months, and experience Rochester’s wilderness areas at Gamehaven Park along nearly 5 miles of trails. Some of the wildlife visitors may spot include bald eagles, deer, foxes, coyotes, butterflies, turtles and more.

Other amenities include educational programming, an archery range, trap shooting range, dog exercise area, picnic shelters available for reservation, fishing access to the Zumbro River backwaters and Silver Creek, grills, and restrooms. Gamehaven Park reconnects visitors with nature through outdoor recreation and wilderness conservation efforts.

10.Bear Creek Park

Bear Creek Park spans 50 acres bordering Bear Creek just minutes from downtown Rochester. The scenic park features limestone bluffs, wetlands, bur oak and basswood forests, restored prairie areas, and mixed woodlands.

Visitors can enjoy nearly 2 miles of trails, go birdwatching or wildlife viewing, try to catch trout or smallmouth bass in Bear Creek, relax under the Shade Shelter, and take in gorgeous views of the park from scenic overlooks along the hillside trail network.

Other amenities include playground equipment, picnic areas available to reserve, access to downtown Rochester’s network of pedestrian/bike trails, interpretive signing about the native vegetation and wildlife, and restrooms. Bear Creek Park allows visitors to experience the peaceful sights and sounds of nature close to downtown Rochester’s amenities and attractions.

11.Foster Arends Park

Foster Arends Park features over 200 acres of woodlands, restored prairies, and wetlands bordering the Zumbro River across from Mayowood Stone Barn Museum. Visitors can enjoy hiking, biking, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, bird watching, fishing, and learning about Rochester’s native landscapes across nearly 5 miles of trails that loop through the extensive park. Some wildlife visitors may spot include deer, foxes, coyotes, beavers, hawks, owls, songbirds, waterfowl like great blue herons and more.

Other park amenities include trailhead and prairie garden interpretive signage, picnic areas and shade shelter reservations available, scenic observation decks, archery range, fishing access to the Zumbro River backwaters, and natural surface trails groomed for both classic and skate-style Nordic skiing in winter months. Foster Arends Park provides access to the Zumbro River valley that mixes fun outdoor recreation with natural beauty close to downtown Rochester.

12.Plummer House Park

Plummer House Park consists of 44 acres bordering 20-acre Horizon Pond and is conveniently located in Southwest Rochester. Visitors can relax under the shade shelter, stroll along paved walking paths around the pond, play at the playground and splash pad, have picnics, enjoy the wildlife and native plants surrounding the pond, geocache, bike, and more during their visit. Anglers can also fish for crappie, bluegill, bass and trout in Horizon Pond.

Other amenities include a skate park, sand volleyball court, pickleball courts, prairie restoration areas, woodland trails, scenic overlooks, and flexible lawn space available to reserve for gatherings. Plummer House Park mixes neighborhood recreation with access to nature at Horizon Pond for visitors of Rochester.


Rochester, Minnesota provides no shortage of gorgeous park spaces for visitors to enjoy. From coasting across ski trails in winter months to kayaking across shimmering lakes in the summer, Rochester’s city parks offer year-round opportunities for outdoor recreation and enjoying nature. Which park will you explore first during your visit to scenic Rochester?

The 12 parks highlighted in this article only begin to cover the dozens of wonderful parks spanning across Rochester. Whether you want to play sports, take the kids to enormous playgrounds, exercise on wooded trails, have picnics, launch a boat, fish, or simply relax outside, you’ll find the perfect park to meet your needs in Rochester, Minnesota.

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