12 Parks in St. Paul, Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota is home to a wonderful variety of parks and green spaces for residents and visitors to enjoy. From scenic riverfront parks to community gardens and playgrounds, Saint Paul has something for everyone when it comes to outdoor recreation.

This article will highlight 12 of the best parks in Saint Paul, giving an overview of the amenities and attractions at each. For families, groups of friends, solo travelers, and nature lovers alike, the parks of Saint Paul offer relaxation, adventure, and beautiful landscapes to discover.

Whether you want to play a pickup game of basketball, go for a jog on tree-lined trails, have a picnic by the Mississippi River, or let the kids burn off some energy at the playground, the parks in Saint Paul have it all. This article outlines 12 parks that shouldn’t be missed when visiting Minnesota’s capital city.

1.Comstock Hill Park

Tucked away in Saint Paul’s West Side neighbourhood along the Mississippi River, Comstock Hill Park encompasses meadows, woods, and limestone bluffs overlooking the water. The main feature of the park is its sledging hill, popular in wintertime. A playground at the base of the hill has swings and climbing structures for younger kids.

Elsewhere in Comstock Hill Park, there is open space for kite-flying, frisbee, picnics and relaxing while taking in views across the Mississippi River. In warmer months, concerts occasionally take place in the park’s natural grass amphitheatre along the bluffs. For a peaceful spot of nature without leaving the city, Comstock Hill Park fits the bill.

2.Harriet Island Regional Park

Located on a picturesque island in the Mississippi River, Harriet Island Regional Park is one of Saint Paul’s most scenic green spaces. The island has a long history, serving as a Native American gathering place prior to European settlement. In the early 1800s it was utilized as a river boat landing and sawmill site.

Today Harriet Island Park maintains some of that 19th century industrial character while also hosting concerts at its bandshell stage and festivals like Irish Fair. The park has walking paths, access for fishing along the riverfront, and views across to downtown Saint Paul’s skyline. Families will enjoy the opportunities for picnics, playgrounds, and open space for games and recreation.

With its riverfront location and pedestrian Wabasha Street Bridge connecting to downtown, Harriet Island is both an urban oasis and thriving entertainment hub in Saint Paul.

3.Hidden Falls Regional Park

Offering panoramic views from high above the Mississippi River valley, Hidden Falls Regional Park spans 255 acres of rugged woodland between the neighborhoods of Saint Paul. More than five miles of hiking trails climb up and down the steep ravines and ridges of the park, connecting to a scenic overlook of Hidden Falls.

The name comes from a staged waterfall built into the park’s Lower Mississippi River Bluff in the late 1800s. But the waterfall itself is now more hidden after becoming overgrown. Visitors can still discover the beauty and power of Hidden Falls on guided history tours.

In addition to hiking, mountain biking, and taking in views of the city below, Hidden Falls Regional Park also has extensive horseback riding trails. After working up a sweat on the trails, cool off with a dip at the park’s swimming pond during summer months. With so much scenic natural space so close to downtown Saint Paul, Hidden Falls is a true gem among the city’s parks.

4.Indian Mounds Regional Park

Named after the Native American burial mounds preserved within its boundaries, Indian Mounds Regional Park spans almost 200 acres of forests, wetlands, and prairieland. It contains a National Register Historic District along with recreational amenities.

In addition to protecting culturally important Native sites, Indian Mounds Regional Park features paved biking paths, basketball courts, a playground, and access to trout fishing in its two small lakes. Visitors also use the open green space for kite flying, cross country skiing in winter, birdwatching for over 100 migratory species, and observing woodland wildlife all year round.

Interpretive signs and historical plaques provide context on the six Indian Mounds within the park, considered sacred by the Dakota tribe who built them. Nature lovers, history buffs, families with kids, and anyone looking for space to relax will appreciate Indian Mounds Regional Park.

5.Lilydale & Cherokee Regional Park

Nestled along the banks where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet, Lilydale & Cherokee Regional Park encompasses hills, trails, and waterfront perfect for recreation. The two interconnected parks include picnic grounds, playgrounds with climbing rocks, access for canoeing and kayaking, basketball courts, a volleyball area, and amphitheater space for events.

Lilydale has a handicap accessible fishing pier extending into the Mississippi River, while Cherokee Park features limestone bluffs overlooking the Minnesota River valley. More than 15 miles of multi-use trails are open to hikers and mountain bikers amid the parks’ scenic wooded ravines and open meadows. Gorgeous river valley panoramas can be taken in along the way.

With so much access to outdoor recreation and facilities for groups both big and small, Lilydale & Cherokee Park is popular with residents across the Saint Paul area.

6.Meeker Island & Marydale Park

Tucked away north of downtown Saint Paul, the scenic parks of Meeker Island and Marydale encompass a diverse landscape between the neighborhoods of Frogtown and North End. Marydale Park’s community garden contains 88 garden plots available each year for local green thumbs to tend. Community members can come together for the Marydale Park Association’s annual Garden Party kicking off each planting season.

At Meeker Island Park, open green space allows for picnicking, lawn games, and summertime relaxation under the shade trees. A children’s playground area features classic equipment like swings, slides, and a merry-go-round. Meeker Island Park connects to extensive hiking and cross country ski trails through the wooded bluffs along the Mississippi.

Bring the kids to play, come gather with neighbors, or spend time alone with nature – at Meeker Island and Marydale Parks there is room for the whole community to enjoy Saint Paul’s scenic northern landscape.

7.Phalen Regional Park

Home to a delightful amusement area known as Phalen Park Exploration Garden, this East Side green space allows kids and families to let loose and play. The Exploration Garden includes an arts and crafts structure, maze garden, turtle climbing structure, log playhouse buildings, and interactive musical features like drums and chimes. Natural playgrounds continue the fun with balance beams, climbing areas, and tunnels.

When not playing at Exploration Garden, Phalen Regional Park contains miles of recreational trails for walking, jogging, and biking across its mix of woodlands, lakefront, and open meadows. Summertime brings picnicking, lounging on the sandy beach at Lake Phalen, and paddling across the water. In winter the lake hosts ice fishing and cross country skiing on groomed loops.

Only a 15 minute drive from downtown, Phalen Regional Park packs in natural scenery and fun for all ages just outside the city center.

8.Rice Park

In the heart of downtown Saint Paul across from the gorgeous Saint Paul Public Library, Rice Park serves as the city’s quintessential community gathering place. The park encompasses sweeping lawns, scenic gardens, and public art displays like the iconic bronze statue of lumberjack and folklore legend Paul Bunyan.

Visitors will often find games of chess and checkers underway between players at tables shaded by leafy trees. On warm summer days, musical acts and local dance troupes take the Rice Park stage for midday entertainment. The seasonal Saint Paul Farmer’s Market also sets up in the park on weekends, full of fresh produce, artisan crafts, and prepared food.

With iconic landmarks like the James J. Hill Reference Library overlooking it all, Rice Park puts you front and center with Saint Paul culture. Stop to read a book on a sunny bench, grab lunch from the weekend farmer’s market, or unwind after a day of business downtown.

9.Roberts Bird Sanctuary

This pocket wilderness area lies hidden on a peninsula jutting into Lake Vadnais, a reservoir lake northeast of Saint Paul renowned for great fishing. Encompassing meadows, marshes, and oak savannah habitats, Roberts Bird Sanctuary offers top-notch birdwatching opportunities in a beautiful setting.

A two-mile nature trail loops visitors through the sanctuary, with highlights including forest wetlands bustling with red-winged blackbirds, Eastern kingbirds diving from branches overhead, and warbler species fluttering through prairie brush. Educational signs provide details on the sanctuary’s ecology to enrich the walking experience.

Pack your binoculars and field guide to make the most of a safari-like adventure at Roberts Bird Sanctuary, a serene natural escape just outside the Twin Cities metro.

10.Saint Paul Downtown Airport Park

An unexpected green space awaits in the middle of the Saint Paul Downtown Airport runway, where a 39 acre prairie restoration project has taken off in recent years. Protected from jets and planes by its inland location, visitors are welcome to roam the native wildflower meadow under open skies.

The Dakota name for this area was “Heaven of Hawks” in reference to the open hunting grounds prime for raptors. Those birdwatching skills will come in handy again here – the site is excellent for spotting American kestrel falcons along with wrens, sparrows, bobolinks, and Eastern meadowlarks that call the tallgrass prairie home.

Interpretive signs educate on the native flora and efforts by the airport authority to protect this special landscape once common in Minnesota. The Saint Paul Downtown Airport Prairie offers a truly unique mixture of infrastructure and nature while providing an important habitat for birds and pollinators.

11.Vertical Endeavors & Battle Creek Winter Recreation Area

Known for its epic indoor climbing walls with over 20,000 square feet of bouldering and lead routes, Vertical Endeavors Saint Paul location also gives access to outdoor adventure in Battle Creek Regional Park. Visitors who work up an appetite scaling climbing courses inside can take meals out to the Battle Creek picnic area and challenge friends to games on the volleyball courts.

In winter months, Vertical Endeavors visitors can also take advantage of Battle Creek’s dedicated sledding hill along with almost 10 kilometers of groomed cross country ski trails originating right outside the climbing gym’s doors. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available on-site.

With year-round recreation literally bordering the parking lot, Battle Creek Regional Park completes the active lifestyle promise at Vertical Endeavors for thrill seekers in Saint Paul.

12.Wheelock Parkway

Running for four miles on Saint Paul’s East Side, Wheelock Parkway traces along scenic Johnson Parkway and Phalen Boulevard to connect neighborhoods with multiple recreational parks. Developed in the late 19th century, the tree-lined greenway provides housing set back from busy streets for a relaxed, natural feel. Biking, jogging, and dog walking are all popular activities along Wheelock Parkway.

Recreational features include tennis courts, bandstand gazeboes, picnic areas with grilling facilities, and children’s playgrounds dotted throughout. The Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary within the Parkway area gives access to extensive wooded trails along Swede Hollow creek.

Wheelock Parkway’s integration with Phalen Regional Park and Lake Phalen provides even more outlets for outdoor enjoyment, right up to the waterfront. For an easygoing sample of open green space in Saint Paul perfect for exercise or leisure, Wheelock Parkway offers relaxation through multiple scenic communities.


The parks of Saint Paul give visitors and residents access to urban forests, dramatic river landscapes, and open recreational facilities within minutes. For outdoor enthusiasts, families looking for activities, lunching office workers, bird watchers, gardeners, and history buffs, the city’s diverse parks have something for all interests.

Whether you have an hour lunch break downtown or a whole free day for adventure, the parks outlined in this article will reconnect you with the natural side of Minnesota’s Capital City. From the mighty Mississippi River to blooming prairie flowers, discover new experiences around every trail in the parks of Saint Paul.

Leave a Comment