Youth-Friendly Gardens and Parks

Edinborough Park
7700 York Ave S
Edina, MN 55435
No admission fee.
Fees charged for photo shoots or to rent facilities.
Year-round, 1 acre, indoor garden.

This is a unique indoor park or conservatory. It contains 6,000 plants, including mature trees. There are waterfalls and pools in amongst ficus and Norfolk Island pine trees along with species of philodendron and other tropical foliage plants. Blossoming plants are at a minimum. The park is a valuable space in the winter months in which visitors can stroll around surrounded by chlorophyll. There is a free play area for small children and pay areas for ice skating and other activities.

Enger Tower Park

16th Ave W and Skyline Dr
Duluth, MN 55802
Call City Hall, Parks and Recreation at 218-730-4300 (Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) for more info.
Free parking lot at park entrance.
Hiking - around the park and to the top of the 5 story (80' tall) stone tower.
Picnicking - pavilions and grills.
Accessibility - only in some areas.

Enger Park has several distinct garden areas within its grounds. The park is located on the summit of the range of stony bluffs that flank the city of Duluth. The different garden areas include a hill planted in dwarf conifers growing amongst fabulous rock out-croppings, a Japanese garden including a pavilion and a peace bell from Duluth's sister city in Japan, Oh Ara, a white birch and poplar grove that is full of 4,000 daffodils in spring, a hosta rich shade garden under some of the plentiful mature trees and a pleasing combination of over 200 perennials alongside stair steps that lead to a viewing pavilion that overlooks the city of Duluth and Lake Superior. The paths that wind through the parks changing topography are sometimes gravel, sometimes wood chipped and sometimes asphalt. The whole park has a relaxed and family friendly atmosphere.

Gibbs Farm Museum of Pioneer and Dakota Life

2097 W Larpenteur Ave
St. Paul, MN 55113

The farm was established in 1849 and lived on and farmed for almost 100 years. The site has the original farmhouse, two barns and a one-room school, besides costumed interpreters and live farm animals. The horticultural portion of the museum consists of two gardens. The homesteader/pioneer garden is planted with heritage and heirloom seeds in keeping with the 1850s. A heritage orchard has also been planted. The second garden is planted with crops grown by the Dakota Indians during the same time period, native corn, beans and squash. Areas of tall grass prairie and oak savannah can also be seen along with the excavated remains of the original sod house built on the site.

Horticultural Gardens at West Central Research and Outreach Center

46353 State Highway 329
Morris, MN 56267

The horticulture program began at the University of Minnesota Morris in the 1920's and at that time display gardens existed throughout the campus. Besides serving research purposes for the University, the gardens are a wonderful resource for the public as well. They artfully display varieties of delphiniums, begonias and New Guinea impatiens. Species trials are also on display of ornamental grasses and perennial and annual flowers. Demonstration and educational displays include a children's garden, a heritage garden and a water garden. A shelter belt of trees on the southern edge of the research center provides shade for collections of hosta, lady slippers and shady perennials. The grounds are extensive, well maintained and plants are displayed in appealing, aesthetic configurations, which include benches and arbors.

Marjorie McNeeley Conservatory at Como Park

1325 Aida Pl
St. Paul, MN 55103
651-487-8200 or 651-487-8201

Lots of beautiful indoor exhibits, including the sunken garden, which hosts colorful seasonal flower displays, the fern room, the palm room, a bonsai tree collection, a Japanese garden, a garden that houses animals, and much more.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and Cowles Conservatory

726 Vineland Pl
Minneapolis, MN 55403

These gardens combine gardening and art; kids will love playing amongst the large, outdoor sculptures and exploring the grounds.  Four roofless outdoor rooms, with walls of arborvitae, were created to house outdoor sculptures. On the far side of these rooms was placed the garden's most famous sculpture - Spoonbridge and Cherry. Formally planted lines of trees break free from regular spacing by the far end of the garden, where one encounters the 200 foot long Alene Grossman Memorial Arbor and Flower Garden. This modern stainless steel structure supports and anchors beautiful plantings of artfully combined and repeated groupings of unusual perennials and flowering vines. On the west edge of the garden is the Sage and John Cowles Conservatory, a modern, angular glasshouse that contains a giant glass fish sculpture by Frank Gehry. It also houses palm trees, clever "house" pass-throughs covered in creeping fig and striking seasonal displays of colorful plants.

Minnesota Zoological Gardens

13000 Zoo Blvd
Apple Valley, MN 55124

The section of the Minnesota Zoo called the Tropics Trail houses not only southeast Asian animals from tropical regions of the world, but many plants from these areas as well. This glassed-in portion of the zoo contains full-sized trees and sprawling vines which contribute to a leafy canopy of vegetation. Many plants along the trail are familiar to visitors: ficus benjamina, pothos, sheffleras and philodendrons. In Minnesota these are common house plants. However, at the Tropics Trail at the Minnesota Zoo they are growing in the ground rather than in pots and grow to their full-sized potential. More exotic plants such as bananas, bamboo, screw pines, bird's nest and staghorn ferns also grow along these paths. Sprinkled in amongst the greenery are orchids. The Minnesota Zoo is, in fact, the designated rescue center for all orchids confiscated by custom's agents and has received over 60 orchids due to this designation. There is some plant signage scattered within the tropics area.

Science Museum of Minnesota

Big Back Yard
Science Learning in the Great Outdoors.
120 W. Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN55102
651-221-9444 or 800-221-9444

The Big Back Yard's hands-on exhibits and miniature golf course illustrate landscape evolution, river dynamics, and biodiversity. In addition, this outdoor gallery features a prairie maze, gardens, a camera obscura, and an award-winning solar-powered building.

Gallery Highlights:
In 9 holes of EarthScapes Mini-Golf, learn about the theme of 'source to sink'—how landscapes erode, how rivers transport sediment, and what happens to sediment when it reaches the ocean. See Science House, a building that heats, cools, and powers itself with electricity generated from sunlight. Check out a 3D map of the world. Play in the braided stream table and see how you can change the flow of a river. Walk into the Camera Obscura (Latin for "dark room") and see an image of the outside world projected on the opposite wall.
Learn how water and land can affect each other. Pan for gemstones and fossils in the giant sluice. Walk through a maze of prairie plants native to Minnesota. Admire our Native American gardens and check out the Big Back Yard plant list. Enjoy lunch at a picnic table.

Stoppel Farm at the Olmstead County History Center

1195 W Circle Dr SW
Rochester, MN 55902

Earliest settlers began living here in a root cave. The preserved farmstead is a typical self-sufficient farm including a heritage vegetable garden. There are outreach programs for children and adults concerning pioneer and heritage gardens.

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