Parks Recreation & Nature Reserves

Como Lake, Photo by Jack Steinmann

Como Lake, Photo by Jack Steinmann

The city of Saint Paul is home to one of the best park systems in the country, and features well-kept hiking trails, sports facilities, woodlots, picnic areas, and fishing piers. Some, as you will see and feel, have a deep history of indigenous settlement; furthermore, they are spaces that reflect social change/disruption and competing interests over land. Saint Paul holds so many parks that this publication was unable to include all of them. The following is a compilation of community and regional retreats that best represent the city, a list that offers something unique for sports and fitness fans, pet lovers, urban anglers, nature enthusiasts, and the boundless child within all of us.

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Arlington/Arkwright Park (Community)

400 Arlington Ave. E.
Known for a large off-leash dog area, this park includes wooded trails and a long, rounded slope that is perfect for play. It is tucked in a quiet neighborhood with a nearby baseball and soccer field. There is also a shelter for rainy picnic days.

Aurora/ St. Anthony's Community Peace Sanctuary Garden

851 Aurora Avenue
The garden exists to create a Social and Environmental Peace Sanctuary. Partners in this effort include Sabathani Community Center, St. Paul Area Public Schools Learning Center, Maxfield Elementary School, the St. Paul Police Department and the Summit/University WEED/SEED program.

Battle Creek Recreation Center

75 South Winthrop Street
St. Paul, MN 55119

Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary (East of Downtown)

Near corner of Commercial Street and 4th Street E.
After a century of industrial use, the land lay vacant, toxic, and blighted until a coalition of East Side and Lowertown residents organized a regeneration effort with the support of the late DFL representative, Bruce Vento. They purchased the land and transformed into the 27-acre, naming it after Representative Vento, who worked closely with Hmong and Laotian communities that would eventually play a significant role in restoring the land.   The area was inhabited by the Lakota who paid reverence to sacred cave on the land they called Wakan Tipi (spirit house). After the Dakota were forcibly removed from the land, the cave was used by Jacob Schmidt as storage space for his brewing empire, the North Star Brewery. The blIt is located along the north shore of the Mississippi River east of downtown Saint Paul. Activities: Walking and bicycling the trails, birdwatching, photography, and nature observation. There are nice views of the Saint Paul skyline upriver. There is no access to the river due to the railroads that still use this area, although there are future plans to make this connection. The author strongly suggest climbing up the bluffs, formed over 450 million years ago and revealed only 12,000 years ago as glaciers receded.

Cathedral Hill Homes Garden

280 Dayton Ave.

Celeste's Dream Community Garden

1884 Randolph Ave
Celeste's Dream is a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet & Consociates St. Paul Province. The goals of the garden are to learn organic growing methods, to enjoy healthy heirloom produce, to build community with earth and other gardeners, to participate in a local food system, and to share the harvest!

Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion

200 Dr. Justus Ohage Blvd.
The Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion on Harriet Island is located at 200 Dr. Justus Ohage Blvd. across the Mississippi River from downtown Saint Paul. It is a beautiful 5,000 square-foot, year-round rental facility.

College Park (Community)

2223 Carter Ave.
College Park is a bit of a hidden gem for tennis players. There's also a small playground for the kids and lots of green space.

Community Design Center- Dayton's Bluff Children's Garden

3rd St. and Maria
Since 1996 the Community Design Center has engaged youth from St. Paul's East Side in sustainable urban agriculture.

Como Park (Regional)

1199 Midway Pkwy.
A Saint Paul jewel for over 100 years, Como Park plays a vital role in the social and recreational needs of the city. Both the shelter and pavilion provide electricity and seating for private events, and Como Lake, Como Zoo, and the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory are busy destinations year round.

Como Regional Park Pool

1151 Como Ave
Como Regional Park Pool is located in the Como neighborhood of Saint Paul across from the Como Zoo and Conservatory. This facility features a main pool equipped with two basketball hoops, a 400 foot lazy river, and an aquatic zone. There is also a diving well equipped with a one meter diving board, two diving platforms, and an aquatic climbing wall.

Conway Recreation Center

2090 Conway Ave
Facility Amenities: Baseball Field, Basketball Court, Child Play Area, Craft Room, Fitness Room, General Ice Rink, Kitchen, Large Gym, Meeting Room, Multi-Purpose Room, Softball Fields, Tennis Courts, Warming Room

Crosby Farm Park (Regional)

2595 Crosby Farm Rd.
In 1858, the park was the 160-acre farm of English immigrant Thomas Crosby. It now offers multiple trails for hiking and jogging, a sandy beach, and picnic shelter.

Dayton's Bluff Recreation Center

800 Conway St.
Facilities: Auditorium/Theater, Baseball Field, Children Play Area, Computer Lab, Craft Room, Dance Studio, Game Room
Kitchen, Large Gym, Meeting Rooms, 3 Softball Fields, 2 Tennis Courts, Warming Room

Gateway State Trail

Located on a converted rail-trail, the Gateway State Trail offers 18 miles of paved trail for non-motorized use.
The trail begins in the city of St. Paul, travels northeast through the cities of Maplewood, North St. Paul, and Oakdale, through Washington County, and ends at Pine Point Regional Park, just four miles northwest of the city of Stillwater. It is generally level and wheelchair accessible.

Harriet Island Park (Regional)

200 Dr. Justus Ohage Blvd.
Historic Harriet Island hosts festivals and books riverboat excursions all summer long. Just across the Mississippi from downtown, it features a newly renovated picnic area with a large shelter and easy parking.

Hidden Falls (Regional)

1415 Mississippi River Blvd. S.
The scenic beauty of the waterfall is worth planning a visit. With spacious grounds, towering trees, a boat launch, and a picnic area, Hidden Falls offers a variety of summer activities.

Highland Park (Regional)

1200 Montreal Ave.
Acquired in 1925, Highland Park now features an 18-hole golf course, aquatic center, pavilion, picnic shelters, and a Frisbee golf course.

Hillcrest Recreation Center

1978 Ford Parkway
Home of the Jewish Theatre Company and other community events. Facilities: Auditorium/Theater, Baseball Field, Children Play Area, Computer Lab, Craft Room (Small), Dance Studio, Game Room, Kitchen, Large Gym , Meeting Rooms (Large), 3 Softball Fields, 2 Tennis Courts, Warming Room

Indian Mounds Park (Regional)

10 Mounds Blvd.
An integral part of Minnesota’s history, this park on the bluffs is home to native prairie flowers and a Native American Indian burial ground. Enjoy a stroll through the past with a view of downtown and the banks of the ancient River Warren.

Iris Park

1884 University Ave. W.
Saint Paul, MN 55104
Quaint quiet part nestled along the light rail line.

Irvine Park (Neighborhood)

251 Walnut St.
The beautifully ornate fountain is a central feature of this popular park for weddings. Nestled in a neighborhood just west of downtown, it offers shelter, seating, and electricity.

Kellogg Mall (Neighborhood)

62 Kellogg Blvd. E.
An inspiring view of Mississippi commerce lies just beyond the wall while two fountains and an arbor are reminders of work’s rewards. The mall offers a view of fireworks on the fourth and during Winter Carnival. The trees shade lunchtime visitors from spring to fall.

Lilydale Park (Regional)

950 Lilydale Rd.
Bring the whole family for a day hunting fossils along the forested paths.

Marydale Park (Community)

542 Maryland Ave. W.
This park surrounds Loeb Lake and has a fishing pier where anglers cast for crappies, bluegills, bullheads, and (on a good day) bass. It is designated as a children’s fishing pond by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Mears Park (Community)

221 E. Fifth St.
Lowertown’s gem has a bandstand for summer music and a garden stream running from corner to corner. It’s surrounded by after-work hot spots like Barrio, the Bulldog, and Bin Wine Bar.

Newell Park (Community)

900 North Fairview Ave.
One of the oldest green spaces in the city, with rolling hills and large oaks, this 10-acre plot is the place for Frisbee with friends or to sit and read a book. The pavilion is perfect for family get-togethers and has been standing since 1929.

Oxford Community Center

270 Lexington Pkwy. N.
Located in the heart of the historic Rondo neighborhood of Saint Paul and reconstructed from Oxford/ Jimmy Lee Recreation Center built in the 1960’s, the new Jimmy Lee Recreation Center & Great River Water Park will continue to play a vital role in the community. The comprehensive community center combines water park features and state of the art recreation and fitness amenities

Phalen Park (Regional)

1615 Phalen Dr.
A peaceful lagoon and family-friendly amphitheater, with sparkling Lake Phalen just a few yards beyond. This East Side park is the city's beach for hot summer days.

Rice Park (Community)

109 Fourth St. W.
Surrounded by the Saint Paul Hotel, Landmark Center, Ordway, and Central Library, Rice features bronze statues and a beautiful fountain encircled with inviting park benches.

Samuel Morgan Regional Trail

Between Hwy 5 and Interstate 35E
The Samuel Morgan Regional Trail follows the Mississippi River waterfront in downtown St. Paul. It shows just how much redevelopment St. Paul has done with their riverfront area.

West Minnehaha Recreation Center

685 W. Minnehaha Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55104
Facility Amenities: Baseball Field, Basketball Court, Children Play Area, Craft Room, Game Room, Gym, Kitchen, Meeting Room, Softball Field, Tennis Courts

Western Park (Community)

387 Marion St.
This art park features a sculpture garden, including the work Democracy Speaks; standing 17 feet tall in fabricated steel, this newest installation was created by John Hock and Andrew MacGuffie.