22 Ways to Enjoy Minnesota’s Sweet Spot While Social Distancing

The weather is warm and the great outdoors is beckoning. Here are 22 things in St. Louis Park and Golden Valley you can do outside while practicing safe social distancing.

With Minnesota making strides to reopen — and the weather being too beautiful to stay inside — you’re probably itching to get outside and soak up some sun. You’re not alone! Which is why it’s still important to stay diligent about social distancing to keep you and those around you safe.

Here are our top social distancing-approved activities to enjoy this summer in St. Louis Park and Golden Valley.

Take a Hike … Or Two

From leisurely strolls to scenic hikes, now is the perfect time to explore our trails, quaint parks and lush nature areas. Navigating the parks is easy using the City of St. Louis Park Trail Map and the Golden Valley Trail Map.

Head to Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park to kick off your hiking adventures. Over 3 miles of trails allow you to explore marsh, woods and restored prairies. If you’re lucky, you’ll also spot some wildlife — everything from birds and deer to turtles, foxes and owls call the area home — so don’t forget your binoculars!

Bass Lake Preserve is a 52-acre nature preserve best known for it’s 1.4 mile George Haun Trail that meanders through oak savannah and prairie around Bass Lake. It features a playground, pickleball and tennis courts.

General Mills Nature Preserve is a visually-stunning, 27-acre natural space with over 50 different native plants, a shallow marsh, wet meadow, floodplain forest and a half-mile trail that connects to the City’s trail system. Interpretive signs will guide you along your journey.

Over 2 miles of paved trail and wooden boardwalk meander along the restored wetlands of Minnehaha Creek in the Minnehaha Creek Preserve. This fish and wildlife habitat features an outdoor education area that tells the story of the creek and how to protect it. On a typical evening stroll, you can spot muskrats, wood ducks, pileated woodpeckers and even a great blue heron or two. The creek is especially pretty at night, when fireflies dance along the path.

Theodore Wirth Regional Park is home to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary. Enjoy spectacular seasonal displays of native wildflowers in woodland, wetland and prairie areas. In summer, the garden is alive with showy lady’s slippers, native irises, cardinal flowers, sunflowers, asters, blazing stars and more. A 1-mile trail will lead you through the various garden habitats where you’ll find over 500 plant species and 130 bird species. Or explore the Quaking Bog, a 5-acre, 3,700-year-old acid bog tucked into the wooded hills of the park. You’ll cross a series of boardwalks floating over islands of sphagnum moss as you observe dragonflies, frogs and songbirds.

Explore the Area on Two Wheels

If you prefer a quicker pace, there are hundreds of miles of biking trails from which to choose.

For an urban to rural biking experience, pick up the 72-mile long Luce Line Trail at Schaper Park in Golden Valley. Head east and you’ll link up with the Minneapolis Grand Rounds Scenic Byway trail network with its skyline views of Minneapolis. Traveling west, the trail follows Bassett Creek through Golden Valley to Plymouth, where Medicine Lake forms the backdrop to wooden bridges that overlook the Bassett Creek marshlands. The trail then passes through suburbs and wooded stretches, across wetlands and through tallgrass prairie, over varying surfaces.

City-slickers looking for a touch of nature’s serenity will love the North Cedar Lake Regional Trail. Pick up the trail in nearby Hopkins at The Depot Trailhead, then travel north for a tour through the quiet neighborhoods of St. Louis Park, passing numerous parks and green spaces along the way. As the trail turns east, it follows the tree-lined railroad passage into Minneapolis, where you’ll enjoy sweeping views of the city skyline.

For the more adventurous, head to Theodore Wirth Regional Park, one of the premier mountain biking locations in the Twin Cities, with over 12 miles of single-track trails. From Area 36, with a physically demanding but technically easy trail for beginner and intermediate riders, to the Brownie Lake Loop with steep rock climbs and descents, including drops, for expert riders, you’re sure to get your adrenaline pumping.

Go Fishing

Lakes, ponds and creeks scattered throughout St. Louis Park and Golden Valley have become popular fishing spots. So grab your gear and get ready to cast out and catch “the big one.”

Wolfe Lake, located in the heart of Wolfe Park, is the perfect family fishing destination. Cast off from the fishing pier or from one of the four shore fishing stations. The lake is stocked with bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike and yellow perch. The park is also home to a large playground, outdoor grills and picnic tables, walking trails and other amenities.

Grab your pole and tackle box! Sweeney Lake in Golden Valley offers both boat and shore fishing. This 68-acre lake features a variety of fish, including black bullhead, bluegill, brown bullhead, green sunfish, largemouth bass, northern pike, white crappie, yellow bullhead, yellow perch and pumpkinseed.

Wirth Lake (in Theodore Wirth Park) is a 40-acre, 25-feet deep lake that contains a large supply of bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleye. There’s a pier on the east side of the lake and several shoreline fishing spots just north of it.

For a family-friendly intro to fishing, head to Westwood Lake located within Westwood Hills Nature Center. The 64-acre lake is stocked with bluegills. Plus, the brand new, state-of-the-art interpretive center is worthy of a stop all by itself. It features interactive exhibits and live animals, including a flying squirrel, a red-tailed hawk and a barred owl.

Fishing with a ghost? Lamplighter Park, home to Lamplighter Pond is said to be haunted! This smaller, 8.2-acre pond houses a plentiful supply of bluegill, black crappie, and common carp. There’s a fishing pier on the west shore of the pond and a walking path. Hopefully fish will be the only thing you scare up!

Get Out on the Water

If you’d rather be on the water than the shore, you’ve come to the right place. Minnesota has over 12,000 bodies of water with more shoreline than California, Florida and Hawaii — combined! A visit to the area wouldn’t be complete without experiencing this unique geology. In St. Louis Park and Golden Valley there are many lakes and creeks that can be explored by canoe or kayak.

Kayak The Creek rents kayaks, complete with paddles and life vests, for parties of up to 7 for use on Minnehaha Creek, which flows through St. Louis Park and the neighboring suburbs. Kayaks will be dropped off at your desired launch point and picked up at the end of your 2.5 to 3-hour journey. Shoreside instruction is provided and guide service is available for an additional fee. Kayakers must be at least 12 with adult supervision.

Creekside Park, which is part of the Minnehaha Creek Preserve, offers a canoe landing point off of Oxford street in St. Louis Park, as well as off-street parking. Paddlers will delight in the many animals that call the preserve home, including muskrats, pileated woodpeckers, great blue herons and more.

In Golden Valley, head to the northern end of the Sweeney Lake for carry-in boat access. It’s also a perfect spot for paddleboarding.

Don’t have your own craft? We’ve got you covered! Hoigaard’s Paddlesports Rentals in St. Louis Park rents canoes, kayaks, and standup paddleboards seasonally. Prices range from $30 – $50 per day.

Go Bowling

Lawn bowling originated with the Egyptians and has been actively played since the 12th century. At Brookview Golf & Lawn Bowling, you’ll find the largest lawn bowling green in the state of Minnesota. This fun and relaxing sport is similar, though not identical, to bocce ball and is perfect for all ages. Rinks are available for hourly rental.

Hit the Links

Ready for a round of golf? Meadowbrook Golf Club is an 18-hole public course in St. Louis Park that offers 6,557 yards of golf from its longest tees. Nestled within a quaint neighborhood, the course features rolling hills, old growth tree-lined fairways, strategically placed bunkers, natural areas with wildflowers and beautiful Minnehaha Creek meandering through the course.

Can’t decide between nine or 18 holes? Brookview Golf Course in Golden Valley has you covered. It features both a nine-hole, par-3 course, and an 18-hole course. Bassett Creek flows through the regulation course, appearing on six holes. Before or after your game, stop by the Three One Six Bar + Grill for a bite to eat, a cold brew and sweeping views of the course from the outdoor patio.

For an historic outing, head to Theodore Wirth Golf Club, also in Golden Valley. Wirth Golf Club, built in 1916, is one of the oldest public courses in the state. The 18-hole regulation course includes a front nine that is beautifully set around Bassett Creek with a few man-made lagoons to heighten the challenge. It also offers several scenic views of the Minneapolis downtown skyline. The back nine offers completely different challenges with its rolling hills and mature trees and is a good test of one’s golfing skills. Not sure you’re up for 18 holes? Try Wirth’s 9-hole Par 3 course. Or give their disc golf course a whirl!

Game, Set, Match!

Try the fastest growing sport you’ve probably never heard of: pickleball! It’s a mix between tennis, racquetball and ping pong that’s played with paddles and a wiffle ball on a court that’s similar to, but smaller than, a tennis court. Usually played in doubles, it has its own set of quirky rules that are easy to learn. Pickleball gear can be found at Target and other stores.

When you’re ready to hit the court, make your way over to Wolfe Park, where you’ll find 5 new pickleball courts, or Bass Lake Park, which has 2. Or head to Wildwood Park in Golden Valley which has 6 outdoor courts. Courts are reservable by the hour (fees apply).

For those more “set” in their ways, we also have plenty of tennis courts! St. Louis Park has five parks with a total of 16 courts, including 8 at Aquila Park and 3 at Carpenter Park. In Golden Valley, you’ll find 18 public courts, including 6 at Brookview Park and 4 at Wesley Park. There are even 8 lighted courts for evening play!