Westwood Hills Nature Center

Location

8300 W. Franklin Ave
St. Louis Park, MN 55426

Hours

Mon – Fri: 8:00 am – 4:30 pm
Sat – Sun: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm

Contact

952-924-2544

Westwood Hills is a 160-acre natural area featuring marsh, woods and restored prairie. More than 3 miles of trails and walkways provide hikers with can’t-miss opportunities for leaf peeping, birdwatching and wildlife spotting. The preserve is beautiful throughout the seasons and provides homes for many animals, including deer, turtles, fox, mink and owls. The Nature Center trails are open every day from sunrise to sunset, year-round.

Features & Amenities

girl with fishing pole holding up fish she caught
sunset at the dock
couple canoeing on Westwood Lake

Westwood Lake

Nestled within the preserve is Westwood Lake, a 64-acre lake that’s stocked with bluegills. In summer, rent a fishing pole from the Interpretive Center and head over to the fishing pier to see if the fish are biting. Or rent one of their canoes and go for a paddle. A 2-hr rental is $20 for visitors, $15 for residents. Kids will love running along the floating boardwalk that crosses over the lake.

child on showshoes
kicksledding on Westwood Lake
staff member with kicksled

Winter Activities

In winter, explore the trails via snowshoe. Snowshoes can also be rented from the Interpretive Center. All sizes of snowshoes are available, starting with preschool, so even the littlest members of your family can join in on the fun. Or get in touch with Minnesota’s Nordic roots and take a traditional Norwegian kicksled out for a spin. Glide across the snow and ice with these wood and metal sleds. Take turns “driving” and riding. It’s a great way to get some exercise while getting back to nature. Kicksled rentals start at just $5/hour.

water garden

Water Garden

Another hidden gem of Westwood Hills is the water garden. It features over 100 native Minnesota plants blooming throughout the summer season as well as streams, waterfalls and a pond.

chickadee sculpture
honey bee display
barred owl

Interpretive Center

Visitors to Westwood will want to explore the new $12 million, eco-friendly Interpretive Center.  It’s full of interactive exhibits, such as a display on pollinators and the important role they play, as well as live animals, including a flying squirrel, a red-tailed hawk and a barred owl.

The Nature Center offers a unique, outdoor, multi-generational classroom in the middle of the city. Professionally trained naturalists lead a variety of fun, informative and hands-on environmental education and outdoor recreation programs year-round. Perfect for families and groups of all types.

The Interpretive Center is closed on certain holidays, such as New Year’s Day, MLK Day, President’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

multipurpose room
waterfall observation deck
lower picnic building

Event Space

Interpretive Center
The newly constructed interpretive center houses a multi-purpose space, accommodating up to 130 people for meetings, wedding receptions, galas, company events, birthday parties, family reunions and more! The multi-purpose room also separates into three smaller spaces (Willow, Aspen and Oak) for meetings and events. Room amenities include a caterer’s holding kitchen and audio-visual equipment. If you wish to have alcohol at your event, an additional $295 fee may be charged to retain a police officer. A refundable damage and kitchen cleaning deposit may apply. Individual rooms are rented by the hour, 2-hr minimum. Rental of the entire facility is for 12 hours.

Maple Conference Room – 16 guests
Willow – 23 guests
Oak – 48 guests
Aspen – 56 guests
Entire Facility – 128 guests

To reserve a room, please complete the Westwood Hills Nature Center facility rental application.

Lower Picnic Building
Located near the parking lot, this building seats up to 25 people. Windows on three sides of this fully accessible building offer beautiful views of the nature center grounds and the playground. The building also has restrooms and a sink. It’s a great place for meetings, parties and more! 2-hr rental minimum.

Waterfall Observation Deck & Outdoor Water Garden
Looking for a scenic location for a small wedding, photo shoot or outdoor meeting space? Enjoy the background view of the water garden as you watch the water flow over the top of the 6-foot-high waterfall and tumble down the hillside! From the accessible Observation Deck, you can see the full view of the waterfall, water garden, Westwood Lake and surrounding woods.

Or explore the Outdoor Water Garden as you stroll along the accessible crushed rock paths, across bridges and gaze into the pond to see the fish. There are rock bench areas for taking photos or to relax and enjoy the view.

Each area can be rented separately or combined to create a beautiful outdoor setting.

Note: Due to construction, the Lower Picnic Building and the Water Garden/Observation Deck areas are not currently available to rent. For more information, please call 952-924-2544.