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 have a deep history of indigenous settlement; furthermore, they are spaces that reflect social change/disruption and competing interests over land. Saint Paul contains so many parks that this publication is 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 for sports and fitness fans, pet lovers, urban anglers, nature enthusiasts, and the boundless child within all of us. For more information, visit Saint Paul Parks & Recreation or call the Parks & Rec Permit Office at 651.632.5111.
Arlington Arkwright Park
400 East Arlington Avenue
Tucked in a quiet Payne-Phalen neighborhood, this park has a large off-leash dog area, wooded trails, a shelter for rainy picnic days, nearby baseball and soccer fields, and a rounded slope perfect for play.
Aurora/St. Anthony Peace Sanctuary Garden
851 Aurora Avenue
Facebook: Aurora/St. Anthony Peace Sanctuary Garden, St. Paul, MN
A small oasis of flowers and vegetables offering weekly children’s environmental educational programming to surrounding residents. Partners in the sanctuary include Sabathani Community Center, Gordon Parks High School, Maxfield Elementary School, the Saint Paul Police Department, and the Summit/University WEED/SEED program.
Battle Creek Recreation Center
75 South Winthrop Street
Large rec center offering numerous athletic fields, a fitness center, S’more Fun childcare, a skating rink, a sledding hill, a horseshoe pit, and much more.
Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary
Near intersection of Commercial Street & East Fourth Street
Located along the north shore of the Mississippi River east of downtown, this sanctuary occupies 29 acres of land that formerly lay vacant and toxic from a century of industrial use. A regeneration effort was organized with the support of DFL representative Bruce Vento, East Side and Lowertown residents, and Hmong and Laotian communities. The sanctuary offers walking and bicycling trails, birdwatching, bluff climbing, and abundant nature.
Celeste’s Dream Community Garden
1884 Randolph Avenue
A ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph Carondelet & Consociates, this community garden welcomes participation from surrounding residents. Goals are to teach organic growing methods, enjoy heirloom produce, build community, and share the harvest.
2223 Carter Avenue
College Park in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood is a hidden gem for tennis players. There’s also a small playground for kids and lots of green space.
1199 Midway Parkway
A Saint Paul jewel for more than 100 years, Como Park was envisioned as a free or reasonably priced outdoor haven for our urban population. It boasts a free zoo, a 250-seat lakeside pavilion, an antique carousel, numerous athletic facilities, a fishing pier, barbecue grills, paved trails, and watercraft rentals. The botanical warmth of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is especially welcome in the winter.
Como Regional Park Pool
1151 Como Avenue
Located across from Como Zoo, this aquatics facility features a main pool equipped with two basketball hoops and a 400-foot lazy river. There is also a diving well with a one-meter diving board, two diving platforms, and an aquatic climbing wall.
Conway Community Recreation Center
2090 Conway Avenue
The Sanneh Foundation runs this rec center, offering open basketball, soccer, an ice rink, a splash pad, a community garden, and much more.
Crosby Farm Regional Park
2595 Crosby Farm Road
In 1858, the park was the 160-acre farm of English immigrant Thomas Crosby. It now features multiple trails for hiking and jogging, a sandy beach, and picnic shelter. Located in the Highland Park neighborhood.
Dayton’s Bluff Children’s Garden
Intersection of Maria Avenue & East Third Street
An urban garden tended by Eastside youth ages 14 to 18 and organized by the Community Design Center of Minnesota. The kids help plant and maintain organic vegetables, herbs, and flowers; run a Community Sponsored Agriculture program; and sell produce at farmers markets and to local restaurants.
Dayton’s Bluff Recreation Center
800 Conway Street
This rec center has an outdoor playground, tennis courts, and ball fields, as well as an indoor gym, dance studio, theater, and kitchen available for rent.
Gateway State Trail
Trailhead: Cayuga Park, 198 East Cayuga Street
Located on a converted rail-trail, the Gateway State Trail offers 18 miles of paved trail beginning in Saint Paul near Cayuga Park; traveling northeast through Maplewood, North Saint Paul, and Oakdale, through Washington County; and ending at Pine Point Regional Park four miles northwest of Stillwater.
Harriet Island Regional Park
200 Dr. Justus Ohage Boulevard
Located alongside the Mississippi River near downtown, Harriet Island hosts festivals and riverboat excursions all summer long. It also features the Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion, a beautiful 5,000 square foot facility that hosts weddings and other parties.
Hidden Falls Regional Park
1415 South Mississippi River Boulevard
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.
1200 Montreal Avenue
Acquired by the city in 1925, Highland Park features an 18-hole golf course, aquatic center, 200-seat pavilion with an indoor/outdoor fireplace, and picnic shelter. The park is also decked out with a sledding hill, cross-country ski trails, horseshoe court, and Frisbee golf course. Don’t forget the booya shed.
Highland Park Community Center
1978 Ford Parkway
Formerly the Hillcrest Rec Center and Highland Park Library, this expanded community center features an outdoor reading garden, playground, sledding hill, and athletic fields in addition to the indoor gym and fitness center.
Indian Mounds Regional Park
10 Mounds Boulevard
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 dating back 2,000 years. Explore the past with a view of downtown. There are two picnic shelters available for rent.
1884 West University Avenue
Quaint, quiet park nestled along the light rail line. Enjoy a picnic by the pond.
251 Walnut Street
Beautiful shady park with an ornate fountain and gazebo, nestled in a neighborhood just west of downtown. Popular site for weddings.
62 East Kellogg Boulevard
An inspiring view of Mississippi commerce lies just beyond while burbling fountains and a vine-hung arbor are reminders of work’s rewards. The mall offers a view of fireworks on the Fourth and during Winter Carnival. The trees shade downtown lunchers from spring to fall.
542 West Maryland Avenue
This park surrounding Loeb Lake 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.
221 East Fifth Street
Lowertown’s gem has a bandstand for summer music, a burbling stream running from corner to corner, and flower gardens maintained by surrounding residents. It’s a perfect lunch spot for workers, and Music in Mears provides a full lineup of free Thursday night shows from June through August.
900 North Fairview Avenue
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 North Lexington Parkway
This Rondo neighborhood community center is made up of the reconstructed Jimmy Lee Rec Center (with fitness center, dance studio, and gyms) and the Great River Water Park (indoor aquatics available year-round). There is also an outdoor playground, picnic areas, and athletic fields.
Phalen Regional Park
1600 Phalen Drive
Featuring 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. Enjoy the fire pit, beach volleyball, sailing lessons, and fishing pier.
109 West Fourth Street
Surrounded by the Saint Paul Hotel, Landmark Center, the Ordway, and the Central Library, this downtown green space features bronze statues and a beautiful fountain encircled by inviting park benches.
Samuel H. Morgan Trail
Trail parallels Shepard Road
Following the Mississippi River waterfront in downtown, the Samuel Morgan Trail shows off just how much redevelopment Saint Paul has done with its riverfront.
West Minnehaha Recreation Center
685 West Minnehaha Avenue
This community resource has outdoor green space with a playground, picnic area, and ball courts and fields. Indoors, the rec center offers open gym, tot time, and after school activities.
Western Sculpture Park
387 Marion Street
This art park features a sculpture garden filled with works by local artists. The newest installation is Democracy Speaks, standing 17 feet tall in fabricated steel and created by John Hock and Andrew MacGuffie. There’s also a playground for the kids.