5 Ways to Enjoy the Outdoors in Minnesota This Summer

by | Aug 2020

A camper van at Wild River State Park

Photos: Michelle Hurley, EyeSpy Photography by Stephany Wieland, Andrew Carlson, Willow River park staff, and Minnesota DNR

Evening paddles, cabin camping, pizza picnics and more.
If your tent is collecting cobwebs:

Wild River State Park

Give that tent some time to shine and spend your time hiking along 35 miles of trails or fishing along the St. Croix shoreline. Options include drive-in, backpack and canoe camping sites. Or, if your favorite trail is the path of least resistance, reserve one of the park’s six camper cabins. They’re not luxurious—no running water, for example—but they come with electricity and heat, and allow you to skip the set up. Just throw your sleeping bags, clothes and cookware in the car and rest comfortably for the night.

Willow River State Park

If you need to liven up your Instagram:

Willow River State Park

You’ll have to hike to get to it, but once you hear the rushing water, it’s worth it. You can frame up for a shot on the bridge in front of the falls or stage a photoshoot in one of the park’s four scenic overlooks. You’ll end the day having logged some exercise and scored a memory you and your Instagram followers won’t forget.

If the water is calling:

A kayaking adventure

Minnesota-based Taylors Falls Canoe and Kayak Rental or Wisconsin-based Riverwood Canoe and Kayak Rental can set you up with the gear you need. Both offer shuttle services for an easy one-way trip that will take just a few hours and start at the stunning Interstate State Park. Riverwood also offers a summer “Fridays at Five” opportunity for an evening paddle.

Riverwood Canoe and Kayak

If you’re craving a pizza picnic:

The Borner Farm Project

On select Fridays from May through October, it’s a BYO-everything-but-the-pizza experience. Pack up your blankets, chairs, beverages, plates and utensils, and await the blessed gift of pizza straight out of a wood-fired brick oven and topped with the farm’s homegrown vegetables like tomatoes, onions, kale, zucchini and garlic. The High Summer Special is made with mozzarella and parmesan cheese, the farm’s own tomatoes and pesto and local sweet corn. It’s best to make a reservation to secure a savory slice.

Table Filled with Pizzas

If your Fitbit is begging you for steps:

Stillwater stairs

Skip the StairMaster, go for the natural (and free!) Follow the map on the Discover Stillwater website, and you can conquer five flights, racking up about 3 miles and about 500 stairs. Drop into 45 Degrees for a free patch as part of an I Climbed Stillwater Challenge—but first you must tell them the correct total of steps on three specific flights.

Stillwater stairs


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