Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chaska, MN 55318
Hours: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. or sunset (whichever occurs first); closed Thanksgiving and Christmas Day
Admission: $9 for ages 16 and older; free for ages 15 and under, University of Minnesota students and Arboretum members
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, under the auspices of the University of Minnesota, is a lushly vibrant nature space just outside of Chaska. In spite of the fact that the entire state is a natural playground, the Arboretum is still special, and still well worth many visits. It’s not a seasonal attraction—it’s open year-round, and provides a great showcase to the seasons.
Autumn can be a sneaky season. One minute everything is warm and green, and then suddenly little tinges of color begin creeping into the scenery.
But before you know it, what once was green will soon turn to fiery reds and oranges.
Keep in mind when you visit the Arboretum there are multiple layers. The easiest way to visit is to take the Three-Mile Drive, which will guide you through a variety of landscapes, from prairies to forests to collections of hedges and fruit trees to rose gardens. (Note for walkers and runners: the Three-Mile Drive is also a great trail.) But there are many off-road trails for deeper exploration, and there are numerous specialty gardens an easy walk from the main entrance: the Japanese Garden, the perennial gardens, rose gardens, and the Terrace Garden, to name a few.
Obviously there aren’t a lot of flowering plants in the winter. But that doesn’t mean the Arboretum isn’t worth a visit then. Before the holidays, the Arboretum spruces itself up with holiday cheer, inside and out.
The Three-Mile Drive is closed to cars in the winter, but walkers are welcome. The Arboretum is home to all kinds of special events all year round, and the winter holidays bring all kinds of musical performances and demonstrations, and the cherished holiday teas (reserve ahead).
Of course, it’s hard to beat the arrival of spring for sheer profusion of color. The Arboretum meticulously plants thousands of bulbs, and the blooms are cause for celebration.
It’s not just bulbs, of course; flowering trees are abundant, too.
Everything greens up in the summer, and it’s an especially popular place for families. What better place to hang out than one of the garden mazes—or the tree house?
The grounds are more formal and manicured near the Visitor’s Center.
But as you move deeper into the Arboretum, you’ll find stretches of nature in its — well — natural state.
No matter what time of year it is, the Arboretum is so worth a visit. Check the Arboretum’s website for its robust schedule of events. There are plenty of options, whether you want to learn more about gardening, cooking classes, writing seminars, flora and fauna lectures. Families will find they have some wonderful choices for family or kid-only classes and events, too.
Amy C. Rea lives with her family in the Twin Cities. She’s the author of Backroads & Byways of Minnesota and Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes: an Explorer’s Guide. She can also be found chatting about Minnesota travel topics at http://www.flyover-land.com.