By Cortney Mohnk

As the frigid winter turns to blooming spring, Minnesotans enthusiastically embrace being outdoors. Routine activities done inside during the cold weather months now become an “event” when done in the sunshine and fresh air. That’s why picnics in Minnesota can be so enjoyable. That time outdoors is treasured because we’re all cognizant that the snow will be here again before we know it. Take advantage of the weather with one of these great scenic spots for your next picnic.

Franconia Sculpture Park
29836 St. Croix Trail
Shafer, MN 55074
(651) 257-6668

For a picnic locale that is fun and playful, yet thought provoking and a great conversation starter, check out Franconia Sculpture Park in the St. Croix River Valley. This 43-acre park showcases 100+ sculptures, most of which encourage touching and even climbing. Stroll the grassy paths while taking in the unique art and find the perfect picnic table or quiet spot to hunker down. The park has conveniences such as restrooms and ample parking, plus dogs are allowed on leashes. Visit sun up to sun down 365 days a year for no admittance fee, although donations are welcome.

Photo Credit Thinkstock

Fort Snelling State Park
101 Snelling Lake Road
St. Paul, MN 55111
(612) 725-2389

At the crux of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, you’ll find the Fort Snelling State Park. The park is nearly 4,000 acres and contains so much natural beauty that you forget you can be, at times, underfoot of busy freeways and an international airport. Visitors to the park may likely spot wildlife, including owls, deer, turkeys, eagles or turtles. Picnickers have options for nestling in for a comfortable bite to eat. Tables, shelters and grills are located along the beach, as well as at Picnic Island but a good ol’ blanket can be spread out in many scenic spots too.  A playground visit for the kids and a healthy hike to the historic fort can round out the day.

Pipestone National Monument
36 Reservation Ave.
Pipestone, MN 56164
(507) 825-5464 x214

Pipestone is one of two national monuments in Minnesota. Native Americans quarry the red pipestone here to make sacred prayer pipes and have done so for roughly 3000 years. The historical and spiritual significance, as well as the natural beauty make this an ideal picnic spot. Tables and restrooms are located near the Three Maidens, which are rocks regarded as the spiritual protectors of the quarries. Picnic options also exist along the ¾-mile Circle Trail which winds through prairies, falls and other scenic points. An entrance pass is required to access both the picnic area and trails.

Related:  Best Playgrounds In Minnesota

arb2 Best Places To Picnic In Minnesota

(credit: Amy Rea)

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
3675 Arboretum Drive
Chanhassen, MN 55318
(952) 443-1400

Whether it’s a gathering for a large group, a small picnic for one, or something in between, the choices are endless at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. More than 1,200 acres provide a beautiful natural backdrop for your picnic. Hike down a winding trail and be among wildflowers, singing birds and tall trees. Settle in near an ornate display of gorgeous blooms. Or utilize one of the picnic shelters near the walking paths and gardens – they’re perfect for groups of up to 80.

Como Park Zoo And Conservatory
1225 Estabrook Drive
St. Paul, MN 55103
(651) 487-8200

There are so many options at Como for picnickers! Several pavilions and picnic shelters are available, as are an abundance of grassy nooks near gardens, under shady trees or lakeside. Before or after your outdoor meal, there is no shortage of entertainment options either. Stop by the zoo to see the gorillas, take the kiddos to the Como Town amusement park or Cafesjian’s Carousel, bike around Como Lake or relax in the lazy river at the Como Pool.

Related: Best Ways To Utilize Minnesota’s Parks And Recs Departments

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