Making nature-filled experiences part of a child’s routine from a young age builds the foundation for a lifelong love of the outdoors. Whether your family is into activities like swimming and hiking or you’re looking for a more laid-back way to appreciate all that nature has to offer, you’ll find plenty of places to visit in Minnesota without traveling far from home.

In fact, Maple Grove features a range of parks, trails, and more you’re sure to love exploring with the whole family. Crème de la Crème of Maple Grove put together a list of amazing places to check out right here in our own area to inspire your next family outing.

Maple Grove Arboretum

A child standing outside while looking at a topographical map of the surrounding area.

Image via Unsplash by anniespratt

Maple Grove Arboretum is a beautiful park that runs alongside Elm Creek right here in Maple Grove. The park stretches 15 acres and includes trails that lead to Rice Lake and the Medicine Lake Regional Trail.

Kiddos interested in learning more about the natural world that surrounds them will love studying the trees that grow in Maple Grove Arboretum. With more than 100 local trees situated here, this park makes sure your family never runs out of nature to explore. The park also features the Angel of Hope Statue, a place dedicated to peaceful remembrance for anyone who has lost a loved one.

Weaver Lake Beach and Park

If you’re looking for water-based nature, you can’t go wrong with a visit to Weaver Lake Beach and Park. The 80-acre park boasts a guarded beach, open daily between the hours of noon and 7 p.m. during the swim season. You’ll find a wood observation deck complete with a metal slide tube leading from the playground to the beach, making Weaver Lake Beach a unique place to enjoy the water. You can also get in a family game on the sand volleyball courts or cast your fishing lines from the fishing pier at this beach.

That’s not all the popular park offers, though. A picnic area and grills make Weaver Lake Park a great place to indulge in a family meal outdoors, while the pedestrian and biking trails offer the perfect spot for a stroll through nature. You can also find boat launching access across Weaver Lake.

Thoresen Park

You’ll find Thoresen Park in Maple Grove’s southeast corner, and it’s yet another can’t-miss park for families looking to enjoy nature without traveling far. In addition to play equipment and a multi-use ball-field, Thoresen Park offers unique opportunities for outdoor fun in any weather.

In the wintertime, the park’s large open field is used for ice skating. Thoresen Park also makes a great place for shoreline fishing in the summer. You can fish along the shores of Eagle Lake, reeling in plenty of fish. Species you could catch if you head to Thoresen Park for shoreline fishing include bass, bluegill, bullhead, crappie, perch, sunfish, walleye, and more.

Fish Lake Regional Park

There’s something for everyone at Fish Lake Regional Park, another Maple Grove outdoor gem. This beautiful wooded park sits on Fish Lake, making it the ideal location for access to the beach as well as activities like hiking and geocache. The paved trails and fully-fenced area for off-leash dogs make this a great park to visit if you want to include the family pooch in your outdoor adventure. Picnic areas and a rental pavilion make the park the perfect spot for an outdoor family gathering surrounded by nature, too.

All in all, you’ll find something to keep the whole family entertained at this park in any weather. If your family is into walking, Fish Lake Regional Park is the place to go. The paths here wind through various natural areas, including both paved and boardwalk trails. The turf trails are great for hiking or snowshoeing in the winter. Drawn in by the water? Take advantage of boating, swimming, and ice fishing possibilities throughout the year.

Pro tip: Make sure you plan at least one visit to Fish Lake Regional Park in the autumn. The changing maple leaves create a vibrant reflection on the lake, offering a breathtaking setting for any outdoor activity you have planned.

Elm Creek Park Reserve

Elm Creek Park Reserve offers another local setting with an abundance of opportunities for outdoor fun. Elm Creek Park Reserve is actually the biggest park in the Three Rivers area, spanning 4,900 acres in total. As with many other area parks, you can enjoy nature through various activities throughout the seasons here.

In addition to access to the Eastman Nature Center and Winter Recreation Area, you’ll find extensive trails for hiking and biking and a swim pond. Elm Creek Park Reserve is the perfect setting for checking out the wildlife at Elm Creek. From bluebirds, eagles, loons, sandhill cranes, and trumpeter swans to beavers, deer, and more, the area in and around Elm Creek is teaming with species kids are sure to love trying to spot in a natural habitat.

Lakeview Knolls Park

Lakeview Knolls Park features 15 acres of outdoor possibilities, including several sports fields and courts, a playground, and walking paths. Older trees line the walking path between Lakeview Knolls Park and the Maple Grove Arboretum, making this a particularly picturesque place to go for a relaxing stroll.

The best is yet to come here, too. A Nature Play Area designed for kids under 8 years old is coming soon to the Arbor View Early Childhood Center. A sand play area, water play area, giant bird nest, and willow tunnels are just the start. The features and paths will be open to the community after school hours, so make sure you put this on your list of nature experiences to check out with the kids soon.

There you have it, Crème de la Crème of Maple Grove’s list of nature activities to explore right here in your own backyard. Did we miss a park, trail, or other nature-filled place in Maple Grove your family loves? If we did, let us know so we can add your favorite local place to our list!