There are many fantastic parks in and around the Twin Cities area, especially to the west of our hometown of Chanhassen. We are spoiled by beautiful lakes, lush forests, and plenty of open space to run around and play. Whether your family is looking for the best hiking spots, boat launches, nature preserves, or recreational areas, there’s a park for your needs in this list of six awesome parks near Chanhassen, Minnesota.
Lake Ann Park
Image via Flickr by Vlad Busuioc Licensed CC BY 2.0
Lake Ann Park is just off of Highway 5, so it’s a quick drive from many places in Chanhassen. The namesake lake is a gorgeous sight all year round. It only welcomes nonmotorized watercraft, so it’s a quiet waterway for kayaks and canoes. If you don’t have your own watercraft, you can rent one at the park. You can also spend the summers lounging at the beach and swimming in the water. Be sure to bring lots of bait for fishing because you’ll reel in walleye, bluegill, largemouth bass, pike, and crappie.
Besides water-based fun, Lake Ann Park also has multiple picnic sites for both small and large gatherings and many other areas of recreation. Practice pitching or play a pickup game of baseball at one of the six lighted fields, or play a game of soccer, tennis, or beach volleyball. You can also explore the 102 acres of the park using the hiking trails.
Lake Susan Park
Another park not too far off Highway 5 is Lake Susan Park, only this one is south of the highway. Lake Susan Park is only 33 acres, but it’s packed with many of your family’s favorite activities. There’s plenty of surface area on Lake Susan for kayaking and canoeing, and you can fish for pike, bluegill, walleye, largemouth bass, and the occasional perch and bullhead.
This park is also home to some beautiful nature trails that take you around the lake and through different areas of the park. It’s a great spot to take your little athletes for practice and family pickup games because you can play tennis, beach volleyball, basketball, and baseball or softball. They can even practice their swing in the batting cage. Lake Susan Park is also a nice place to bring the family for a little picnic or afternoon at the playground.
Lake Minnewashta Regional Park
Lake Minnewashta Regional Park is an enormous 340-acre park with plenty of all-weather activities for the whole family. This park’s trails serve different purposes throughout the year. In the spring, summer, and fall, you can hike the five miles of nature trails, which feature paved and unpaved sections. In the winter, these trails are perfect for cross-country skiing or a brisk snowshoe hike. Plus, there are specific trail loops for those on bikes. You can even bring your dog to the fenced-in, off-leash dog park where they can run around and play with other pups.
The namesake lake has multiple boat launches for kayaks, canoes, other nonmotorized watercraft, and motorized boats. When the weather is warm and sunny, the lake is great for wakeboarding, paddleboarding, and swimming. You’ll also find a great fishing pier where you can cast your line and catch largemouth bass, bluegill, walleye, crappie, pike, and some perch and bullhead. Other fun amenities include the beach, sand volleyball courts, a Little Free Library, and multiple picnic shelters.
Carver Park Reserve
West of Chanhassen in nearby Waconia/Victoria is Carver Park Reserve. This huge park covers over 3,300 acres, including at least half a dozen lakes, miles of trails, beaches and swimming areas, and nature preserves. If you want to explore portions of this enormous park, you can do so by biking, hiking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or horseback riding on the designated trails. Some trails even allow you to bring your dog along, too.
Want to enjoy a day on the water? Bring your boat or nonmotorized watercraft to cruise around any of the lakes. You’ll find multiple fishing piers and shoreline fishing spots at every lake, and you can even stay at the lake in an overnight fish house to take advantage of early-hour catches.
Carver Park Reserve also features the Lowry Nature Center, where your family can learn about nature conservation and the plants and animals that call the reserve home. On your adventures through the park, be on the lookout for different types of waterfowl, songbirds, and mammals, like deer. Other fun amenities include play areas, historical sites, known geocaching sites, archery, a dog park, and camping.
Staring Lake Park
Located east of Chanhassen in nearby Eden Prairie is Staring Lake Park. This park features a little bit of everything your family could want to do on an outing to the park, including archery, sports fields and courts, boating, fishing, picnicking, and winter activities.
If you’re looking for a family-friendly play area, Staring Lake Park has baseball fields, a combination football-soccer field, a disc golf course, a sand volleyball court, tennis courts, bocce and horseshoe courts, and a basketball court. You can also skate on the ice rink, go sledding, or traverse the ski trail during a Minnesota winter. Your kids will also love exploring the playground and even learning about growing food at the “edible playground” at the Outdoor Center on the northeast side of the lake.
This park also features an off-leash dog park, a few miles of hiking trails that take you around the lake and to other portions of the park, a fishing pier, an observatory, and a boat launch for nonmotorized watercraft. What’s more, Staring Lake Park is a wonderful spot to bring kids who love planes and other aircraft because it’s located right across the road from Flying Cloud Fields, its airport, and a local flight school.
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is a beautiful outdoor retreat featuring lush, manicured gardens with various themes, including international cultural influences, art, and plant species. Take in the stunning architecture of the Chinese Garden, have a meditative walk through the Japanese Garden, and problem-solve your way out of the Maze Garden. Your family can also view diverse art in the sculpture garden, and learn more about plants at the Pollinator Center. Be sure to check out the Arboretum’s special events.
So there you have it, six of the best parks in and around Chanhassen. Did we miss one of your family’s favorite local parks? If so, contact Crème de la Crème of Chanhassen, and we’ll be sure to add it to our list.