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Fall Colors in Minneapolis and St. Paul

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The trees start to change color in September and October. Here's the best places to see fall colors in Minneapolis and St. Paul. These places are all in the Twin Cities metro area, or just a short drive away from Minneapolis-St. Paul.

Scenic Drives - Avenues and Parkways

Mature trees run the length of Summit Avenue, a pretty drive where the architecture of the Victorian houses is as worthy of admiration as the leaves.

Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis, and the River Road on both sides of the Mississippi River, are also very pleasant drives during the fall.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum has the widest variety of trees you'll see anywhere in Minnesota. Take a scenic drive through the Arboretum's forest, or walk around and admire the leaves.

An admission charge applies, children under 15 are free, and everyone is admitted free on the third Thursday of every month after 4.30 p.m.

City Parks

The Twin Cities are blessed with several wonderful city parks. Large city parks like Minnehaha Park and Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis. Or, Highland Park and Hidden Falls Crosby Park in St. Paul, are all great places to walk, picnic and enjoy the fall.

See Fall Colors By Chairlift, October 5 and 6, 2012

On the afternoon and evening of October 5 and 6, Hyland Hills Ski Area in Bloomington are running their annual Fall Color Chairlift Rides. As well as riding the chairlift, there will be stargazing, a campfire, live music, and great views from the top of one of the highest hills in Hennepin County. The event costs $6 per person, and is only suitable for those over 2.

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Along the Minnesota River Valley, just south of Bloomington, wetlands and wooded areas are protected for native plants and trees to flourish, which in turn support native birds and animals. A visitor's center, and trails and hiking paths are open for visitors to admire fall colors, and spot some of Minnesota's wildlife too. Take a short half-mile loop, or explore several miles of hiking trails through prairie, woodland and wetlands at the refuge.

Seeing Fall Colors From the Lake

If you canoe or kayak already, then you probably already though of this - paddling the lakes and rivers here guarantees a gorgeous view of fall colors.

If you don't have your own boat, the Three Rivers Park District can supply all the gear you need and take you out for a kayak tour of fall color. Paddle and admire the fall colors from a different perspective on the water. Take your pick from an urban lake, or one with a quieter feel - tours are held at Lake Minnetonka, Lake Rebecca, Cleary Lake, or Whitetail Lake, and also there is a trip along the Mississippi River.

Register at the Three Rivers Parks District website.

State Parks

Fort Snelling State Park, centrally located between Minneapolis and St. Paul, where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers converge, has rolling hills to hike, and plenty of trees and wild flowers to admire.

Afton State Park, on the east side of the Metro area, has more hiking, walking and leaf admiring opportunities with views of the St. Croix river.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has daily updates on the status of fall colors in state parks on their website.

By Lakes and Rivers

The banks of the Mississippi River, especially in the Mississippi River Gorge in St. Paul and east Minneapolis, are heavily wooded. You can take a boat trip to see the fall color with Padelford Steamers, departing from downtown St. Paul, or take a walk along the trails, or the East River Road, or West River Road, that run along each side of the river.

Many urban lakes are surrounded by trees - Lake Calhoun, Lake of the Isles, Lake Harriet and Cedar Lake in Minneapolis, Lake Como, Crosby Lake and Lake Phalen in St. Paul are all lovely places to stroll around and admire the fall colors.

Islands

Bring binoculars to watch the islands on Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis. The lake's two islands, and the trees, can be seen easily from shore, but many birds preparing for their fall migration make use of the islands. Visit early in the morning for the best chance of seeing a rare bird species, or visit any time for the leaves.

Nicollet Island, in downtown Minneapolis, is the urbanite's best spot to see fall colors, but with skyscrapers rising behind the leaves, and the bonus of a very nice restaurant to visit on the island too.

Caponi Art Park, Eagan

Caponi Art Park has 60 acres of rolling hills, lakes, and woodland, a large collection of sculptures, and a historic home. And it's just 15 minutes from St. Paul. The park has free admission, but gladly accept donations.

More Places to See Fall Colors

Pretty towns, more ideas for boat trips, kayak adventures, trolley rides, day trips, weekend adventures, relaxing breaks and scenic drives in the countryside:

More places to see fall color on a day trip from Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Further afield: places to see fall color on a weekend trip from Minneapolis and St. Paul.

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