Minnesota Arboretum

MN arborteumPlaces to Play: Minnesota Arboretum in Chaska, MN

This is part of my series about places to play in the South Metro area of the Twin Cities (Apple Valley, Bloomington, Burnsville, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Edina, Inver Grove Heights, Farmington, Lakeville, Mendota Heights, Prior Lake, Richfield, Rosemount, Savage, Shakopee, South St. Paul, West St. Paul.)

Place: Minnesota Arboretum

Where:  Ok, this play place is a little further away from the south metro area (Chaska), but it is worth the drive!

3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska, MN 55318

Cost:  Children 12 and under are free!  Adults are $12, but they offer free admission on certain days.  (Example: free every Third Monday of the month, noon – 6 p.m., April through October)


  • MN arborteumThe arboretum is known for it’s wonder gardens and nature programs, but I had no idea how much they offered for children. They have an amazing toddler and preschool play area with nature-inspired play equipment that is located by the learning center building.  Drive past the main building and park in front the learning building for easy access.  The learning center building has several interactive displays on nature topics for children, but plan to go at a time their preschool program is not in session to have access to these features (they close areas off for their preschool program).
  • One of the best reasons to play outside is for the sensory play.  This play area includes a sand and water feature (so be prepared for sandy and wet children!), as well as tree trunks to climb, tunnels to crawl through, and lots of mud and dirt.  The play area is set-up to encourage children to be part of nature by touching, feeling, and exploring!  While on the main garden trails children need close supervision to not trample the plants, in the children’s area they are free to explore and run around.
  • For children who need a quieter space, the arboretum is large enough you can always avoid the crowds, but you can also go early in the day to beat the crowds in the children’s play area.  For children who week sensory input, the children’s play area provides lots of opportunities, just be prepared to bring home messy children.
  • Kid-friendly features- indoor bathrooms (accessible) and drinking fountains.  Food available at the main building.  Picnic tables and benches throughout the park.  The first section of the preschool play area is all paved for strollers, walkers, or wheelchair access.
  • The park has miles of trails, some paved and accessible, others hardened dirt trails.  A great chance to slow down and spend time with your children of any age just walking the beautiful gardens, and a great way to exercise as a family.  They decorate the main trails for holidays, such as Halloween each year.

Looking for other local ideas in the South Metro area?

Paige Hays is an occupational therapist who provides in-home, pediatric occupational therapy services in the south metro area of the Twin Cities, MN. She is a mother of 2 girls, avid DIYer, and a highly skilled and experienced OT. She specializes in working in pediatrics, with diverse expertise ranging from cognition and sensory issues to working with children with neuromuscular disabilities or complex medical needs.  www.paigehays.net