Family Weekender: Minneapolis
You've probably driven past it dozens of times the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and the Minnesota Valley greenbelt just south of the Twin Cities.
But did you know that this semi-wild area, so close to downtown, offers an abundance of campgrounds, nature trails, and some of the best bird-watching in the state?
The springs, creeks and marshes of the refuge and the park's oak savanna and floodplain forests are rich habitat for songbirds, egrets, cormorants, woodpeckers and owls (as well as beaver, mink, muskrat, fox and deer). About 250 species of birds have been spotted in the area.
This relatively undiscovered haven is a quick and easy getaway for family fun. Hiking trails in the hills and bluffs offer panoramic views of the river valley which is in some places 300 feet deep and five miles wide and the trails linking the numerous bird-watching points are a great way for active kids to expend some steam while learning about the natural world.
Looking for a heartier workout?
Bring along your mountain bikes. The 35-mile trail system of varied difficulty levels is entirely accessible to bicycles as well as to boots.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication