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7 Opportunities to Utilize Your Neighborhood Park

While we all adjust and take part in the safety of our community during this time, it’s important to remember to keep ourselves physically and mentally healthy. We hope the benefit of parks and green spaces of all sizes throughout Minneapolis (and beyond) has helped you through these uncertain times.

Access to nature and outdoor exercise relieves stress, lifts spirits, and improves physical health and resilience. And because they’re free, and nearly every Minneapolis home is within a 10-minute walk of a park, they are more important than ever.

Each of the 160 Minneapolis neighborhood parks offers its own unique set of opportunities, terrain, and scenery. While maintaining a minimum 6-ft distance between yourself and others, we would like to share 7 activities you can do in (nearly) all neighborhood parks that will keep you and your loved ones active, entertained, and connected to your community.

Kite Flying at Kenny Park

#1. Do It Yourself Minneapolis Earth Day Clean-Up

While sadly 2020 Minneapolis Earth Day group clean-up events have been canceled this year, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is encouraging community members to contribute towards picking up our parks and getting outside with a “Do It Yourself Earth Day”. Earth Day is April 22nd this year and will officially mark 50 years of Earth Day!

Post a picture of your trash haul to the Minneapolis Parks Earth Day Facebook Page: @MPLSEarthDay with the hashtag #mplsDIYEarthDay. MPRB will be offering prizes to those that participate! It’s a great opportunity to get outside and contribute to a global clean-up!

#2. Create Your Own Fitness Challenge

Instead of visiting a crowded regional trail to get your mile walk in, challenge yourself to calculate the distance around your neighborhood park and get the same steps in. A Minneapolis city block is typically 660 x 330 feet, meaning 16 short blocks, or 8 long blocks measures one mile. However, all parks are a little unique, and block lengths might shift from one area to another.

As I discovered when I visited my neighborhood park, Chergosky Park (which is in the shape of a triangle – tucked within one short block) I found the perimeter to measure about 330 x 330 x 467 feet, so five times around and I’d already exceeded a mile!

Another option could be to find an open area in your park and try yoga, meditation, or another solo activity of your choice.

Personal Workout at Boom Island Park

#3. Little Free Libraries

While not all neighborhood parks have Little Free Libraries outside, there are 45 lending libraries that are accessible outside of their associated recreation center – plus three more at Longfellow House, Victory Prairie Dog Park, and Perkins Hill Park. Reading in parks is a great way to engage your family, learn new things, and immerse yourself in another world.

Little Free Library at Farview Park

We also invite you to donate books to lending libraries across Minneapolis, in hopes that all can find access to wonderful, new stories.

While Little Free Libraries are open, please follow guidelines around safety of shared spaces and utilities. You can find out more here.

#4. Lawn Games

Lawn games are a fun and entertaining option for the whole family. While you will need to bring your own supplies, parks are a great space to set up and enjoy the afternoon. Here are a few suggested lawn games:

Kubb – instructions here and video demonstration here
Croquet – instructions here
Cornhole – instructions here

Kubb at Linden Hills Park
Horseshoe at Windom Park

#5. City Nature Challenge 2020

The City Nature Challenge is an international effort for people to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. Typically, it’s a competition between cities to see who can make the most observations of nature, who can find the most species, and who can engage the most people. This year, however, it has transformed from a competition into an individual, yet digitally collaborative, activity. Visit their website to see how you can get involved and share your findings!

#6. Passing Games (with distance)

While contact team sports are no longer allowed, passing, catch, or fetch with your dog (though on-leash regulations still apply) are all still acceptable according to guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health. Grab a family member and head over to your nearest neighborhood park, find an open area, and practice a new or existing skillset.

#7. Scavenger Hunt

Additionally, some of our amazing staff members here at the Minneapolis Parks Foundation have helped contribute to a family-friendly scavenger hunt that will keep you moving and engaged. While geared towards kids, this is a fun activity for all ages! It’s an opportunity to get outside with a mission and creates space for adventure and imagination in all corners of Minneapolis parks.

Download the Park Scavenger Hunt here!

A Guide to Social Distancing in Public Parks, Courtesy of National Recreation and Park Association

Of course, health and safety remain top priorities, so be sure to follow all the necessary guidelines before, during, and after your park visit. More information on how COVID-19 affects Minneapolis Parks and public spaces can be found at these resources:

Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board – latest on park and parkway updates/closures
City of Minneapolis – view how COVID-19 is impacting city services and read city FAQ
Minnesota Department of Health(MDH) – guidance and updates for all Minnesotans, including videos and materials in multiple languages
Centers for Disease Control – guidance and resources for everyone in the country


Featured Image: Prospect Park, Witch’s Hat Water Tower

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