Richfield Parks are worth the trip from Minneapolis

Baby geese at Taft Park


For many in Minneapolis, Richfield, the city’s next-door neighbor to the south, might seem like a mystery; a place to drive through on the way to someplace else. Those who take a journey to the other side of the Crosstown Highway will discover that there are a lot of entertaining things to do in Richfield. The city has some of the best parks around, filled with not just grass and trees but lots of things to do for people of all ages.

The 18-hole miniture golf course offers fun in a beautiful

Veterans Park
From bog walks to mini-golf to swimming and ice-skating. It’s all here.

Veterans Park (6335 Portland Ave.) is a100-acre green space with much to offer for anyone looking for a little summer fun. The entrance at 64th and Portland Ave. offers plenty of parking.
At the park’s north end is an 18-hole miniature golf course, surrounded by gardens and featuring a picturesque waterfall. The course is open to groups or individuals and prices are reasonable, with regular admission only $10 or $8 for those age 62 and older, age 11 and younger and for members of the military.
When done golfing, stop by the Malt Shop (809 W 50th St.) for some ice cream refreshments, including some of the best malts and ice cream floats in the area, as well as personal pizzas.
Tandem bikes and an assortment of surreys are also available from Wheel Fun Rentals.
Just behind the picnic shelter is a play area where the youngest children can play in safety and a second section where the playground equipment can challenge older kids.
Behind the playground, look carefully and you’ll find a small pathway leading into a forested wetland area, popular with walkers, runners and bird watchers. Just under a mile and a half, it’s a popular place to bring the kids and leashed dogs. Much of the path is paved, which means the trail is also bike friendly. Highlights include a boardwalk over the Richfield bog and benches where people can sit and take in the natural beauty.
Near the path are two year-round ice rinks open to residents and non-residents alike. Skaters practice their hockey skills or just ice skate for the fun of it. Skates are available for rent. An all-season membership costs $72, but daily prices are also available.

The Saturday morning farmers market is open until late October.

On Saturdays from 7 a.m. until noon, the park’s picnic shelter becomes the home of the Richfield Farmer’s Market. This year, along with long-time sellers, the market features 16 new vendors.
Choose among locally grown fresh vegetables, cheeses, salsas, honey, olive oils, fresh baked bread, fresh mushrooms, meat, coffee and teas, eggs, hummus, Mediterranean salads, fruit-flavored kefir yogurts and much more. Browse locally made crafts and artisanal products and freshly cooked food, including Tibetan momos and Southern Style BBQ available for takeout or for eating at nearby tables. Richfield Farmers Market will run each Saturday until October 26.
On 66th St. you’ll find the Richfield Pool (630 East 66th Street) one of the largest swimming pools in the area. School swim teams and their coaches come from all over the metro area to practice in the 50-meter lanes, but afternoons are open to the public. The pool will close after August 18, so go now while you can.

Woodlake Nature Center offers lowland forests, restored prairie and a marsh along walking trails.

Wood Lake Nature Center
May the forest be with you.

For those looking for some solitude and a chance to commune with nature, a small patch of wilderness sits just blocks from the 66th St. strip malls. The Wood Lake Nature Center (6710 Lake Shore Drive S.) is a 150-acre nature preserve, open to the public for the last 53 years.
The Center includes a small museum with interactive displays, live animals with staff members available to answer questions. Doors are open Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. and on Sundays from noon–5 p.m. The five trails, weaving through lowland forests, restored prairie and a cattail marsh, are open from 5 a.m.–11 p.m.
The paths include two miles of crushed limestone walking trails, accessible to wheelchairs and strollers, a floating boardwalk, viewing docks, two outdoor amphitheaters, a picnic pavilion and a nature play area.
“Wildlife changes throughout the year,” said the Center’s manager, Paul Smithson. “There are woodland flowers such as asters. In July, we see a lot of Canada geese, egrets and herons. We see vocal songbirds like Baltimore orioles and American robins.”
Visitors walking through the park might spot garter snakes and turtles, both painted and snapping. It is not unusual for visitors to see muskrat, raccoons, cottontail rabbits and coyotes.
Hammocks, geocaching, photography and picnics are encouraged, but no dogs are allowed, protecting both the wildlife and the dogs. Walking trails range from a short stroll of less than .15 miles to 1.8 miles. During the cold season, a two-mile winter ski trail and a short (just under a half-mile) ski loop is open for winter fun.

Captain Stephany Smith prepares to hand over command of a military unit to 1st Lieutenant Brittany Gray and the war memorial at Veteran’s Memorial Park.

War Memorial
Honoring all who served.

Many who drive by the Richfield memorial at the heart of the park might notice a sculpture recognizing the flag raising on Iwo Jima during World War II. Those who stop by to visit will also see the bust of Charles W. Lindberg, a longtime Richfield resident, who along with four other soldiers raised the flag after the fierce battle in February of 1945.
Those who visit the memorial will also see the names of veterans engraved on a granite memorial tablet. Those who want to add names, honoring any veteran from any service, living or deceased, active or retired and serving during war or peacetime, can do so with a tax-deductible donation.
Members of the military use this site with ceremonies on Veterans Day, Memorial Day and other holidays but the public is always welcome.

Even on cloudy days, the fishing is great at Taft Lake. Leo Dickey came from St. Paul to catch a Northen Pike.

Taft Lake Park
Come for the walk, stay for the walleye.

Despite its small size and urban location, this park has a lot to offer. Although the sounds of traffic from Crosstown Highway, Highway 77 and the airport are noticeable, they soon seem to fade for many who come for the fish. Located just south of the Crosstown on Bloomington Avenue, the park, with its 14-acre lake, has been attracting fans of fishing since 1975.
At its deepest spot, Taft Lake reaches a depth of 45 ft., and is well stocked, so bring your rod and reel to the handicapped accessible fishing pier to catch some lunkers, including northerns, rock bass, white crappie, yellow perch, walleye and sunfish. Come in the winter for the ice fishing. According to a survey of local fisheries, northern pike caught at Taft Lake measured from 19.1 to 30.9 inches and averaged just over three pounds.
But the park offers much more than fishing. On the one-mile paved walking trail around the lake, you can spot geese and ducks. Bring your leashed dog and stroll past the cattails and milkweed and the other walkers who have discovered this lovely park. A newly installed bike park offers challenging off-road features including a small track for kids. There are basketball courts, ball fields and playground equipment for use for no charge. Don’t forget to wave at the airplanes as they zoom overhead.

Comments are closed.