Exploring the Twin Cities: Franconia Sculpture Park

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franconia sculpture park

If you’re like most parents, you are always on the lookout for fun and different activities to do with your kiddos. Bonus points if they burn energy in the process.

For many parents, the Franconia Sculpture Park is a hidden gem. This unique park offers acres of sculptures your kids can explore, all for free. You might find yourself making the drive on the regular.

If you haven’t already joined Twin Cities Kids Club, you’re missing out. This FREE membership card gets you access to exclusive discounts and events around Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding Twin Cities. 

You don’t need a membership card to check out the Franconia Sculpture Park, however. Load up the kids, pack a few supplies, and head out to the St. Croix River Valley for a fun and exciting day for the whole family.

What is the Franconia Sculpture Park?

The St. Croix River Valley is breathtaking. People come from all over the state to spend the afternoon driving around this beautiful area.

Thankfully for you, and anyone who chooses to visit the Franconia Sculpture Park, you can get two birds with one stone. Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the St. Croix River Valley and take in the park’s wonder at the same time.

It is about an hour’s drive from the Twin Cities. Be prepared for some time in the car with your kiddos.

The Franconia Sculpture Park is free. That’s right; it is free to visit. Most parents love seeing those four little letters next to an activity, especially larger families.

The park is open from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm every day. If you feel like checking out sculptures on Christmas Day, you can!

There are 120 sculptures spread out over 43 acres. It will likely take you several trips to truly see and learn about each of the sculptures.

Who They Are?

The Franconia Sculpture Park is unique in that it exists to help artists. It is a nonprofit arts organization that aims to benefit the community and artists around it.

Franconia is more than a sculpture park. It is also an active artist residency and a community arts program. The original vision from 1996, when it was founded to support local artists and maintain an outdoor museum, is still the driving factor behind Franconia.

Each year, Franconia Sculpture Park maintains this active artist residency program and can serve more than 40 artists. The park also serves more than 150,000 visitors annually.

When you visit Franconia, you will likely see more than just sculptures. Visitors get the chance to meet and interact with the artists-in-residence. How awesome could it be for your kids to learn about art from the creator?

Tips for the Trip

As with any outdoor activity, there are some things to be aware of to better prepare for your trip. Honestly, any activity with kids takes some additional planning.

The grounds at Franconia Sculpture Park are relatively flat. The trails are mostly gravel or mowed paths. Because of this, the paths can be a bit messy if there has been rain.

If you have littles tires that tire easily or you plan on checking out a large part of the park, a wagon or stroller is a good idea. All of the paths are usable with strollers and wheelchairs, though some of the trails might be difficult with a manual wheelchair.

If you have severe mobility issues, there are golf carts available at the park. Call ahead at (651)257-6668 to get more information on renting a golf cart or to pick yours up when you arrive. The staff asks you to knock on the door or call rather than come inside.

For Kids

Franconia Sculpture Park has gone the extra mile to ensure kids of all ages have a fantastic time at the park. They have a variety of activities you can use to enhance your visit.

  • Sculpture Puzzles: Printable crosswords and word searches. Great for Elementary and Middle School students.
  • Observe & Draw: Printable that engages students in observing, sketching, and then interpreting. Great for upper Elementary or Middle School students.
  • Coloring Pages: Printable coloring pages of some of your favorite sculptures at Franconia Sculpture Park! Great for all ages.
  • Observe & Write: Printable writing activities. Great for Middle and High School students.
  • Sculpture I Spy: Printable I Spy game to promote exploration of Franconia Sculpture Park. Great for Middle School students.
  • Glossary: Use this glossary to help you define new terms found in Franconia’s printable materials and describe the sculpture at the park.

When you take kids to any outdoor activity, you need to be prepared for the weather. Franconia is no different. If there is a chance of rain or snow, bring dry clothes and an extra pair of shoes. No matter when you visit, bring comfortable walking shoes for everyone.

In the summer, sunscreen and bug spray is a must.

Because Franconia Sculpture Park is so large, you could easily spend an entire day there. Lean into it and plan for the whole day. Pack a picnic lunch, snacks, and extra water so you don’t have to cut your trip short because of hunger.

If you want to avoid potential crowds, it is best to plan your visit for a weekday. 

Events

Franconia Sculpture Park hosts several events throughout the year.

In the summer, they host a monthly film series. August 1 and September 5 at 9:00 pm are their scheduled movie events remaining his summer. Be aware, however, that these are more geared towards adults.

The first Sunday of each month in May through October from 10:00-12:00 brings you the Franconia Art and Farmer’s Market. Local farmers and artists come together to bring you fresh food and handmade crafts.

COVID Concerns

To keep guests and staff safe during COVID-19, the park asks everyone to maintain at least six feet of social distance. Please do not touch the statues or climb on them. There is additional signage around the park as well as roped off sculptures.

When you are at a public program or unable to maintain a six foot distance, please wear a mask. If you do not bring a mask, you will be asked to buy one from Franconia as a donation to the park.

To keep everyone safe, the staff at Franconia has increased their cleaning and sanitizing procedures in all public areas, including bathrooms, benches, and other high-touch areas. However, please refrain from touching anything unnecessarily.

They are offering free walking tours on Sundays at 2:00 pm. However, everyone who attends these is asked to wear a mask.

Next time you have a free day and are trying to figure out something to do, why not check out Franconia Sculpture Park? Expose your kids to art, and enjoy a beautiful day, as well.

Don’t forget to join Twin Cities Kids Club today.

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