Established in 1958, the Arboretum was created through the UoM’s Horticultural Research Center. They believed this natural area should be set aside from urban development to be used for research, education, and plant conservation. Now, after over half a century, locals can be inspired and delighted by the UoM’s scientific efforts.
What Makes It Great
There is never a wrong time to visit the Arboretum, but the best times to visit are during the spring and fall. During the spring, many flowers are in bloom; the leaves are a fresh, bright green; and the bird migration is in full swing. You’ll see many hikers with binoculars in hand, heads cranked upward toward the tree canopies.
During May through July, visit the Wildflower Garden to see Minnesota’s state flower: the showy pink ladies slipper. While on the lookout for pink, let’s not forget about the tulips and irises, which brighten the trail with their reds, yellows, and purple as well.
Though spring is a wonderful time to visit the park, most locals will tell you to visit the Arboretum during the fall. When October rolls around, the sugar maples, birches, and white oaks give the park a whole new color pallet. The red, yellow, and oranges engulf the park and offer its visitors fantastic photo opportunities. It is also the perfect time to explore the parks 12.5 miles of trails, especially the Maple Trail and Forest Trail. After hiking all day, there is an Apple House nearby, which offers baskets full of apples, including the famous Honey crisp.
If you’re feeling thirsty, drive the extra 10 minutes north to Excelsior Brewing Company (http://excelsiorbrew.com/). They have odd hours, but they have an excellent tap list.
Who is Going to Love It
The University of Minnesota’s Landscape Arboretum is the perfect place for a days escape from the hustle-and-bustle of city life.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The Arboretum is open year-round. General admission is $12. The Visitor Center and other building hours vary throughout the park, but most buildings are open from 8:30am to 4:30pm (on Sundays most open at 10am). The Grounds on the other hand are always open from 8am to 5:30 (or sunset – whichever is later).
There are free days from time to time, such as Free Admission Thursdays from November through March. There is also free admission every third Thursday after 4:30 pm from April through October.
For parking, there is a large parking lot just outside the Visitor Center, but can easily fill up during a weekend (especially during the Fall).
As for trailheads, from the visitor center, there are several paved trails that guide you to the 12 different garden displays. There is also the Wood Duck Trail, which is east of the Visitor Center that will get you off the beaten path.
The most popular activity in the Arboretum is the Three-Mile Drive, which is a scenic three mile drive through the parks many forest exhibits. Along the way, there are several places to park, so to further explore the natural areas. The Three-Mile Drive is closed to vehicles during the winter.