Unsung Spots at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum

Dad with his three kids on the dock at Lake Tamarack.
A Guide to the lesser-known spots at the Arb.
Lake Tamarack is a popular part of the arboretum. It lies outside the main grounds and is accessible without a reservation.

The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is vast with 1,200 rolling acres, making it one of the best destinations for families who love to learn about nature. (Admission to this museum of blooming plants, prairies and forests in Chaska is free for ages 15 and younger. Adults pay $15 each or buy an annual membership.)

Inside the gates, activities for kids abound, including a maze garden, a visitor center with a kid-friendly cafe, the Farm at the Arb (complete with a pollinator garden and bee center), numerous nature-play areas and countless open spaces for walking, playing and picnicking.

But did you know there are other areas that are off the main grounds but are still part of the arboretum? Check out these three local gems that families can access
for free—without making reservations.

AppleHouse: This must-visit stop on arboretum land opens in late August, just as apple season begins, and stays open into mid-December with seasonal food items, gifts and fall produce while supplies last. Buy local fresh apples, apple treats, home décor and, later in the season, pumpkins, squash and gourds. Call the apple hotline at 612.301.3487 for the latest information on what’s in season, or see arb.umn.edu.
7485 Rolling Acres Road, Victoria

Lake Tamarack: (pictured): Explore woodland landscapes and prairies via mowed trails near this scenic lake, which is ideal for a family picnic. Non-motorized boats are welcome at a free launch site on the lake, which is popular with kayak and canoe enthusiasts.
400 Arboretum Blvd., Victoria

Spring Peeper Meadow: Follow a looping trail that features 12 interpretive signs explaining how this local wetland has been restored. Look for birds and other wildlife as you make your way through a prairie, a wet meadow and a marsh, traversable thanks to a boardwalk.
105 W. 82nd St., Chaska

Sarah Jackson is a media specialist at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. She lives and gardens in Minnetonka. Learn more at arb.umn.edu.