Field Trip Friday: Franconia Sculpture Park

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Pack the sunscreen, the snacks, and the bug spray, and head up north to Franconia Sculpture Park. Located 20 minutes north of Stillwater, and 2 hours north of Rochester, Franconia offers over 100 sculptures for art enthusiasts and adventurers to explore.

Rain or shine, the grounds of Franconia Sculpture Park are FREE and always open 365 days a year, 8AM-8PM. Nestled in the St. Croix River Valley, the park displays a wide range of sculptures, curated by active artists in residency. The structures cover 50 acres, providing wide open spaces that inspire creative thought and new ways of thinking through contemporary art and installation.

Park Highlights:

  • Over 100 sculptures to explore
  • 50 acres of mowed and gravel paths
  • Leashed doggies are welcome. Please clean up after your pup!
  • Gift shop, public restrooms and additional gallery space located in the Franconia Commons (Seasonal Hours, closed on national holidays)

Getting There

We picked a great day to head up to Schafer, MN. Call it the perfect day – not too hot, not too cold. All you need is a light jacket (name that movie!). Depending on the time investment you have, consider taking the road less traveled via Minnesota 95. Have a morning picnic and take a family hike through William O’Brien State Park. Make a stop at Marine on Saint Croix and snag some locally made chocolate from St. Croix Chocolate Company.  Hungry? Grab some tasty deli sandwiches from the Marine General Store.  For a quick pick me up, look no further than St. Croix Coffee Roasters.  Their sweet treats range from a yogurt bar and cupcakes, to richly brewed coffees, lattes, and mochas.

William O’Brien State Park; Photo Cred: Explore Minnesota

Franconia Sculpture Park

Years ago, I noticed Franconia through a tree line on the way to a wedding in Taylors Falls.  Curious, I made a mental note to stop on our way home the next day and check it out.  I must have filed that note somewhere else, or I was experiencing tunnel vision, trying to get home to my bed, because I forgot.  Fast forward to many years later, I finally took the trip up, and was full of the warm fuzzies seeing everything they have done with the site since then.  The Commons are beautiful, and the sculptures boast a large variety of style and materials, many upcycled. The fact that several of the sculptures at Franconia encourage play is a bonus for kids and parents alike. With such a large space to roam, plan on bringing water and snacks for the littles to keep the energy up.

Taylors Falls, Minnesota

Taylors Falls is located about five minutes north east of Franconia.  If you travel in the fall, the autumn colors pack a punch. This little town is known for its breathtaking views of the Saint Croix River, hiking paths and optimal rock climbing. Take a cruise down 95 and make a stop at The Drive In (open mid-April through mid-October). This little locale offers up juicy burgers, chicken strips and frothy root beer, on tap. While you’re at it, the whole family can enjoy a round of mini golf, complete with 18 challenging holes and a waterfall. Needing a sweet treat post lunch? HWY 95 is no stranger to quaint coffee and malt shops.  Try a wide range of ice cream flavors at Schooneys Malt Shop. Looking for a souvenir to remember your trip by? Taylors Falls is loaded with locally owned gift shops full of goodies to claim.

The Drive In Taylors Falls, MN

Next time you decide to pack the car for a day trip, consider visiting quaint, little but mighty, Taylors Falls. Enjoy the journey, the destination, and listen to good music.

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