With the Jewish Festival of Trees just around the corner, us denizens of the Northern climes are contemplating the best ways to show the earth a little love.
Tu B’Shevat comes on the 15th day (a.k.a. “Tu”) of the Jewish month, Shevat. Traditionally, Tu B’Shevat was used as a tool to count the age of trees, so that the Jewish people knew to avoid a tree’s “forbidden fruit” in its first three years. The fourth harvest was to be preserved for G-d, and the fifth, for eating! This year, the holiday falls on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 24, ending at sundown on Monday, Jan. 25.
Us modern folk may not be using the calculator for its intended purposes, but it has become custom to commemorate the day in different ways, like planting a tree in Israel or visiting our favorite outdoors-y spots. Since planting a tree in Israel can only be a virtual affair, we’ve come up with great places to celebrate trees in the natural beauty of Minnesota’s ice-and-snow winter wonderland.
There over 53 regional parks and reserves and 340 miles of trails around the Twin Cities, so you won’t run out of places to hike and explore on this Tu B’Shevat. To narrow down the list of possibilities, here are some of our favorites:
3815 American Blvd E, Bloomington, MN 55425
This stop is for the adventurous type… and those willing to drive before stepping outdoors. If you’re looking for a great photo op or a place to check out Minnesota’s wildlife, take a hike through the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Don’t forget your warm clothing! BONUS: It’s right next to the Mall of America, perfect for a coffee or hot chocolate to warm your fingertips.
101 55111, Lakeview Ave, St Paul, MN 55120
Check out the wildlife and hike or bike at the park, then head to their visitor center to warm up over a history lesson. On a chilly day, Fort Snelling State Park is the perfect place to learn about the outdoors, indoors.
3675 Arboretum Dr. Chaska, MN 55318; Free in January
Go skiing or snowshoeing, take a walking or tram tour, stop by the art galleries or the library, and grab a bite to eat. At the U of M arboretum, learn about how plants grow and how the university’s scientists engineer fruit and vegetables of their own. Open every day of the week!
1301 Theodore Wirth Parkway, Golden Valley, MN 55402
Rent skis, snowshoes or hang in the chalet. This winter playland is very close to Minneapolis and promises a fun day for the family to appreciate the great outdoors.
Explore a list of Minneapolis and St. Paul-area parks here.
Ahh, good ol’ nature. You know the type — green, dusted with shimmering flakes of snow, trees and shrubs at every turn. Sound good? Check out our list of nature centers to get your tree-loving fix on this Tu B’Shevat.
6710 Lake Shore Dr, Richfield, MN 55423
Rent or bring your skis (or snowshoes!) and have a Minnesota-esque adventure. This center is host to 150 acres of trails and wildlife, and features educational programming, outdoor recreation and fun for the family. Note: the park isn’t pet-friendly, so keep Fido at home for this one.
8300 W. Franklin Ave, St. Louis Park, MN 55426
It’s no secret that a vast view of trees is like a fresh breath of air to the naked eye, but don’t forget to peek at what’s lurking behind them at this nature center! Westwood’s marsh, woods and prairie lands are home to animals year-round, including deer, fox and owls. Once again, leave the pets at home.
Let’s be real — Minnesota is C-O-L-D in the wintertime. In case the fresh air is simply unbearable on Tu B’Shevat, here’s a list of museums that celebrate the outdoors… with heating, of course.
10 Church Street S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455
Rates: $8 for adults, $5 for kids 3 yo+, and free of U of M students
Revisit your college days and stop on the U of M campus at the Bell Museum of Natural History. Their upcoming exhibit focuses on food around the world, and how families prepare their meals based on their culture. You can also learn about birds and other wildlife during your visit.
120 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55102
Rates: $20 for adults, $17 for kids 3 yo+, Free for members
Buckle up and take the kids on a day of adventure AND learning at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. With exhibits on the Mississippi River, Native American history, the human body and even dinosaurs, your family is sure to leave with a new appreciation for science, nature and fun. What could be better?
1225 Estabrook Drive, St. Paul 55103. Free!
Get warm in tropical conditions while viewing amazing trees, ferns, cacti and other exotic plants. You can also tour the attached zoo, which does have indoor exhibits.
Other Notable Attractions
Not up for a stroll in the park, a bike across the TC or a visit to the museum? No worries — there’s plenty more to see in the Twin Cities! Some of our favorites include:
Includes Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles and Cedar Lake
In the land of 10,000 lakes, these four are the largest in Minneapolis. It may be cold enough to walk right on the lakes and view the trees from the middle of the frozen expanse.
Near 6th Avenue S.E. and S.E. Main Street, near the 35W Bridge in Minneapolis
You’ll need your camera for this one. Day or night, Stone Arch Bridge offers a view of the Mississippi River, Downtown Minneapolis and the TC architecture you don’t want to miss. The Mississippi River is home to all kinds of natural wildlife, year round. Dress warm and cute, I smell an Instagram hit!
4801 South Minnehaha Park Dr. Minneapolis, MN 55417
Technically, Minnehaha Falls is a park, but it falls (no pun intended) in our “other attractions” list because it’s just oh-so-much more. Though venturing behind the falls’ frozen icicles isn’t actually recommended by the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board, we’ll let you in on a little secret: the view is unbeatable.
Looking for more? Check out a full guide exploring to the Twin Cities here.