3 Free Family Daytrips to Fit in Before Summer is Over!


Daytrips From Mankato MN

The glorious dog days of summer. Late sunsets, bare feet, fireflies… If only it lasted a little longer!  It’s hard to believe that we are well into August.  In Minnesota, that means it’s time to squeeze in those last few summer outings before the air turns crisp and our schedules fill up.  Today, I’m sharing three daytrips that you will want to fit in before summer is over.  The best part is that each one is free and close to an hour or less from the Mankato area!

  1. New Ulm, MN

Don’t underestimate how much this small town has to offer.  New Ulm boasts so many great parks, offering amenities such as free wading pools and zip lines!  The choices are many, so we had to narrow it down to just three:

Washington Park

Washington Park offers an extensive playground that provides something for children of all ages.  The wading pool offers a zero depth entrance, a nice sized slide, and many other water features.  There are bathrooms and a changing area located near the pool, as well as a covered picnic area.  No lifeguard is on duty, but one employee is stationed at the entrance to ensure that rules are followed.

 Washington Park Playground   

 Washington Park

Washington Park is located at: 715 North State Street, New Ulm, MN 56073

The pool is open from 12:30pm-6:30pm daily through August 20th as long as the temp reaches 72 degrees.  Admission is free.

Lincoln Park

Lincoln park offers a nice playground, again with something for all ages.  The wading pool includes one water feature and a smaller slide that is perfect for younger children.  This is a more low-key option for those with infants and toddlers.  We’ve never seen it crowded!  It’s operated in the same way as Washington Park, with no lifeguard on duty, but one employee to monitor the goings on.  There are very nice bathrooms and changing areas near the pool, as well as a covered picnic area.

  Lincoln Park New Ulm MN 

  Lincoln Park Free Wading Pool

Lincoln Park is located at: 718 South State Street, New Ulm, MN 56073

The pool is open from 12:30pm-6:30pm daily through August 20th as long as the temp reaches 72 degrees.  Admission is free.

Herman Heights Park

Herman Heights Park has been very nicely updated and is a true treasure.  Home to Herman the German, you will find a unique playground experience here!  The rubberized surface provides a safe environment for children to run, jump, and explore.  The equipment is unlike what you will find at any other area playgrounds!  The zip lines are a real highlight.  There are two, each geared for different ability levels.  You will also find shaded picnic areas.

 Herman Heights Park New Ulm MN

 Herman Heights Park Zipline New Ulm

Herman Heights Park is located at: 14 Monument Street, New Ulm, MN 56073

   2.  Eden Prairie, MN- Round Lake Park

This place is truly such a hidden gem!  Our family spent the entire day without running out of things to do.  There are two very nice playgrounds, a splash pad, and a sandy beach for swimming, and a skate park.  Everything is located closely together, which makes it so much easier when toting younger children and all of their gear!  This park also includes a nice pavilion and many covered and shaded picnic areas, some with grills.  As if that weren’t enough, there are docks for fishing and paved hiking/biking trails.  I recommend dressing your children in their bathing suits before heading out, because the bathrooms are a bit small.  But, overall, this is one spot that you will not want to miss out on!

Round Lake Park Eden Prairie MN

Round Lake Park Beach Eden Prairie MN

Round Lake Park is located at: 16691 Valley View Road, Eden Prairie, MN 55346

The splash pad is open from 10am-8:00pm daily through Labor Day. 

  3.  Bloomington, MN- Hyland Play Area

This park is becoming fairly well-known for its playground, Chutes and Ladders Park.  I can see why; it is grand!  This could possibly be the most extensive free playground in Minnesota.  A lot of the play equipment is geared for older children, but there are numerous jungle gyms and things for the little ones to do as well.  The entire playground has the shock-absorbing, rubberized surface.  The one thing I would caution parents against is to be prepared to work at keeping up with your younger kiddos on busy days.  Weekend times get very busy, and slides begin on one part of the playground and end on another.  Bring your village, and get ready to have some fun!

With Chutes and Ladders getting most of the attention, there isn’t a ton of information out there about what the Hyland Reserve portion of the park has to offer.  There is a fairly extensive concession stand, lots of shaded picnic areas with grills, miles of paved hiking/biking trails,  and a sandy beach on a lake with boat access, kayak, canoe, and paddleboat rentals.  I saw people catching fish off of the dock when we were there.  A person could easily pack a picnic, bring bikes, and enjoy the entire day here!  Be sure to check this one out!

Hyland Play Area is located at: 101145 Bush Lake Road, Bloomington, MN 55438. 

The park is open from 9:00am-10:00pm daily. 

Chutes and Ladders Park Bloomington MN

Hyland Play Area Bloomington MN

Hyland Play Area Lake Bloomington MN


There you have it!  My family considers ourselves park connoisseurs, and we hand-picked these three just for you.  Hope that you are able to take the opportunity to check them out before the school bell rings! 

What are your favorite daytrips in Minnesota?  Let us know in the comments!





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Melissa has lived in Minnesota her entire life, and in the Mankato area for 17 years. She enjoys spending time with her amazing husband of 6 years, her energetic 4 year old daughter, and their fun-loving labs. On weekends, Melissa and her family can be found exploring area parks and pools. She also enjoys gardening, DIY projects, cooking, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Melissa has worked in the mental health field for nearly 13 years. She only began exploring writing as a means to help others in the last year. Nesting is a permanent state and a passion for Melissa. She has turned this into a blog at www.nest-ology.com, where she helps busy families get mealtime under control and make their house a home, both on a budget. You can follow her for free recipes and DIY ideas on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Nestology) and on Pinterest (https://www.pinterest.com/Nestology1).