Minnesota Landscape Arboretum 2021The location was created in 1907 to study cold weather hardy plants like HoneyCrisp apples and azaleas, which had economic value. It formally became an arboretum in 1958 with the total acquisition of 160 acres, and it has grown over the years to include 1200 acres with 5000 varieties of plants (almost all of them Minnesota winter tolerant).
Various groomed and managed areas and ornate gardens make this place quite the delight in the growing season in Minnesota.
The ArrivalDriving west through Chaska on State Highway 5 from Interstate 494, past Prince's Paisley Park where it turns into a 2 lane road. It can back up a ways from people trying to turn left into the arboretum.
EntranceDuring covid, it's all pre-purchased tickets, and the entrance gate is a ways down the entry road. After check-in, there are large parking areas to your right, and as of right now, plenty of spaces to park. I have been other times when it was a challenge and you end up way down a side road on the edge to park.
Groomed and Floral AreasNear the main buildings, there are many paths around flowers and ornate trees that bloom in the spring.
WoodsDown in the lower areas from the main building is a natural area of woods that hasn't been managed as heavily as the rest of the grounds. More primal and natural than the rest of the grounds, several trails and a stream run through it.
Trees!The main point of an arboretum is trees! So many trees that are native to Minnesota able to withstand the winters here. There is a long drive with stops for various tree groupings that goes over the majority of the site.
SummaryA stunningly large area of plant life but it can be strangely difficult to get away from the crowds on weekends. Best in the spring when everything is blooming (but you have to play with MN spring weather which varies from 45 to 85 on any given day) or the fall when the leaf colors come out.
The main area is always mobbed and at non-covid times has a cafe open. Weekdays this place is almost deserted, and if you have the flexibility, a great time to go. I try to go here at least once a year.