Exploring Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer, Minnesota
If you’re looking for a good, socially-distancing-friendly outdoor destination that’s frugally priced (free) and not too far from the Twin Cities, I recommend Franconia Sculpture Park!
Have you heard of this place? Franconia Sculpture Park is a FREE walk-through field of art, and it’s open 7 days a week from dawn until dusk. It’s located in Shafer, MN which is about 45 minutes northeast of the Twin Cities, right off of Highway 8.
And it’s very pandemic-friendly, as there is a lot of space to keep your distance from others.
We first visited there a few years ago, but since then it has grown and more sculptures have been added.
Honestly, we think it’s a pretty weird place to go! But it’s worth it. It’s interesting, and there’s information about each piece of art so you can learn the perspective from the artist, not just how something might appear.
There are 120 outdoor sculptures, and they’re all very different and unique.
This one is appropriately named “Playstation.” I recall it being available to play on a few years back, but currently due to COVID-19 none of the sculptures are to be played or walked on.
This art is called “Rocco” and is a blend of “fantasy and 4-H.” It looks like a robot to me!
This sculpture is like a doghouse that you can actually go in! It’s actually called “The Doghouse.” My kids played inside – there’s a ladder going to the upper level. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of graffiti in here too.
All I can see in this one is Dorothy’s house during the tornado in The Wizard of Oz. It’s actually called “Reclamation” and represents loss and grief.
Where does this go? And yes those are weird arms sticking out of it.
A view of the field of sculptures, from one of many angles!
Many of the sculptures look weird and even creepy. But if you read about them you may gain a different perspective. This one symbolizes the fundamental building blocks of life, and it actually lights up.
So many interesting, enormous sculptures to see!
Tips for visiting:
- I recommend visiting on a day that’s not hot. We went on a hot day and because so much of the place is out in the open, we were being baked by the sun, and we just couldn’t see it all. And there was a lot to see! If it was cooler it would have been an ideal day to go.
- Bring a camera and water. You’ll be out walking a lot and there is a lot to photograph.
- Yes there ARE restrooms. They are private, and are not porta-potties. They’re right by the entrance.
- They take donations which supports their artist program.
- It may not be the best place to bring little kids. Some of the art is a bit mature and some might creep them out. Personally I think it’s more ideal for a date or adult outing, but older kids will find it interesting.
- If you want a preview of what there is to see, you can see the art on their website’s “Current Exhibition” page.
- Explore the area! Nearby you’ll find Interstate State Park, Taylors Falls, and Fawn-Doe-Rosa. All of these are great places to visit!
To learn more about Franconia, visit their website.
Find more in my guide “Hidden Gems for Families in the Twin Cities.”