Things to do with your dog!

Tons of things to do with your dog! From small town Minnesota to the hubbub of the Twin Cities, you’ll find tons of ideas of places to visit, explore and experience with your dog.

A Walk in the Park – St. Cloud MN Area

Privy to Minnesota and it’s ever changing thoughts on the weather, the planned adventure with a friend and her two dogs was put on hold. Tuesday, temp at 41, overcast and a wind that eagerly dropped the temp as it blustered aggressively across the land, through coats and hair. Hints of rain on the incoming clouds, with temps destined to hover into the just above freezing mark. There may be S – N – O – W in the forecast as well… (Indeed, Wednesday morning there was a solid coating of the white stuff.)

Time to pivot. Hmmm….

Instead of visiting a park for a walk in the park, I could write about local parks to visit! Huzzah!

A Walk in the Park – if you’re in St. Cloud MN!

There are ample parks to visit throughout St. Cloud and surrounding area. Most are rather dog friendly too!

  • Lake George Park / St. Cloud MN
    Nestled just outside of downtown, a few blocks from the river and campus, this park is smaller but typically bustling with activity. The “lake” is manmade! In the warm months you can stroll all around the park on a paved path, gawk at the giant fountain in the middle of the lake, run through the splash pad and take in a free concert during the summer. In winter the lake freezes and it’s a popular place to lace up a pair of ice skates.
    * Great for:
    – a stroll in an “urban” area
    – not ideal if you want to do a session here

  • Wilson Park / St. Cloud MN
    Across the river from the hospital, Wilson Park nestles against the Mississippi River. One end has a public boat launch, a fenced dog park (if your dog can swim, there is potential that they can swim around the fence…). A huge grassy area is next to the dog park and there’s a playground for assorted kid friendly play. Stroll along the grassy areas and weave between the giant old trees. Not a ton of walking area, but a pretty stroll along the river. Being on the river, there may be a fair amount of goose poop to eat & roll in + muddy areas along the shore
    * Great for:
    – a stroll & a dip in the river at the public access
    – dog park off leash exploring 
    – would work for a session, though the amount of variation would be a little slim
  • Heritage Park / St. Cloud MN
    Tucked behind Costco & wedged between two main roads, Heritage Park is quiet and vast. There are mowed trails throughout the park that move up and down hills and through stretches of woods and grassy areas. Plus a pair of bridges that span over the little lake sprawled throughout the park. Park in the parking lot for the Stearns History Museum (they once hosted the t-rex Sue!) and head to the trails. Pick a long or short jaunt depending on how far you want to walk or the time you have. Next to the Stearns History Museum is the St. Cloud Skate Park. Pause to watch the skateboarders or drop in for some board time yourself. 
    * Great for:
    – ample strolls throughout a vast area on grassy trails
    – tons of variation for a session, though be prepared for ample walking (want to explore with me?)

Heritage Park. I lost a lens cap off this bridge… At least the bridge was super pretty!

  • Riverside Park / St. Cloud MN
    Along the Mississippi River, across from the St. Cloud State University. Munsinger Gardens is a block or so away. Very big park, lots of big old trees, hills (great for sledding in the winter) and a stone wall that lopes along the river edge that blocks the drop off to the river. A mega pretty set of stone stairs will lead you down to the river and you can walk & fish along the shore. This is a busy park with a playground, splash pad, tennis courts and disc golf course (beware of flying discs & mindful of where you’re walking on the course). In the winter the grounds are groomed for cross country skiing. Talahi Park butts into Riverside Park and offers trails, a stone shelter and benches (I haven’t explore this area yet!)
    * Great for:
    – a long stroll with your dog
    – frisbee golf
    – a session! Tons of variation from the stairs to wall to river & more! (The size of this park would mean we would need to walk a fair amount.)
  • Sand Prairie Wildlife Management Area / St. Cloud MN
    Wide open prairie will great you in this park across from the prison. Tons of native grasses and flowers in various heights. Trails meander through the grasses, with the main trail a straight jaunt to the woods from the parking lot. The trail meanders a bit through the trees, then ends at an observation deck overlooking a marshy area. If you enjoy birdwatching, this is a good place to peep on waterfowl. There is ample room to walk and you will need to walk a bit before you run into the trees. 
    * Great for:
    – a long stroll through native grasses with your dog
    – ok for a session – not a ton of a variation
  • Sauk River Regional Park / St. Cloud MN
    Tucked in a bend in the Sauk River, across from the hustle & bustle of Sam’s Club, this park meanders through a clutch of woods, crossing the river via a cool wooden bridge to drop you right next to the Friends of the Whitney Dog Park. You can park & start your adventure from either side of the trail. Very wooded – watch out for snapping turtles in the path! The path isn’t paved, so you may also encounter mud in the spring & after it rains. The bridge is totally worth walking across and if you loop underneath it on the wooded side you’ll find very vibrant graffiti (or at least there was when I visited in 2015…)
    * Great for:
    – a stroll through the woods with your dog
    – perhaps a session, though the woods is rather thick 

Sauk Rapids Regional Park. The bridge, the wall around the river on the Whitney Park side of the river and a glimpse of the graffiti under the bridge. 

  • Sauk Rapids Municipal Park / Sauk Rapids MN
    On the edge of the Mississippi River, this park has a public boat access, a big baseball field, a shelter and a rather large playground. There’s a paved walking path that will lead you past the ball field to River Ave N which plops you right under the ginormous footings of the Highway 15 bridge. Hop around the rocks, dip your toes in the river and oogle at the archways the footings of the bridge make. If you follow River Ave N back to the park and continue to follow it, you’ll find that it leads you along the river to the Lions Park & Sauk Rapids Regional Bridge (
    there’s a cool swirly ramp here). The distance would take a bit to walk, but great if you want to head on a bike ride. The Sauk Rapids Municipal Park does tend to get busy in the summer, so finding parking could be tricky. 
    * Great for:
    – a stroll and exploration day with your dog
    – going for a toe dip or swim in the river 
    – ok for a session (lots of color from the playground), though we’ll need to add some travel time to the bridge

Sauk Rapids Municipal Park. The public water access and various colors of the playground. The image with Bender is what the underside of the bridge looks like!

  • Bob Cross Nature Preserve / Sauk Rapids MN
    A quaint park with an unpaved path that loops around quaint little ponds to drop you behind the Sauk Rapids Middle School. Or take the longer loop and be dropped at the Sauk Rapids baseball field. Not sure how the park looks in person as I’ve never explored here!
  • Watab Creek Park / Sartell MN
    Across from the old paper mill & river tucks Watab Creek Park.  Entering the park you’ll see basketball and tennis courts, a restroom and playground. Continue moving back in the parking lot and you’ll find the shelter and a MASSIVE grassy area that butts into a wooded area. The charmer for this park is the MEGA adorable BLUE bridge that spans over the Watab River. There’s a small dirt path that leads upwards into a residential neighborhood through a patch of woods and there may be another stretch of narrow trail that follows the river. 
    * Great for:
    – a quicker stroll with your dog
    – it works for a session with short walking distances from the grassy area to bridge

Watab Creek Park. Big grassy area with trees & clover (you can see the shelter/restroom in the back of the 2nd image. 3rd image shows the path up to the residential area. That bridge!!!!

  • Quarry Park / Waite Park MN
    One of the most popular parks in the St. Cloud area. Just out of town, Quarry Park has tons of trails that flow through the woods, over a swamp via a floating bridge, into a grassy area while winding around the retired granite quarries (
    all over 683 acres). You can swim, fish for trout and go scuba diving in the water filled quarries or climb up the jumbles of granite (check which permits you need first). Tons of places to explore with your pup no matter the season! A short jaunt will bring you to some old machinery and history of the quarry, longer jaunts will bring you to the various different areas throughout the park. Do note that there is a fee for parking ($10 or $5 depending on the time of year.)
    * Great for:
    – long adventures
    – tons of exploring
    – wonderful for a session, ample variation with a fair amount of walking

Quarry Park. The wooden plants are part of the floating bridge. Tons of pretty rock areas, quarries, and grassy areas to explore!

  • Lake Wobegon Regional Trail
    Ok, not actually a park but an old railroad turned into paved walking/biking trail. It runs 65 miles and is completely paved the entire way! Pick it up in Waite Park and make west to Osakis (legs willing!) In Albany you can continue onward or take an arm that brings you north just beyond Royalton.
    (Check out the interactive map to get an idea of where the trail goes!)  Holdingford has a covered bridge that is super cool and there is a giant scientific & nature area in Avon (Avon Hills Forest SNA) that you can explore. Locate a trailhead, pack a lunch and hit the trail! Best for biking  though you can also walk or jog with your dog. Amp up your burn by towing your dog in a dog friendly trailer or have them jog with as you bike. 
    * Great for:
    – jogging, walking or biking with your dog
    – at stop points it would be fun to do sessions, along the trail would be less workable
  • Millstream Park / St. Joseph MN
    Just a short drive out of St. Cloud will land you at Millstream Park. There are giant grassy areas, a base field, a dog park, and a wonderful stroll through the woods. Two bridges will deliver you over the creek, each leading to the other. Near the parking lot is a big pond with a bench – a peaceful place to sit for a moment. Over the bridge you’ll be on the edge of the creek then following a grassy groomed trail in a loop to the other bridge. Heads up! This is a disc golf course. 
    * Great for:
    – a medium long stroll through a woodsy area (keep an eye out for disc golfers)
    – disc golf
    – a session with some walking

Millstream Park. Cool bridge & less cool bridge haha! Tons of grassy areas and wooded areas. 

  • Hidden Lake Park / St. Augusta MN
    A short drive south of St. Cloud will land you in St. Augusta where you’ll find Hidden Lake Park. There’s a small playground, a shelter and quick access to the lake via a wooden fishing pier. Following the disc golf path, you’ll wind around the lake, through the woods and end back again at the parking lot. A good portion of the path is paved as it weaves throughout the trees making the stroll quite comfortable and leisurely. 
    * Great for:
    – an easy stroll through a wooded area
    – disc golf
    – a session as there is ample areas to cover with a decent amount of walking

Hidden Lake Park. Lots of textures and a very pleasant walking path that’s paved.

  • Kiffmeyer Park / St. Augusta MN
    Also a short drive from St. Cloud, Kiffmeyer Park is quaint and quiet. From the ball park on one edge, the park meanders towards a rolling hill, crossing a little river via a cute bridge. Ample open areas to explore plus wooded areas that follow the river. At the top of the rolling hill there is a small playground and parking lot. 
    * Great for:
    – an easy leisurely stroll in a sorta small park
    – a session with fair amount of variation in a smaller park

Kiffmeyer Park. Quaint and easy to walk with a cute bridge and lots of grassy areas 

  • Bend in the River Regional Park / Rice MN
    Head out of St. Cloud roughly 20 min and you’ll find into Bend in the River Regional Park. Yes the park is located on a bend of the Mississippi River! Once upon a time this was a working farm raising chickens, pigs, corn and potatoes. The original homestead was built in the 1880s, the barn in 1907. The second owner arrived in 1912, replaced the house, built more outbuildings (a garage in 1915 for the new car) and it remained in the family until the property was sold to Benton County in 2002. All of the buildings are still standing! There is TONS of texture around the buildings – from cobbled walls, the metal sided barn and piggery, to the slates of the granary and the peeling white of the house. Stroll and read the plaques for each structure then pick a direction to follow the gravel trail. The path to the south of the farmstead loops you past the second parking lot, switches you across the road and walks back to the farmstead. Opt for a longer stroll as the path loops completely around some farm land. The path to the north of the farmstead makes a short loop, landing you on the driveway to the farmstead. Additionally there is a path that branches from the main path (when going south) that drops you into a wooded area butting up against the river. Tons of textures, and variations in landscape make this a FAVORITE place for photographers. (In the fall this place gets crazy busy with sessions!)
    * Great for:
    – a variety of strolls – short through the farmstead to long for the farmland loop
    – a session! Tons of textures, buildings, landscapes in a very walkable area

Bend in the River Regional Park. Tons of texture and different landscapes! (And yes that’s me in the last three!)

  • Mississippi River County Park / Rice MN
    Directly across the river from Bend in the River Regional Park! This park follows the Mississippi River for 1.3 miles and covers 230 acres of land. One third of of the park is wooded, the rest of the park features ample grassy areas. There is a disc golf course, archery range, boat launch, canoe campsites and camping for groups like boy scouts and girl scouts. Tons of walking paths to explore. (I haven’t explore this area yet!)

Tons of options for taking a stroll and having a photography session with your dog! If you want to be a dog model for the locations I have yet to explore email me at and we’ll go scouting together!

This is a blog ring! Follow the links until you end up back here! Next Nicole Hrustyk of Pawtraits by Nicole, takes you for a virtual walk through Sunset Park Trail.

Moving to St. Cloud MN – what you need to know!

You’ve decided you want to live in Minnesota to enjoy the lakes and brave the brutal winters. Perhaps you’re new to the state or just looking to relocate to a bigger/smaller city and you’ve picked St. Cloud MN! 

What you need to know:

  • The St. Cloud area includes St. Cloud & Waite Park (they kind of blob into one another). Go across the river and you’re in Sauk Rapids, with Sartell tucked in nearby. St. Joe is a few miles down the road. An hour drive will get you to the Twin Cities, Alexandria and Willmar. 

  • St. Cloud settles along both sides of the Mississippi River. The hospital is on the river, as is the university, walking trails and parks. There are 3 bridges that will aid you in crossing the river.
     
  • There’s a mall! You can find ample choices for attire and munchies across many genres. Not all of the spaces are filled, but you still have many options to shop for the perfect things. Or just go for an indoor stroll as the mall is set up as loop with anchor arms – perfect for a climate controlled stroll when the weather gets gnarly cold (it will happen). 

  • There are 4 chicken restaurants, ample pizza places (Gary’s is a local fav), and a one of a kind burger joint that has been serving rapid serve burgers for 3 generations (Val’s – go once, you’ll be addicted!).

  • Dairy Queen will supply you with tasty frozen treats (two in St. Cloud, one in Sauk Rapids) but only during the warm months – March to November. Mr. Twisty is another local frozen treat go to place with two locations – St. Cloud & Sartell plus an ice cream food truck! They too close in the winter months. If you’re craving soft serve in the form of Dairy Queen in winter you’ll have to head out of town or head over to Culvers, McDonalds, or Wendy’s. 

  • There are 5 dog parks in the area – three in St. Cloud, one in St. Joe & one in Sartell. You can read more about them in this blog post. 
  • Petco & Petsmart are the duo of dog friendly supply places, you can also gear up & get supplies for your pup at Menards, Fleet Farm, Runnings, and Mimbach Fleet Supply. (There are also two Targets and two Walmarts, a Costco and Sam’s Club.)
     
  • Aim for a stroll along the revamped Beaver Island trail that winds along the river, or pop out to Quarry Park for a stroll amongst the trees and retired quarries (they are stocked with trout!) or head out to Sand Prairie Wildlife Management Area to walk into a large grassy area with your dog. There are tons of other parks to explore. In town they come in various sizes from wee to many city blocks. A short drive will bring you to countryside and additional parks to explore with your pup. 

Although a city (population 68,462 as of 2019 census estimates) St. Cloud retains the feeling of a smaller quaint town, especially once you navigate away from the main road arteries, old downtown and the mall area. There’s a giant library, and a large very pretty flower garden to explore (pups not permitted in the upper garden) and tons of charm in old downtown.  Tri County Humane Society is the local animal rescue and are active in the community with a fundraiser walk in September. Check out the art crawl downtown in the spring & summer months, visit the Benton County Fair (late July / early August) take in the HUGE car show in August (on the 22nd this year).  Fourth of July Fireworks are launched from the river and can be viewed from many areas. 

When the weather gets cold, strap on your ice skates and head to Lake George. Or head to the slopes – Powder Ridge Ski Resort is only about 20 minutes away in Kimball! More of a sledder? Grab your sled and scope out the local hills – there’s some monsters in town!

What about dog friendly places?

The St. Cloud MN is sort of dog friendly. If you want to bring your pup out and meet up with friends for a drink or food you’ll be limited to the available outdoor patios. (Inclement weather & winter will have your pup staying home as they aren’t allowed inside.)  Otherwise you’ll have to meet up with friends at one of the dog parks or have a bbq and invite them to your yard.  

If you want to snag a brew or some noms with your pup here are some patios you can pop over to: 
(Call ahead to see if patio seating is available – some patio spaces are quite small!)

  • Milk & Honey Hard Ciders (St. Joe)
  • White Horse
  • Lincoln Depot
  • 7 West Taphouse
  • Molitor’s Quarry Grill & Bar (Sauk Rapids)
  • Bad Habit Brewing (St. Joe)
  • Beaver Island Brewing
  • Old Capital Tavern (Sauk Rapids)
  • Bello Cucina (St. Joe)
  • Olde Brick House
  • Blue Line (St. Cloud only / Sartell location not dog friendly)
  • Panera Bread
  • Pepperjax Grill
  • Coyote Moon Grille
  • Pickled Loon Bar & Restaurant
  • Green Mill Restaurant & Bar
  • Rock Creek Coffeehouse (Sauk Rapids)
  • Grizzly’s Wood Fired Grill
  • The Local Blend (St. Joe)
  • Jules’ Bistro 
 
 

If you’d rather stroll a shop, Petsmart & Petco are going to be your top choices (plus your pup can pick out the perfect toy or treat!). JoAnn Fabrics has a dog friendly sticker on their door and Arrow Ace Hardware did confirm being dog friendly when inquired. More research will be done! Best bet is to call ahead to double check if the shop is dog friendly or not. 

St. Cloud MN has a plethora of offerings – from antique stores, boutiques, to big box find them everywhere stores, to the historical society, and ample parks and walking paths. Take in a movie at the theater, stroll the mall, get your car washed, eat as much chicken you can handle (or burgers or sandwiches) and visit the neighboring towns that make up the St. Cloud MN blob – Sauk Rapids, Sartell & Waite Park with St. Joe right down the road. Snag your pup for a stroll in one of the many parks, or head to the Mississippi River for a swim.

Did I mention there are tons of nearby lakes you can explore too? Warner Lake in Clearwater is popular and has a dog friendly beach area. Not all lakes have beaches, but many have public water accesses where your dog can jump in on a hot day. Or drop in your boat and take your dog on a cruise around the blue waters. 

Tons of awesome things to do, explore, see and eat in St. Cloud MN! All the things you didn’t know!


Ready for a session that’s urban in theme? Let’s stroll around downtown St. Cloud! Visit the contact page for all the ways to get your session set up!


We’re in a blog circle! Next up Nicole Hrustyk of Pawtraits by Nicole shares tips on what to do with your dog in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

Dog Parks Near Me | St. Cloud MN

Looking for something to do with your dog outside and make new friends? Check out some of the dog parks in St. Cloud MN!

(Note: you will need an Off Leash Pet Exercise Areas permit to use the dog parks. The yearly cost is $20 for residents of St. Cloud or you can get a daily permit for $2. Make sure your dog has a current dog license as well!)


Wilson Park / 625 NE Riverside Drive, St. Cloud, MN 56301

Located right on the river, this park has a big beach area (prepare for muddy or sandy pups!), a large area for running, games of chase and dodging trees. Geese do bed down in the park so there is often tons of goose poop – your dog may be tempted eat or roll in it. There isn’t a separate area for small dogs or dogs who are nervous. You don’t need to bring water as your dog can drink from the river.

While this park is fenced, the fence doesn’t keep dogs from swimming around it. If your dog is an avid swimmer, keep an eye on them so they don’t swim into the adjacent park and have a free run!

Community: there are regulars who frequent the park, pending on time of day you’ll meet one to ample other dogs and their owners.

The dogs are: Buddy (brown chocolate lab mix) & Hobbes (cream golden retriever mix)

Friends of Whitney Dog Park / Forest Drive, St. Cloud, MN 56301

Tucked against the Sauk River, Friends of Whitney Dog Park is a few parks away behind the new YMCA. It’s one long area with lots of trees, a couple of benches and a water fountain for people and pups. Plus there’s a covered shelter with tables underneath for when the days get hot.

Need a break from the park? There’s a bridge over the river to a series of trails. Keep an eye out for turtles, there’s been some big snappers lounging on the paths in years past.

Community: active, you’ll meet 2-5+ dogs and their people, pending on time of day (there were 6 dogs there when I stopped by)

This is how you get to the trails across the river!

Jaycees Park / 1111 N. 37th Ave., St. Cloud, MN 56301

Nestled next to highway 15, the Jaycees Park is a smaller park with two separate areas – one for big dogs and one for smaller dogs. This park is very open with few trees and no water access – remember to bring water esp as we roll into summer. This might be a park to avoid in the middle of the day during hot weather. One picnic table per area.

Community: quieter, this is a less popular park with lack of trees and water – you might get the park to yourself!


Within a short drive distance from St. Cloud you can go to:

  • Sartell Dog Park / 1105 Pinecone Central Park Blvd Sartell, MN 56377
  • Millstream Park / 725 Co Rd 75 W, St Joseph, MN 56374
  • Grey Face Rescue / 7316 Ridgewood Road, St. Cloud, MN 56303
    They have an indoor dog park (not sure if they have restrictions with covid). It would be best to contact them for info.
  • Sam & Danni’s has a dog park, contact them to see how you can use it

Bring out your pup and meet some new friends! If you don’t have a pup who is a good fit for dog parks, you can go to the dog parks by yourself! (Bender isn’t good for dog parks). Pet the pups and strike up conversations with fellow dog people. Or just opt for strolls around the neighborhood.


Next visit VP Shoots Photography capturing pet portraits and pets with their families in the Tampa Bay area to learn about dog parks in her area! Remember this is a blog ring so visit everyone until you land back here!

Wilson Dog Park | St. Cloud

Wilson Dog Park is a large dog park right on the Mississippi River across from St. Cloud State. Bonus to being on the river is the ability for your pup to go swimming and drink from the river. Cons to being on the river – goose poop. Lots of it. If your pup is a poop eater, this will be a giant buffet for him. Also there isn’t a small dog and big dog area so if you have a small pup, just know he will be making friends with big dogs and little dogs. Keep an eye on the corners of the dog park on the river. Sneaky pups have been known to swim around the fence and have themselves an extra adventure outside of the park.

Dog Park Day: Sartell & Whitney

Learned that Sartell has its own dog park, so an adventure ensued! The Sartell dog park is connected to Central Park and features 2 areas – one for small dogs, one for larger dogs. The small dog side is a big open area, fenced in the shape of a squarish rectangle. The large dog side is huge! It goes back aways, has trees and grasses to play in and an epic mud puddle by a walking bridge on the back part of the park. There is no water access at this dog park, so make sure to bring some if you visit.

The only dogs out and about was a beagle/shih tzu mix named Brutus and a lovely golden retriever from Duluth!


Next up I traveled across town to the Friends of Whitney Dog Park. This is an awesome dog park with a nice community. There is water available in dog and people fountains, plenty of trees and a benches for sitting and socializing. No separate areas for small dogs and large dogs, instead they all hang out together.

Had the pleasure of seeing Rosie the boxer who is queen of the dog park, Dexter the rottie (he’s 2.5 now!) and his new sister Misha, Bella, Charlie the husky who knows he’s pretty (he’s a photobomber too!), Maya the ball fiend, Katie the petite boxer, as well as a pair of labs (who’s names I can’t remember!). It’s always a pleasure to see these dogs again!