Three years of community-minded decision making went into the $12 million dollar reboot of the Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park. The grand opening of its solar-powered interpretative center and playground is still months away due to COVID-related delays (the Earth Day unveiling was pushed back to September 13), but that shouldn’t keep you from exploring the center’s expansive green space.
Three-and-a-half miles of well-maintained trails wind through 160 acres of wooded fields, marshland, and restored prairie. That may not sound like a lot of real estate, but the walkways make for a welcome escape from the surrounding neighborhoods and office parks.
On a recent sunset stroll, we spotted a raccoon skittering across a boardwalk, six deer feeding silently in the woods, and a couple of cranky geese blocking access to the canoe dock. True to their territorial reputation, the feathered buggers made their macho superiority abundantly clear by hissing at our presence. (See? Not all Canadians are nice.)
We’re excited to return to Westwood Hills when the new nature center opens this fall. The dynamic design by the St. Paul-based Split Rock Studios includes three multipurpose rooms, a catering kitchen, several interpretive exhibits, and a “discovery touch table” à la the Bell Museum.
Westwood Hills Nature Center
8300 W. Franklin Ave., St. Louis Park, MN; 952-924-2544.