Minnesota’s Twin Cities offer people amazing free attractions. Our latest venture brought us to St. Paul’s Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Como Park combines two of our favorites – a zoo and a conservatory/botanical garden.
We picked the perfect day to visit. The sun was shining, blue skies with a hint of white clouds above us, and warm temperatures for mid-October. This was what cities call a “Chamber of Commerce Day.”
Como Park’s zoo and conservatory are spread out over almost 400 acres. There is a lot to see and take in without taking up a great amount of time.
We checked out the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory first. The building is beautifully designed. A domed center with gardens and conference rooms extending outward. It’s divided into 13 gardens and exhibits. As you enter through the main door, you immediately see the palm dome. The palm trees reach nearly to the top. The blue sky created a beautiful backdrop to the view.
The palm dome is home to a sculpture entitle “Crest of the Wave.” The work was created in 1925 by artist Harriet Frishmuth, who worked with Beaux-Arts style.
As we strolled through the gardens, we were impressed with the beauty. Each area was well-cared and it was difficult to choose which my favorite was.
The bonsai collection was interesting. The small trees were attractive. It impresses me how some people have a green thumb, and then some people can kill a cactus (not looking at you, Lisa).
We enjoyed the Japanese garden trail. The garden is a symbol of peace and friendship that exists between St. Paul and its sister city Nagasaki, Japan. St. Paul was the first American city to participate in the sister city program.
The Japanese garden combines trees native to Minnesota with trees native to Japan. The resulting view is magnificent. A Nagasaki landscape artist designed the Japanese garden.
The garden ends at a traditional Japanese tea house. A small garden is also located near the tea house. In Japan, a garden provides a sense of relief and serenity in many urban areas.
As we finished our visit to the conservatory, it was time to check out the animals at the zoo. The Como Park Zoo is home to about 30 animal exhibits, ranging from an anaconda snake to a polar bear.
Visitors are greeted by a water pool featuring flamingos and a variety of ducks. Pink flamingos are fun to watch. I get a kick out of their long necks and long, stick legs.
The giraffes, zebras and kudu didn’t seem to be in the mood to cooperate with a lot of movement. They apparently were enjoying a lazy Sunday, like the rest of us.
The Orangutan were entertaining. A baby tried to make some acrobatic moves of its own, such as swinging from one branch to another. Just as it started to make the move, mom grabbed it by one arm and pulled it to the ledge where she was sitting.
A second youngster followed dad around, basically mimicking what he did. Watching the family move from the top of the trees to the grassy area at the bottom of the exhibit was quite entertaining.
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory was a great way to spend about 90 minutes of our day. We didn’t feel rushed. I can see people spending 2-3 hours at Como Park, but it isn’t necessary. We recommend visiting the park. While admission is free, donations of $2 or $3 are welcome.