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Best Fun things to do in Cottage Grove, MN

Located just 10 minutes south of Minnesota’s capital, the city is for fun things to do in Cottage Grove offers visitors a number of ways to unwind and get reacquainted with nature. Located along the banks of Moers Lake and Spring Lake off of the Mississippi River, there’s no shortage of things to explore in this stunning suburb.  Whether you’re a pilot who is flying into South St. Paul-Fleming Field (located right across the river), or are in town for some other reason, you won’t run out of fantastic ways to enjoy your time here — let’s take a deeper look.

About Cottage Grove

In the 1840s, before the Minnesota territory was incorporated into the United States, the natural wilderness that Cottage Grove occupied attracted a small number of settlers from the New England area. With the first farm established in 1842 and aptly named, “Cottage Grove,” local farmer James Norris officially founded the suburb that we know today. However, it wouldn’t be until the early 1870s that the town’s borders were officially drawn and enough business interest in the area came in order for it to host its first county fair in 1871. Even though there was no direct river access as had by other surrounding suburbs like Inver Grove Heights, Woodbury and West St. Paul, Cottage Grove remained an important trade town. Much of this was due to its location along the area’s major coach roads that were being constructed into the 20th century. By 1900, the rural village had fewer than 100 residents, and it stayed that way through the 1950s. But, a new housing development, Thompson Grove, breathed new life into the once-rural location and by 1960, Cottage Grove’s population had grown to include over 13,000 people. The days of vast farmland, trade industries and a thinning citizenry are long gone, and today, Cottage Grove is home to almost 40,000 residents. Along with the many tourists that travel to the area for its abundant recreational areas, coupled with the closeness to South St. Paul Airport, this suburb is an excellent place to both live and visit.

Fun things to do in Cottage Grove

With a fantastic mix of dining and entertainment options, along with plenty of public recreational areas, there are things to do throughout the suburb of Cottage Grove. Keep reading to find some of the better options:

Cottage Grove Public Parks

  • Woodridge Park: Find fun amenities at this friendly neighborhood park offering a basketball court, baseball field and walking trails—and the expansive kid’s playground gets rave reviews for its many entertaining features for little ones.
  • Cottage Grove Ravine National Park: Adventure through 515 acres of imposing terrain over heavily wooded bluffs with the occasional prairie clearing.
  • Hazen P. Moers Park: Take advantage of this one-acre gem hidden away on Grey Cloud Island, a scenic landmass between the Mississippi River and Moers Lake.

Cottage Grove Restaurants & Bars

  • Junction 70 Grill: This upbeat “meatery” offers all the BBQ you can handle, plus craft beers, sports on the big screens, a game room and outdoor patio.
  • Las Margaritas: Casual Mexican joint serving classic staples plus a dedication to the art of mixing up margaritas.
  • The Muddy Cow: Sit back and enjoy American pub fare from traditional buffalo wings to Minnesota-made wild rice soup to thick cuts of steak and beyond.

Other Activities & Fun Things To Do in Cottage Grove

  • Afton Alps: Just to the east of Cottage Grove lies the area’s premier ski resort, owned by Vail Resorts out of Colorado. Rising above the St. Croix River Valley, Afton Alps offers 300 skiable acres and 300 feet of vertical drop for maximum intensity.
  • Discovery Flight: If you’re searching for a more exciting experience, team up with the Twin Cities’ premier flight instructors at Inflight. This one-hour, beginner course gives you the opportunity to take control of an airplane and see the St. Paul metro area from thousands of feet above.


Get in touch with Inflight Pilot Training to find out more about becoming a private pilot.

Our team of certified flight instructors can put you on the best path toward obtaining a pilot license with a personalized flight lesson plan. Whether you’re interested in trying it out with a Discovery Flight or are ready to sign up for training, let our team steer you along the right course. Gain the chance to explore the skies and experience what it is like to be a pilot — contact us today or call (952) 698-3000.