One of the best things the Twin cities has to offer is its variety. I have had so many questions on what my favorite location is for a session. I have compiled a list of the best photo locations near the twin cities for you to refer back to! Each with visuals behind it and those in which are within 10 minutes of driving distance. I am always up for a different location to give your gallery some uniqueness, so throw them my way and let make it work!
The location of your shoot is entirely your decision and I encourage you to find a location on your own that suites you and your personality best! This guide is yours if you are in need of some inspiration!
Urban Photo Locations:
Rice Park (St Paul)
Rice park has some historic Twin cities landmarks like the landmark center, James J. Hill Library and the Ordway Theater. I love the James J. Hill Library for a neutral backdrop that looks expensive and historic. Since it is a park, it has plenty of green space and an added bonus is a gorgeous fountain! One draw back with this location is that it can be very busy with people, especially if there is a showing going on at the Ordway Theater! In this case, a sunrise session is your best bet! Check out this blog at Rice Park!
If you are looking for a romantic photo location in the winter, Rice Park has beautiful Christmas lights around the holidays!
Saint Anthony Main (Minneapolis)
This place is a hip and favorited place of many clients of mine. Saint Anthony Main is the most popular photo location in Minneapolis. On a warm summer evening, this place can be swarming with photographers! There is a good reason for this as Saint Anthony Main offers unique and colorful surroundings and brick streets. It is also home to the most popular photo location: “The Rock.” Here you can capture an amazing view of the water the beautiful Minneapolis skyline. There are also many restaurants along the strip with cute outdoor seating and many beautiful doors (Have I ever mentioned how much I love unique doors?!) Check out this blog at Saint Antony Main! There are sure to be many places that fit the bill for a perfect backdrop! The only draw back is finding a close parking spot, so be sure to come early!
Mill Ruins Park (Minneapolis)
Just right across the river from St Anthony Main, you can also find a very unique place called Mill Ruins Park! Seated nearby, is the Stone Arch Bride and the Guthrie Theater. Both have a very filmy neutral vibe! This place has TONS of architecture, stone, metal, and pops of beautiful greenery. Nearby, you have a gorgeous Minneapolis city life with unique lamp lights, doors/windows and a concrete patio-like area for creating depth in your images. Like Saint Anthony Main, Mill Ruins parking can be tricky in the evenings on popular days. For this location, scheduling on off days such as Monday-Thursdays are best to make sure we have close parking! While Mill Ruins Park is in close proximity to St. Anthony Main, getting in your car to move across the river to Mill Ruins Park could pose timing issues with yet finding another place to park in the middle of our shoot. Walking across the bridge has worked in the past (15 minutes), but to keep in mind we will need to walk back before the sun has set.
Downtown Stillwater has a lot to offer when it comes to variety, structure, color and quaintness. With the unique windows sills to tuck your cute self into, painted or raw brick walls to pose up next to, or some bold iron stairs, theres surely something we can find that will make go “AWE!” in your gallery! Downtown Stillwater sits right next to river so we can also play up your gallery with some shots on the unique green iron bridge or on the walk path right next to the water! This location is right up the road from Pioneer park, about a 5 minute drive (scroll to find Pioneer Park). So if you’re looking to add just a touch more greenery or some gorgeous bluffs in your gallery, you might consider pairing Downtown Stillwater with Pioneer Park. Two other popular pairing locations might be Lake McKusick bridge in Stillwater or the Fields of Bayport as they are both 10 minutes from one another (scroll to find both).
Street Car Station (St Paul)
The street car station has a cottage-y feel to it with the building made out of cobblestone. There are paths there, and a beautiful bridge for an eye catching photo.
Nature Photo Locations:
Lake Elmo Park Reserve
A favorite close to home: Lake Elmo Park Reserve. I love this park because it looks so different all year round with the plants changing colors and textures. You can find a little bit of glistening waters, tall grasses, trails, and all around dreamy nature setting. There is not much here for structure except for one white barn and fencing which I do use quite often! With acres upon acres of land, there is always a some place to find in here that fits your vision. For more images here, check out this maternity session! One could pair this one with the very small, quaint, downtown of Stillwater in which you can take advantage of the ball parks (baseball fencing is fun and eye catching)!
Como Park Zoo and Conservatory
Another one of my clients favorite locations (mine as well!) as there is so much variety here at the Como Zoo and Conservatory. It is unique because it includes a zoo, a theme park and conservatory all in one! The white and glass architecture at the conservatory is more of the desired photo location. You can also shoot inside the conservatory but you need to reserve your spot ahead of time and is limited to only 30 minutes! Inside is lush greens and flowers and is well worth the trouble of getting the permit! The conservatory has beautiful flowers and landscape to photograph by in the summer months. The main pavilion is down the road in the park and is a beautiful spot to shoot at as well with the unique architecture and docked lake. This has been a cute spot to take your shoes off and splash around a bit!
Here is a beautiful beach if we can catch a time when it is not busy! I shot here a few times in the fall and it was beautiful and we had the whole beach to ourselves! The wonderful thing about this beach is the sunset was located behind us, over the trees. It has a very irregular shaped beach which gives the eye something unique to hold onto. It IS quite a walk to the middle of the river where the “island” is, but we can also snag some awesome photos along the bridge as we walk to the island. One hack if you have your heart set on this beach is to schedule your session during the week when there aren’t as may people here. This location is best by itself due to the trail walk to get there.
St Croix Boom Site (Stillwater)
If you are loving the beach feel, you may also consider the St Croix Boom Site location in Stillwater. It is located up the road next to downtown Stillwater. If you are not originally from Stillwater, you may not be aware of this truly unique gem! Right off the main road, you would never know what’s hidden down under the bluffs- pure bliss! The stairs guide you down to fine, beautiful sand that you might mistake for a tropical beach! You will see beautiful hightop trees amongst the sand that many throw up a hammock to chill. The beach along the river is wide with cold springs and streams coming out of the bluffs right behind our backs. The bluffs are unique themselves having a beautiful tan appearance. If you follow the bluffs you will be sure to find some interesting caves! Pairing locations: Pioneer Park or Downtown Stillwater.
Pioneer Park is located just 5 minutes up the main road next to downtown Stillwater. It features beautiful bluff views, greenery, well sculptured ever green shrubs, walk paths and cute fences. It can be paired well with downtown Stillwater to add some groomed nature to the gallery without having to drive too far.
The Fields of Bayport is another hidden gem if you love raw open fields! As you drive through a neighborhood, you would never expect the view to open up to a wide open field with the sunset conveniently at your back! With all of the patches of tall, medium and shorter vegetation, some green, some golden and some wild flowers, you are sure to find the look you were after! These fields pair well with downtown Stillwater, Pioneer Park, and Lake McKusick bridge in Stillwater as they are within 10 minutes of driving.
Street Car Station (St. Paul)
The Street Car Station is a fun little park with a cottage-y feel to it with cobble stone brick on the building. It has a pretty path that runs through it with a few tall park trees and an eye stopping bridge. This is another spot that will be different from everyone else’s photos! This is a great one for family sessions too! I do not have a good pairing location for this one, but am open to other locations within a 10 minute driving distance!
Lake Mckusick Bridge (Stillwater)
There is quite a long, unique, rustic, white bridge that runs across almost the entire lake of Lake McKusick in Stillwater. What make this place unique is the shallowness of the lake and wild flowers and vegetation that grow in the water. If you catch it at the right time of the summer (earlier) you will see its beauty reveal itself to you as the plants grow up and past the guard rails filled with purple floral. Of course this attracts a good amount of wildlife such as turtles, ducks, birds etc. While breathtaking itself. the bridge is really the only attraction here, so if you would like some more variability in your gallery (senior session), it might be nice to pair this location with Downtown Stillwater, Pioneer Park, or the fields of Bay Port.
Centennial Lakes Park (Edina)
Heres a fun one that is just outside of where everyone goes. Here there are fun structures, water (not that you would go in!), reflections, underpass bridges.
Other places to consider- North Loop, Lebanon Hills, Mears Park (St Paul), Peavy Plaza, Areson Acres Park (Edina)