Everybody wants a shady lane

Summer in the Twin Cities is generally pretty glorious. After nine months of wool socks and Seasonal Affective Disorder, we see the sun emerge and suddenly forget the lengthy punishment we endured to get to this season of no coats.

But there can be too much of a good thing, and yes, that even includes the summer sun.

Whether we're motivated by a need to cool off, a medical condition, an effort to protect a newborn’s skin or simply a personal desire to minimize sunburn risk, most of us would like to find a little shade during our outdoor excursions — so we’ve compiled a list of family-friendly places that offer some much-needed sun protection.

Kenwood Park

My husband and I refer to this as “the shady park,” and it gets quite a bit of business from us during the hottest weeks in summer.

While many Minneapolis parks appear to be the victims of overzealous clear cutting, this one just northwest of Lake of the Isles features a low-key playground with a cute, climbable train and a zipline.

Surly Brewing

This beloved beer-lover’s spot in Minneapolis is also a kid-friendly delight.

Last summer, I met a group of friends for food and drinks on the spacious Surly patio. While we lounged on the sidelines, our kids (age 18 months to nine years) capered around the adjacent courtyard and grassy areas, which become fully shaded in the afternoon.

If you get tired of the crowds, you can always go wander around nearby Prospect Park, a paradise of trees surrounding the beloved Witch’s Hat Water Tower.

Como Regional Park

With a lake, a zoo, shady wooded areas, gardens, live music, a restaurant (Como Dockside) and more in summer, this 450-acre public park has it all.

When I polled a Facebook parenting group about the best shady places in town, all things Como came up more than anything else.

MLK Jr. Park

There’s a cool, newly rebuilt playground in the Kingfield neighborhood — at 4055 Nicollet Ave. S. in Minneapolis — that spotlights black heritage with story panels about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights Movement, African- American history and African-American inventors. (Attend a grand opening party from 1–4 p.m. Aug. 20.)

It’s also home to an awesome wading pool that boasts afternoon shade.

Lake Rebecca Reserve

This wooded Three Rivers park features hiking and biking trails, a trumpeter swan restoration program and a lake for non-motorized recreation.

But what makes it especially worth the drive to Rockford — about 30 minutes west of downtown Minneapolis — is its nature- inspired Big Woods Play Area, featuring slides designed to look like giant logs and wooden children’s play cabins.


Shannon Keough lives in Minneapolis with her husband and two children. Send questions or comments to skeough@mnparent.com