The outdoor retailer R.E.I. is a real trendsetter–urging people to #OptOutside rather than opt in to the Black Friday shopping madness in America. Since R.E.I.’s announcement, several other retailers have joined the fight against the creeping commercialism that now starts before the Thanksgiving dinner dishes are washed. Now, Minnesota Lt. Governor Tina Smith is taking it a step further: She has decreed that all 75 Minnesota state parks will offer FREE admission on Black Friday. Is your state too? Check out our list of states that will offer free entrance at the bottom of the page.
#OptOutside at Minnesota State Parks
Photo Credit: Flickr / Anita Ritenour
Gooseberry Falls State Park
Since admission is free, you can spend the extra money on gas to get you north and east of Duluth on scenic Highway 61. Let it be known–the entire highway is a really beautiful drive. There are MANY days’ worth of attractions, quirky small towns, and well-known destinations to be enjoyed.
Known as “the gateway to the North Shore,” Gooseberry Falls State Park is one of Minnesota’s most visited parks. And for good reason–thundering waterfalls cascade down rugged terrain into a river gorge adjacent to the greatest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior. There are loads of other things to do and see while in the immediate area, including Split Rock Light House and the historic Glensheen Mansion.
Minneopa State Park
This park is tucked away near Mankato in southern Minnesota. It’s the perfect place to spend a crisp autumn Friday. Minneopa State Park offers a vast, panoramic view of the Minnesota River Valley a waterfall trail or you can check out a historic German-style grist mill. The park even has a resident bison herd.
In visiting the park we found birding opportunities abound, including many songs and sightings of Northern Cardinals all over. Nothing is so exquisite as seeing the deep crimson of the bold bird against the more drab setting of Minnesota’s grays, browns, and white in the fall and winter!
After a trip to the park you can enjoy delicious grub at Pub 500 or a visit to Sibley Park, where little ones can frolic and play among the neat farm-inspired playground equipment. All in the spirit of opting outside!
Interstate State Park
OK, so maybe they should have chosen a more awe-inspiring name for this gem, as it makes it sound more like an homage to a highway than the small park with big adventures that it is. We promise though, if you choose this park to opt outside on Black Friday, you’ll find scenic views (nice enough to be the family holiday card) and interesting geological features just outside the quaint town of Taylors Falls. Though the canoe rentals and naturalist programs will be finished for the year, you’ll still be able to enjoy the glacial potholes and five miles of hiking trails.
If these options aren’t ones that will fit your travel style for a one-day getaway to Minnesota state parks, check out the Minnesota DNR website to find out more about the 75 parks awaiting your exploration this Black Friday.
State Parks That Will #OptOutside with Incentives
ALABAMA #OptOutside Discount for Joe Wheeler Week
ARIZONA Black Friday FREE
CALIFORNIA Black Friday FREE
KANSAS [While entrance is not free, you’ll be entered to win a FREE cabin stay in a Kansas State Park if you visit a park on Black Friday]
MINNESOTA Black Friday FREE
VIRGINIA #OptOutside Photo Contest