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Twin Cities area’s regional parks attracted 46 million visitors last year

The Metro Council estimates the number of park visitors to regional sites, which include the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, Como Park, the Mississippi regional park.

The Twin Cities area’s regional parks and trails attracted an estimated 46 million visitors last year, up 4 percent from 2011, the Metropolitan Council said Monday.

The biggest draws, according to a council report, were:

  1. Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park — 5.4 million visits
  2. Como Regional Park, Zoo & Conservatory (St. Paul) — 4.5 million visits
  3. Mississippi Gorge Regional Park (Minneapolis & St. Paul) — 2.6 million visits
  4. Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park (Minneapolis) — 1.8 million visits
  5. Phalen-Keller Regional Park (St. Paul/Ramsey Co.) — 1.6 million visits

The total regional system includes nearly 55,000 acres of parks and park reserves, 308 miles of trails and seven special recreation features, including the Como Zoo and Conservatory.

For comparison, the Mall of America in Bloomington boasts that it attracts  35 million to 40 million people a year.

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More than half of the regional park system visits occurred in St. Paul and Minneapolis; about 40 percent came during summer months.

Met Council Chair Susan Haigh said of the regional park system:

“Our parks are not only assets we treasure, but a tangible benefit of regional planning, helping to promote an attractive and livable region.”