Free Park Friday lets Minnesota hike off the giblets

The Brule River at C.R. Magney State Park. (Flickr CC)

The Brule River at C.R. Magney State Park, one of 76 state parks that will waive admission fees on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015. (Flickr CC)

Last week, state officials announced that the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 27, would be “Free Park Friday,” in which entrance fees would be waived at all Minnesota State Parks. The goal is to encourage families to enjoy the state park system, spend time together, and stay active after a traditional day of overindulgence.

Here at MinnesotaBrown World Headquarters, just a few miles from Scenic State Park and McCarthy Beach State Park, we don’t know if there will be enough snow to ski or snowshoe, but there are still sites to see and trails to hike. Park officials say most Minnesotans live within 30 minutes drive of a state park.

Some might prefer to shop, but the rest can get outside in some of the most beautiful places in Minnesota.

The press release follows:

ST. PAUL, MN – Lt. Governor Tina Smith and Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr announced today that entrance fees to all 76 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas will be waived on Friday, November 27, 2015 for “Free Park Friday,” encouraging Minnesotans to spend time outdoors, and with family, on the day after Thanksgiving.

“At a time of year when Minnesotans pause to give thanks, I am so grateful for the incredible state parks and trails we have here in Minnesota,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Visiting these parks is a great way to spend time with family and loved ones, relieve stress, and enjoy exercise in the great outdoors.”

Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed Friday, November 27, 2015, to be Free Park Friday at all Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. Governor Dayton also directed Commissioner Landwehr to exercise his statutory authority to issue a written order, waiving entrance fees to state parks on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

“We are very fortunate to have such outstanding state parks and trails in Minnesota,” said Commissioner Landwehr. “So get out there, walk off your turkey dinner and have some fun on Friday!”

Research shows that spending time outdoors benefits children and adults, including improving mood, enhancing creative thinking and problem solving, promoting a conservation ethic, and improving physical fitness. On Thanksgiving Day, the average American consumes around 4,500 calories. A brisk walk can burn about 300 calories in one hour.

“There is a Minnesota state park within 30 miles of almost everyone,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota State Parks and Trails. “So no matter where you live or celebrate Thanksgiving, the restorative power of nature is always nearby.”

Minnesota’s state parks contribute to a $13 billion tourism industry in Minnesota, a key sector of the state’s economy. At 2012 study from the DNR found that Minnesota state parks draw in over $230 million in spending to local communities each year. An estimated 69 million domestic travelers and 270,000 international travelers vacationed in Minnesota in 2013.

“Outdoor recreation is a main draw for visitors to Minnesota and numerous state parks and recreation areas are a big part of Minnesota’s tourism economy,” said John Edman, director of Explore Minnesota. “State parks are nestled near vibrant communities where you can find cozy hotels, B&Bs, resorts, dining options, unique festivals and something new to experience only in Minnesota this season.”

Those visiting Minnesota state parks and recreation areas on November 27th are encouraged to share their adventures on social media using #FreeParkFriday and #OnlyinMN.

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