A putter practices her swing at the Walker’s course last year. Photos by Maxine Whitely.
For those who aren’t willing to commit hours to an 18-hole game, mini golf is the perfect alternative. You’ll have to ditch the golf cart when playing a round of putt-putt, but you probably won’t find a goat or a xylophone built into a rock at Hazeltine. With a game of mini golf, you can still get in your steps and socialize amidst quirky art fixtures and seriously creative artist-designed courses.
Big Stone Mini Golf
If you live in the cities and tremble at the thought of trekking passed St. Louis Park, this is one time you’ll want to make the drive. A winding gravel road leads to the grassy, farm-like piece of land in Minnetrista that serves as the setting for a petting zoo and 18-hole mini golf course. Each stop presents an odd obstacle, such as sunflower sculptures that are taller than the golfers, and a shoot that randomly spits your ball out of one of three spouts—no matter how advanced your putting skills, fate decides if your ball will reach the hole. After playing, putters can grab a snack, feed goats in the on-site petting zoo, or wander through sculptures like a pig flying a plane, a gigantic pair of scissors, or a tricked-out boat.
Pros: Petting zoo, large-scale sculptures that allow players to interact with the artwork, readily available snacks
Cons: Out of the ’Cities, course never changes
7110 County Rd. 110 W., Minnetrista, bigstoneminigolf.com
One of the best holes at Big Stone Mini Golf features circles of stain glass set into the rusty walls of a small dome. sunshine casts spotlights over the green.
Walker Art Center’s Skyline Mini Golf
After a few years, Walker’s mini golf is moving up (literally) to the rooftop terrace while its first home in the Sculpture Garden undergoes renovation. Play nine holes to score putting points and an amazing view, and have fun with holes that include challenges such as a gnome foosball table. Better yet, your mini golf entrance fee covers admission to the gallery, so the outing doesn’t have to end with a final putt. This year’s new holes include ping-pong paddles and hotdogs.
Pros: Gorgeous view, near everything, unexpected twists at every hole, free admission to the museum
Cons: Expensive (if you just want to golf), usually a long wait to start playing
1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, walkerart.org
Can Can Wonderland
This brand new spot doesn’t open until September, but it’s worth keeping an eye on as it’s bound to be one of the coolest places in town. The course features artists’ works and the building showcases many mediums with two stages, a beer garden, food, mini golf, and other amusements. Its purpose is not only to serve as a venue, but as a creative space. To foster this, walls are covered in graffiti, obstacles at each hole are vibrant and innovative, and the environment seems to breed imagination. The business is located in the center of the Creative Enterprise Zone in St. Paul, allowing it to function as Minnesota’s first public benefit corporation. Read more about Can Can’s development on our blog.
Pros: Brand new, innovative businesses structure, more to do than mini golf, new installations on a regular basis
Cons: Still in construction
755 N Prior Ave., St. Paul, cancanwonderland.com
If you’d rather play with the big kids, check out our list of Minnesota golf getaways for some of the best golf courses and resorts in the U.S.