Noerenberg Gardens on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota

Last updated on September 4th, 2023

Lake Minnetonka is well-known to boaters in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul Metropolitan Area. But fewer people are aware of the spectacular garden that hides just beyond the shore.

With 16 acres of formal plantings and manicured grounds along the lake, Noerenberg Gardens may the loveliest spot along this upscale lake.

close-up of white floxglove flowers

A late summer tour of Noerenberg Gardens

With a wide variety of gardens and plants, Noerenberg Gardens offers beautiful flowers throughout the year.

The property was once the estate of Frederick Noerenberg, the founder of the Grain Belt Brewery. It was left to the Three Rivers Park District by the family, subject to a number of conditions, including the removal of the original Queen Anne home. Today, a memorial arbor marks where the house once stood and the redesigned gardens share the site with the original boathouse (perfect for viewing the lake on a hot day) and the garage (now serving as a maintenance shed).

I was particularly impressed by the sunny formal gardens with their elegant grasses and butterfly-friendly flowers, all of which seem to be at their finest right now.


Plan your visit to Noerenberg Gardens

Noerenberg Gardens is located in Orono, Minnesota, along Crystal Bay on Lake Minnetonka.

Visitors are welcome between May and October. The garden is open every day, However, if you are traveling from a distance, check first to be sure there isn’t a wedding or other event occurring in the garden.

The garden is operated by the Three Rivers Park District. Although technically part of the park system, the garden has fairly strict rules. Don’t think about having a big beach party here – food and beverages are not allowed. Besides, swimming, boating, and dogs aren’t allowed in the garden either!

Nor are there any services available in the garden, no gift shop or cafe. And, when I visited in 2012, the on-site “restroom” was a porta-potty, although perhaps that has changed as more weddings are held here.

Parking is available at the garden. However, the Dakota Rail Trail is nearby, so it is pretty accessible by bicycle.

Additional information on this (and other public gardens in Minnesota) can be found on the University of Minnesota’s very informative Public Gardens of Minnesota website.

Parts of this post were originally published in August 2012. 

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