#OptOutside on the St. Croix during Black Friday with free parks and more

Find fresh air, exercise, and quality time with family along the St. Croix River on the day after Thanksgiving.




2 minute read

November at William O’Brien State Park (Greg Seitz, St. Croix 360)

The Friday after Thanksgiving has seen big sales at stores for several years. This coming Friday, nature will also be “on sale” along the St. Croix River.

Starting in 2015, a new initiative called #OptOutside encouraged folks to go for a hike or otherwise enjoy the Great Outdoors instead of shopping. Initiated by outdoor retailer REI, which took the bold step of closing its stores for the day.

“More and more studies show the value of spending time outside,” REI’s website says. “And we’re not talking major excursions, but small jaunts to your local park. Perhaps a park prescription is just what we all need.”

Minnesota has joined the movement by waiving fees to visit its 66 state parks on Black Friday — normally $7 for a single-day permit. A statement from Governor Mark Dayton pointed out that the average American consumes 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving, and a one-hour brisk walk can burn 300 calories.

“Holidays can be stressful, but Minnesota state parks and recreation areas are open year-round to provide places to unwind and relax, surrounded by natural beauty,” said Erika Rivers, director of Minnesota State Parks and Trails. “We hope that visitors who go to a state park for the first time on Free Park Friday will have fun, feel refreshed, and want to come back.”

Of course, “Free Park Friday” include the six Minnesota state parks on or near the St. Croix River:

  • St. Croix State Park
  • Banning State Park
  • Wild River State Park
  • Interstate State Park
  • William O’Brien State Park
  • Afton State Park

There is a state park within 30 miles of almost everyone in Minnesota. Find one here.


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#OptOutside on the St. Croix during Black Friday with free parks and more