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Hester Park in St. Cloud, Minnesota

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Hester Park in St. Cloud, Minnesota offers a wading pool, playground, sledding hills, basketball court, tennis court, fishing and 4th of July festivities! Located along the Mississippi River and close to the hospital, Hester Park is a great place to walk the dog or enjoy a leisurely stroll. A great park for the whole family.

Address: 1020 6th Street North, St. Cloud, MN 56303

Hours: 6:00 am – 10:00 pm daily

Wading Pool Dates: June 11, 2019 – August 11, 2019

Wading Pool Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Website: cannot find one

Cost: Free

Bathrooms: There are seasonal bathrooms next to the wading pool.  I do not recall if they have an automatic or manual flush toilet or changing table.  

Have you ever been to Hester Park?  I feel like this park is often overlooked in terms of city parks.  It’s used more for older people walking their dogs or taking a leasurly stroll around a beautiful park.  However I rarely see children playing in this park except for wading pool season.  

Hester Park in St. Cloud, Minnesota is located next to the hospital.  This park offers so much and yet is one of the least talked about parks in town in terms of daily play. 

Barbecue Grills, a play park, green space, rolling hills, trees, tennis courts, basket ball hoops and access to the river are some of the wonderful perks Hester Park brings to our community.  This is also one of the best places to watch the Fireworks and to sit for the big summer parade! 

Though not our favorite park in town with small children, it is one that we enjoy visiting several times each year.  Read more below to find out all that is offered at this park!  


Parking is limited at this location. There is some street parking on the main road as well as side streets.  And if you follow the road down to the lower road below the rolling hill, you’ll find several parking spaces there too. 

Just watch for the parking signs on the streets and what the parking hours are so you do not get a ticket.  All parking is free.


Hester Park is almost all green space.  This hilly park is full of old granite stair cases and wonderful hills to roll down, sled down or run down.  If you can find blocks of ice, you can even go ice blocking down the hill in the summer.  Despite the hills, you’ll also find plenty of flat space to play as well.  Within the green space you’ll find a large hill, trees, barbecue grills, a smaller play park and a beautiful view of the river.

If you cross the lower road, below the rolling hill, you’ll find a small path that leads right to the rivers edge.  You’ll find a swinging bench that offers a relaxing view of the river or you can go right to the rivers edge and fish.  Just be aware that any small children next to the river are your responsibility.    So keep a close eye on them if you decide to go down.

Picnic benches and grills are on a first come basis and cannot be reserved.  I should also point out that there is not a pavilion at this location to rent.


From my experience of living in St. Cloud for just a few years, grilling at local parks is a popular event.  We’ve seen people hosting outdoor birthday parties and family gatherings all while using the free public grills.  These are charcoal grills and you are required to bring your own charcoal, fluid and matches. 

The only thing that is provided are the grills themselves.  There are a few scattered around the park.  Close to the grills are also picnic benches.  All grills and benches are on a first come basis and cannot be reserved.

Please be courteous and keep the grills and picnic areas as clean, or cleaner than you found them. Garbage cans are provided for your trash.  Any trash left out will attract animals so let’s work together to keep the spaces clean.


One of the first questions we asked when we moved here was “are there any public swimming pools in St. Cloud”.  The answer is no.  However there are wading pools.  They are open for a limited 3 months.  The water is cold at least until August and they are at the most 18 inches deep. 

These wading pools are staffed with life guards and only open at certain times.  The wading pools can also be rented out for a private party, though we’ve never had any issues with this on all the years we’ve been here. 

There are public restrooms next to the wading pool and this wading pool starts at a zero depth, making it great for babies and toddlers.  We’ve found that children 7 and under LOVE the pools.  However children 8 and older tend to be a little too big for them.  Don’t worry, there aren’t any age restrictions.  Just make sure that older kids keep a watchful eye open for younger kids as the splash and play.

Depending on the lifeguard on duty, toys may or may not be brought into the pool.  We’ve been told by some that toys are not allowed, and others have allowed them.  The one thing they all agree on is that flotation devices are not allowed.    Pool noodles, life jackets, floating rings are all banned from the pools.

Keep in mind that this is ONLY a St. Cloud rule.  I don’t know what Waite Park’s rules are.  However, Sartell allows anything in their wading pools.


Hester Park is a great sledding hill for kids of all ages.  We go there at least once every winter.  There are plenty of hills of various sizes and speeds and enough room so that you don’t bump into your neighbor.  The downside is that there are no public restrooms if the need arises. 

Generally this isn’t a busy hill like many of the other more popular sledding hills in the area.  Because of this, it makes for a GREAT hill.  Plenty of room to climb up the hill without getting in the way and no need to worry about crowds.  

We give this hill 2 thumbs up for sledding.  Youth groups especially seem to love this sledding hill so keep your eyes out on Wednesday nights for large groups of teenagers!


I honestly don’t know how popular Hester Park is for fishing.  I do know that there is a path that leads from the lower road to the river.  So I assume people fish here.  I however am not a fisherman and so I cannot give you any details other than this.  Sorry!  If you have more info, please share it with us!


You may have been to Hester Park and never noticed the Tennis Courts or Basketball hoops before.  This is because they are on the other side of the mini forest to the left of the park.  The tennis courts are located on the far left edge of the park, closest to the hospital.  To save space, the tennis courts also double as the Basketball hoop court too with the net separating the court.  Equipment is not provided so bring your own.  However the courts are in good shape the last time I checked and open to the public.  You cannot reserve the courts as they are on a first come basis.


There are two places you can enjoy the 4th of July each year in St. Cloud, Minnesota.  Wilson Park, which is the main park for the event and Hester Park, which is located on the exact opposite river bank.  In fact you can see each park from the opposite.  We also go to Hester Park every year to watch the fireworks as the parking is easier and getting out seems to be quicker.  

If you watch the Fireworks from Hester Park, come early!  You’ll find all kinds of fun activities for the children like trampoline and inflatables (for a fee) as well as the play area of the park open.  The wading pool will be closed so don’t plan on swimming.  You’ll also find a variety of vending food trucks, as well as medical personnel on hand. 

You can bring your own sparklers or snaps, snacks and beverages.  Alcohol can be brought into Wilson Park for the event.  However Hester Park does not allow you to bring your own alcohol.  You’ll also want to bring a lawn chair or blanket.  By coming early and enjoying the festivities at Hester Park, you’ll also be able to listen to the St. Cloud Municipal Band play a variety of music that have your toes tapping and hands clapping.  

The best part of the evening are the fireworks of course.  Parking is street parking so find a spot where you can and watch for parking signs on the streets.  It’s an easy night for the St. Cloud Police Department to hit up all kinds of cars for parking violations.  Don’t be one of them. 

Getting out is always different every  year.  Some years the St. Cloud Police take over and cause what should be a 20 minute departure into an hour departure by sending you all over town in a pointless goose chase just to eventually reroute you right back to where you started. 

I kid you not it was THE WORST a few years ago and really made everyone mad.  While other years they open up the streets and let the cars flood through quickly and efficiently.  Just be patient and calm and eventually everyone will get home.    


Saturday morning of the St. Cloud Granite City Days is a large parade.  It starts at the far left corner of Hester Park.  My biggest piece of advice is to get a seat close to the front of the parade. 

Aside from the obvious you’ll get to see everything sooner and be done sooner, it’s also the best spot to collect candy and loot!  By sitting at the front you’re more likely to get a free t-shirt, hat or Popsicle.  If you’re at the end of the parade, the Popsicle may be gone or melted and they will be rationing candy. 

Generally speaking, my children do not need more candy.  They do however LOVE to have it tossed to them and love dashing for it!  The parade is a great one with plenty of floats and characters to see!  They do a wonderful job a keeping things moving and kid entertained.

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