The Best Photo Locations in Minneapolis & St. Paul


May 22, 2020

One of the best things about the Twin Cities is the variety is has to offer. Whether you like nature or urban, the Twin Cities has what you’re looking for. As a photographer, I have spent plenty of time searching for great photo locations around Minneapolis and St. Paul. Here is a list of my favorite photo locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul (and a few bonus locations in surrounding suburbs)!

Urban Photo Locations

Saint Anthony Main (Minneapolis)

Saint Anthony Main senior pictures

Saint Anthony Main is one of the most popular photo locations in Minneapolis. On a nice summer evening, this place can be swarming with photographers! There is a good reason for this, as Saint Anthony Main offers buildings with unique, colorful facades and brick streets. Additionally, Main Street is home to one of the most popular photo locations in Minneapolis: “the rock.” The rock is located right across from Aster Cafe right along the water. There’s a small path right behind a tree to walk down to the rock. Here, you can capture an amazing view of the water and Minneapolis skyline. Check out some examples below!

Mill Ruins Park (Minneapolis)

Mill Ruins Park photos

Mill Ruins Park is a super cool, neutral, urban location in downtown Minneapolis. The ruins are a unique background, and there is a touch of green here to add another layer of interest. As a bonus, this park is dropped right between to the iconic Stone Arch Bridge and Guthrie Theater. I typically walk my clients around this area to add variety to their galleries, but the Mill Ruins Park area is always my favorite backdrop for a filmy, neutral look.

North Loop (Minneapolis)

North Loop is home to the Minneapolis Warehouse District. It’s a hip, urban spot with converted warehouses, picturesque alleyways, and great restaurants. Check out Hewing Hotel for indoor or rooftop photos (just call them ahead of time to get permission) or Spyhouse Coffee with your crew!

Rice Park (St. Paul)

Rice Park picture locations

Rice Park features historic Twin Cities staples like the Landmark Center, James J. Hill Library, and The Ordway theater. I love James J. Hill for a neutral, urban backdrop that looks expensive and historic. The best part? Rice Park is still a park, so there is plenty of greenery and a gorgeous fountain. The only difficulty with this spot is it can often be busy or full of people (especially if there is a show at the Ordway). Visiting at sunrise instead of in the evening will be your best bet!

Bonus: Rice Park has beautiful Christmas lights around the holiday season if you’re looking for a romantic photo location in the winter.

Union Depot (St. Paul)

If you’re looking for a rooftop in the Twin Cities that’s never busy, look no further than Union Depot. I love this spot because it’s quiet, private, and easy for outfit changes! This is a functioning bus station, but the historic architecture and views of Lowertown St. Paul make for awesome photo backdrops. There is a parking structure under the Depot and public restrooms for outfit changes, so this is one of my favorite spots for senior shoots.

Nature Photo Locations

Lebanon Hills Regional Park (Eagan)

Lebanon Hills Park photos

While this spot isn’t exactly in Minneapolis, Eagan is only about 30 minutes outside the city and this regional park is huge. Lebanon Hills technically spans multiple suburbs and contains walking paths, lakes, beaches, and docks. There is also plenty of parking, making it convenient to meet clients. I always park and shoot at the Schulze Beach entrance off of Cliff Road. Please note, you should secure a permit to photograph in this park through Dakota County.

Holz Farm Park (Eagan)

Holz Farm Park photo spots

Just up the road from Lebanon Hills Regional Park is a small historic farmstead run by the city of Eagan. It features barns, a historic yellow house (no one lives here!) and beautiful gardens. This is one of the best kept secret photo spots in the suburbs!

Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (Chaska)

MN Landscape Arboretum senior photos

“The Arb” hosts the most gorgeous gardens in the Twin Cities. While this location isn’t in the Cities, you can reach Chaska in about 40 minutes from Minneapolis/St. Paul. While the Landscape Arboretum is huge, you can generally walk around the gardens close to the Visitor Center for amazing variety and colors. I love this location for senior sessions and engagement photos.

Hint: The Arb does require a photography permit for portraiture or professional shoots. You can purchase a one day pass or seasonal permit. It’s a little spendy, but well worth it in my opinion! 

Como Park Zoo & Conservatory (St. Paul)

Como Park photo locations

Como Park Zoo is unique spot in the Cities, because it includes a zoo, a theme park, and a conservatory all in one! Due to this variety, it makes for a fun photo location! The Conservatory is the more picturesque spot, with it’s white and glass architecture. You can shoot inside the Conservatory too, but you are limited to 30 minutes and need to secure a pass beforehand. The lush greens and flowers inside make for amazing photos, so it’s worth the trouble of getting the permit! I personally love the area around the main Pavilion because of its unique architecture and pristine park nearby.

Hansen Tree Farm (Anoka)

If you’re looking for winter wonderland photos, this is the spot. This large tree farm includes rows of tall pines, fresh evergreen trees, and even cute little fire pits to snuggle next to for a perfect winter photo shoot. Hansen Tree Farm allows photos with a photography permit. Just beware, this location is incredibly busy right before the holidays!

Arneson Acres Park (Edina)

Arneson Acres Park photos

Arneson Acres is a small park nestled in Edina with a stunning garden and water fountain. While it’s small, it is gorgeous in the spring and summer with fresh flowers and trees blooming. It’s the closest we get to a Parisian-feeling garden in Minnesota. Be warned, it can be very busy in the summer!

Centennial Lakes Park (Edina)

Centennial Lakes is an amazing photo spot and requires no permit for non-commercial use! This park has tons of variety and even hosts a mini golf course, ice skating rink, bandshell, and waterfront shops. If you’re looking for a nature spot with a touch of urban backdrops, this is a great option.

Whitetail Woods Regional Park (Farmington)

Photo spots in Farmington MN

Similar to Lebanon Hills, I love shooting at regional parks. The simple, untouched nature is perfect for dreamy outdoor photos. Whitetail Woods has rolling hills, gravel paths, tall grasses, and wildflowers. Everything you could ever want for an outdoor summer photoshoot!

Wayzata Beach (Wayzata)

Wayzata Beach is a great spot for the lake lovers. It features a small marina, a beach, and some beautiful trees and tall grass, so it’s a little of everything! This spot is beautiful in summer or fall, making it the perfect Minnesota photo location.

Boom Island Park (Minneapolis)

Boom Island Park is snuggled up next to the Mississippi River and Saint Anthony Main, making it easy to combine with urban locations. This park offers a cool combination of greenery and skylines, making it perfect for a shoot where you want a touch of both!

Indoor Photo Studios

If you’re looking for an indoor spot for photos, the Twin Cities has multiple wonderful photo studios that can be rented by the hour. Here are just a few of my favorites.

Brooke Elisabeth Studio (Ramsey)

Brooke Elisabeth Studio photos

By far my favorite studio in Minnesota, Brooke Elisabeth Studio is owned by my dear friend and is a photographer’s dream! It is located in the owner’s detached garage, so she built it from the ground up with photos in mind! There are huge, gorgeous windows that let in incredible light, various backdrop options, and crisp, white walls. She also creates the most stunning holiday installations throughout the year. If you want classic indoor photos, this is the spot.

The Workshop (Minnetonka)

For the minimalist, The Workshop is the perfect indoor photo spot. It lets in gorgeous natural light with its large windows and white walls and offers simple, modern furniture. You can rent it for as little as 30 minutes, so this is a great option for families or those looking for a few simple shots.

8th Street Studio (Farmington)

8th Street Studio Farmington

If you’re looking for a spot south of the Cities for indoor photos, I love 8th Street Studio. It features some cool accent walls as well as crisp, white backdrops for plenty of variety. It’s located conveniently in a strip mall so parking is easy! Conveniently check availability and book online.

  1. […] have an entire blog post on some of my favorite session locations in the Twin Cities to help with this step! My best advice is to choose the style you love or select a location […]

  2. […] lighting was perfect, and I loved all of her outfit choices. Lebanon Hills is one of my favorite locations for senior pictures, so I was thrilled to shoot there […]

  3. […] shot Ali and Eric’s engagement pictures at Wayzata Beach. This is one of my favorite photo locations in the Twin Cities for the fall. Not only does it feature great fall colors, but the waterfront views add a nice […]

  4. […] this session at Saint Anthony Main in Minneapolis. This is one of my most popular senior photo locations in Minneapolis. I think seniors love the urban look and the colorful buildings. This spot has so many unique […]

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