As one of the seven counties that make up the Minneapolis-Saint Paul metro area, Dakota County is a busy, densely-populated county with over three million residents. But that’s only part of the story – Dakota County is also a beautiful area with six county parks and three trails.
The largest park in the county, Lebanon Hills Regional Park, contains nearly 2,000 acres with lakes and miles of trails. From fishing to picnicking to skiing and snowshoeing, this park offers plenty of outdoor recreation. Dakota Woods Dog Park is a great place to spend the afternoon with your four-legged pal – this fenced, wooded park sprawls across 16 acres so your dog will have plenty of off-leash space to roam. Trails include the Mississippi River Regional Trail, a 27-mile trail with river views that is ideal for jogging, bicycling, and walking.
Hastings is the county seat. This beautiful city is near the Vermillion River and is the location of Vermillion Falls. A park surrounds the falls and preserves the ruins of a mill that once operated there. The river is a popular fishing location and contains trout upstream and crappie, pike, and freshwater drum downstream where the water is warmer.
The largest city, Eagan, is south of Saint Paul along the Minnesota River. While many residents commute into nearby St. Paul or Minneapolis, Eagan has a strong economy and many residents live and work in the city.
When settlers arrived in Minnesota, the first town they founded was Mendota. A historic area, Mendota contains the oldest church in the state, Saint Peter’s, as well as the Faribault House, the Henry Hastings Sibley house, and buildings of the American Fur Company.
Other cities in Dakota County include Farmington, Inver Grove, Hampton, Apple Valley, Rosemount, Vermillion, West St. Paul, and Randolph.