There are some great places to do outdoor activities in the USA and the mid-western city of Minneapolis has some amazing options! When you think of a city, the last thing you probably think of is nature. You think of towering skyscrapers, restaurants and stores lining the street, and people rushing everywhere. Minneapolis has all these things and more that fit the image of a stereotypical city, but there’s also a reason its slogan is City by Nature. With 22 lakes, two waterfalls, the Mississippi River and 180 parks, there are so many ways to be active and explore the outdoors in Minneapolis within steps of the exciting things the city has to offer. Here are the top 5 outdoor activities to do in Minneapolis.
Kayak in the Chain of Lakes
Did you know Minnesota is the Land of 10,000 Lakes? In fact, in Minneapolis alone there are 22 lakes. One of the most scenic parts of Minneapolis is the Chain of Lakes – five of the largest lakes in Minneapolis, which are connected and offer miles of shoreline paths and a wide variety of activities. One of the best ways to experience the lakes and all the beauty that Minneapolis nature has to offer is kayaking. You’ll be up close with the wildlife and nature while still admiring the city skyline, you can stop at any of the multiple beaches, or you can dine at one of the popular lakeside, seasonal restaurants. If you’re visiting Minneapolis, odds are you didn’t bring a kayak with you. Thankfully, Wheel Fun Rentals and Paddle Share lets you rent single and tandem kayaks, as well as pedal boats and paddleboards, at an affordable rate. So, grab a kayak and your traveling companions, and start paddling.
Hike at Minnehaha Falls
One of the most surprising parts of Minneapolis is Minnehaha Falls. In a city filled with towering skyscrapers, the last thing you’d expect to see is a park with a 53-foot waterfall. Once you’ve finished taking photos and admiring the views, there are plenty more things to explore around Minnehaha Park. Hike around the basin of the waterfall for a different angle of the picturesque site, then continue along the trails running alongside the creek. From there you’ll see stone bridges, sandy shoreline and gorgeous foliage and gardens. If you get hungry, you can bring a picnic lunch or enjoy some seafood at the restaurant in the park pavilion. And, if you’re an animal lover, you’ll be happy to see that Minnehaha Falls is a popular place for dogs. You don’t even have to worry if you visit in the winter. Minnehaha Park is open year-round, and when the temperature drops, the waterfall freezes, creating a unique scene you’ve likely never witnessed before.
Bike along the Mississippi River and Stone Arch Bridge
Just steps away from the businesses, sports stadiums and museums, the Mississippi River serves as a nice, serene escape. Minneapolis, the first major city on the famed river that begins at Lake Itasca in north central Minnesota, offers a variety of activities ranging from boat cruises, drinks at the many riverside restaurants and multiple parks perfect for walks and picnics. However, one of the most popular options is biking. One trail option is the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. The loop is 52-miles, and of that, over nine are along the Mississippi River’s banks. Or, if you’re looking for more stunning views of the skyline and to explore more of the city, cross the Stone Arch Bridge. You’ll have a close-up view of St. Anthony Falls, the only natural waterfall on the river, and then cross to see other parts of the city, like Main Street and Northeast Minneapolis. Minneapolis is a bike-friendly city with 200 miles of bike paths along the rivers and lakes and protected bikeways throughout the city, so take advantage while you’re here and experience the city on two wheels. If you don’t have a bike with you, you don’t need to worry. Nice Ride, the local bike share program, has plenty of stations all throughout Minneapolis that allow you to affordably rent bikes.
Take a Segway tour at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden
For an outdoor art experience like you’ve never seen before, visit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. Located outside the Walker Art Center, the 11-acre park has over 40 sculptures that are free to the public for viewing. For a fun and different way to see and learn about the sculptures as well as other parts of the city, consider a Segway tour. Ride through the park, and learn all about the unique sculptures that are unlike anything else, such as the Hahn/Cock by Katherina Fritsch and Claes Oldenburg & Coosje Van Bruggen’s Spoonbridge and Cherry, the iconic sculpture Minneapolis has become known for. If you need a break in the summer months, play a round of mini golf or view the exhibits at the world-renowned Walker Art Center for more stunning art pieces.
Stroll through the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
With over 1,200 acres of gardens, woods and trails, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum is the perfect spot for a relaxing, nature-filled stroll. Take a walk along the 12.5 miles of trails, and experience many different plant species and gardens, such as the Japanese Garden, Rose Garden and Annual Garden. These beautiful display gardens feature a wide variety of flowers and plants species, or you can check out one of the award-winning tree collections and natural area. If you want to learn about how the Arboretum was created by the University of Minnesota, you can take a free, guided walking tour. If you’re looking for more to do than just walk and admire the scenery, there are also art exhibits, cafes and discovery centers. The Arboretum is the perfect spot for a weekend adventure to explore nature and wildlife without going too far out of the city. Located in Chaska, Minn., it’s also just down the street from the famed Paisley Park, international celebrity Prince’s former home and studio that’s now a museum in Chanhassen, Minn. While you’re there, you can also catch a show at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, the longest-tenured dinner theatre in the U.S.
Minneapolis, the City by Nature, is the perfect candidate for your next holiday, especially if you’re someone who enjoys the excitement of a city and the serenity of nature. Take a walk on one of the many hiking trails, kayak or bike along the lake or Mississippi River, or picnic at Minnehaha Park, and see all the wildlife and nature that Minneapolis has to offer. It’s a guarantee that if you visit Minneapolis, you’ll be active, have fun, and experience things you would never think you would in a city. For even more ideas and sample itineraries, event calendars and more, visit www.minneapolis.org.