Now that Mother Nature has graced us with warmer weather, it’s time to get out and explore. Whether you’re looking for a trail that’s paved and easy, or an experience that’s a little more adventurous and off the beaten path, you’ll find something you like at one of these spots in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
If you’re a St. Paul resident, chances are this is already on your radar. With beautiful historic mansions (including the Governor’s Mansion and the James J. Hill House), there isn’t anywhere quite as aesthetic as Summit Avenue. You can start down by the river, just west of the University of St. Thomas, and take in the views from the Mississippi River before beginning your trek eastward. In my opinion, the houses get more beautiful the farther down you go. Take a right on Wheeler Street for a quick stop at Sencha Tea Bar on Grand Avenue. Farther down, you can take a right on Victoria Street for Café Latte, or one more block down, Grand Ole Creamery.
St. Anthony Main
Often dubbed as the most European part of Minneapolis, St. Anthony Main is a secret haven of paths and nature. Explore the cobblestone streets of Southeast Main Street, home to Aster Café and St. Anthony Main Theater, and then hang a right into Pillsbury Park for the Lower Trail, leading to Father Hennepin Bluff Park. You’ll be surprised by how peaceful it is—you’d never guess you’re just across the river from bustling downtown Minneapolis.
Minnehaha Falls is arguably the most picturesque place to go for an afternoon walk. The regional park is 193 acres, with miles of trails and a great picnicking area. In the summer months, kids can wade in the water. If you haven’t made this trip yet, put it on the top of your summer bucket list.
Mississippi River Recreation Area
Minnehaha Falls is technically located in the Mississippi National River Recreation Area, but there’s plenty more to explore than that. All around Minneapolis and St. Paul are paved paths following the river. One option is Mississippi Gorge Regional Park, located off West River Parkway. I personally enjoy walking along the east side of the river, on Mississippi River Boulevard, west of University of St. Thomas and near Shadow Falls Park. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can stray from the paved path along the road and head down towards the river. If you go this route, be sure to wear the right shoes! (Read: Converse are the not the best option for you. Yes, I speak from experience.)
Chain of Lakes
The Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park is by far the most popular destination in the Minneapolis Park system with lakes including Brownie Lake, Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Bde Maka Ska, and Lake Harriet. The best part? Trails connect them all. Bde Maka Ska can get busy during nicer weather, but Lake Nokomis and Lake Harriet are relatively peaceful, even in the nicest of weather. (Make sure to also check out these five spots to visit in Linden Hills, right on the shore of Lake Harriet)