The Minneapolis riverwalk is a scenic sprawling landscape along the Mississippi River offering some fantastic dining, activity and nightlife options. The hardest part of determining your path along the Minneapolis riverwalk since it has so much to offer. Let’s dive into the top 10 things to do along the Minneapolis riverwalk.
Things To Do Along the Minneapolis Riverwalk
Who’s been to Minneapolis and likes what it has to offer? This has always been considered home to me. I couldn’t wait to let everyone know how they should spend a morning, afternoon or evening along the riverwalk. I have so many photos and stories!
If you like travel hacking (like me), then you always are trying to find the best adventures and experiences for the most reasonable price. You only live once, so make the most of it. The Twin Cities have so much to offer, so let’s dive into one of my favorite areas of Minneapolis, the riverfront of the Mississippi.
Booking award travel is easy, so go out and find a new destination that you have never seen.
What is the Minneapolis riverwalk?
Let’s begin with some history. The story of Minneapolis begins with St. Anthony Falls, the only major waterfall on the Mississippi River. The falls has been a gathering place for many different people, for many different reasons, for thousands of years.
St. Anthony Falls was a place of spiritual power and a gathering place for resources including sugar maples on Nicollet Island and other springs. The river was named by the Dakota tribe as Haha Wakpa (Mississippi), which means “river of the falls.”
The falls were given the name St. Anthony Falls by Father Louis Hennepin, who came to the area in 1680. The Europeans and Americans who followed prized the falls as a place of beauty and a source of waterpower for industry… ironic how a hydro facility is located there now. The power of water.
By the 1850s, St. Anthony Falls were harnessed as a source of power for the commercial lumber and flour milling industries, and the riverfront settlement transformed into a city that led the world in flour production for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1880. Later, changes in transportation and industry led to a move away from the river, and as business departed, the area declined.
Today, the Minneapolis riverfront has been revitalized. It’s a place where visitors enjoy sightseeing, walking and biking trails, dining, live music, and theater. Many historic buildings have been developed for new uses, including the Washburn A Mill, which is now the home of Mill City Museum.
Minneapolis is an amazing getaway. Book your next stay and go explore!
The Top 10 Things on the Minneapolis Riverwalk
The Minneapolis riverfront has grown tremendously over the last few years and there are so many exciting locations and trails that connect the entire riverfront, which enables tourists and residents to see a number of different sites simply by walking in a circle around both sides of the Mississsippi river.
You can spend hours just walking along the riverwalk and taking scenic landscape photos. The Stone Arch Bridge connects a number of my favorite riverfront destinations. The Stone Arch Bridge is the crown jewel of the entire Minneapolis riverwalk.
This is one of the top things do to in all of Minneapolis, so let me help you find some great restaurants, activities, history, adventures and so much more.
Without further ado, here are the best things to do along the Minneapolis riverfront. The top things to do on the Minneapolis riverwalk do not include things like running, renting a bike and riding it along the riverfront, etc. We all know these are some of the best things to do on Minneapolis’ riverfront!
The top 10 things to do along the Minneapolis riverwalk are…
10. Visit Pryes Brewing Company for an outdoor craft beer along the riverfront
Ohhhhh, Pryes Brewing! One of my personal favorites in all of Minneapolis. They have a beer suitable for every person. Even that, they have feather bowling for any person to enjoy while they sip a pint (or two).
I suggest having the Pryes Miraculum IPA on Nitro. Or, opt for a lighter beer that is the Dublin Dry Stout. I love the cafe lighting on the patio to sit back and relax…. the skyline views aren’t too shabby either.
9. Act like a Parisian by sitting outside at Pracna and people watch (even better during happy hour)
Pracna is one of the oldest bars in Minneapolis. Actually, it might be the first bar in all of Minneapolis from what I hear. They have a phenomenal happy hour. Sometimes I can’t believe their prices. I can get an amazing local craft beer for less than $5 during their happy hour.
Pracna is nestled in the perfect location of St. Anthony Main, which leaves you in a great spot to sit on the sidewalk and gaze at the passerby.
8. Get lost on Nicollet Island and Nicollet Island Park
When I am in Minneapolis, I make a point to venture into Nicollet Island to get lost within the depths of the trees, trails and paths. This island has so much history and feels like there has been a lot untold about it. The island has a serene setting no matter the season.
There are several quaint houses on Nicollet Island that will give you a feel that you are back in the 1920s.
7. Act like you are at a Tokyo street pub by having ramen at Zen Box Izakaya
Zen Box is a personal favorite in all of Minneapolis. The restaurant is one of the most affordable, but yet the best food in the city. I remember one Saturday I went to Zen Box Izakaya and there was a line waiting for them to open.
Try the fried gyoza and the ramen. Pair that with a classic Kirin Ichiban and you will be leaving with a smile on your face. Get the full Japanese experience by sitting up at the bar. Reminds me of when I visited Japan and my first ryokan experience.
6. Take photos of the Mississippi River and Minneapolis skyline by visiting the Hennepin Island Hydro Generating Station
On the north side of the Minneapolis riverfront, you can access the park next to the hydro generating station owned by Xcel Energy. This a cool way to get into the river level of the water and view the cityscapes of Minneapolis from a different perspective. You also get a chance to see how powerful the hydro facility really is.
5. Do outdoor activities, have a picnic or read a book at Boom Island Park
Boom Island Park is massive. There is plenty of room for people. Most importantly, there is plenty to do there. There is direct Mississippi river access, so you can launch a canoe, kayak or motorboat from the launch. Otherwise, there are plenty of trails and picnicking spots for you to enjoy an afternoon. How about during the wintertime? Bring your cross country skis and get a workout in around the hills of the park alongside the Minneapolis riverfront.
4. Go see live music and/or have dinner outside under cafe lighting at Aster Cafe
I love Aster Cafe. Like Pracna, Aster Cafe offers European style seating that makes you feel like you are in the mid-1920’s Paris or London lifestyle. The food is great and the music is excellent. Try sitting outside one night and do some people watching. The patio includes city views and is right along the cobblestone streets of St. Anthony Main. If it’s during the winter, you can cozy inside and feel like you are in an old-brick cabin. Aster Cafe is a must-see restaurant while you are in the Twin Cities.
3. Grab some amazing ice cream at Izzy’s Ice Cream and sit in Gold Medal Park to enjoy it
Izzy’s Ice Cream. Unbelievable stuff. They have some of the most unique, tasteful ice cream flavors in the world. Yes, the world. Take that Italy with your gelato. I love grabbing a double scoop of ice cream and sitting in Gold Medal Park to enjoy the city landscapes that surround me at night.
Get to Izzy’s Ice Cream early or late because the lines can wrap around the block!
2. Learn some more history about the Mill City by visiting the Mill City Museum
History! You can’t round out a fantastic afternoon or evening of drinking, eating and walking without some good history. Try walking around the facilities that show the ruins of the old mill that burned down from an explosion many years ago. The landscapes are beautiful for photography.
1. See show at Guthrie Theater that features Broadway-type talent and has amazing architecture
The Guthrie Theater, founded in 1963, is a center for theater performance, production, education, and professional training in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 2006, the Guthrie finished construction of a new $125 million theater building along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis. The theater is a great place to explore even if you are not seeing a show, but if you have the time you should see one! The performances are nationally renowned and the theaters themselves are very well-designed.
Make sure to visit the infinity bridge that looks out to the Mississippi river and the yellow skyline room (seen below) for amazing views and great photo opportunities.
Another thing that you might want to check out is the good ‘ole Grain Belt sign. A staple of the Minneapolis skyline and cityscape. I’d like someone to challenge by comparing a better city setup along the Mississippi river. I’ll wait.
What other travel tips will we come up with next? Have you visited the Minneapolis riverfront? If so, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
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