Outdoor Recreation

Sparkling lakes, inviting trails and rolling green spaces beautify the urban landscape and make the City by Nature an all season playground. Bike, hike, pedal or paddle – all within the limits of downtown. In a city where every resident lives within six blocks of a park, the great outdoors are highly prized.


Minnesota is famous for its lakes; Minneapolis included. There are 22 lakes within city limits, including the popular Chain of Lakes (Lake Calhoun, Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake), which curls around southwest Minneapolis, drawing bikers, walkers, runners and sun seekers to the area’s hip, active neighborhoods. Boaters, swimmers and anglers can make a splash, too, thanks to convenient lake access, watercraft rentals, clean beaches and well-stocked waters.


In Minneapolis, taking the scenic route means staying in the city, where the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway meanders past gardens, golf courses, waterfalls and idyllic views. One of the only designated urban scenic byways in the country, the Grand Rounds offers 52 miles of hiking, biking, skiing and driving paths that link the city’s lakes and parks “like jewels of a bracelet,” according to Midwest Living magazine.


Having transitioned from industrial to recreational, the Mississippi riverfront delights outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs with parks, picnic areas, landmarks and monuments along miles of well-kept trails. The Audubon Great River Birding Trail, Grand Rounds Scenic Byway and St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail, which highlights unique mill ruins, a working lock and dam and the only stone railroad bridge to cross the Mississippi River, all pass through this history-rich recreational haven.


Recreation happens naturally in the city’s many parks, where offerings range from mountain bike trails to bird sanctuaries. Minnehaha Park was immortalized in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem “Song of Hiawatha,” while Theodore Wirth Park features the country’s oldest wildflower garden and a rare “quaking bog” made of moss. USA Today identified Lake Harriet’s Lyndale Park Rose Garden, the second oldest public rose garden in the U.S., as one of “10 Great Places to Inhale the Scents of Spring.” Minneapolis parks are also abuzz in winter, attracting ice skaters, skiers and snowshoers.


It’s easy to come out swinging in Minneapolis. Minnesota has more golfers per capita than any state in the country, which means quality courses abound. There are seven public courses in Minneapolis and 170 more in the surrounding area. One of the first public golf courses in the state, Theodore Wirth, frames the Minneapolis skyline, while tranquil Minnehaha Creek graces the Hiawatha and Meadowbrook courses.


According to ACSM American Fitness Index 2011-13, on a per capita basis, Minneapolis has more:

> Recreation Centers
> Park Units
> Golf Courses
> Tennis Courts
> Ball Diamonds
> Park Playgrounds

Per capita than any other city


Take a self-guided tour on the St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail through the Minneapolis Riverfront District or, for a longer walking, biking or blading adventure, make your way through seven beautiful districts on the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. Along the Grand Rounds is gorgeous Lake Harriet, which offers a variety of activities: free outdoor concerts at the Lake Harriet Bandshell in the summer, an Asian-influenced Peace (Rock) Garden, the second-oldest public rose garden in the U.S. and much more.



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