Minnesotans celebrate the outdoors like few other cities. Sure, we like our winters, but the first time the temperature pokes its head above 45, the shorts come out (no kidding) and people flock to the lakes and parks. The Chain of Lakes is the city’s most popular of our many, many parks. (Fun fact: By design, no Minneapolis resident lives farther than six blocks from a park.)
The Chain of Lakes is also a key component of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a 51-mile loop composed of parkways, trails, and the Mississippi River Boulevard. It’s the only scenic byway in the country located entirely within an urban area. The chain is composed of Bde Maka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun), Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, Cedar Lake, and Brownie Lake. They all have bike and pedestrian paths, boating docks, boating, kayaking, gardens, and picnic areas. Also available at some lakes are facilities for archery, fishing, tennis, soccer, volleyball, grills, skiing paths, ice rinks, and lakeside restaurants.
For a special adventure, embark on a guided full moon paddle with Paddle Bridge Kayak Tours. You'll start during golden hour and work your way from Thomas Beach on the south shore of Bde Maka Ska and navigate the channel to Lake of the Isles as the full moon comes out.
Perennial Cycle on Hennepin sells, repairs, and rents bikes if the sudden desire to bike around the lakes hits while you are bike-free. If it’s aquatic transportation you’re looking for, Wheel Fun Rentals rents stand-up paddle boards, pedal boats, kayaks, and canoes among other biking equipment as well.
Arts & Nightlife
Bryant Lake Bowl & Theater is an all-in-one date night destination, with bowling (you'll have to learn how to keep score the old school way here), live shows, and a great tap selection (where else can you enjoy two entrées, a bottle of wine or a few beers, and one round of bowling for $28 per couple?). For more cinematic entertainment options, Lagoon Cinema screens new releases, but it’s better known for showing indie, foreign, and avant-garde films that are otherwise absent from larger, national theater chains.
A prominent hot spot for a night on the town, Uptown appeals to bar hoppers, late nighters, and fun seekers alike. Some popular night spots include Amazing Thailand and The Pourhouse Uptown.
If live music is what you're after, visit the newly-renovated Uptown Theater. Located at the intersection of Lake Street and Hennepin Avenue, you can see local bands, traveling artists, comedy shows, and more. Check their calendar to see what's coming up.