13 Ways to Enjoy Our Rivers & Lakes

With 13 different lakes and the Mississippi River running right through downtown, we know you’d regret it if you came to Minneapolis and didn’t take advantage of all the activities surrounding our natural beauty.

Oh, and did you think that the lakes and rivers were only for the summertime? Surprise! Not in Minneapolis. Our winter activities are some of the most fun.

1. Walk across the Stone Arch Bridge to Mill City Museum

Walk across this iconic Minneapolis bridge that overlooks the Mississippi River. It’ll lead you right to the Mill City Museum, located on the ruins of an old flour mill, where you can learn about the notorious explosion that helped shape Minneapolis into what it is today. View baking demonstrations, sample fresh bread, observe a model mill explosion and experience the Flour Tower.

2. Rent a kayak with Above the Falls Sports

You won’t get closer to the water than on a kayak tour with Above the Falls Sports. Take in great views of the city with the water at your fingertips. Navigate the river downtown, or take an adventure to Minnehaha Falls.

3. Cruise down the Mississippi River aboard the Minneapolis Queen Paddlewheeler

Sit back and relax on this cruise down the Mississippi River. Learn all about the rich history of Minneapolis while taking in skyline views and enjoying the sound of the water.

4. Take a Nice Ride bike along the river

Explore Minneapolis on two wheels. Travel like a local and rent a Nice Ride bike to take a ride by the river. Our bike share program is a great way to see the city, get some exercise and get gorgeous views of the Mississippi.

5. Dine at Spoonriver and catch a show at the Guthrie

Just a block from the Stone Arch Bridge and the Mississippi River, Spoonriver is a trendy, healthy eatery perfect for girls brunch or date night dinner. They offer vegan and vegetarian dishes as well as gluten free options. After a great meal, head to the Guthrie theater next door to catch a show. And of course you have to end your excursion with a walk along the river!

6. People watch at Lake of the Isles

Runners, bikers, skaters, picnickers, readers, snoozers. You’ll find them all at Lake of the Isles. Take a walk around the lake or bring a few snacks and pop a seat under a tree to experience some of the best people watching in Minneapolis.

7. Grab breakfast at Nicollet Island Inn

Dine at Nicollet Island Inn and get a perfect view of the Mississippi out of their large, floor-to-ceiling windows. Enjoy a 3 or 5-course tasting for Sunday brunch, or stop in for lunch or dinner to enjoy a great meal with even better scenery.

8. Watch a movie at the Lake Harriett Bandshell

From Disney originals to old classics and of course some Harry Potter, the Lake Harriet Bandshell hosts their Movies in the Park series throughout the summer months. Bring a blanket, cozy up and catch your favorite flicks.

9. Segway along the river

Learn about the Mill City Museum, St. Anthony Falls, the Stone Arch Bridge and more, all while cruising along on a Segway. This is one of the most unique ways to see the city, and this tour is incredibly popular. Make your friends jealous. Experience Minneapolis on a Segway.

10. Watch the River Rats Water Ski Show from Pryes Brewery

Grab the best IPA in town (in our opinion) and watch the River Rats take over the riverfront at Pryes Brewery! Watch water skiing acts, skits and listen to music as the River Rats entrance you.

11. Wheel Fun Rentals

Found at various lakes and parks throughout the city, Wheel Fun Rentals provides pedal boats, kayaks, paddleboards, canoes and bikes to rent so you can enjoy your favorite outdoor activities at any time. Our recommendation: Rent paddleboards at Lake Calhoun, and then grab dinner at Tin Fish located right on the water.

12. Rent skis at Theodore Wirth Park

We utilize our nature scene year-round and in fact, some of our favorite activities happen in the winter. Go showshowing, sledding, cross-country skiing, tubing or skijoring (what?!) at Theodore Wirth Park. They offer rentals, so just show up and enjoy the winter fun.

13. Glide on an ice rink

Many of our parks offer ice skating and pond hockey. Rent skates from the warming room and bust out those old moves!