13 Ways to Enjoy Our River & Lakes

With 22 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.

Hike, bike, eat, drink and explore while enjoying our many bodies of water!

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 Paddle Share

The only paddle share program in the Western Hemisphere is developing on the east side of the river on Boom Island, making it easier than ever to explore Minneapolis by kayak. Simply reserve a kayak on their website, pick it up at one of the stations and hit the water. Choose from multiple different trips depending on your start and end location. They’ll tell you how many miles it is, about how long it will take, and what you might need along the way. Where else can you get a glimpse of the downtown skyline, stop in the park for a picnic, and have the water at your finger tips?

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. Take the Mississippi River by Water Taxi

Mpls Water Taxi provides people with an experience on the Mississippi River above St. Anthony Falls. Cruise downstream to the Upper Lock and see, hear & feel the energy and power of St. Anthony Falls. Or, venture upstream to the Lowry Ave. Bridge & see the amazing Blue Heron Rookery! Returning downstream you will see an incredible seldom seen view of the city from 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 Lola on the Lake located right on the water, as you might have guessed.

12. Go hiking at Theodore Wirth Park

Take a hike at Theodore Wirth Park and truly experience the city by nature. Explore their wooded trails and appreciate the greenery, then walk just a few minutes and get a glimpse of the downtown skyline. Bring a picnic lunch and make a day of it!

13. Grab a drink at Aster Cafe and take in views of the Mississippi

Walk along the cobblestone road to get to Aster Cafe, one of our absolute favorite summer patios. Grab a glass of wine, sit back, and watch the river flow with the skyline in the background.