13 Ways to Enjoy Our River & Lakes

With the Mississippi River running through downtown and over 22 different lakes within city limits, we know you’d regret coming to Minneapolis without taking advantage of our wonderful waterways. There are so many ways to enjoy our rivers and lakes in every season... get ready to dive in.

Hike, bike, eat, drink, and explore while enjoying all the waterfront wonders Minneapolis has to offer.

1. Walk across the Stone Arch Bridge

Walk across this iconic Minneapolis pedestrian- and bicycle-only bridge overlooking the Mississippi River. Feel the mist from St Anthony Falls, learn about the city's industrial history, and take in unbeatable views of the downtown skyline. 

2. Go on an Audio Tour and Learn About the Mississippi River

The Ranger On Call audio tour is a free program set up to give visitors the opportunity to learn more about and hear the unique stories of life on the Mississippi River. Walk or bike to a treasure map full of designated spots—Boom Island and Water Power Park to Fort Snelling and Harriet Island—and follow the directions at each Ranger on Call station using your phone. At each stop, you'll take in the landscape while listening to audio recordings that give a new dimension to your surroundings. 

3. Take a Nice Ride bike along the river

Explore Minneapolis on two wheels—even if you left your own bike at home. Travel like a local and rent a Nice Ride bike to pedal along the the river. Our city-wide bike share program is a great way to see the city, get some exercise, and enjoy miles and miles of gorgeous views of the Mississippi.

4. Rent a kayak with Paddle Share or a canoe with Wilderness Inquiry

Exploring Minneapolis by kayak is easy with self-serve Paddle Share. Simply reserve a kayak on their website, pick it up at one of the many launch stations, and hit the water! Choose from a variety of multiple downriver trips with different start and end park locations. Paddle Share's online guide will tell you how many miles your trip will be, about how long it will take, and what you might need along the way. How else can you get a glimpse of the downtown skyline, stop in the park for a picnic, and have the water at your fingertips (all without having to haul your own boat!)?

Looking for adventure in the heart of the Twin Cities? Explore the mighty Mississippi River up close and personal on a guided canoe trip with Wilderness Inquiry. Paddling the Mississippi in one of their beautiful 24-foot cedar strip canoes is easy, fun, and affordable – everyone enjoys it. These popular adventures take place in Minnesota's local national park – the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (MNRRA). You will discover wildlife and experience the amazing human history of the River.

5. Take the Mississippi River by Water Taxi

Mpls Water Taxi provides an hour long experience for up to six people on the Mississippi River above St. Anthony Falls. Cruise downstream in the electric pontoon to the Upper Lock to see, hear, and feel the energy and power of the history falls. Or venture upstream to the Lowry Avenue Bridge and birdwatch at the Blue Heron Rookery.

6. Soak up the sun at Lake of the Isles

Take a walk around the lake and gaze at the stately homes and wooded islands—it's a leisurely 2.63 miles around—or bring a few snacks and pop a seat under a tree to soak up all that is summer in Minneapolis. Pack a blanket and some sunscreen! 

7. Get a close-up look at the Mississippi River

Get a closer look at the Mississippi River at the new overlook at 26th Avenue North. The oval-shaped overlook, featuring a 35-foot-tall beacon that lights up the river, is located at the east end of the recently completed 26th Ave North Greenway. The Greenway connects the Grand Rounds at Theodore Wirth Regional Park with the Mississippi River through the heart of North Minneapolis neighborhoods.

8. Have a picnic at Gold Medal Park and then take a walk along the Mississippi

Grab some takeout nearby, curate a basket of nibbles from the Mill City Farmers Market, or bring a homemade spread and set up a picnic at the iconic 7.5-acre Gold Medal Park. Enjoy lush lawns, public art, and views of downtown, the Guthrie Theater, U.S. Bank Stadium, and the Mississippi River. 

9. Grab ice cream from Sebastian Joe's and walk around Lake Harriett

Stop at family-owned scoop shop Sebastian Joe's in Linden Hills—a local favorite since 1984—to grab a double cone of Nicollet Pothole (chocolate ice cream loaded with caramel, Heath Bar chunks, fudge truffles, a fudge swirl, and sea salt). Then stroll the few blocks to Lake Harriet for a leisurely ice cream-powered walk. 

10. Segway along the river

Experience Minneapolis on a Segway! 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 the tour is incredibly popular.) 

11. Grab beer & pizza to-go from Pryes Brewery

Grab one of the best IPAs in town and some wild boar BBQ pizza from the on-site Cason Italian Eatery, then enjoy your pint and slice on the a stone's throw from the river. The outdoor beer garden is dog-friendly!

12. Rent a ride from 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. 

13. Enjoy the view from Water Works at Mill Ruins Park

This new 3-acre public space features a welcoming plaza with fire pits, Nature Play Lab and children's garden, tree-sheltered lawns, terraced benches, and countless native plants, all above an innovative 68,000-gallon rainwater reuse system. The park is home to the much-anticipated Owamni restaurant by The Sioux Chef, a team of Anishinaabe, Mdewakanton Dakota, Navajo, Northern Cheyenne, Oglala Lakota, and Wahpeton-Sisseton Dakota food lovers committed to revitalizing Native American Cuisine.