Minneapolis’s natural beauty and urban architecture are for everyone, no matter how you get around. These beloved local spots are wonderful for a stroll or a roll, whether you’ve got an hour or a full day to spend in the great outdoors.
Getting outside and into nature is one of the best ways to spend time in Minneapolis—in all seasons, believe it or not! Internationally known for its incredible public park and greenspace system, the city offers plenty of outstanding urban trails, lakeside loops, and wildlife-rich natural areas accessible for all, including folks who use mobility aids. Let’s get rolling!
Clocking in at just under 3 miles, the looping trail around Lake Harriet in Southwest Minneapolis winds past two beaches, a formal Rose Garden, stately neighborhoods, a waterfront restaurant, the Lake Harriet Bandshell, and, in the summer, frequent sailboat races. Fully paved, flat, and at least six feet wide in all spots, this trail offers a relaxing outing for all visitors. Concerned about bikes whizzing by? Don’t be—the Lake Harriet Bike Trail is fully separated from the pedestrian path. (Free accessible parking is available in the permit lot at Lake Harriet Bandshell Park at 4135 W Lake Harriet Pkwy, Minneapolis.)
Offering what many consider to be the best panoramic view of the Minneapolis skyline and historic Mill District, the Stone Arch Bridge is worth a stroll no matter how long you’re staying in the city (even if only for that perfect Instagram shot). If you’ve got a little more time to spend, ramps connect the bridge with Mill Ruins Park, an excellent place to discover early Minneapolis’s legacy as the flour milling capital of the world, as well as Gold Medal Park, a 7.5 acre park featuring a 32 foot tall mount that will give self-propelled wheelchair users a bit of a workout—but the view is worth it! (Accessible street parking is available, and folks with state-issued Disability Parking Certificates can park for free in the pay lot at Mill Ruins Park at Mill Ruins Park, 102 Portland Ave S, Minneapolis.)
No visit to the Twin Cities would be complete without a visit to the iconic (and free!) Minneapolis Sculpture Garden at Walker Art Center. After you’ve posed for selfies at Spoonbridge and Cherry, roll on over to Loring Park via the connecting bright yellow and blue pedestrian bridge or by crossing Lyndale (there are ramps to the bridge, but they can be steep for manual wheelchair users). Circle Loring Lake, see what’s growing in the community garden, and look for turtles from the fishing pier. Ample accessible parking is available for free in the main garden parking lot at 725 Vineland Pl, Minneapolis.
Located in Eagan, southeast of Minneapolis, this exceptionally accessible park offers a beautiful .8 mile paved/wooden boardwalk path around and over McDonough Lake. Park at the Visitor Center Trailhead (860 Cliff Road, Eagan - many free accessible parking spots!) for access to the trail, communal fire pits, restrooms, as well as picnic spots with grills. Want to escape the city for more than an afternoon? Lebanon Hills also offers accessible camping sites!
Popular with college students and local families, this hidden gem of a trail winds along the Mississippi below the University of Minnesota campus (which, by the way, is also a great place for an urban wander). The paved trail begins past the University of Minnesota boathouse and winds through tall trees and past riverside beaches before becoming a suspended catwalk above the river. Fun fact: the flats were used as a concert venue in the late 1970s. Free accessible parking available in the park lot, at 351 East River Parkway, Minneapolis.
2.5 miles around, the Lake Nokomis Trail is level, wide, and well maintained—which makes it popular with dog walkers, stroller-toting families, and wheelchair users of all abilities. In warmer months, wildflowers and butterflies abound, and a waterfront restaurant offers chilli cheese fries and fish tacos near the bustling main beach and playground. Aviation fans will enjoy glimpses of the low-flying planes landing at the nearby airport, but folks sensitive to noise might want to avoid Nokomis for that reason. Free accessible parking available in the paid lot near the main beach at 5001 Lake Nokomis Parkway W, Minneapolis.
The sprawling Minnehaha Parkway Regional Trail offers endless opportunities to explore Minnehaha Creek, the 22-mile long tributary of the mighty Mississippi that winds from Lake Minnetonka through South Minneapolis. The trail connects Lake Harriet with Lake Nokomis (two of the trails on this list!), and is rich with opportunities to forest bathe without leaving the city. Just west of Minneapolis, another worthy highlight is the Minnehaha Creek Preserve in St. Louis Park, the site of one of the largest restored wetlands and stream greenspace in the Twin Cities. A fully accessible boardwalk traverses the creek offering a perfect perch for birdwatching (and turtle watching, too) with free accessible parking at 7341 Oxford Street, St. Louis Park.
A fantastic destination for families, Wirth Lake features an accessible playground and a great 1.5 mile path circling the lake—including a boardwalk that spans the lake itself and connecting paths throughout the rest of Theordore Wirth Park. Be warned: there is inexplicably a single step on the (optional) stretch of path that leads from the beach volleyball courts near the playground, so for a fully accessible route, opt to start your walk on the sidewalk path near the parking lot entrance. Ample free accessible parking available near the playground at 3200 Glenwood Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
While not technically a trail nor an urban greenspace, the Mall of America is known locally as a go-to accessible "walk" in the winter, since many trails (even the accessible trails above) become icy in the winter and snow removal at access ramps can be unreliable. The solution? Head inside and circle the bustling and exceedingly accessible Mall of America! Visit during retail hours to enjoy the people watching and smells of Cinnabon, or avoid the crowds by taking advantage of “walking hours”—the mall itself opens three hours before most stores do! One loop around one level of the mall is a little over a half mile, so it’s easy to log some distance in an afternoon of window shopping. Free accessible parking available in all mall lots.