As Minnesotans, we suffer through some of the most brutal winter conditions across the nation. So naturally, we take summer very, very seriously. On any given day, every lake, park and patio across the Twin Cities is overtaken by outdoor-deprived humans looking to soak up as much sun and fun as possible. Take advantage of the warm weather this season by following our detailed guide to the best walking routes across the Twin Cities.
The perfect destination for a late morning/early afternoon outing, in my opinion, the North Loop offers the most enjoyable walking route in all of Minneapolis. The historic charm of the neighborhood is perfectly balanced by its forward-thinking, of-the-moment inhabitants.
Start your afternoon riverside on West River Parkway with a brief bike ride or stroll alongside nature, taking in the unique views. From there, stop by the Bachelor Farmer Cafe to enjoy some of the best espresso and pastries the city has to offer. Tip: If you choose to take a Monday stroll, the cafe serves donuts that taste like absolute heaven.
In search of a new fragrance or pair of kicks? Head up the block and stop into Grethen House or Martin Patrick 3 for a high-end retail experience. If you’re an it’s-5-o’clock-somewhere type of person like me, journey up to the Hewing Hotel’s rooftop and treat yourself to an afternoon libation while enjoying the North Loop’s best view.
Finally, end your day with a spot at the bar at Bar La Grassa to enjoy housemade pastas that will surely be on your mind for the next few days. Order a few plates to share — trust me, it’s worth every penny — and ask your server for the perfect pairings from the extensive wine list. –AJ
Only a quick drive from Minneapolis, Wayzata is the perfect escape from the city. You can easily spend an entire afternoon in this quaint town, with plenty of shops and restaurants dotting the shores of Lake Minnetonka.
Start your day with a leisurely morning at Bellecour, complete with a savory almond croissant and soy latte. Dine inside the French-inspired bistro or opt for a table outdoors on the charming patio surrounded by lush greenery and cafe lights.
From there, stroll along Lake Street for some retail therapy at the wide array of local boutiques, each with unique offerings. For luxury home goods and fantastic gifts, check out Grace Hill, my go-to spot for hostess gifts.
Rest your feet and take a seat on one of the benches facing the lake or on the dock near CŌV restaurant. Enjoy the views, watch the boats zoom by and marvel at the homes lining Ferndale Road in the distance. If you aren’t quite ready to leave Wayzata just yet, the patio at Gianni’s Steakhouse is the perfect spot to enjoy a refreshing cocktail or a glass of wine. –Hayley
One of the best ways to explore this artsy, ever-changing ’hood is on foot. Begin at Boom Island situated along the Mississippi River to take in views of the miniature lighthouse and the downtown Minneapolis skyline. From there, make your way north on Marshall Street. At the intersection of Marshall and Broadway sits the Historic Grain Belt Brewery, a site to behold.
Turn down 13th Avenue toward the river and stop in to grab a latte at Sip Coffeebar before checking out Sheridan Memorial Park, which honors Minnesota veterans and boasts unreal river access, peace gardens, and a spherical sculpture created by local artist Robert Smart. Take the walking path north along the river until it loops back to meet Marshall.
Continue north for a selection of bars and restaurants sure to quell any cravings, including the Sample Room, Psycho Suzi’s (the expansive patio is dog-friendly), Tony Jaros Rivergarden (trying a greenie is a Northeast right of passage) and Betty Danger’s (a spin on the Ferris wheel is a must). Along the way, admire the Victorian homes that line the river and stroll through Gluek Park and Edgewater Park.
Wander onto the impressive Lowry Avenue Bridge, which was constructed in 2012 and is often seen lit up in a variety of colors, for an unreal view of the mighty Mississippi and downtown Minneapolis in the distance. For an up close and personal river encounter, check out the meandering path down to the water behind the eclectic-looking Mississippi Watershed Management Organization headquarters. –Kate
Start at the Cathedral of St. Paul, undoubtedly the most iconic landmark in the city. From there, stroll over to Nina’s Coffee Café and order the in-house crafted chai tea latte. (Over ice is divine.)
Just around the corner is the James J. Hill House, where you’ll find the start of the tree-lined avenue that delivers the perfect amount of shade plus aromatic breezes from the fully blossomed home gardens. Along the path, you’ll pass by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s childhood home and the Minnesota Governor’s Residence, both of which are breathtaking sites to see.
Once you reach the University of St. Thomas, the walk doesn’t end there. Keep going west down Summit until you hit Mississippi River Boulevard, where you will find the Monument situated on a bluff with a gorgeous view of the Mississippi River. –Genevieve
Walking Lake of the Isles will never get old. From the unique homes to the water views, you’ll notice something different every time you hit this route. The scenic three miles will help you reach that daily step count goal without even realizing it.
Begin the walk near the Lake of the Isles dog park and continue toward the east side of the lake. For a quick caffeine fix, peel off on 28th Street to Isle Buns and Coffee. Grab a beverage to go and get back on the walking track.
After completing more than half the route, take a turn down 21st Street by the Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church. Stop into Birchbark Books & Native Arts then head next door to the Kenwood. This restaurant is sure to please your taste buds any time of day — breakfast, lunch or dinner. If you go for breakfast, order the housemade granola and a fluffy pancake for your walking crew to share.
Walk the meal off and complete your final stretch of the path. As you pass over the bridging of Isles to Cedar Lake, stop midway for a picture-perfect view of the Minneapolis skyline. –Kathleen