We knew the Twin Cities were beautiful from the ground. But from the water? That’s a whole different story.

Image by Lisa Marchand

Since moving to Minneapolis, kayaking the Mississippi River was on my Twin Cities Bucket List—as it should be for anyone living here or visiting—and now I’ve successfully crossed it off thanks to Above the Falls Sports. (Without falling in and only once hitting my coworker on the head with my paddle.)

Kayaking the Mississippi River with the Minneapolis skyline in the background

Image by Kalen Keir/Above the Falls Sports

Once we finally got the hang of the “use your core and not your arms” mentality, it was mostly smooth sailing from our launch point at Bohemian Flats near the Warehouse District. Our awesome tour guides took us toward downtown Minneapolis, and the same skyline that puts a smile on my face from atop the city’s bridges made me even happier from beneath them. It’s rare to feel connected with this mammoth river and the concrete jungle all at once.

After making our way through the Lower St. Anthony Lock and harnessing a few photo opps, we turned around and headed toward Minnehaha Regional Park.

But first, can we marvel at the lock and dam system of the Mississippi? A novice like me had no idea anyone is free to boat or kayak in while the river water rises or drops so you can continue your journey down or upstream. I am still telling everyone I know!

Above the Falls Sports Owner Bob Schmitz, who accompanied us on the first leg of the trip, was a wealth of knowledge about the river’s history. This part of the Mississippi is and always has been a total powerhouse, from boasting the river’s only gorge to once being the epicenter of the world’s milling industry. (Hence Minneapolis’s nickname, Mill City.)

As we ventured away from the city, I was struck by the limestone bluffs and fall colors framing the river. Our tour culminated at Minnehaha Regional Park, home to the iconic 53-foot Minnehaha Falls as well as Sea Salt Eatery, a bustling seafood restaurant open April through October. Between a four-hour kayaking tour and a belly full of food, it wasn’t a shabby way to spend a Friday afternoon.

Autumn in Minnesota may be fleeting, but soaking up every minute of it is easy in the Twin Cities. In all reality, getting out and exploring the area is amazing anytime of year—yes, even in winter! We’ve managed to master the art of all seasons.

Above the Falls Sports offers kayak and trike tours spring, summer and fall, and the team is getting ready to launch fat tire bike tours during winter 2016. For more information, visit

Mississippi River kayakers in front of beautiful fall foliage

Image by Kalen Keir/Above the Falls Sports

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