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LAND O' PARKS

Despite the fact that our license plates bear our claim to fame of possessing 10,000 lakes—over 11,000 actually—the Twin Cities have some of the best park and trail systems in the country.

Explore the Twin Cities’ best parks, trails and outdoor attractions with this day-long itinerary.

Start your day with a one-of-a-kind, truly amazing breakfast at Hell’s Kitchen on 9th Street in downtown Minneapolis, then head just southwest to Loring Park—home to biking and walking paths that wind around the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a 50-mile outdoor recreation loop. Loring is the largest park in the downtown area and lends its name to the surrounding neighborhood.

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Berger Fountain is located between Yale Place and West Grant Street; the park is connected to the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden via the Hixon Whitney Footbridge; and the fishing pier is located on the south side of the lake.

A torrent of water is cascading over the falls and crashing into the stream below. In the background, people are taking pictures and the roof of Sea Salt Eatery can be seen.

Image by Erica Loeks/Minnesota Monthly

Lunch Break:

Before heading out of downtown for the afternoon, grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and cafes lining the perimeter of Loring Park like The Third Bird, Loring Park Pasta Bar, Cafe Bar Lurcat or 4Bells (Saturday and Sunday only).

Afternoon Adventure:

For a completely different vibe and view, head over to Minnehaha Regional Park. The New England poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, gave the celebrity of this park (a 53-foot waterfall) national fame in his Song of Hiawatha. After taking in the breathtaking waterfall, take a leisurely hike along Minnehaha Creek as it makes its way a brief two miles down to the mighty Mississippi River.

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Begin looking for parking as soon as you arrive at the roundabout in the park as it is a fee-parking area with meters, annual passes or pay stations for use. The Longfellow House Hospitality Center, which sits on the northwest end of the park, introduces the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. No need for hiking boots unless you visit in winter. The trail down to the falls and meandering along the creek is relatively easy. Though you can view the falls from above at several platforms, you’ll need to descend 108 stairs to experience the full effect.

Sea Salt Eatery next to Minnehaha Falls

Image by Erica Loeks/Minnesota Monthly

Evening Dining:

Wrap up your day out and about by eating at Sea Salt Eatery located just above the falls. This bustling seasonal eatery (open daily April-October, weather permitting) serves an incredible seafood menu, plus beer and wine in true al fresco fashion.

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Plan your itinerary AFTER looking at the Music in the Parks online schedule and chow down on your Sea Salt fare while listening to free jams in the park throughout the summer.

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Mall of America

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Park Hopping

The Twin Cities have some of the best park and trail systems in the country. Try this itinerary of some hidden gems we love.

Weekend on the Water

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