They say all great big cities are built along a body of water. Not all cities get credit for their riverwalk or lakeside experience. Minneapolis is one of them. These are some of the best things to do along the Minneapolis riverwalk.
Minnesota is home to over 10,000 lakes and most of them get a lot of press like Lake Harriett, Lake Minnetonka, Bde Maka Ska, and so much more.
But how about a river? Yes, Minneapolis is built along with one of the most iconic rivers, the Mississippi River. The Minneapolis riverwalk is a great place to find some amazing restaurants, experiences, theatres, and entertainment.
You can actually get quite a bit of exercise along the way.
Riverwalk Top Picks
- Walking Tour of Mississippi River: Explore up and down the banks of the Mississippi River with this private walking tour (approx 2 hours).
- Historic Northeast Food Tour: Eat like a local and stop by some of the most restaurants in Northeast offering great views of the Minneapolis skyline.
- Mississippi River Carriage Ride: Go back in time with a charming carriage ride through Nicollet Island and the great Mississippi.
With the Minneapolis riverfront, there is plenty to do during both summer and winter (as well as everything in between). Minneapolis is my hometown. I might be a little biased.
However, the Minneapolis riverfront is a great way to see the city and enjoy the weather. No matter the climate. I didn’t even need to use my travel hacking skills to write a guide.
It’s right in my backyard. The Mississippi River is one of the most important bodies of water in the United States. You can get a northern perspective. Along the Mississippi River, there is something for everyone, including:
- Great restaurants
- Outdoor activity
- Bars and great beer
Let’s get into some of the best activities to consider along the Mississippi River.
Best Things to Do Along Minneapolis’ Riverwalk
Here are some of the best things to do along the Minneapolis riverfront.
See a Show at the Guthrie Theatre
The Guthrie Theatre has some of the best plays in the entire Midwest. The talent is top-notch and the architecture in (and around) the theatre is amazing. The theatre itself offers some of the best views of downtown Minneapolis as well as the riverfront.
So, make sure to bring your camera as it makes for one of the best places to take pictures in Minneapolis. Look at the inside views from the top level of the Guthrie Theatre.
Go see a show at the Guthrie! It’s definitely one of the best places to visit in Minnesota.
Eat Ramen at Zen Box Izakaya
Zen Box Izakaya is one of my all-time favorite restaurants in Minneapolis. After traveling to Japan, I gained a new appreciation for Zen Box. Their food is as good (and real) as it gets for Japanese food. They are particularly known for their ramen. It’s probably the best in the entire state of Minnesota.
Zen Box Izakaya’s theme is a Japanese street pub, so you can get a number of different dishes, try some sake and enjoy Sapporo/Asahi. If you are a foodie, then why not just walk along the river and stop at all the epic restaurants?
Here are some of our favorite tours to have fun, eat and learn:
- Historic Northeast Minneapolis Food Tour: Discover some of the best bites in Minneapolis and venture off the beaten pass in the historic Northeast neighborhood.
- Minneapolis Riverwalk Food Tour: Explore the trendy neighborhoods along the historic Mill District and eat at local staples and hidden gems.
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Walk Across the Stone Arch Bridge (In both Directions!)
You simply can’t miss out on walking on the Stone Arch Bridge while in Minneapolis. The historic bridge used to be a railway. The amazing stone columns of the bridge make this one an architectural masterpiece.
Take a look at the bridge from above with our tour on our YouTube channel.
I say that you should walk it in both directions because the views are great from both perspectives. The way of looking at the Minneapolis skyline makes it look like each building was strategically put there with the bridge in mind.
It’s simply perfect. Look at that awesome view.
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Sing Songs and Laugh at Nye’s Piano Bar
Nye’s Piano Bar is one of the most legendary bars in all of the Twin Cities. Maybe even in the state! They recently tore down the original building.
The new Nye’s Piano Bar is now underneath a condo building, but that doesn’t stop the fun. It’s a new chapter. The same lady sings at the piano bar and they have an awesome mural of all the former piano bar artists that are no longer with us.
The piano bar offers some great jokes and entertainment. In fact, GQ named it one of the best bars in all of America.
See Related: Best Things to do Around Lake Minnetonka
Take a Segway Tour with a Human on a Stick
I love the play on the name of this segway tour. It’s called Human on a Stick, which is a play at the great Minnesota State Fair, where every piece of food you can imagine is on a stick.
Here is another awesome fact… Human on a Stick was the first Segway Tour Company in the United States. They now have the largest fleet of Segways in the world. Whoa.
If you are in a time crunch, the segway tour is a great way to see most of the riverwalk in an efficient manner. You will also be able to see the best vantage point of the Stone Arch Bridge. Be prepared for some laughs along the way during your tour with Human on a Stick.
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Snap a Picture of the Grain Belt Beer Sign
The Grain Belt Beer sign is a staple of Minneapolis. The sign was recently relit and illuminated by the city. You aren’t just taking a picture of the Grain Belt Beer sign, you are also taking an iconic photo of the legendary Hennepin Bridge, which connects downtown Minneapolis with Northeast Minneapolis.
Check out the picture I snapped of the Grain Belt sign with the Hennepin Bridge. Not a bad view eh?
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Grab a Craft Beer & Play Feather Bowling at Pryes Brewing
Pryes Brewing is a nice brewery with some good style. They have a great patio that overlooks the Mississippi River and a great beer list. This brewery is known for its Miraculum IPA, both on nitro and standard pour. The food is great as well at Pryes Brewing.
They feature an indoor game at the brewery called ‘feather bowling’, which is like lawn bowling but features an oval-shaped court.
You need to roll a piece of wood shaped like a cheese wheel to land closest to the feather on each side. It’s a ton of fun. Give it a try on a rainy or snowy day while looking out to the Mississippi River.
They have plenty of other good beers to go with that and the food is great. You will be happy you stopped by Pryes Brewing. Love breweries? Check out our other top breweries in Minnesota guides:
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Watch the Twin Cities River Rats Perform
Okay, watching the River Rats might sound like something you are not expecting… This is a great summer activity to consider. The River Rats are a waterskiing team that performs on the Mississippi River.
They are good too. The River Rats were ranked 5th in the nation. Like beer? The good news is that Pryes Brewing (mentioned above) is right outside where the River Rats practice and perform. It’s one of the best breweries in Minneapolis.
Check out the river views of the Mississippi River. This is a bit further down the river on the Lake Street bridge that connects St. Paul and Minneapolis.
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Explore Nicollet Island
Nicollet Island is one of the more charming river islands out there. I love Nicollet Island. It has this charm and character that is tough to find in any city. You are right in the middle of Minneapolis. Yet, it’s dead quiet with charming homes surrounding you.
You can even take a carriage ride through Nicollet Island at night, nestling up and down the banks of the Mississippi. Talk about charm…
History of Nicollet Island
According to the United States Census Bureau, the island has a land area of 194,407 square meters (0.075 sq mi) and a population of 144 persons.
Believe it or not, the island is so close to Saint Anthony Falls that if the northward movement of the falls had not been stopped in the late 19th century, the island would no longer be in existence.
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Exercise (And Explore) Boom Island Park
There’s a park that is connected to the island via a bridge called Boom Island Park. The park is a sprawling grassy acreage along the river, which is great for launching a boat, canoe, or kayak.
You can jog throughout the park while taking in the views of the Minneapolis skyline. It’s a great option for those looking to get an unabated perspective on nature while being immersed in a city. Want to soak up the sun? Check out these other best beaches in Minneapolis.
Boom Island Park Overview
Boom Island Park is located on the historic Mississippi riverfront. The park features stunning views of the Minneapolis skyline and a picturesque site for weddings and picnics.
I suggest that you check this park out as well. Both of these islands are a great way to get your morning, afternoon, or evening workout in.
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Dine and/or Stay at Historic Nicollet Island Inn
Speaking of Nicollet Island… There is a very charming, unique hotel that offers some of the best characters you can find in Minneapolis. The Nicollet Island Inn is nestled right on the Hennepin Bridge and offers some amazing views of the river. It’s truly like stepping back in time.
There are horse carriage rides that you can take right from the restaurant located at Nicollet Island Inn. Book a stay at the Nicollet Island Inn and stay awhile, there’s a reason why it’s one of the best hotels in Minneapolis.
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Watch Live Music and Enjoy the Patio at Aster Cafe
Aster Cafe is one of the closest things to Europe that you can get. The French cafe seating outside in old Saint Anthony Main is wonderful. The food is great and inside they feature live music on weekends.
The old setting of the restaurant makes it a gem of Minneapolis that you should definitely consider. The view isn’t too bad from the patio either… Markdown Aster Cafe on your agenda for visiting Minneapolis.
See Related: Things to do around Lake Minnetonka
The Minneapolis riverwalk is an underrated gem for the state of Minnesota. Only a few people know about how good it truly is and I hope these recommendations serve you well in your adventures in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
It’s kind of ironic that we are talking about a river in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. No matter your perspective, there are great views up and down the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. Don’t forget the food too.
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