Minneapolis by Foot
By Amanda Fretheim Gates
When my husband and I travel to places with sightseeing in mind (so, not Caribbean islands where we just sit and relax), we walk nearly everywhere. On a trip to Chicago, we walked from our hotel (the Blackstone) to Navy Pier and back again (five miles); in D.C., the only time we took the Metro was from the airport and back. Sure, our feet get tired and sore, but I think walking is one of the best ways to experience a city.
So, it’s great that Minneapolis has been named a top walkable city several times over. It even received gold-level status as a Walk Friendly Community. We have great sidewalks and pedestrian bridges, which are safe and well lit. And the good news is, if you’re staying in the middle of downtown Minneapolis, great sightseeing highlights like the Walker Art Center, Target Field, First Avenue, the Stone Arch Bridge—not to mention award-winning theater, comedy clubs, and great restaurants—are within blocks, or at the most a mile. Even if you’re staying near one end of the city, a walk from the Walker Art Center on the west to Mill City Museum on the east, by the Mississippi river, is just a little more than two miles—not even as far as my longest walk in Chicago.
Putting myself in the walking shoes of a visitor, here’s how I would travel the route from the Walker to Mill City, and what I’d stop and see (and eat) along the way:
Begin at the Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The Walker is a beautiful venue to experience, and has some awesome modern art. Cross the street to the free sculpture garden and play among the 40 giant sculptures.
Cross the Whitney Bridge into Loring Park. A beautiful urban green space, Loring Park is a favorite hangout for locals.
Travel through Loring Park, up Grant Street, to Nicollet Mall. Nicollet Mall is a pedestrian-friendly street that runs for blocks through downtown Minneapolis. Here you’ll come across numerous places to stop for a bite (Brit’s Pub, Vincent, The Local). You can also hit some hot shopping spots, like Target, Macy’s, and Gaviidae Common.
Detour off Nicollet Mall at several points to Hennepin and First Avenues. Here you’ll find favorite sites like First Avenue nightclub, the Hennepin Theatre Trust historic theaters, Target Center (go just a few more blocks for a peek at Target Field), and several more bars and restaurants.
Continue on Nicollet Mall to Washington Avenue. You’ll pass the Cesar Pelli-designed Minneapolis Central Library with the state’s largest collection of library books.
Head down Washington Avenue a few blocks and over to Second Street. Here you’ll find the Mill City Museum, which shares Minneapolis’s strong history of flour milling, and the Guthrie Theater, a beautiful public space to explore. Take a rest in Gold Medal Park and then head down to the river where the Stone Arch Bridge takes you across to St. Anthony Main, where you can finish off your day with a casual dinner (try Aster Café or Pracna) and some fun nightlife options (Nye’s).
Not into that much walking? Good thing we’re also one of the most bike-friendly cities, too. You can do this entire route by Nice Ride, with bikes available a rental kiosks throughout the city!