Touring the Twin Cities: Food, Water, and Fitness Tours
By Molly Schelper
In a single visit, it can be hard to fit in all of the first-rate dining options the Twin Cities has to offer. So, why not sample a selection of them in one outing? Take a tour through downtown and northeast Minneapolis while your taste buds take a trip around the globe with Twin Cities Food Tours (www.twincitiesfoodtours.com). On this three-hour excursion, you’ll sample homemade Minnesota foods as well as Neapolitan, Eastern European, Nepali, Indian, Tibetan and Greek cuisine. While you’re being introduced to new restaurants, you’ll learn about local landmarks and get some historical insight into the river district.
If you want an insider’s perspective, Taste Twin Cities (www.tastetwincities.com) includes lesser-known spots on their food and drink tours, while guides discuss the history and culture of the area. Eat your way through downtown in the Heart of Minneapolis Tour, travel off the beaten path on the Minneapolis Riverwalk Tour, or venture through the city’s miles of skyways during the Downtown Minneapolis Skyway Tour.
If you’d rather skip the food and just quench your thirst, visit three local breweries on the Twin Cities Brewery Tour, or sample from local vineyards on the Countryside or River Road Winery Tours.
Take to the water and see the cities from the Mississippi River or any of our surrounding lakes. Explore Lake Minnetonka, the metro’s largest lake, and see the cottages and mansions that line its landscape aboard a boat from Paradise Charter Cruises (www.twincitiescruises.com). For a river ride, the company has a paddleboat and a yacht docked at Boom Island Park, ready to take you on a tour of the Mississippi River. Padelford Riverboats (www.riverrides.com) also offers tours of the river, departing from Harriet Island in St. Paul. Hop aboard the Jonathan Padelford Sternwheeler for a narrated ride and see sights such as Pig’s Eye Cave, Pike Island and Fort Snelling.
If you’re looking for a more active way to experience the water, try taking a paddleboard tour with Stand Up MN (www.standupmn.org). Let the river guides give you an eco-tour of the cities while you travel along the Mississippi, either through Minneapolis or St. Paul. If you’re still feeling adventurous, try taking a kayak or canoe trip down the river with Above the Falls (www.abovethefallssports.com). Choose to embark on a daylong adventure on the Marathon Tour, or head out on a number of other, shorter excursions that will take you to see sights such as St. Anthony Falls and Fort Snelling, or searching for river otters and beavers. If all of that paddling works up an appetite, lunch, brunch and dinner tours are also available.
With Minneapolis-St. Paul consistently being recognized as one of the fittest areas in the country, its no surprise that we have a number of ways for visitors to take part in our active lifestyle. Hit the pavement on one of Twin Cities Jogging Tours’ (www.twincitiesjoggingtours.com) six different tours, each of which varies in length and difficulty. Learn about the birthplace of Minneapolis and the center of its revitalization on the Mill Ruins 5K or Urban Adventure Run. Explore the capital city on the St. Paul Tour, or see the contemporary and historic aspects of Minneapolis on the Downtown Tour.
For more experienced runners, City Running Tours (www.cityrunningtours.com) offers 5K or 10K tours daily. Choose to see the famous Spoonbridge and Cherry at the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, run along the river past old flourmills, see famous downtown buildings on the Skyscrapers and Stadiums Tour, or sample local brews on the Beer Run.
With hundreds of miles of dedicated bike lanes and paths, pedaling through the cities is a great way to see the sights. Nice Ride Minnesota (www.niceridemn.org) has bikes to rent stationed across the city, whether you want to ride for a day or an afternoon (first half hour’s free). Check the website for printable maps and directions for suggested tours, including Bridges of Minneapolis, Famous Architecture and ‘Prince for a Day.’
If you’d prefer to have a guide with you, The Fit Tourist (www.thefittourist.com) takes you out to see the sights by bike or on foot. The bike tour takes you on a 9-mile route around downtown Minneapolis, while walking tours can take you to see the Minneapolis Riverfront, Sculpture Garden, or highlights along Nicollet Mall.