Grand Rounds Scenic Byway Showcases Minneapolis

By Explore Minnesota

grand roundsThe Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway is a 55-mile urban loop within Minneapolis that showcases a chain of lakes, the Mississippi River, Minnehaha Creek, tree-lined neighborhoods and downtown sites.

The route offers a little bit of everything: great scenery, historic sites, modern and contemporary art, outdoor recreation, and great shopping and dining.

The Grand Rounds traces the downtown riverfront district, home to the renowned Guthrie Theater. Even if you don't make a show, check out the Guthrie’s Endless Bridge. This two hundred-foot cantilevered space offers indoor and outdoor views of the Mississippi's St. Anthony Falls and the Stone Arch Bridge that can't be beat.

Mill City MuseumNearby, explore the Mill City Museum, which is built into the brick ruins of a historic flour mill, or indulge at one of the many restaurants, coffee shops, or wine bars in the area.

South of downtown, the Grand Rounds follows a nine-mile stretch of the Mississippi River gorge with parkways on the east and west banks. See the Frank Gehry-designed Weisman Art Museum gleaming by the river and explore its collection of modern and contemporary art.

At the south loop, stop in Minnehaha Park and view the historic and picturesque Minnehaha Falls, before heading west along Minnehaha Creek.

The southwest segment of the Grand Rounds winds around Minneapolis’s Chain of Lakes, a destination for cyclists, rollerbladers, windsurfers, and canoeists. Along the shores of Lake Harriet, the Lyndale Park Rose Garden, which inspired the White House rose garden, features hundreds of varieties in bloom from June through October.

walker00722_1200px.jpgA connecting route from Lake of the Isles leads to the Walker Art Center, featuring contemporary art, and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, with its striking Spoonbridge and Cherry.  

On the northwest segment of the byway, the 15-acre Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary in Theodore Wirth Park is one of the most transporting, lush gems in all of the Twin Cities. Eloise Butler boasts over 500 plant species, hundreds of birds, and a trail system. Check out the Quaking Bog, also in Wirth Park. A floating boardwalk leads through five acres of moss-padded bog, where frogs croak and dragonflies zip under towering mature tamaracks.

Victory Memorial Parkway links the upper loop of the Grand Rounds to Northeast Minneapolis, which features an arts district, neighborhood bars and restaurants, and shops. A connector route links northeast Minneapolis to the downtown Minneapolis byway.

Along with the great escapes on the Minneapolis Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, enjoy the city's best theaters, restaurants and nightlife. Make the most of urban and natural worlds mingling along one diverse scenic road.

Explore more Minnesota Scenic Byways.