Minneapolis is the quintessential urban nature city. With more than 50 miles of hiking and biking trails snaking through one of the best park systems in America, it can be easy to forget you’re in a major city. No day on the trail, whether it be hiking, biking, running, or skiing, can be complete without a stop to quench your thirst and fill your belly. These great trail to tavern pairings in Minneapolis will satisfy even the heartiest explorer.
1. Minnehaha Park | Sea Salt
Minnehaha Falls Regional Park sits in the heart of South Minneapolis and is home to the famous Minnehaha Falls, a 53-foot waterfall situated in an earthen limestone bowl. In the summertime, the 167-acre park is full of picnickers, cyclists, and hikers. Enjoy the park via the Grand Rounds National Scenic Bikeway , a 50-mile outdoor recreation loop that skirts through the park. Or get away from the hustle and bustle of the city by hiking along the shaded Minnehaha Creek and explore deep pools full of sunfish and smallmouth bass. This park is a true urban gem.
When you’re done with a long day of exploring, head up to the Minnehaha Pavilion and take in a delicious meal at Sea Salt Eatery. One of the best places to grab seafood in the Twin Cities, Sea Salt serves a variety of fresh fish, oysters, muscles, calamari, and anything else that once swam in an ocean. A sizeable selection of local beers and wine along with a rotating menu always keep this restaurant feeling fresh and tasting delicious.
2. Como Regional Park | Como Dockside
Head over to the Minneapolis’ next door neighbor St. Paul and enjoy a day of strolling through the city’s iconic and historic neighborhoods. One of those neighborhoods plays host to Como Regional Park . This park has played a vital part in the lives of St. Paul’s residents for over 100 years. A zoo, public golf course, pavilion, lake, and miles of paved trails make this a popular spot for runners and cyclists during the summer months.
Housed in the historic Como Pavilion is the Dockside Restaurant, a recently renovated pub serving up New-American fare complete with an extensive cocktail list and an impressive local tap list. Take in views of paddle-boarders on the lake as you sip a Como Lemonade (Border bourbon, cranberry, and fresh lemon) and dig into a fried catfish po boy sandwich.
3. Midtown Greenway | Midtown Global Market
The crown jewel of Minneapolis’ extensive bikeway system, the Midtown Greenway is a 5.5-mile former railroad corridor that cuts through South Minneapolis with bicycling and running trails. For most of its distance across the city, the trail is grade-separated from the street grid which offers barrier-free bicycling that can make a trip across town faster than driving a car. Stop by the unique Greenway-level Freewheel Bike Shop if you need a quick bike tune up and don’t miss the several community gardens that have sprung up along the route.
When it’s time to grab a bite to eat, ascend to street level and head to the Midtown Global Market. This restored art-deco style building is home to an international collection of over 50 vendors offering the finest selection of produce, groceries, prepared food, and unique gifts from around the world. Find everything from Jamaican to Ethiopian as you wander through the indoor market space. Pay a special visit to Holyland Grocery and Butcher for their hummus or Taco Cat to get some homegrown tacos.
4. Fort Snelling State Park | 5-8 Club
Fort Snelling State Park offers miles of paved and unpaved trails. Situated in the Mississippi River Valley, the park offers over 30 miles of paved and gravel hiking and biking trails, groomed XC skiing in the winter, swimming, and boating. Take some extra time to walk the trails of Pike’s Island which the Mdewakanton Dakota considered to be the center of the world and was also home to the first modern settlement in Minnesota.
After a long day exploring the river bottoms, head over to the 5-8 Club. This old style tavern, a much-fabled former speakeasy, has been a staple in the Nokomis neighborhood for years. Claiming to be the inventor of the Juicy Lucy, a cheeseburger that has the cheese in the middle of the patty instead of on top, the 5-8 has been serving up beers and burgers to local patrons for some 80-odd years. Be sure to give the original Juicy Lucy a try and grab a pint of Prohibition–era Grainbelt Premium beer.
5. Cedar Lake Trail | Fulton Taproom
The Cedar Lake Trail is the fastest and most scenic way to escape the noise of the city and head west to the suburbs. The 4.5-mile trail starts adjacent to Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins Baseball Teams, and quickly heads out of town through restored wild prairie where it meets up with numerous other trails. The 12–foot-wide paved trail gets busy in the summer with bikers, runners, and rollerbladers, so be sure to go later in the evening or early morning to avoid crowds.
After a summer-night’s stroll on the trail, make sure to stop at the Fulton Tap Room. Fulton has quickly become a staple Minnesota beer and their taproom does not disappoint. Situated just a few blocks off the Cedar Lake Trail (and next to Target Field) the tap room is the perfect place to wile away a long summer’s evening. Local food trucks are usually parked outside serving up grub. Try the popular Lonely Blonde Ale or Sweet Child Of Vine IPA or get adventurous with their Worthy Adversary Imperial Russian Stout. Either way, you’re in for a treat.