Minnesota has finally been graced by a more temperate climate, and it’s time to enjoy what our beautiful state has to offer! With an endless number of lakes, parks, trails, and rivers, the only hard part of planning summer activities is deciding what to do first. Whether you’ve lived in the Twin Cities your whole life or you’re a newcomer to our fine state, it’s time to stop hibernating and get moving. If you think you’ve done it all before, think again! Take a look at these unique summer activities, and maybe you’ll learn something new about our beloved Twin Cities.
Segway Tours by Mobile Entertainment
If you’ve been near the historic Mill Ruins or Saint Anthony Main on a nice day, chances are you’ve seen a horde of people riding single-file on Segways and wished you could ride one, too. Wait no longer—book a Segway tour today! Mobile Entertainment, more accurately known as Human on a Stick, provides guided, historic Segway Tours that are fun for anyone ages 13 to 80. Even if you think you know everything about the history of the Twin Cities, you’ll discover new things about the area in a memorable way.
Bill Neuenschwander, CEO of Mobile Entertainment, notes that Segway Tours have been around since 2003. He adds, “Minneapolis was home to the first tours on Segways.” The original tours were conducted for large businesses and corporations and have grown to include multiple tour routes in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Segway Tours are led by informative guides who provide humorous insight into local history.
Neuenschwander says it’s incredibly easy to ride a Segway. “The people you see riding across the Stone Arch Bridge have only been doing it for less than half an hour…It’s one of the few times in your life where you get to do something that looks like you have to have balance, coordination, and physical ability, and it’s really just the opposite. The machine is what does all the magic. All you do is lean forward, and it mimics walking behavior. It’s really intuitive.” Though it’s natural for first-time users to be nervous, Neuenschwander notes that he commonly hears riders exclaim that it’s “reading their minds.”
There are several tours available throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, and each tour focuses on a unique aspect of Twin Cities history. The most popular tour, the Magical History Tour, explores the mill ruins and historic sites along the Mississippi River in Minneapolis. For people interested in art and architecture, the Sculpture Garden tour is the perfect way to explore Target Field, the Walker Sculpture Garden, and beautiful downtown architecture. Folks in St. Paul can take the St. Paul Magical History Tour, which highlights historic houses on Summit Avenue, the Minnesota State Capitol, the St. Paul Cathedral, and gangster history.
Public tours are available every day for $80 (which includes refreshments, free passes to museums, and discount coupons for local restaurants). Large groups and corporations can book private tours custom-tailored to fit the needs of their groups. Neuenschwander suggests that you make reservations early because the tours tend to fill up quickly! All tours are covered by a Good Weather Guarantee. For more information, visit www.humanonastick.com.
Nice Ride Bike System
One great way to explore the cities is to hop on a Nice Ride bike. The Nice Ride system is a citywide bike-sharing program that allows users to rent bikes for errands, commutes, and recreational outings. With stations all over the cities, Nice Ride bikes let you access the cities in a new and convenient way.
Nice Ride Minnesota’s mission is “to enhance the quality of our urban life by providing a convenient, easy-to-use bike sharing program that will provide residents and visitors a healthy, fun, different way to get around town.” The Nice Ride bike system became operational in 2010, and it has been expanding ever since. Now, the system has over 110 stations throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, making the bikes easily accessible to all.
In order to utilize the Nice Ride system, you must purchase a subscription (either 24-hour or year-long) online or at one of the station kiosks. A 24-hour subscription costs only $6—much cheaper than a one-way cab ride—and a yearly subscription is $65. Once a subscription has been purchased, the cost per trip depends on how long you rent the bike. If a trip takes 30 minutes or less, there’s no additional trip charge. Then, you’re ready to ride! Simply rent a bike at one of the station kiosks, pedal to your destination, and return the bike to another kiosk nearby.
Nice Ride bikes are the perfect way to meander around lakes and through the cities. Because the bikes were designed for “short trips in the city by people wearing regular clothes and carrying ordinary stuff,” they’re an ideal mode of transportation that is great for your health and the environment. For more information, visit www.niceridemn.org.
Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden
The Sculpture Garden at the Walker Art Center is one of the most iconic landmarks of Minneapolis. (Who hasn’t seen the huge Spoonbridge and Cherry?) With beautiful rolling lawns and sculptures of all sizes around every corner, the Sculpture Garden is the perfect location for a leisurely stroll and artsy photo opportunities.
This summer marks the Sculpture Garden’s 20th Anniversary, and many special events are planned to celebrate. In addition to the annual Rock the Garden music festival, film screenings, and other outdoor performances, Artist-designed Mini Golf has returned! Two seven-hole courses feature unique holes designed by local artists and architects, putting an interesting spin on a classic activity. A special exhibition, Design for the Other 90%, which offers “socially conscious design solutions for the poor and marginalized around the world,” will grace the garden through the beginning of September. Another exciting event is the remounting of several early, site-specific performance art pieces by Trisha Brown on July 5th. Both events are free and open to the public.
Conveniently located near Loring Park, the Walker Sculpture Garden is easily accessible during Twin Cities Pride. But with all the special events happening there this summer, you’ll want to visit multiple times! For more information, visit www.walkerart.org.
Minnesota Lakes, Parks, and Trails
There’s no doubt Minnesotans love the outdoors. Even in the busy city of Minneapolis, there is some sort of park every six blocks. Twin Cities residents don’t have to go far to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities suitable for every skill level. Hike the Winchell Trail on the west side of the Mississippi River to Minnehaha Falls. Pedal across miles of Minnesota bike trails. Kayak through chains of lakes in the heart of the city—from Lake Calhoun through Lake of the Isles to Cedar Lake. Rent a Stand-Up Paddleboard, and spend an hour exploring every inch of Lake Calhoun. Relax on a beach at Lake Nokomis. Meander around Harriet Island. There’s no shortage of things to do in the Twin Cities, so make the most of the glorious Minnesota summer. To learn more about outdoor recreational activities near you, visit www.exploreminnesota.com.
SIDEBAR: Did You Know?
Did you know that Minneapolis is home to a world record-breaking Stand-Up Paddleboarder named Alex Linnell? In 2011 at the age of 21, Alex (pictured here) was the first person to Stand-Up Paddleboard down the Mississippi River, over 2,323 miles, which is a world record for both that particular river as well as the number of miles paddled. Today, Alex lives in Uptown and has a company, UAO Stand Up Paddleboarding, through which he offers instruction and board rental. You can hire him for tours on the Minneapolis lakes, the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers, or any other body of water you might want to explore–just ask. If you want to Stand-Up Paddleboard on your own, boards are available to rent for as short as an hour, to as long as three days, with some instruction given as to how to do what is becoming the “fastest growing sport in the world.”
More information available at www.uaopaddleboarding.com.