Love Thy Neighborhood: Enjoying the twin cities outdoors during the spring thaw

Yes, it’s that time of year again, when Minnesotans emerge from the indoors after surviving a long and bitterly cold winter; in fact, Wednesday was the first 70 degree day in six months! We put away our ice skates and winter coats and head outside to enjoy the beautiful outdoors: in the Twin Cities, spring and summer activities abound!

From walks alongside the lakes in Minneapolis to bike rides down Summit Ave., what follows is a brief summary of exciting things—well, things that I like to do—in the spring and summer in the Twin Cities.

Minnehaha Falls

Probably one of the most naturally beautiful places in the Twin Cities. Many people at Macalester have heard of the falls but don’t realize how close they actually are to campus. In fact, it’s just across the river, off of Ford Parkway, meaning right off of the 84 bus.

Minnehaha Park—which is frequented by over 850,000 people a year—begins at Hiawatha Avenue in Minneapolis and goes east until it hits the river. The park has an abundance of trails as well as scenic overlooks of the falls and pathways along the Minnehaha Creek.

Another hidden gem in the park is Sea Salt Eatery. Opening for the season today, the Eatery, housed in a park pavilion, is much better than your typical park’s concession stand. You can order everything from calamari tacos to clam fries, oysters and fish sandwiches. It’s fairly cheap too! Most menu items are under $10. The combination of fresh seafood, the sound of Minnehaha Falls and the mist coming off from it is a perfect way to spend a night out with friends or that special someone.

Biking & Walking

For those who weren’t brave enough to bike in winter—believe it or not some people do bike in the winter—spring marks the beginning of another wonderful season of biking on the Twin Cities’ ever-growing bike network. Trips down Summit, along the river, to Minnehaha Falls are a must! Yes Minnehaha Falls is accessible by bike–just go down Summit, left at the River, cross the Ford Bridge, and it will be on your left.

Another great bikeway is the Midtown Greenway. Last week I highlighted the proposed transit improvements in the Midtown Greenway, so this summer be sure to take notice of all the new buildings being built along it and check out the surrounding neighborhoods. You will find lots of diverse stores and restaurants and will be sure to have a great time.

If you continue west down the Greenway you will get to Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles, which are beautiful, scenic and amazing places to enjoy the warm weather (and people watch too).

The Lakes

Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun, and Lake Harriet are a must for anyone wanting to explore what a Minneapolis summer has to offer. Spending a day at the beach, snacking at the eateries alongside them, driving by them at night with the windows rolled down and music blasting accompanied by random encounters with friendly Minnesotans—the lakes prove to be the center of social life during spring and summer.

Be sure to visit Hidden Beach as well. It’s tucked behind the Kenwood neighborhood which is nestled between Cedar Lake and Lake of the Isles. Hidden Beach, which is on Cedar Lake, is fairly popular amongst the 20-30 year old crowd and doesn’t get as crowded as the beaches on Lake Calhoun.

As you can imagine there are many many more activities to enjoy during the spring and summer, which I will continue to highlight here weekly and on my blog: