Exploring Minneapolis by Bike
April marks the return of warm weather to Minnesota, along with the beginning of the bike-sharing season in the Twin Cities. Don't have your own bike? No problem. The Nice Ride bike sharing program makes it easy for visitors and locals alike to get out and explore the city’s lakes, parks, and Mississippi riverfront on two wheels.
Thanks to Nice Ride, 1,800 bikes are available to rent 24/7 from over 200 locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul. You can rent a bike at any Nice Ride station for as few as 30 minutes and return it to any station when you’re finished with your ride.
Photo by @minnelovepolis
With 129 miles of on-street bike lanes and nearly 100 miles of off-street trails, Minneapolis is consistently named one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. Before earning its bike-friendly reputation, Minneapolis was better known as the “Flour Milling Capital of the World,” leading the nation in flour production from 1880 until 1930. The city grew up along the Mississippi riverfront and around the mills, which you can still see on your visit to the city.
While staying at Loews Minneapolis, you’ll be close to several downtown Nice Ride stations and only a few blocks from the historic riverfront, the birthplace of the city and an ideal place to start your tour. If you find yourself with a free hour or afternoon, you can pedal your way along the Mississippi and through the Mill City’s history, all within a couple of miles of the hotel.
Hennepin Avenue Bridge
You’ll cross the mighty Mississippi for the first time of the day across the Hennepin Avenue suspension bridge, named in honor of the 17th-century explorer Father Louis Hennepin. The current Hennepin Bridge, the fourth incarnation, is located near the site of the first permanent bridge to span the Mississippi River at any point, north to south. As you cross the bridge on your way out of downtown, be on the lookout for the Grain Belt Beer 1940s-era sign, the first of many great photo opps of your ride.
For a longer tour, head below the bridge on the downtown side to visit First Bridge Park. Located at the site of the first bridge, built in 1855, you can see the excavated footings of the three earliest bridges.
Photo by @rabenson76
The Hennepin Avenue Bridge crosses over Nicollet Island, a small island in the river just outside of downtown that feels miles and years away from the hustle and bustle. The island is named for Joseph Nicollet, the French scholar and scientist who was the first to map the Upper Mississippi area in the 1830s. Head to Nicollet Island Park at the south end of the island to enjoy views south towards St. Anthony Falls, the only true waterfall on the entire Mississippi River, and west towards the downtown skyline.
For a longer tour, visit the north end of the island, where you’ll find restored Victorian-era houses and the limestone Grove Street Flats.
St. Anthony Main
The end of the Hennepin Avenue Bridge intersects with historic Main Street. To the right is the St. Anthony Main area, which was originally part of the town of St. Anthony before joining Minneapolis in 1872. Along Main Street, you’ll find restored buildings from the mid- to late 1800s and the former Pillsbury Flour A Mill, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Along the river are markers for the Heritage Trail, which will clue you in to the city’s history and some of its namesakes.
For a longer tour, park your bike and venture to the lower path of Father Hennepin Bluff Park, which takes you to the edge of the river and offers a view of the Stone Arch Bridge from below.
Photo by @chadrieder
Stone Arch Bridge
At the end of Main Street, you’ll arrive at the Stone Arch Bridge, a former railroad bridge built in 1883. Today, it is closed to motorized vehicles and has lanes dedicated for both bikes and pedestrians. The views from the bridge of downtown and upstream towards St. Anthony Falls offer plenty of iconic Minneapolis photo opportunities. Underneath the bridge, on the downtown side, is Mill City Ruins Park, where you can walk through ruins of the flour mills that once occupied the area.
Photo by @fayzthetruth
For a longer tour, park your bike and visit the Mill City Museum, built into the ruins of the Washburn A Mill, the world’s largest flour mill when it was completed in 1880. There, you can learn even more about the history of Minneapolis and how it was shaped by the Mississippi River and the flour industry.
With so many miles to explore in Minneapolis, why not start where it all began?
Loews Hotels & Co.