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Bikes and Beer at Minnehaha Park

The only thing better than exploring a beautiful park in an awesome city is exploring a beautiful park in an awesome city where I can get a beer, a gorgeous meal and people watch at the same time.

So Minnehaha Falls Regional Park in Minneapolis is a triple win for me. It’s somehow both a busy, bustling place with a lot to experience and a soothing urban oasis in the middle of the city.

Minnehaha Falls, the park’s 53 foot waterfall, is a star attraction. And rightfully so — it’s gorgeous. But there’s a lot more to do here than just listening to the soothing rush of water.

If water’s your thing, there’s lots of it to explore. Minnehaha Creek runs through the park and eventually runs into the Mississippi River. There are quiet little spots to wade or put a line in the water and pretty limestone bluffs and scenic river views. There are also several gardens and historic homes on the grounds.

A series of paved paths wind through the park’s playgrounds, pavilions and picnic areas and into the woods. I’d been asking Derrick to bike with me, since he usually gets done with work too late to do it at home.

I’ve inherited three bikes and he doesn’t own any, which seems kind of nuts now that I see it in writing. So we walked up to Wheel Fun Rentals and I told him to grab a bike.

He picked one of these super sexy surreys, which made me laugh. I wanted an actual workout and I kind of felt like I was on a golf cart.

I wasn’t laughing quite as hard when we pedaled this sucker up a surprisingly steep hill. Surreys only have one gear and it took some serious work to power through. But the view was worth it.

Then, because our marriage is fueled by a steady dose of weird adventures and a whole lot of egging each other on, we proceeded to speed through the trails as fast as that surrey could go. We really got it moving. It was a thing of beauty.

Surreys don’t take corners particularly well at our speed however, so Derrick (who was steering) took us on a split-second detour through a residential neighborhood, where we ran into another couple about a generation older who had clearly just done the exact same thing. The other woman and I took one look at each other, immediately recognized our mutual predicament and burst out laughing.

“He’s driving,” she stage whispered as we passed, grinning at a man in a fisherman’s hat in the surrey seat next to her. Her partner was adorably oblivious. Mine missed the whole exchange as well. “I guess driving is hard work,” I shrugged. That got another laugh from her before we pedaled off in opposite directions.

Once we were back on the trails and encountering people walking, we slowed it down. I’m a good trail sharer, I promise! After that, our rental time was up, so we headed back to the pavilion for our reward — dinner.

Sea Salt Eatery made my day. It’s located in the Minnehaha Park Pavilion and open April through October every year. A line snaking around the building, even at odd hours of the day, is always an excellent sign. We grabbed a couple of beers and a dish of ice cream (I’m a firm believer in eating dessert first if you feel like it) and made a beeline for the patio.

There were a few beer carts set up around the pavilion and Sea Salt has a solid selection of local craft beer too, so we were able to sample a few Minnesota brews while we waited. And by sample, I mean order full size beers and give each other sips. These are from Surly Brewing Company.

The people watching was fabulous and the food was equally so. I tried a fried catfish po’ boy sandwich, which was great — crispy and flaky and served with a tangy hot sauce. And Derrick is obsessed with oysters and I’d never tried them, so we ordered a half dozen on the half shell.

They arrived on on ice and looked awfully pretty. Derrick wants me to tell you that they were clean and delicious. I thought they were slick and cool and tasted like the lemon juice we put on them. (And this is totally why I’m not a restaurant critic, guys.)

Minnehaha Park was absolutely worth a visit and I can’t wait to go back, especially since it’s so accessible. There’s plenty of paid parking, but next time we’ll just take the Blue Line train to the 50th Street/Minnehaha Park stop so we can hang out without worrying about feeding the meter. The park is also connected to the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a 50-mile outdoor recreation trail loop that links lakes, parks and bridges so you can walk, jog or bike in as well.

How about you? What’s your favorite thing to do in Minnehaha Park? What activities do you try when you visit a park? Which parks should I check out next — in Minneapolis or anywhere else? Where are you traveling this summer?

Minnehaha Falls Regional Park 4801 S Minnehaha Drive Minneapolis, MN 612-230-6400 Light Rail Train: 46th Street or 50th Street/Minnehaha Park stops

I was in Minneapolis as a guest of Meet Minneapolis, which provided my Wheel Fun Rentals pass. As always, my opinions are my own.

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