Minneapolis has an abundance of parks, hiking trails, gardens, waterfalls, designated biking paths, lakes, a creek, the Mississippi River, islands, and bridges. As a result, there are a ton of free and scenic spots in Minneapolis.

You are bound to fall in love with something within the city of lakes. In short, read this article to find your next adventure.

The Park Mobile app is a life saver for quick and easy parking on you mobile device. In fact, it allows you to pay from your phone and also notifies you when your time is running low.

All the best free and scenic spots in Minneapolis:

Grand Rounds

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

Walk/bike 51 miles of pedestrian trails. Multiple lakesMinnehaha Falls, the Stone Arch Bridge, the Mississippi River, and Minnehaha Creek are just a few highlights along this loop.

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Downtown free and scenic spots in Minneapolis:

The Mississippi River Gorge Regional Park

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

The Mississippi River Gorge in the Twin Cities is the only true river gorge on the entire Mississippi River.

To sum it up, it has 132 acres of scenic outlooks, trails, limestone bluffs, picnic spots, beaches, and parks along the East and West side of the Mississippi River.

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Stone Arch Bridge

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

The Stone Arch Bridge is a pedestrian only bridge that overlooks St. Anthony Falls. More importantly, there is a walking path on each side of the bridge, and a biking path to separate them in the center.

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St Anthony Falls

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

St Anthony Falls is yet another free and scenic spot in Minneapolis. Not all downtown areas have a waterfall. However, Minneapolis has views galore with St Anthony Falls.

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Mill City Ruins Park

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

In 2001, the City of Minneapolis opened up Mill Ruins Park for the purpose to share, a glimpse into the importance the flour mills had to our city.

From the perspective of the park, the mist of the raging St. Anthony Falls is on display, above all. Also, take in the intricate detail of the stone in the archways beneath the bridge.

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Gold Medal Park

Gold Medal Park is 7.5 acres of green space just west of the Mississippi River in Downtown Minneapolis. There is a hill in the center of the park with a spiral sidewalk guiding you to the top.

In conclusion, the many sculptures that are scattered throughout the park give it an artsy vibe with over 200 mature trees to bring nature in to an urban setting.

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Boom Island

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

To sum it up, more than 22 acres of land, Boom Island Park features a lighthouse, and views of the Minneapolis skyline over the Mississippi River.

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Sheridan Memorial Park

On the land of the Historic Grain Belt Brewery is where Sheridan Memorial Park resides.

In 2013, a local artist created the large light-up sphere of shields in honor of our Minnesota veterans.

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Father Hennepin Bridge

The Father Louis Hennepin Bridge is a suspension bridge over the Mississippi River. As a result, you will find the perfect angle of the Grain Belt Sign from here.

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Nicollet Island

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

Take in the detailed Victorian homes on the various gravel off-shoots of trails. Less than 200 people reside on this island as a result, it has a small town feel.

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Sculpture Garden

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

Minneapolis has one of the largest urban sculpture gardens in the country. All together, it is 19 acres in total if you include the Walker Art Center (11 acres without). As a point, many of the sculptures are permanent and some of them change throughout the year.

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Loring Park

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

The Holidazzle is hosted in Loring Park next to the lake. The month of December they string Christmas lights along every tree. In summary, this event hosts beer tents, craft booths, food stands, fireworks, movies in the park, and other fun events!

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Irene Hixon Whitney Pedestrian Bridge

The Irene Hixon Whitney bridge is a pedestrian bridge that crosses over I-94/Hennepin Ave connecting the Sculpture Garden to Loring Park. Indeed, this is a work of art.

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Free and Scenic lakes in Minneapolis:

Lake of the Isles

Millions of visitors arrive each year to bike and walk the 3 miles of trails around the waters edge. Regardless of the many visitors, this is by far the most quiet of the lakes.

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Cedar Lake

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

The best part about this lake (in our opinion) is the beaches. However, we prefer the one on the north side. The beach on the east side tends to be the most crowded, but excellent for people watching.

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Lake Calhoun (Bde Maka Ska)


All in all, it is the largest (401 acres) and the deepest (87 feet) of the Minneapolis lakes is Lake Calhoun. Since Uptown is adjacent to the lake it also receives the most amount of people visiting the area. Making this one of the best locations to put up a hammock or have a picnic and people watch.

This Lake is 3.2 – 3.4 miles around. Those numbers depend on what path you are on (biking or walking). Above all, it has 3 beaches, multiple playgrounds overlooking the water, and some sculptures scattered throughout the land.

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Lyndale Park Rose Garden

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

I.5 acres of roses in the city! The Lyndale Park Rose Garden was the second rose garden open to the public in the United States. To make it brief, it is best to visit late June to September when the garden is in full bloom.

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Lake Harriet

All in all, lake is embedded into nature on one side, and gorgeous houses on the other. The castle-like pavilion has excellent coffee and a variety of foods if you get hungry. In conclusion, this is a relaxing free and scenic spot in Minneapolis

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Lake Nokomis

Lake Nokomis has two beaches, the large beach has a park for kids to play at and a kioski for watersport rentals.

In addition, Sand Castle is a restaurant next to the big beach. There are seats overlooking the water to enjoy a cold brew from the brewery trucks that come on the weekends (in the summer).

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Lake Hiawatha

Lake Hiawatha has mature trees, a golf course, Minnehaha Creek running through it, and a lake that covers 50 acres of land, to sum it up.

There is a variety of amenities and park activities overlooking the water. They even have a wading pool to accommodate little ones. Some years regrettably, they have to close the beach due to contamination (good thing they have that pool).

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South Minneapolis free and scenic spots:

Minnehaha Creek

The creek is 22 miles running through a ton of gorgeous destinations including Minnehaha Falls, Lake Nokomis, Lake Hiawatha, Lake Harriet, and the list goes on. It is surrounded by park land, plenty of bridges, loads of sculptures, and unique houses to look at all along the way.

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Longfellow Gardens

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

Visit the Longfellow neighborhood May through October take the opportunity to pop in for quick visit to gardens.

The master gardeners have chosen the most beautiful perennials. The annuals change according to the weather encouraging healthy vegetation in the ever changing Minnesota seasons.

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Minnehaha Falls

free and scenic spots in Minneapolis

Minnehaha Falls is the most photographed spot in Minnesota and we are not surprised. It is a 53 foot natural waterfall in the city of Minneapolis.

Within a mile of the waterfall, there is Longfellow Gardens, Sea Salt Eatery, Historic Statues, a Pavilion, Ford Parkway Disc Golf Course, Wabun Picnic Area, the VA home, the Ford Parkway Bridge and Mississippi River. In conclusion, the entire day could easily be spent seeing all the sights in this area.

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Minnehaha Lower Glen Trail

Minnehaha Lower Glen Trail is a little over 2 miles of dirt trails. It begins at the gorgeous Minnehaha Falls and follows either side of Minnehaha Creek.  Eventually, making it’s the way down to the Mississippi River. This is one of our favorite free and scenic spots in Minneapolis.

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Greenway

The Midtown Greenway is a pedestrian path running 5.7 miles from one side of Minneapolis to the other (east to west). For safety, it has multiple lanes separating the walkers/runners from cyclist/rollers.

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Hike free and scenic spots in Minneapolis:

Theodore Wirth Park

Just west of downtown is Theodore Wirth Park. It is close to the same size of Central Park in New York City, making it the largest in the Minneapolis Park system.

First of all, there are miles of trails for hiking, biking, cross country skiing, and snow shoeing. Second of all, June through September they have a stunning wildflower garden and a beach to get your tan on. Lastly, the multiple golf courses also provide a well groomed look and feel to the nature inside the park.

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Winchell Trail

Just off of West River Parkway you will find the Winchell Trail. This trail is unknown to many city residents. As a result, it is fairly low key and secluded.

Trek along the Mississippi river gorge on this 5 mile out and back hike with approximately 500 feet of elevation gain. This free and scenic spot in Minneapolis begins near the Franklin Ave bridge and ends close to Minnehaha Park (44th Ave).

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Like this article? Check out the Top 10 Parks in Minneapolis, and get the Best Gear to enjoy these spots.

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40 thoughts on “Free and Scenic Spots in Minneapolis

  1. The sculpture park looks really neat. I love all the bridges and water ways that Minneapolis offers. Such a great share.

  2. I live quite far away so probably won’t be visiting soon but I really enjoyed reading about all these tourists spots. So much natural beauty in one area, it’s definitely worth a trip for people who don’t live too far away.

  3. It looks like there are so many great options! When the travel restrictions have been lifted and we can head out safely once again, this looks like a great option for our ‘pack’. We love travelling to check out places that provide plenty of areas to get the pups out exercising!

  4. I am always a big fan of free things to do! Lake of the Isles is definitely my favorite lake to spend time at when the weather is nice. I love that there is always parking, there are usually less people and plenty of green space!

  5. I am so excited after going through this article. I already feel like I have visited Minneapolis. The free scenic spots are awesome. The intricate detail of the stone in the archways beneath the bridge is breath taking!

  6. I never knew there was so much to do in Minneapolis! i have friends there that keep trying to get me there, so now I have a whole heap of reasons to get there sooner.

  7. Minneapolis is really beautiful I have heard. A friend shifted there. However, I love these pictures here.

  8. I love the Irene Hixon Whitney bridge! Minneapolis is surrounded with several beautiful parks and lakes. There’s so many that one can go and explore!

  9. I love doing free things! I’ll have to check some of these out the next time I’m in the area! We go to Minneapolis every other year or so to visit my inlaws

  10. I don’t know this city very well but you gave me some spots that make it a city to discover!

  11. This place looks so adorable and peaceful..Thanks for sharing this..i have heard lot about the lakes and about all of the spots of the city..this is much amazing and interesting..Loved this…Great work…

  12. I’ve never been to Minneapolis but judging by the stunning photos it’s a place worth visiting.

  13. These are such beautiful pictures. I am always surprised at how many things there are to do in Minneapolis.

  14. This place seems quite amazing and very lovely to visit and explore..Thanks for sharing indeed..this sounds very useful and helpful…

  15. This is such an amazing post, detailed and informative. Minneapolis is really beautiful. Feel like I’ve been there.

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