While parts are this walk are not exactly off the beaten path, other parts are not frequented by visitors so.....
This is one of our very favorite loops as it's mostly on pedestrian/bike paths that run through parks, over a historic bridge, around the only inhabited island on the Mississippi, and by good jump-off points for eats and drinks. It also includes a good section of the Heritage Trail. The jaunt is about 3 easy miles and big fun on a beautiful spring, summer or fall day. The entire route follows the river so it's pretty much impossible to get lost.
Walk from downtown or park the car in one of the pay lots or the ramp near Washington Ave. S or 2nd St. and 3rd Ave S, near the river. Head east towards the river and onto the paved bike/walking path: bear right and onto the Stone Arch Bridge. Pause on the bridge to watch the boats coming through the St. Anthony Upper Lock and Dam, then continue over to the east side of the river.
Once across, bear left (north) to explore Father Hennepin Bluffs Park and then through Pillsbury Park to Historic Main Street. This is good place to stop for refueling (see my St. Anthony Main tip). Here also is access (when open) to Hennepin Island and Water Power Park.
Alternately on the east side, another jumping-off point would be to go right on E. Hennepin Ave. a block or so to the restaurants, bars and couple of shops in the Old St. Anthony area (see my Best Pub Crawl without a Car tip).
Continue on Main Street to the Merriam Bridge, bear left and cross over to Nicollet Island. Explore the island and end up in the tiny, Victorian-era residential section (see my Nicollet Island tip).
Go down the steps on the northeast side of the island and cross the pedestrian bridge to Boom Island Park: follow the path through the park and up to the Plymouth/8th Avenue Bridge, enjoying views of the downtown skyline.
Cross the bridge over to the west (downtown) side, bear left and follow the path back to the Stone Arch Bridge. You can stay on the upper sidewalk or catch the more interesting unpaved section closer to the river.
A disused water tower, the Witch's Hat Tower is easily seen from the I-94 and Franklin Ave bridges. Each June, for one day, during the neighborhood school's Ice Cream Social, people get the chance to climb its spiral staircase for stunning views.
The line stretches around the tower and spills into the park below- but the views are worth the wait. One can see for miles around- the Downtown skyline, Saint Paul, a building with the sign, "United Crushers," and a sea of trees.
If you're in Minneapolis next June, don't miss it.
Regularly frequented by professionals on their lunch break, the Skyway system is a great method of getting around downtown.
Don't know what they are? The Skyways are long systems of second-floor hallways in Downtown that cross streets from above. They are always warm in the winter and cool in the summer, offering respite from Minnesota's temperature extremes. You can get to many stores (including a huge Target) by using these and the maps given.
Even better, the Skyways are easy to access and open whenever the buildings are. Entrances are a block away from the Light Rail and two away from Central Library (which, by the way, has four floors or books, a coffee shop, an unbelievably cheap bookstore).
I've not placed this tip under restaurants because you don't go here for the food. It's the view -- but to be honest, there isn't much to see either. We ate brunch here [very ordinary]. The observation floor is permanently closed so this is your one chance to see Minnesota from on high. The lobby of the restaurant/function rooms is big enough that you should be able to sneak a view before they shoo you off -- except in Minnesota they are NICE:)
The picture shows the Walker Art Center and a corner of Loring park. You can see the new wing to the left.
If you like cigars, fine cigars, go to Stogies on Grand in St. Paul. Inside there walk in humidor are thousands of cigars. You can buy them by the single or by the box.
If you want you smoke your cigar on premises. They have a very nice and comfortable smoking area for you to enjoy your choice of purchase. Only thing missing is a glass of wine or a glass of brandy to go with the cigar.
Supposed HauntingFirst Ave. ClubOnce Greyhound Bust Station, it has been said that several homeless people have died here. In particular, one teenage girl allegedly hanged herself in stall five of the women’s restroom. IT has been said that if one enters the stall after dark, her ghost will appear. There have also been reports of equipment being thrown off the stage during musical shows.