Standard tours of historic sites and lectures on the past can be repetitive and boring. Fortunately, you don’t have to sign up for an official tour in order to visit a bit of Minnesota history. There are so many historic and important areas of the state that can be viewed up close and on foot. Combine a love of history with a love of exercise on a walking tour of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway.
4801 S. Minnehaha Park Drive
Minneapolis, MN 55417
Located off of Minnehaha Parkway, part of the Scenic Byway, is Minnehaha Park. This beautiful and scenic park contains 193 acres of historic land and scenery. The most prominent feature you can see on your walking tour is the beautiful Minnehaha Falls. The waterfall flows into the Mississippi River and is a main attraction of the park. Around the park, you can also glimpse Minnesota wildlife including foliage and fauna. Walk away from the waterfall to visit the Longfellow House Visitor Center. The Longfellow House has a rich history and the center itself is home to a museum of park history.
2117 W. River Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55411
The Downtown Riverfront is the perfect place to take a walk through history. Also located on the Grand Rounds Byway, the riverfront is home to what used to be flour mills and lumber yards. Check out Mill Ruins Park, an area leftover from the powerful milling plants of the 1800s. While walking through the park, one can also glimpse and explore the Stone Arch Bridge, a former railroad track that connects the west side of the Mississippi to the east. St. Anthony Falls is another site to see on this walking tour, a waterfall that served as the main source of power for the flour mills that were situated along the river.
Theodore Wirth Park
1339 Theodore Wirth Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55411
Located on the beautiful section of the Grand Rounds called Theodore Wirth Parkway, the Theodore Wirth Park has the distinction of being the largest park in Minneapolis. Walk the Parkway until you come to the park and enjoy this area of the city that has been set aside for recreation. Along the Parkway, you can also walk to the oldest pubic wildflower garden in the country, Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden. A 2/3-mile trail along the garden will lead you to the Martha Crone Visitor Shelter, where volunteers are anxious to share the history of the park with any visitors.
Related: Best Historical Sites In Minnesota
4135 W. Lake Harriet Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55409
One of the Minnesota’s most popular and scenic lakes, Lake Harriet lends itself to a walking tour that promotes both exercise and enjoyment. Named for Colonel Leavenworth’s wife, Lake Harriet boasts an updated bandshell and park perfect for community gatherings and family fun. Along the walking path is the Como-Harriet street car museum with a preserved streetcar that takes visitors along part of the old streetcar line throughout the day. Volunteers at the Como-Harriet line have a wealth of information about the historical significance of the lake. Perfect for a summer outing, Lake Harriet hosts concerts during the warmer months as well.
Summit Avenue Walking Tour
James J. Hill House
240 Summit Ave.
St. Paul, MN 55102
Starting at the James J. Hill House, a walking tour of St. Paul’s Summit Avenue opens up the past to any lover of history. James J. Hill was the builder of the Great Northern Railway, an important transportation icon of United States history.The house itself is open for guided tours and historical fun for interested groups or individuals. Glimpse other mansions and Victorian buildings along Summit Avenue after your visit to the Hill House.
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Andrea Wodele is a freelance writer who has lived in the Twin Cities for eight years. She loves covering all things Minnesota and her work can be found on Examiner.com.