By Nicole Crosbie

Driving downtown can mean sitting in traffic, driving around the block trying to find parking and paying at least $10 for parking. The Hiawatha Line Light-Rail offers transportation from the Mall of America to downtown Minneapolis that is fast, easy and inexpensive. Fare is $2.25 during rush hour and $1.75 at any other time and parking your car at station locations is free. Here are a few options for things to do at light rail stops. To see a complete schedule and to plan your trip, visit Metro Transit’s Light Rail page.

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50th Street/Minnehaha Park Station

As one of the oldest parks in Minneapolis, Minnehaha Park is a popular destination during all four seasons. Park visitors can be found taking pictures in front of the beautiful 53-foot waterfall, biking along the trail, eating a picnic lunch on the grass or in the picnic shelters, or playing volleyball or disc golf. The 193-acre park is a great place for the whole family and visitors can even bring their pets to the off-leash dog area located at the south end of the park.

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Government Plaza Station

If you get off at the Government Plaza Station, the Stone Arch Bridge is just a short walk away. Overlooking the Mississippi River, the Stone Arch Bridge offers a stunning view of St. Anthony Falls and of the River. The bridge is 2,100 feet long and 28 feet wide with 23 arches. Bike (or walk) the two mile Heritage Trail and if you don’t want to worry about taking your bike downtown, Minneapolis offers “Nice Ride” where you can rent bikes throughout the city for cheap.  In addition to the beautiful landscape, enjoy the view of downtown Minneapolis, including the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theatre.

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Nicollet Mall Station

Nicollet Mall offers a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences. Even if you’re not looking to spend any money, there is plenty to do. Take your photo in front of the Mary Tyler Moore statue in front of Macy’s, browse through the 120,000+ books at James & Marie Laurie Booksellers or check out the books and beautiful architecture at the Minneapolis Central Library, have a drink at Brit’s Pub or enjoy a walk and people watching.

Photo Credit: Loon Cafe

Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue Station

If you get off the light rail at the Warehouse District/Hennepin Avenue station, you’ll be surrounded by bars, dance clubs, restaurants and lots of good opportunities for people watching.  Spend time dancing or having a cocktail at Drink, singing with dueling pianos at the Shout House or enjoying appetizers at the Loon Café.

Nicole Crosbie loves fashion and shopping, she has lived in Minnesota her whole life and loves finding new places to shop, eat and explore in the Twin Cities. She has degrees in public relations and psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.