Minneapolis: Midwest Skating Paradise

In June, we took a family trip to Minneapolis. We’d never been before, but I’d heard that it was a family-friendly city, that the weather is summer is beautiful, and that skating around the lakes was a very popular activity. So on a bit of a lark, we packed our skates and headed to MSP.

What we found over the course of 5 days is a friendly, flat, outdoor-oriented city that’s perfect for skating in the nice weather. We took to our skates all but one day there, with no real aim in mind other than to explore the city. Details of different skate routes we took are below. And, apologies in advance - I was experimenting with different GPS trackers on different days, so the data is a bit of a hodgepodge.

Arrival: Wednesday

We arrived late afternoon and checked into the Marquette in downtown west, as the neighborhood is called. I wanted to stay somewhere central, and fairly urban, so we could get some street skating in. The Marquette fit the bill perfectly.

On the flight out, we’d realized that my son forgot to pack his helmet, so the first order of business was to get to a shop to buy him one. We took a stroll over to Erik’s Bike Board & Ski and got some friendly help with the helmet. I remarked on the impressive size of the shop (two floors!), to which the confused clerk let me know that this was their smallest location. Minneapolis takes its biking, skiing, and boarding seriously.

Day One: Thursday Lakeside

After doing a little recon with Google Maps, I roughed out a plan to skate from the hotel to the river (the Mississippi, that is), on the path alongside the river, and then on an interesting bike path that wound its way through the city and down to the lakes.

Relive '9.46mi Inline Skating'

Skating through the streets, we stuck to bike lanes which were plentiful, and in some cases, divided from the car traffic. I found Minneapolis drivers to be patient and expecting bikers, so even with kids in tow, it didn’t feel overly risky. Once we got down to the river, we found a wonderful path with separate pedestrian and bike lanes.

From the river path, we turned left onto the Cedar Lake Trail which, according to Wikipedia, was America’s first bike freeway. It was neat to skate through the city on this completely separate trail, particularly behind Target Field. The pavement on the trail was fairly smooth downtown, but as we got further out, it became significantly rougher, so I was happy to skate on 90mm wheels.

There was also a lot of construction along the trail, and some sections that were closed off - so we did a lot of stopping, checking maps, reading signs, and talking with other folks on the trail. But it was worth it: skating around Cedar Lake was gorgeous, and the 75 degree weather with zero humidity was a stark contrast to my recent skates in Atlanta. There’s even a beach on the south end of the lake, where people were soaking up the summer rays.

We were hungry for lunch at that point, so we skated down to the Midtown Greenway where we pulled into a strip mall and had lunch at Punch Pizza. The kids were pretty tired, so we Uber’ed back to downtown.

Day Two: Artful Friday

First: I made the mistake of recording this skate on Google Fit. I didn’t know that they’d recently crippled the app by getting rid of the web version, and any sharing features, here’s about the best I can do:

We skated through downtown to Loring Pond, then over to Walker Art Center and the sculpture garden there. The sculpture garden was great - the paths around the garden were smooth and wide, perfect for skating at slow speed. I highly recommend doing this!

Wanting to head back to the river by a different path, we made our way over to the Cedar Lake trail again, this time heading north, reversing our trip the day before. We skated to the beautiful Stone Arch Bridge, a pedestrian and bike only bridge over the Mississippi, where we took a break and got some Italian ice before skating back to the hotel.

Day Three: Saturday Solo Skate

On Saturday the kids wanted a break from skating, where I was just starting to get warmed up. I didn’t have a lot of time, so after cleaning out my incredibly muddy wheels, I started skating a random path through downtown, the took once again to the river path and skated to different parts than we’d seen before.

Relive 'Minneapolis Randonée'

Not a lot of say about this skate - I was just trying to get time in on my skates and having a bit of fun. I pulled off in a couple of plazas towards the end and worked on spin stops and backwards skating.

Day Five: Monday Magic

On Sunday we had other obligations, so on Monday I was itching to get one last good skate in. And did we ever!

We were really short on time, since we were leaving that afternoon. We wanted to stay close to downtown, so I thought that skating over the river to the University of Minnesota would be a good choice. I intended for us to skate the Northern Pacific Bridge Number 9, but completely missed the turn and ended up bombing a sweet downhill to Bohemian Flats park.

I really didn’t want to backtrack and skate uphill to the turn I’d missed. We spotted a large, high bridge in the distance, and Jennifer spotted bike traffic on it. We were delighted to discover the Washington Avenue Bridge, which is a double-decker where the top deck is for pedestrians and bikes. How could we not go?

After fumbling our way through campus - including climbing a grassy hill in our skates! - we reached the bridge. And it was well worth it. The bridge, and the views from it, turned out to be beautiful:

We only had enough time to cross the bridge, take a quick break, and cross back over before hightailing it to the hotel through the streets. This final skate in Minneapolis would have been perfect, had I not fumbled on Strava and ruined the recording! The best I could do was to re-create the route manually in MapMyRun:


I definitely recommend Minneapolis as a skating destination. It’s a nice, compact city with easygoing traffic and tons of bike lanes and paths. The streets are mostly easy to skate on - although there are plenty of bad cracks and potholes from the winter weather. You can get your fill of city skating and rec skating along trails, and the weather in the summer months is ideal. We’re already plotting when we can go back.