A few years ago I bought the book 1,000 Place To See Before You Die in North America and Canada. It’s a lofty goal, but my kids and I are slowly checking them off of the list. One of the first ones we tackled was the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway.
Grand Rounds Scenic Byway is 55 miles of roadway through Minneapolis. The Byway is the country’s longest continuous system of public urban parkway. The route takes you around lakes, through beautiful neighborhoods, over rivers, next to waterfalls. And you can make as many stops as you would like along the way! According to the website, you can do the loop in 2-4 hours by car. In our case, it took us three-day trips to do it because having little ones along meant taking time to stop at all of the fun places along the way (and lots of snack breaks)!
In addition to a leisurely drive, the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway can be done on foot, bike, roller blades or any other means you like to travel. Although this trip can be done anytime of the year, spring and fall are recommended. Spring brings beautiful flowers and
The route is pretty well marked by signs and easy to follow. Because there are so many places to explore, a couple of times I pulled out my GPS to get back on track after we got sidetracked.
As a road trip rule, I always pack a lot of snacks for the kids and make sure to make the journey fun for them. Besides being a fun family outing, this is a great trip for kids to ‘help’ navigate and decide on what destinations they would like to visit. The speed limit on the byway is 25mph, nice and slow so the kids can help watch for signs and see points of interest where they would like to stop. As a result of all of the playgrounds that the kids discovered along the way, many stops were made! Therefore, dividing the Byway into sections allows you to leave the day wide open so you can stop wherever your hearts desire
Things to Do
Beyond sight-seeing, the byway has so many places to stop along the way. These places of the perfect destinations to get the kids moving and burn off some energy.
- Ride the Lake Harriet Street Car
- Rent a boat or bike at Lake Harriet
- Visit the Eloise Butterfly Garden and Bird Sanctuary
- Mill Ruins Park
- Wabun Wading Pool – Minnehaha Regional Park
- Swimming Cedar Lake Park
Where to Eat
Finally, make sure to stop and grab a bite to eat at one of these noteworthy stops.
- Bread & Pickle – Lake Harriet
- Sandcastle – Lake Nakomis
- Sea Salt Eatery – Minnehaha Falls
- Sebastian Joes Ice Cream
- Izzy’s Ice Cream
- Isles Bun and Coffee
Some of our favorite stops along the journey included:
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- Stone Arch Bridge
- Lyndale Park Gardens
- Ride on the Lake Harriet Street Car
- Lunch at Bread and Pickle on Lake Harriet
- William Berry Park – an excellent playground with views of Lake Harriet
- Minnehaha Falls
- Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary
Cruising the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway is a fun way to see some of the best of what Minneapolis has to offer!
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