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Outdoor Summer Sports and Activities in Minneapolis and St. Paul


When the sun shines, get out your running shoes, inline skates, climbing shoes, water skis, or simply your bare feet, and have fun out in the sunshine. Here's some ideas for summer sports and activities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, including some you might not have considered...

Rock Climbing

One of the things that you might have noticed about Minnesota is that it doesn't have mountains. You might expect the local climbing scene to be rather sparse, but in fact Minnesota does have river cliffs, bluffs, and other vertical rocks that offer good, if not world class, climbing.

The river cliffs on both side of the St. Croix river at Taylor's Falls in Interstate Park offer traditional lead climbing, and access to the top of the cliffs for setting anchors. There are routes for beginners up to experts, and plenty of bouldering opportunities.

Barn Bluff at Red Wing has several bolted sport routes and a couple of routes that can be trad lead. Barn Bluff has a nice variety of routes from beginners to extremely difficult.

Running and Jogging

Twin Cities runners have many beautiful places to run, and plenty of other runners to share them with. Here's where to run, where to shop for running gear, and how to find races to compete in.


Canoeing or kayaking can be done in town at one of the many metro area lakes. The chain of lakes - Cedar, Isles, Calhoun and Harriet - in Minneapolis are connected by channels and canoers and kayakers can paddle from lake to lake.

Kayaks or canoes can be rented from boat clubs, and boating stores.

Midwest Mountaineering is one of the most knowledgeable places to shop for paddling gear. They carry a large selection of the latest gear plus used boats for bargain hunters.

To canoe or kayak on a river, you need to head out of town to places like the St. Croix River or the Cannon River, both less than a hour's drive.


Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis is the center of the local windsurfing scene, and the local windsurfing social scene. Conditions at the lake are often less than ideal, and windsurfers in serious search of the best winds and a little more elbow room will head to another lake in the metro area, like Lake Minnetonka or White Bear Lake, or drive out of town.

The Scuba Center, a couple of blocks from Lake Calhoun sells and rents windsurfing equipment. Windsurfing lessons are available from local instructors Wind 4 Life.

Parkour/Free Running

This pursuit has to be top of the chart for getting funny looks from strangers. Parkour and the closely related discipline of free running involve leaping over railings, climbing up walls, walking like a cat across roofs and doing backflips back down again. All out in public on the same streets as you and I walk.

A University of Minnesota students' group practices parkour on the abundant concrete on campus. The group is free for students and non-students to join.

Gleason's Gym in the southern suburb of Eagan, holds parkour classes in their abundantly padded gymnasium. Essential if you want to fly over walls but first wish to practice where the falls don't hurt as much.

Water Skiing and Wakeboarding

Minnesota is claimed to be the birthplace of water skiing, back in the 1930s. Today water skiing, wakeboarding, show skiing, barefoot skiing and many other varieties of being pulled by a boat on a lake are popular on Minnesota's many lakes and on the Mississippi River.

Want to get involved in the local water skiing scene? Join one of the water ski clubs and organizations in Minnesota or get lessons from a water ski school such as Wake Tonka.

Inline Skating/Rollerblading

Did you know that inline skates were invented in Minnesota? Rollerblades, the original inline skates, were invented by two Minnesota brothers and the first pairs were manufactured in their parents' basement.

They are still popular in the state that caused the inline skate craze in the early 1990s, so much so that in the winter, the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis is converted to a "Rollerdome" for skaters to use their wheels out of the ice and snow.

In the summer, it's all outside of course. The trails along the Mississippi River, and the paths that circle just about any metro lake, are the most popular place to go inline skating.

Minnehaha Park, and Lake Nokomis, Harriet and Calhoun have inline skate rental stores.


The Twin Cities are paradise for cyclists. At least in the summer months, anyway. The terrain is mostly flat, there are bike lanes galore, plenty of scenic places to ride, and lots of bike-friendly businesses with bike racks outside and cyclist facilities inside.

All about cycling in Minneapolis and St. Paul

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