One of my favorite things about Minneapolis is how green the city is. There are many parks throughout the city, and as you fly into the airport it is hard to not notice how much water flows through the area. There is a chain of lakes that dot the city, and it is easy to see how the city was built around the mighty Mississippi River. Water is a part of Minneapolis, and if you want to seek out what makes the city unique, you have to spend time experiencing it.
Minnehaha Creek is just one of many creeks that run from a Minneapolis lake into the Mississippi. However, the natural beauty of the 53 foot Minnehaha Falls in the middle of this otherwise urban setting makes this creek a destination worthy of your time.
The history of the Falls and how it fits into the important piece of American Literature “The Song of Hiawatha” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow just add to the reasons to visit.
Longfellow never visited the falls himself, but he was inspired to write the epic poem by traditional Ojibwa stories and a photo of the falls. He named Hiawatha’s love interest “Minnehaha” and after the poem gained popular success, the waterfall became a tourist destination. Is it a wonder why? The name Hiawatha became a popular way to honor the Native American heritage of the Great Lake region. You’ll find names of other Ojibwa characters of legend, like Nokomis, in the poem – and as a name of prominent Minneapolis streets. Longfellow’s “The Song of Hiawatha” is a long, beautiful poem. You can find the full text here. Here’s an excerpt you may recognize:
By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
Dark behind it rose the forest,
Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
Rose the firs with cones upon them;
Bright before it beat the water,
Beat the clear and sunny water,
Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
Besides taking the time to relax and contemplate the natural beauty of the waterfall and the Native American tales that thanks to Longfellow will be forever linked with Minnehaha Falls, there are activities you and your family will enjoy.
You can rent bikes and surreys on site during the summer and on the weekends in September and October. The park has lots of bike and pedestrian paths. There are also calm places in the creek where children often wade and a wading pool within the park. There are frequent outdoor concerts as well!
You could geek out on the limestone geology of the park, or identify the trees and flowers present throughout. Luke found a “super huge turtle!” (his words) and we spent some time playing with various caterpillars we found along the path.
Also, don’t skip out on seeing the Falls if you come in the winter. It freezes over and it is beautiful, even though you might be a bit cold when you get out to see it!
Minnehaha Park is conveniently on the Light Rail, which means it is easy to access from both the Mall of America area and Downtown Minneapolis even if you don’t have a car.
If you do have a car, parking is not free (Minneapolis charges for parking at almost every park in their system) but it is a quick trip from Downtown.
Resource : Minneapolis Parks website