Want to explore Minneapolis a little while dodging between events? You can take the Skyway and see the city from the comfort of shelter and climate control - not as much like habi-trails as I was expecting. There are miles of shops and eateries to explore while getting a different view of the city. Try some of the great homemade breads and scones at Caf? Patteen. But if you have a little more time and would like to see even more of the city from a local perspective, there is a great option provided in Minneapolis - Nice Ride.
Minneapolis has been rated as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country and boasts the second-largest population of bike commuters. Nice Ride is a bike sharing program with bike stations across the city. For a subscription you can check out a bike for 30-minutes. You can keep it longer for an extra charge, or you can check it into another station and check out another one for another 30-minutes. Unlike some bike sharing programs, a daily membership can be had for $5.
The bikes are one-size-fits all and kind of heavy, so they are not really built for extended trips--but they are great for short trips around the city. The bike comes in neon green with three gears, fenders, and a guarded chain to protect your nice clothes from the evils of chain grease. The singular difficulty is the helmet. While they are not required, they are recommended, so you should should plan ahead. Bring some gloves too if it is a little chilly. Your subscription does come with a 20% discount at a local retailer.
I was able to go from the Convention Center through downtown and to the Mississippi River. I traded bikes and crossed the river downstream of St. Anthony Falls along the Mill Ruins Park. I spent some time admiring Minneapolis from the other side before looking for lunch. Back on the downtown side, I found One On One, which happens to supply bikes, bike parts, and bike fuel. In this case it was a veggie sandwich, some corn chowder, Sprecher cream soda, and an excellent poster art.
So for less than it costs to just sit in a cab in some cities, I was able to see a couple of sights, check out a national park, cross some bridges, see the falls, and have a delicious lunch. And I made it back for my afternoon sessions. Check it out, for a quick bite or an afternoon.
Have a look at some of the sights from my exploration of Minneapolis in the slideshow below: