The Stone Arch Bridge is a beautiful and historical landmark for many locals. Besides walking across the limestone and granite bridge, I wondered, what is there to do in the area? It took an out-of-state visitor to Minnesota–my friend Melody from GRKids — to help me appreciate all the different things to do. We found all kinds of things for locals and tourists! A plethora of parks that converged on this scenic spot, for one. (Mill Ruins Park is part of the bigger Central Mississippi Riverfront Regional Park which spans the Minneapolis riverfront and provides pedestrian walkways, bike paths and more.) And history. Lots of history.
As the most obvious thing to do, you won’t be disappointed as you cross the Mississippi on foot where trains used to roll. The bridge spans between Mill Ruins Park on the south end and Father Hennepin Bluff Park on the north side. You may see a musician or two. You also get a wonderful birds-eye view of St Anthony Falls, once instrumental in powering the milling industry in Minneapolis, or use the mounted binoculars to get a closer look. Kids will love this.
Mill Ruins Park is a fun park to explore. It’s beautiful with a great view of the river. You can print a fun Fabled Falls Forgotten Walls Quest (PDF) courtesy of Minneapolis Parks to turn your visit into an adventure.
The farmer’s market is full of goods, music and food trucks. This is our favorite market to hit up in the Minneapolis-St Paul area because of the easy walk to so many family attractions. Plus, kids can join the Power of Produce (P.O.P.) Club. There’s weekly music and rotating family entertainment. FREE admission, Saturdays, 8am-1pm.
4) Unofficial Stone Arch Sandbox
“This is the best sandbox EVER!” My kids found an unintentional sandbox under one of the arches as we walked the Heritage Trail. It’s by the Lock and Dam. Bring some sand toys. You won’t be disappointed.
Don’t miss the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam Visitor Center! The National Park Service opens the visitor’s center for fun family tours during the summer months. Walk over the lock, learn about the dam and the river and enjoy the view. However, please keep in mind that it’s not child-proof at all. Keep your children firmly in your grasp the whole time. FREE, Tours at 11 am & 3pm when the visitor’s center is open (usually Memorial Day to Labor Day, but please call ahead). When Visiting, ask for a Junior Rangers Booklet to earn a National Park Service Junior Ranger Badge.
As one of the temporary display areas for the Walker Sculpture Garden, Gold Medal Park is fun to explore. Run up the spiral path to the top of the hill. Peer through the big letters. Touch art.
Full of interactive history, Anne brought her kids and found all the best to enjoy together. This is one of the most kid-friendly museum in the Twin Cities.
9) Water Works
Water Works park is a new park and pavilion within Mill Ruins Park. It was completed in 2021 and hosts outdoor events, free drop-in activities, like Outdoor Exploration Kits available to borrow, lawn games and self guided tours. You can find and print the tours on MPRB’s website.
This park commemorates the first bridge to span across the Mississippi. Aptly named Frank Steele was the engineer behind this piece of history. Unfortunately, the bridge deteriorated, but the park is worth a visit. Decorated with fun bronze sculptures adorning the wall in the park, you can enjoy the paths for walkers and bicyclists and go fishing.
One of the most unique views of the Mississippi River is from the Endless Bridge. The public is welcome to enjoy a self-guided iPod audio tour when the building is open generally from 8 am- 8 pm. FREE.
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- Visit in June for the Stone Arch Bridge Festival