Stopping to look at the Minneapolis skyline on the Stone Arch.
Location: Minnesota, United States of America

I usually try to avoid getting on a bicycle as much as I possibly can since I’m not the most nimble of riders (think lots of riding into stationary objects), so for me to say ‘I want to go on a bike ride’ means I’m either A) out of my mind, or B) out of my mind. However, since I’m on holiday I tend to do things I wouldn’t normally do at home thanks to my poor sense of self preservation, and I figured Minneapolis is a pretty safe city to cycle around.

Minneapolis is actually a great city to cycle around as the terrain isn’t too hilly, there are bike lanes on major roads, lots of places to lock your bike up and especially thanks to a bicycle initiative called Nice Ride Minnesota. Nice Ride is a non-profit bike sharing system that runs in Minneapolis and St Paul, where you have the option of signing up as a member ($65 a year) or simply paying as you go from as little as $6. Basically you can hire a bike when you need one and return it to any station in the city when you arrive at your destination. There are over 170 bicycle stations across the twin cities and bicycles are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from April to November.  It’s a pretty sweet deal and I thought it would be perfect for a downtown exploration of Nicollet Island.

Old bridges on Nicollet Island.

We started off at one of the bike stations we easily came across, then paid for a pass using a credit card and punched in our bike code and hey presto, bicycles are at the ready! I should also mention that it isn’t compulsory to wear a helmet in Minnesota, unlike back home in Perth, thus making bicycling more appealing because no one likes hat hair. Thank you Minnesotan hipsters!

Me walking past an old house with a beautiful overgrown garden.

Since we were too cool for helmets (although I would have worn one if I could), we also were too cool for maps (i.e. we didn’t have a map with us) but we found the trails were pretty well sign posted, and there are maps at each of the Nice Ride bicycle stations where you can check your whereabouts on. We made up our own route and started off by cycling around the back streets of the island and looked at some pretty old and unique houses, then continued along the Minneapolis Riverfront District for a different view of the city, before finally heading over the awesome looking Stone Arch bridge which connects Father Hennepin Bluffs Park on the east bank, Mill Ruins Park and West River Parkway on the west bank. We rode over the bridge to the Mill City Ruins and back, stopping to watch boats and canoes pass by on the Mississippi River below us and slowly meandering back to the Nice Ride station to return our bikes.

The Nice Ride bicycles all lined up and ready to go!

All up we were out there for a very leisurely two hours, with stops for photographs and exploring trails off the main paths, and to be honest I could have easily cycled for another two hours! (I am so thankful for the extra large and padded bicycle seats on those babies!). So if you happen to find yourself in Minneapolis and St Paul and need a set of wheels, check out the Nice Ride website for more information and maps, so there’s no excuse to get out on the road and ride!

Wandering along trails in the Nicollet Island greenery.

Not only is this my first time in the ol’ US of A, it’s also my first time in Minnesota and if you’re wondering why I chose to visit the north mid-west, read about it here.

Featured photograph and images 2 and 4 by Auyeung Photography, others by Jelena Stipanicev.