North and Northeast Minneapolis outdoor meal sites

View of downtown Minneapolis from Ole Olson Park in N Mpls

A view of the Broadway bridge and downtown Minneapolis from Orvin "Ole" Olson Park in North Minneapolis.

Much of the riverfront in North and Northeast Minneapolis is blocked off to the public by active industrial use, but this is changing.

Today, many organizations and community partners, FMR included, are working towards continuous parkland and trails for the Minneapolis riverfront north of St. Anthony Falls, a.k.a. the Above the Falls area.

Now, there's a wide mix of parks here, ranging from natural riverfront parks, parks still in the planning or development phases, as well as many active industrial properties still owned by private companies.

So where can you eat by the river Above the Falls while all this change is happening? Here are a few places you can bring your lunch and watch the Mississippi wend downriver to downtown.

North Mississippi Regional Park

North Mississippi Regional Park is a 67.2-acre fully-established natural gem hidden between Interstate-94 and the Mississippi River in North Minneapolis. The park has meal shelters with grills, as well as trails through floodplain forest and prairie.

The park is also a perfect gateway for those looking for a bike or kayak adventure. You can rent a kayak ($25 or $40), paddle down to Boom Island Regional Park, rent a Nice Ride bicycle and pedal back to your starting point. On your paddle, be sure to take note of the heron rookery located on the island just north of the Lowry Bridge.

Learn more here.

MWMO Stormwater Park and Learning Center

Along the Lowry Bridge in Northeast, check out the Mississippi Watershed Management Organization Stormwater Park and Learning Center to see how beautiful river-friendly landscaping can be, learn about the river and even wade into it. Meals here are fun with a friend or two while sitting on the big stones along the walking path. 

Learn more here.

Ole Olson Park prairie

Ole Olson Park is known for its top-notch walking and biking trails and stunning skyline views, but we hope people soon recognize it for the native demonstration prairie garden we’re restoring there as well. Native showy flowers and grasses will not only beautify the park but provide much-needed bee, butterfly and bird habitat. And, with deep root systems that act like filters, they'll help reduce the amount of pollution flowing into the Mississippi River. This site is great for a meal basket and blanket! 

Learn more here.

Sheridan Memorial Park

Right next to Sheridan Veterans Memorial honoring all veterans and celebrating peace is one of FMR’s beautiful, established rain gardens, now maintained annually with the help of our Above the Falls River Stewards volunteers.

After years of conflict over easements and waiting for industry turnover, trail users can now enjoy riverfront trails on both sides of the river running from just north of the Broadway bridge to downtown Minneapolis and beyond! Pack a lunch, and walk or bike over to eat on one of the park benches overlooking the river.

Learn more here.

And coming soon: Hall’s Island...

From the East Bank Trail, you can view the return of Hall's Island. Destroyed during industrial use in the 1960s, the city reconstructed the island in early 2018. The Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board envisions a trail in the future to allow people to walk to the island.

Adjacent parkland on the east bank is planned to include a boat rental, cafe pavilion and more — making it especially convenient for spontaneous meals in the coming years. Today, you can bring a blanket for a meal and enjoy watching the trees and shrubs grow on the island. Check back often to see what new creatures are inhabiting it.

Learn more here.

... and Upper Harbor Terminal

Restoration of public access to the river is a major focus of the current planning process for the Upper Harbor Terminal, a 48-acre closed barge terminal in Northside. Due to existing industrial uses, this site is normally inaccessible. But if you join FMR River Guardians, we’ll keep you updated about project developments.

Learn more here.