Bike Ride Date #2: From the North Loop to Uptown, with ice cream in between
Your route, from the North Loop to Uptown, with stops for ice cream planned
Bicycling dates are great, and summer is the perfect time to take them. As the season reaches its prime, it's imperative we pedal till our legs give out.
In that spirit, we've planned another romantic bike date for you, a day's journey to share with the cyclist you love. Unlike the last bike date, though, this one's pure daytime. Saddle up. It's Saturday morning, and you're skipping the cartoons today.
Don't forget to buy a CLIF bar and bike necessities for the ride ahead. Spare tubes for you and your loved one are always a plus.
P.S.: Pack a swimsuit.
Bike Ride Date Night: Spend an evening in the North Loop and northeast Minneapolis
Stage 1: Let's Get Jittery
We'll start with caffeine in the North Loop, a neighborhood accessible by bike from the Cedar Lake Trail and West River Road, plus First Avenue's cycletrack.
Just a half-century ago this section of Minneapolis was an industrial center, with railroad yards and manufacturing plants galore. Gentrification throughout the past decade, however, has transformed NoLo into a locus of new-urban living. It's a quiet, upscale neighborhood on the edge of downtown Minneapolis, with high walk- and bike-ability scores. Forbes even named it a top hipster enclave.
That means that there are coffee shops, and lots of them. So many that you could visit a different one every day of the week. Top spots include Moose & Sadie's, Corner Coffee, and the North Loop Dunn Bros. For this bike date, though, let's focus on the caffeine at One on One Bike Studio (OOOBS), a café cum bike shop around the corner from Sex World on Washington Avenue North. Roll up to OOOBS around 10 a.m. and sip on some of the shop's immaculate concoctions while you browse its Surly, Swobo, and Bianchi steeds.
All of OOOBS's coffee beans are sourced from B&W Specialty Coffee, a wholesaler based in northeast Minneapolis. Its dairy, meanwhile, comes from Castle Rock Organic Farms, a milk-maker in nearby Wisconsin whose products are poop-your-pants delicious. (Seriously. No other milk tastes better.) Combine those elements, and you get some of the best coffee in NoLo -- and that's saying something. A cappuccino from OOOBS is guaranteed to make your world vibrate at a heavenly level.
Stage 2: Lunch by the Falls
Now that you've got a stimulant racing through your blood, power toward West River Road on Second Street, past those big, gorgeous, black-and-white faces at the Guthrie Theater. Then coast (if you're freewheeling, of course) down, down, down into the river valley. Yes, the Mississippi River is a bit stinky, and best not swum in, but it's a blue-beautied sight to behold in the middle of summer. Let that view engross your peepers as you follow the parkway up and down, with only one truly big incline to worry about into south Minneapolis. Our destination is Minnehaha Falls.
Fifty-three feet high, the falls is a must-visit at all times of the year, whether it's frozen or free-flowing. Many an Instagram has been taken at the Falls' overlook in Minnehaha Park, and for good reason. In July, it's an especially pretty beast. Some risk-takers even venture behind the falling waters to feel the force of the descent firsthand. You can also follow Minnehaha's stream a little ways down to where it becomes a lake, filled with stones to jump and rest on, plus deeper waters to soak in.
Once you've fulfilled your inner fish, get lunch at Sea Salt, a warm-weather-only restaurant that rests, with plenty of outdoor seating, by the Falls' overlook. "The falls are roaring," the restaurant poetically promises on its website. "You can hear them from your table." Sea Salt is renowned for its seafood (wouldn't you know it?), including its Sexy Giant Ahi Tuna Steak Sandwich, its Campechana Mexican Seafood Coctel, and its excellent fish tacos. It's all delicious, and you can wet your teeth with on-tap beers from Surly and Summit, as well as Founders and Lagunitas IPAs.
Stage 3: Pump It Up
Ride this leg a bit slower now, if you need to. Your belly's full of fish and you've been cooked by the summer sun.
With your bike mate, leave the Falls and go single-file on the Minnehaha Creek Trail, a six-mile endeavor that deepens your pedaling into south Minneapolis, beneath oak and elm trees, past sights like Lake Nokomis (if you wanna tack on a few more miles, ride the lake). On the trail, stick to the right and watch for wandering pedestrians and slow-moving cyclist families; Minnehaha gets congested when the weather turns warm. The trail's greenery makes it worth it, though. Plus, the creak of the creek and the shade of all those trees enhances the experience. It's easy to imagine, as you bicycle Minnehaha, that you're 90-some miles outside Minneapolis. But no, you're still within city limits. Rockin'!
Pull off the trail at Chicago Avenue, then bike up to its intersection with 48th Street. You've entered Chicago's pretty little business district. Lock up outside Pumphouse Creamery to reach our penultimate destination. The organic ice cream here is hand-churned by owner Barb Zapzalka, with cream sourced from Crystal Ball Farm in Osceola, WI. The chocolate peanut butter flavor, with its PB derived from the Good Life in Coon Rapids, MN, is amazing. Mix that flavor with Pumphouse's handmade, in-house root beer for the best float of your life. Seriously. You won't go vanilla again.
If you're a cone fan, Pumphouse has cones from the Whole Grain Milling Company, in Welcome, MN. (Are you sensing a theme, here? Local, local, local.) The shop's other flavors include vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, rum raisin, cookies and cream, butter pecan, and oatmeal cookie, among others. All of the ingredients are locally sourced for the utmost in deliciousness. Ice cream guilt fades more easily when you're helping the environment.
Stage 4: Swim It All Away
To cap off all the action, bike to Lake Calhoun's Thomas Beach, via Minnehaha once again, and dip your ice cream- and fish-stuffed body in the lake. You could also, once you're knee-deep in the agua, sloppily make out with your loved one.
Just a thought.
Check out a map of the route here.
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