Be a tourist in your town: Stone Arch Bridge

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Between family, friends, and work it’s easy to fall victim to the daily grind. I have certainly found myself in this predicament more often than not. But in those moments you do get some freedom, instead of hitting up your same old haunts, take a mini-vacation from your day-to-day and be a tourist in your town. I decided to adopt the tourist mentality and honestly, it felt like I hit the reset button. Your mind relaxes. Your weekend expands. I felt recharged and ready to jump back into my daily routine. If you’re looking for that restful break and a new excursion, the first stop on my tourist trek is the Stone Arch Bridge.

Boasting 23 arches and spanning 2,100 feet across the Mississippi River, the Stone Arch Bridge is the only bridge of its kind in the Twin Cities. Originally built as a railroad bridge by tycoon James J. Hill in 1883, it now serves as a pedestrian and biking bridge overlooking the spectacular St. Anthony Falls. While I had passed over this bridge before, I never paused to appreciate it’s history or truly understand it’s significance in putting Minneapolis on the map.

(photo – St. Anthony Falls)

You can elect to go on a professional tour for a more in depth understanding of the area’s history in the flour industry, the importance of the falls, and the Stone Arch Bridge. You’ve most likely heard about the Segway tours. If you’ve ever traveled through the area they’re relatively hard to miss. Sightseeing by Segway guarantees you a unique experience and perspective of the Stone Arch Bridge and St. Anthony Main area. Everyone I’ve spoken to who has taken a Segway tour has loved it. I, however, know my limits. It’s always to the great amusement of my friends when I strap on roller skates or even worse, rollerblades, and attempt any movement whatsoever. It looks like I’m reenacting the scene of Bambi on ice. But worse. If you’re like me I’d opt for the self-guided walking tour. The Minnesota Historical Society provides printable maps and guides of the St. Anthony Falls area that you can bring along your walk. Depending on which guide you choose, you’ll learn more about the Stone Arch Bridge, architecture, the history of Minneapolis, or about the art and culture of the area.

If you’re feeling slightly more adventurous, the Stone Arch Bridge is part of the 1.8 mile Heritage Trail winding alongside the Mississippi River. Along this beautiful path you’ll find markers describing the area’s geological, engineering, and industrial history as well as stories of Native Americans and early settlers.

  

This trail never gets old for me. You experience it differently each time, walking the trail at sunset, sunrise or midday. I find it especially peaceful during the colder months. And of course since you’re playing tourist, be sure to bring your camera for endless Instagram-worthy pics!

If you’re braver and more coordinated than I am and would like to try a Segway tour, check out the Magical History Tour at: www.magicalhistorytour.com 

Print out maps and guides for your own self-guided walk at: www.mnhs.org/places/safhb/things_walkingTour.php