Travel For Two
5 Romantic Fall Activities Couples Will Love
Fall in Minnesota is a time to linger outside, savoring the kaleidoscope of color: the turning leaves, the waving prairie grasses, the boats out for one last lazy circuit around the lake. It’s a time to put on a sweater, slow down and enjoy the moment with someone you love, holding hands on long walks, huddling by the bonfire or pedaling along a quiet bike trail.
1. Discover Minnesota’s Great Outdoors in the Colors of Fall
Fall in Minnesota is a riot of color: oranges, reds, yellows, golds. The best way to experience the beauty of the season? Get outdoors! Minnesota has five national parks and 67 state parks, from the iconic Fort Snelling State Park with its countless hiking, biking and ski trails, to lesser-known spots like Springbrook Nature Center in Fridley, known for its extensive wildlife and geocaching experiences. These are places to escape — soak up the beauty of nature and relish the pastoral setting, your conversation interrupted only by the calls of birds and the rustling of a breeze in the fall-colored trees.
2. Bike the Twin Cities’ Scenic Neighborhoods
The Twin Cities is among the nation’s most bike-friendly metropolitan areas — Minneapolis alone has nearly 100 miles of off-street bike paths meandering through some of the city’s most picturesque areas: parkways, the chain of lakes and the Mississippi River. The local bike-share program, Nice Ride, has more than 200 stations scattered around the Twin Cities, making it easy to explore. You can also rent bikes — or bring your own — to go farther afield and pedal one of the area’s rails-to-trails corridors, like the Cedar Lake Regional Trail, which connects Minneapolis and St. Louis Park, or the Bruce Vento Regional Trail, which runs from St. Paul north to Maplewood, Gem Lake and Vadnais Heights.
3. Celebrate Your Love by the Lakes
In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, you’re also never far from water. Outdoor swimming in the autumn takes a certain bold spirit as the temperatures start to drop, but the boating season goes till long after the leaves have fallen. Many local and regional parks rent canoes and kayaks — some also have paddleboats and sailboats — including multiple lakes in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan and Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington. If you’re a beginner, know that canoeing is particularly easy to pick up and that a picnic basket fits nicely in the middle of the boat, perfect for a date on the lake.
4. Hit the Road with a Dreamy Daytrip
The ultimate in carefree daytrips is the four-wheel, engine-powered kind. If it’s strictly fall color you’re after, your best bet to see the leafy fireworks is by car. Crank up the tunes, roll down the windows and hit the road. The river valleys are an especially spectacular sight in the autumn. For Twin Cities locals, the St. Croix area is a favorite, particularly the quiet road from Stillwater through the historical village of Marine on St. Croix and north to Taylors Falls. Here, cafes and shopping await on Bench Street, and riverside cliffs at Interstate State Park beg to be photographed and posted on Instagram, no filter necessary.
5. Find a Bit of Romance on the River
In terms of grandeur, though, it’s impossible to top the Mississippi, the great American river, which begins in northern Minnesota and winds through the state, flowing through Minneapolis and St. Paul. Hop on the Great River Road and follow its path for hours, the wind in your hair, a smile on your face. In either direction, small towns and historical charm await, in addition to the natural splendor. Drive north from the Twin Cities to Little Falls, where you can tour Charles Lindbergh’s boyhood home. Start your exploration in Anoka at the 72-mile river park, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area. Like the Mississippi itself, head south. Stop in Inver Grove Heights to take in the view from the historical Rock Island Swing Bridge, a former railroad bridge converted to a recreation pier a few years back (and a perfect selfie spot, by the way). And then press on to Hastings — with its quintessential Main Street — and to Red Wing and Lake Pepin.
Minnesota Fall Color Finder
As you weigh your options and plot your journey, be sure to check the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources’ Fall Color Finder to maximize your autumn experience.