Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway

We took a day off from work to visit cousin Troy who had a day layover in Minneapolis. The last time we met him was in 2014. After picking him up from a downtown hotel before 9 AM, we headed to a nearby coffee shop for quick bites. We used this opportunity to bring him around and explored part of the 50-mile Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. The downtown traffic was light. Perhaps, it was a Friday or people are still staying away due to the pandemic. Regardless of reasons, the downtown drive was surprisingly stress-free.

We visited a few city attractions before noon, including admiring the Minneapolis skyline from the iconic Stone Arch Bridge and taking pictures with the giant Spoonbridge and Cherry in the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. After having voluminous yet satisfying Vietnamese meals for lunch, we drove to the nearby Bde Maka Ska — “White Earth Lake” in Dakota language and the largest lake in Minneapolis. This lake and the surrounding streets went through a name change in 2020 where they previously named for pro-slavery former Vice President John Calhoun. In the afternoon, we hid from the scorching hot weather by sipping cold beverages at the nearby coffee shop before dropping cousin Troy off at his hotel at 3 PM.

From there, we cruised along the West River Parkway on the west bank of the Mississippi River to Minnehaha Falls located in Minnehaha Regional Park. Frankly speaking, the visit was a little anti-climactic because it was a very short walk to the crowded waterfall from the parking lot that we had to pay the minimum $2 for. We spent just 15 minutes over there before heading to yet another crowded Lake Nokomis where most visitors delightfully sunbathed on the beach under the scorching afternoon sun while we scrambled to stay under the shade like vampires. We didn’t stay for long before deciding to head home.

The very impressive looking U.S. Bank Stadium — the home of the Minnesota Viking NFL team.
Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway
The Minneapolis skyline from the 1883 stone arch bridge — the only arched bridge made of stone on the entire Mississippi River.
Enjoying the cool mist from the Spoonbridge and Cherry.
Giant colorful beach chairs in Bde Maka Ska Park.
The 53-foot Minnehaha Falls in Minnehaha Regional Park. These visitors disregarded the “No Trespassing” sign and jumped over the fence to get closer to the waterfall.
This shabby looking restaurant in south St Paul serves the best Korean Jjajangmyeon in Minnesota. Unfortunately, it is closing permanently the following week. So, we had to stop by to order takeout on our way home.
The blue line represents the official Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway route and the red line represents the places we covered.

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