If you’re like most people, you have a set of established routes for your work commute, dog walks and grocery getting. It can take extra time and energy to change up that routine. And who has extras of time and energy laying around? One way to break free from your regular strolls, rolls, runs, and rides is to create a wish list (okay, if you insist, you can call it a bucket list).
Don’t know where to get started? Here’s some ideas and inspiration for generating such a list.
Themed destinations and routes
What do you love? Beer? Art galleries? Garden stores? Whatever it is that gets you excited, let that passion guide your next walk or ride. Some ideas to get you started:
- Beer and coffee: My husband and I like to visit breweries. Turns out the promise of a flight or pint is a great motivation to walk many miles all over the Twin Cities. Similarly, I like to walk to local coffee shops.
- Parks: Choosing a park, and getting there by walking or biking is a great way to learn more about new-to-you neighborhoods. Both Minneapolis and Saint Paul have a lot of parks, so get out there and explore!
- Cemeteries: Cemeteries like Lakewood, Pioneers and Soldier, Fort Snelling National Cemetery are great additions to your walking list as they are beautiful, serene places with the benefit of a built-in history lesson. Remind yourself of the etiquette when visiting a cemetery. Here’s an example but every cemetery will have a unique set of guidelines and rules.
- Independent book stores: Support local businesses while walking or riding your bike. Independent Book Store Day would be a great day to do this. Minnesota Public Radio compiled a great list of Minnesota independents. Mark your calendar for next year: Saturday, April 30, 2016. Do the same on Record Store Day.
Push yourself to go a greater distance, or faster, or without looking at your smart phone! Whatever would stretch you, consider adding that challenge to your wish list. Here’s some of mine:
- Walk from sunrise to sunset (this may happen on the Winter Solstice – is that cheating?)
- Walk the length of major thoroughfares in Twin Cities (Central, Cedar, France, Lake/Marshall, etc.)
- Complete 85,000 steps in a day to beat my current personal best of 80,000 steps
Walking and biking events are a fun way to experience routes you wouldn’t normally access. They often also benefit a cause. Win win! Missed an event? No problem! Events often post their course on their website so you can retrace the route on your own (if it doesn’t involve private land). For example, I plan on walking the Twin Cities Marathon course on a different day and at my own pace (read: beer stops!).
Other events and event inspired routes both local and national:
- Minneapolis Bike Tour
- Minnesota State Fair Walking Tour
- We Walk! Marathon
- We Love Our Presidents Walk
- The Big Parade in Los Angeles
- The Great Saunter in New York City
- Freewalkers events (most in New Jersey and New York)
- Walk2Connect events in Denver
Don’t forget about the routes that many people have worked hard to get funded, created, and maintained – our city, regional, and state trails. My list is based on where I live and work but please share in the comments the trails in your neck of the woods. See the next tip on why this can help inspire all readers.
- Grand Rounds Trail (in segments or in its entirety)
- Bruce Vento Regional Trail
- Midtown Greenway
- Superior Hiking Trail
- Three Rivers Parks Trails
- Minnesota state trails
- The Circle Trail at Pipestone National Monument
- Echo Canyon/Summit Rock Trail (Turns out that it pays to read the comments on streets.mn)
- Mesabi Trail
Routes that require travel
I have a goal of spending at least 24 hours in all U.S. States and Territories and Canadian Provinces. Exploring a new place on foot or wheels is a great way to walk the line between tourist and local. While exploring streets and neighborhoods without guidance from predetermined routes has its benefits, experiencing a new-to-me city or region by trail is often less stressful and a more efficient use of precious vacation time.
- 4T Trail in Portland, Oregon (completed)
- Trail of Squares in New York City
- Atlanta Beltline
- Centennial Trail in the Black Hills
- Katy Trail in Dallas (completed)
- Indy Cultural Trail in Indianapolis
- Razorback Regional Greenway in Northwest Arkansas
- San Antonio River Walk
- Inn to Inn Hiking along the west coast (started by a Minnesotan!)
- One to watch: Wolf River Greenway in Memphis
Instead of going it alone, learn from an expert guide. Here’s a few guided tours I’ve either completed or have added to my wish list:
- Minnesota Historical Society tours
- Food Cart Tour in Portland, OR
- Urban Hikes: Forgotten LA
- Walks led by urbanologist Max Grinnell in Boston and Chicago
Meet me in the comments for a chat
- What’s on your wish list?
- Have you completed anything mentioned in this post? Share your experience!
- In what walking/biking events have you participated?
- What personal challenges have you set for yourself?
- What trails in Minnesota do you consider to be destination worthy for our out-of-state and international traveler friends?
- What features are missing from our trail system that are attractive to people who travel to bike/walk/roll on trails?