I love kayaking. Absolutely love it. Sea kayaking in the Apostle Islands is one of the best things I’ve ever done in my entire life, so when I saw that you can rent kayaks on the Mississippi river, I knew we had to try it.
Also, as long as we are talking about things we love, Ryan loves fireworks. Like, loves-loves fireworks. He loves watching them, he loves setting them off, he loves visiting those kind-of-sketchy fireworks stores that pop up on highways in Northern Wisconsin. He loves them so much, our best friends actually gave us fireworks for a wedding gift so that he could light them off on our honeymoon in the U.P.
So when I saw that Above the Falls Sports offered a FIREWORKS KAYAKING!!!! tour on the Fourth of July, I immediately booked a tour.
We started off at the Above the Falls office on 3rd Avenue where we met our guides and fellow kayakers. Then, we piled into a van and made our way to the put in above stream. The guides gave us a brief introduction to kayaking, then let us loose on the river. The Mississippi is clean and clear and relatively narrow near Minneapolis; and although it was a holiday weekend, there was not a lot of boat traffic on the river. The surface water has a current of about 1.2 miles per hour, which is about half the speed of walking (or the actual speed of walking with an old beagle dog); and paddling downstream was easy and fun.
After paddling for an hour or so, we took a break to enjoy a picnic lunch in Gluek Park next to Psycho Suzi’s. We watched the sun sink over the west bank, and then strapped on head lamps and headed back to the river to paddle to our fireworks viewing spot.
Darkness settled over the river as we paddled towards downtown. The city glowed and sparkled as we came silently closer. Spontaneous fireworks displays exploded on the banks as we passed until we reached our spot. All of a sudden, dazzling fireworks leapt from the sky and exploded over us, reflected in the gentle waves of the Mississippi. We watched in awe until the finale, then paddled to a dark bay where our guides helped us get back on land. It was an unforgettable experience.
Above the Falls also offers fireworks cruises during the Aquatennial (Minneapolis’s annual summer celebration) at the end of July. Missed the fireworks? No worries, you can experience the abundant natural beauty of the Mississippi river daily from May through October with a tour, lesson or rental. Check the website for details on times and pricing.
Be sure to wear wicking clothing and shoes that can get wet. They have dry bags for rent or purchase at the HQ. Free parking is available on 4th Av N between 1st St N and River Road.
Kayaking the Mississippi is an unforgettable experience. If you visit Minneapolis, be sure to book a tour with Above the Falls.
Disclosure: Our kayaking adventure was courtesy Above the Falls Sports, however all photos and opinions are our own.