Minneapolis, Minnesota audio tour: Minnehaha Falls Walking Tour: History and Heritage in Minneapolis’ Crown Jewel

Minnehaha Falls Walking Tour: History and Heritage in Minneapolis’ Crown Jewel

Walking Tour

60 mins

About the Tour

Welcome to Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis’ crown jewel, once the most famous waterfall in the world. Ever since the city was founded, this waterfall and park have been one of its best-loved places. Over the years, it's been frequented by pioneering millwrights, carnival barking showmen, booze-soaked crowds, world-famous composers, U.S. Presidents and lonely hermits.

On this walking tour, I’ll guide you through the park’s forgotten history. While strolling along the creek from the Longfellow House to the Song of Hiawatha Garden, I’ll tell you how Minneapolis got its start, and what “Minnehaha” means. I’ll show you the small Victorian train station known as the Princess Depot, the John H Stevens House, and the Hiawatha and Minnehaha Statue.

On this hour-long stroll, you can also look forward to learning about:

• Why everyone hated, and made fun of, poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s ”The Song of Hiawatha”
• The hermits of Minnehaha Glen
• The first person to kayak over the falls
• The Longfellow House and the park’s two zoos
• The Minnehaha Midway and its reputation for “rowdy, lawless indulgence”
• Why the Eyes of Little Crow are empty

Join me for this walk through history, along the banks of Minnehaha Creek, and discover the waterway that flows through our past and present, in one of the city’s most beloved green spaces. Allow yourself at least an hour to fully enjoy the falls and surrounding area.

Please note, in winter, the stairs down to the falls are closed. If the stairs are open in the fall or spring, you can complete the tour. If not, best wait till summer.

Tour Producer


Frank Bures

Frank Bures is an award-winning writer and essayist. He is the editor of Under Purple Skies: The Minneapolis Anthology, which collects some of the best writing about Minneapolis. He is also the author of The Geography of Madness, which Newsweek called one of the best travel books of the decade. Apart from giving tours of his home town, Bures has also tracked down genital thieves in Nigeria, gone on Sasquatch expeditions in the north woods and competed in the World Rock Skipping Championships on the Great Lakes. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two daughters. More at frankbures.com.

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Major Landmarks

  • John H. Stevens House Museum

  • Hiawatha Statue

  • Minnehaha Falls

  • Minnehaha Falls Lower Glen Trail

  • Song of Hiawatha Garden

  • Longfellow House

  • Minnehaha Depot

  • Gunnar Wennerberg Statue

  • The Eyes of Little Crow

  • Minnehaha Pavillion

  • Minnehaha Glen

  • Deer Park

Directions to Starting Point

The tour starts at the parking lot on Godfrey Parkway, close to the large stucco pavillion. There are two pay stations there, and it's close to the roundabout.

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Places to stop along the way

Sea Salt Eatery is the current tenant in the Minnehaha Pavilion, serving great food, beer and wine. There is also a Diary Queen just across the street near the roundabout.

Best time of day

Any time in the summer, with the possible exception of late night/early morning on weekends. In winter, the stairs down to the falls are closed. If the stairs are open in the fall or spring, you can complete the tour. If not, best wait till summer.


Avoid the glen (the path below the falls) late night and early morning on weekends. Otherwise, the area is very safe.


Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
Minnehaha Falls Walking Tour: History and Heritage in Minneapolis’ Crown Jewel