Top 5 Motorcycle Rides near Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota

Aug 30, 2021


Harley-Davidson motorcycle ridden near Minneapolis.

Minneapolis, often mentioned in the same breath as its “twin city,” Saint Paul, is the largest city in Minnesota. Minneapolis is known for its professional sports, quality museums, diverse cultural events, and friendly attitudes. Minneapolis’ neighborhoods: Uptown, Lyn-Lake, Warehouse District, West Bank, and Cedar-Riverside—are brimming with trendy galleries, bars, coffeehouses, and arthouse movie theaters. 

The Minneapolis-Saint Paul area is also a haven for motorcycle enthusiasts. This region boasts gorgeous routes across the many lakes and rivers. Whether you’re a Minnesota native or an out-of-state visitor, there’s no shortage of riding roads to satisfy your need for adventure.

1. The Welch Village Twisties Run

One-day trip — 21 miles

The Welch Village Twisties Run will take you through rural Minnesota and over the scenic Cannon River. This route begins in Red Wing, about 1.5 hours outside of Minneapolis via US-61S.

The valley scenery along the way makes you feel as though you’re riding through a mountain valley somewhere farther west. This route becomes twice as beautiful during the autumn months when the leaves change color.

The tight corners along this route—especially the Country 7 Boulevard portion—are an adrenaline junkie's dream. There’s rarely any traffic either, so you can tackle the turns without distraction. Road quality is good, although keep an eye out for gravel shoulders and backstops on the corners. Also, watch out for grooving and ridging towards the middle of the road.

Because the Welch Village Twisties Run takes you through rural Minnesota, places to grab gas and grub are limited. You’ll want to fuel up in Hastings or Red Wing. You can get ice cream in Welch. There’s also a bar in Welch, the Cannon River Inn, which serves excellent burgers.

2. Highway 61 - LaCrescent to Red Wing

One-day trip — 100 miles

The Highway 61 - LaCrescent to Red Wing trip begins in the southeast corner of Minnesota in the town of La Crescent, not far from La Crosse, Wisconsin. (La Crescent is about 2.5 hours from Minneapolis via US-52 S and I-90 E.) 

The highway hugs the west bank of the Mississippi River for the entire journey. For a return trip with different scenery, cross the Mississippi into Wisconsin and travel south along Wisconsin 35 (the Great River Road) as it hugs the river’s east side. This route ends in Red Wing.

While sweeping curves and turns are the highlight of this ride, the river and its stunning scenery are an added bonus. The roads on this route are well-maintained. Highway 61 on the Minnesota side is mostly two lanes each way, while Highway 35 is a single-lane ride and a quieter experience. Highway 35 also offers better views of the river and more side roads. To avoid traffic, it’s best to ride this route early in the morning. Keep an eye out for deer crossing the road.

The Wharf in Onalaska is an excellent spot for dinner and drinks. Maiden Rock is another option—it’s a small town with good, biker-friendly bars.

3. Highway 60 Harwood Forest Tour

One-day trip — 30 miles

If you have the desire to go hiking and riding during the same trip, the Highway 60 Hardwood Forest Tour is right up your alley. This route begins in Wabasha, 1.5 hours away from Minneapolis via US-10 E and WI-35 S/Great River Road. 

This route runs through the Richard J. Dorer Memorial Hardwood State Forest and parallels the Zumbro River. Leave your motorcycle rental behind for a meditative walk through nature. Like a few of the routes on this list, this one boasts plenty of twisties and curves. 

While sections of the route have been repaved as recently as 2019, others need repair, especially the portion of road between Zumbrota and Faribault. Practice caution and be on the lookout for deer and other wildlife.

We recommend checking out some of the biker-friendly bars and grills in Zumbro Falls if the mood strikes you.

4. The Waconia To Henderson Run

One-day trip — 40 miles

The best way to unwind in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area is by riding the winding roads of The Waconia To Henderson Run. This route begins in Waconia, roughly 40 minutes from Minneapolis via US-212 W. 

This route is an all-around invigorating riding experience, with opportunities to eat and enjoy varied scenery. For starters, you’ll be able to ride through hills and valleys brimming with turns, twists, and the occasional straightaway. At the beginning of the route on Lake Waconia, you’ll be treated to fine lakeside views. Go to Lola’s Lakehouse to enjoy refreshments on the dockside patio. From there you’ll be able to watch the boat traffic slowly wend its way across the calm waters. The next leg of the ride to Henderson features scenic farmland and skirts the Minnesota river valley.

The highways on this route are well-maintained. As we’ve indicated above, this route has all the amenities you could ask for in one afternoon. In addition to Lola’s, check out Lisa’s Bar in Carver, Minnesota to see entertaining plaques.

5. Glacial Ridge Run

One-day trip — 70 miles

Brush up on your geological history and witness the results of thousands of years of glacial migration by riding the Glacial Ridge Run.

This route begins in Glenwood, about two hours from Minneapolis via I-94W. There’s gorgeous wetland and lakeshore scenery along this ride, especially on the south shore of Lake Minnewaska. You’ll begin and end in Lake Minnewaska’s scenic overlook park in Glenwood. 

The portion of the route past Starbuck passes Glacial Lakes State Park, an ideal place to go hiking. County Road 26 will take you through rolling prairie land; you can camp at Swift Falls up ahead. 

Next up is southern Pope County, home to dozens of glacial lakes, glacial moraines, and drumlin hills. Visiting Ordway Prairie, restored by the Nature Conservancy, is like stepping into a time machine—you’ll see what the native prairie habitat looked like before European settlement.

You’ll also ride through several marked 45-mile-an-hour curves. You’ll see wetlands as you skirt the south shore of Lake Minnewaska on your way back. Historic Peters Sunset Resort in Glenwood is another place to stop before you complete the journey. 

Don’t worry about road quality along the state routes—they’ve all been resurfaced in the past few years. Most of the county roads are in good shape, too. Bear in mind that portions of the route near the lakeshore follow municipal roads, so you’ll be passing through resort areas that often have considerable pedestrian and bicycle traffic. 

There are plenty of services, including food, parks, lodging, shopping, and even museums. The south part of the loop however doesn’t offer much. Fuel up before this section.

As you can see, the forests and waterways in this part of the state offer some unbeatable opportunities for riding. The mighty Mississippi is reason enough to venture into the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.”

Check out any of these routes the next time you’re in Minnesota. Each ride is close enough to Minneapolis-Saint Paul for a day trip. Along the way there’s ample opportunity to sample local eateries and go hiking or camping, too. Whatever your plans are for the Minneapolis area, Riders Share will help with an easy motorcycle rental experience.