Part of the Grand Rounds Scenic Byway, James I. Rice Parkway extends West River Parkway along the Mississippi River through downtown Minneapolis from Portland Ave. S to Plymouth Ave. N. Featuring paved walking and cycling paths, riverside hiking trails, picnic areas and beautiful scenery, the two-way parkway is as much a destination as it is a passage.
Heading north from Mill Ruins Park and the Stone Arch Bridge, James I. Rice Parkway passes under the 3rd Avenue Bridge, goes past the main Minneapolis Post Office and First Bridge Park, where it passes under the Hennepin Avenue Bridge. From there the parkway continues past the Federal Reserve Bank and under the Nicollet Island railroad bridge before intersecting with 4th Ave. N, which allows easy access to the city’s Warehouse district and North Loop neighborhood.
From 4th Ave. the parkway winds along until reaching the Plymouth Avenue Bridge, at which point, James I. Rice Parkway reverts to West River Road.
The central riverfront parkland along James I. Rice Parkway is a picturesque site for weddings, and offers many recreational opportunities. Multiple tree-shaded picnic areas feature tables, grills, benches and horseshoe pits.
Paved paths take park goers from the river’s edge at St. Anthony Falls, past interpretive and artistic installations and across pedestrian bridges near the sandstone culvert where Bassett’s Creek used to enter the Mississippi River.
Other nearby recreation destinations include Orvin “Ole” Olson Park, Boom Island Park and Nicollet Island Park.
Opened in October, 1987, the parkway is named for James I. Rice, a longtime state legislator from northeast Minneapolis, who was an instrumental figure in funding the development of regional parks.
4th Avenue Playground
4th Avenue North and James I. Rice Parkway
In the North Loop area, a neighborhood with a growing number of families located close to the heart of downtown, the need for a childrens’ play space was evident. Through a collaboration of a broad range of public and private partners, the playground was built in 2011, serving a great need in the community.
On the site of a former saw mill, the play structures reflect the industry by incorporating logging imagery into play structures. The unique theme’s details and pieces, including log-inspired slides and rope climbs were custom-made and create a unique combination of nature, history and play.
Historical Profile: More information about this and other parks is included in Parks, Lakes, Trails and So Much More, a richly detailed account of the histories of Minneapolis’ renowned recreational system.