When you hear the phrase “sports in the parks,” what comes to mind? Chances are you’ll think of softball, volleyball, basketball, or maybe soccer or tennis. But there are other options, and summer is a great time to try something new. Here are five out-of-the-ordinary sports that can be done in Minneapolis city parks.
A little like tennis, badminton, and ping-pong combined, pickleball is a fun, fast game that’s easy to learn and play. Like doubles tennis, it’s played on a netted court with two teams of two people each. But instead of hitting a tennis ball with rackets, players use hard paddles to volley a plastic whiffle ball back and forth. The first team that scores 11 points (leading by at least two points) wins the game. Logan Park has a pickleball court and rents the paddles and ball for a small fee. Contact Logan Park for more info. McRae Park and Pearl Park have pickleball courts too. Get three friends together and go!
#2 Disc Golf
As you can tell from its name, disc golf is played with flying discs (commonly known as Frisbees) instead of golf balls. While a conventional golfer uses golf clubs to hit their ball into holes, a disc golfer flings a disc at chain baskets on poles. Disc golf courses still call them “holes,” and just like in regular golf, they can be three, four, or five pars in length. There are three disc golf courses in Minneapolis parks. Minnehaha Park has a nine-hole course that’s free. Theodore Wirth Park and the Fort Snelling Golf Club have 18-hole courses. There’s a small course fee, and you’ll need to bring your own flying discs. For more information, visit https://www.minneapolisparks.org/golf/courses/disc_golf/.
Who hasn’t played bocce at a summer picnic? It’s an easy, fun game for people of all ages and can be played anywhere there’s an expanse of grass. At the start of each point, a small ball (called a “jack”) is thrown some distance away. The players then throw their bocce balls to see who can get closest to the jack. For a new twist on bocce, you can play on an actual bocce court in Beltrami Park or Linden Hills Park. And if you don’t have a bocce set – perhaps gathering dust in your garage? – it’s likely you have a friend who does. Check out Beltrami Park’s website for more on their bocce court.
The next activity on this month’s listicle is likely a spectator sport for most of us. Cricket is baseball’s British cousin, and it’s played every summer weekend at Bryn Mawr Meadows Park and occasionally at Bohanon Park. For the schedule, visit the website of the Minnesota Cricket Association. Once you get to know the rules of the game, cricket can be just as much fun to watch as baseball (but with higher scores), football (without the rough stuff), or soccer (without so much running).
Bonus listicle item! If you like the idea of getting into a new spectator sport, but cricket is not your cup of tea, maybe rugby is. Teams from the Minnesota Rugby Union play at Columbia Park starting in mid-September. Go to https://www.mnrugby.org/ for more information.
#5 Mountain Biking
Since its inception in the late 1970s, mountain biking has exploded in popularity. If you’ve never tried it before, you owe it to yourself to give it go. If you know how to ride a bike, you can have fun mountain biking. Forget about the popular image of a mountain biker – speeding over rock-strewn trails and performing death-defying maneuvers. In truth, it’s OK to mountain bike at whatever speed feels comfortable, and there are trails suitable for all skill levels. Minneapolis is blessed with its own mountain bike center in Theodore Wirth Park, where eight miles of trails weave through the woods. If you haven’t yet been to the new trail center – The Trailhead, operated by the Loppet Foundation – it’s time to check it out. There you can rent a bike for $40 for two hours. (Bring your own helmet or rent one for $5) https://www.loppet.org/trails-recreation/non-winter-activities/mountain-biking/. And after the ride you can grab a bite to eat at Cajun Twist, shop at the Adventure Shop, or just hang out and people watch.
Summer will be gone before you know it. However you enjoy Minneapolis’s parks, get out there and try something new!
Featured Image courtesy of MPRB.