Nestled among the trees that surround Lake Minnetonka, Tommy's Tonka Trolley's bright yellow exterior and neon signs lure in passersby with promises of summertime treats and adventures on the water. Their fleet of kayaks and standup paddleboards accommodate beginners, who can launch their chosen vessel from a special floating dock built by the nation's best sturgeon architects. Before sending customers onto the scenic lake, Tommy's crew instructs them on proper usage and supplies maps showcasing various on-water locals.
Back on shore, staff members serve selections from a menu of hot dogs, sandwiches, and tasty treats. Scoops of Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream, lauded as one of the nation's best ice creams by USA Today, pile onto waffle cones and chill taste buds with flavors that range from salty caramel to coffee oreo.
Though they've only been leading paddling tours for a few years, the certified guides of Stand Up MN have already helped thousands of people explore the Twin Cities' local waterways up close. After equipping their guests with standup paddleboards, personal flotation devices, and ample training, they embark on trips along the quiet stretch of the Mississippi River that cuts through their urban landscape.
From St. Paul, groups glide under bridges and pass idyllic natural areas—and from Minneapolis, they can take a break from paddling to high-five low-flying birds from a rope swing over the water. Stand Up MN also leads extended paddling tours to Taylors Falls, where state parks and tumbling waterfalls abound. These excursions are complemented by the company's special events, which include speed-dating events at which participants spend most of the time hanging out while paddleboarding.