The American poet Henry David Thoreau once mused, “It is a great art to saunter.” As an ardent naturalist, Thoreau walked at least four hours a day through the hickory and oak woodland that gracefully cradles the tranquil shores of Walden’s pond.
Of course, everyone knows the health benefits of walking: lower blood pressure, better cardiovascular endurance, reduced risk of disease… it doesn’t take an 19th century transcendentalist to confirm that walking is good for you. While Thoreau encouraged his readers to walk not by paths or trails but according to “the subtle magnetism in Nature,” we offer some more pragmatic alternatives to all of you winter-locked walkers who are looking for some new digs to fit your stride.
The following is a list of great indoor locations that are free to the public and welcoming to walkers. So grab a friend, lace up your tennis shoes and saunter away!
Note: Walking hours vary depending on seasonal activities.
West Acres Shopping Center
I-29 and 13th Avenue South
Call: (701) 282-2222
Monday-Saturday: 7:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. Sunday: 9:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
More information: http://www.westacres.com/visitor-information-mall-walking-guide.php
In the Fargo area, it’s an obvious choice. And why not? As the largest mall in North Dakota, West Acres Shopping Center is an ideal facility for walkers, offering plenty of space and scenery for anyone who likes their exercise with a little window shopping on the side. You’ll stroll the .82 miles of walking distance unencumbered and crowd-free during the special walking hours, while taking in the variety of limited-time regional artwork displays adorning your surroundings and enhancing your walk experience.
And while these pieces are frequently rotated to avoid monotony, there are some collections you can always look forward to when you walk West Acres. Permanent components of the mall’s regional showcase include the aquarium court, featuring a 1,000 gallon freshwater tank brimming with beautiful African cichlids, the Buffalo Court, home to the “Buffalo Path” and a life-size multi-colored bison sculpture, the Fountain Court, with the familiar “Fountain of Abundance” sculpture and fountain, and of course, West Acre’s hallmark exhibit, the Roger Maris Museum, which contains a treasure trove of priceless memorabilia from one of North Dakota’s most celebrated sons.
Couple these attractions with the usual amenities you expect from a shopping center and you’ll agree, this mall was made for walking.
Moorhead Center Mall
510 Center Avenue Moorhead, MN
Call: (218) 233-6117
Monday-Friday: 10 a.m.–9 p.m. Saturday: 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Sunday: 12 p.m.–5:00 p.m.
Like West Acres, the Moorhead Center Mall offers plenty of retail rubbernecking for walkers, perhaps looking to take advantage of zero percent sales tax on clothing and shoes. But where West Acres is the clear winner when it comes to walking distance, accommodations and panache; a relaxed, low-traffic atmosphere and great parking makes the Moorhead Center Mall an agreeable alternative. Dark brown cobblestones line the path as you stroll by a variety of unique, locally-owned businesses that remain a celebrated feature of the mall’s 38-year history.
West Fargo Veterans Arena
1201 7th Avenue East
West Fargo, ND
Call: (701) 433-5370
Walking Hours :
The recently-renovated Vets Memorial arena is a large, multi-purpose facility offering resources for a host of recreational opportunities, including a new track for walkers. The 1/8-mile, three-lane track loops around a skating rink that may be flush with practicing Packers, so be sure to call ahead for availability. In the meantime, you’re welcome to warm up on a treadmill in the fitness center, free for anyone 18 and older. A parking permit is required for walkers, and is available at front office for no charge.
The Bill Schlossman Walking Track at the Fargo South Sports Arena is a five-lane track surrounding a skating rink. The track is fairly large —nine laps to a mile—and the hours are very accommodating. According to the Fargo Park District this Arena is Fargo’s “most diversified recreation facility.” During the winter months, the facility does take a distinctive bend toward hockey. It smells like hockey, it feels like hockey, and there may be some puddles of water from the artificial ice on the track. Nonetheless, it’s always a popular spot for walkers, who enjoy the easy parking, courteous staff, and invigorating music to accompany their morning march. Make sure to bundle up before you go because it gets chilly in there.
The Fargo North track is somewhat unique to the other indoor tracks the Park District offers, in that it’s staged on its own level, so you don’t have to worry about obstructing other activities while you walk. Climb a few stairs and begin your stroll on a 1/13-mile track overlooking the Spartan basketball court, with coat racks and rest room facilities located on the spot. Front-side parking is free with permit (available at front office), and is open to everyone after 4 p.m. Just look for the designated signs.
Minnesota State University Nemzek Hall
1104 7th Avenue South
Call: (218) 477-2309
Call to confirm
Welcome to the Alex Nemzek Fieldhouse, home of MSUM Dragon basketball. The 1/13-mile four-lane encircles home court, scaling the interior of this expansive, 4,000-fan capacity arena. The facility is shared by both men and women’s sports departments, so availability to the public is limited.
Moorhead Sports Center
324 South 24th Street
Call: (218) 299-5353
Monday-Friday: 5:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. Weekend Hours vary
The Moorhead Sports Center is a padded walkway that curls around the perimeter of two skating rinks. The unconventional layout has its advantages; one mile around both rinks is only six laps and some change. Brightly lit, modern, and cool (but not too cold) the Moorhead Sports Center is a great place to skate, and a fine place to walk.
What better respite from oppressive railroad crossings and unshoveled sidewalks then a stroll above downtown Fargo? A wide, climate-controlled walkway connects pedestrians to a number of parking, retail, and restaurant locations, from the Civic Center to the Elm Tree Square. Convenient multiple access points bring you out of the frigid city streets and into a charming urban ambiance bustling with busy professionals.
Walking in Fargo-Moorhead
“Walk this Way” is a community walking program designed to promote walking among the citizens of the Fargo-Moorhead. The group meets Tuesdays and Thursdays at a variety of locations throughout the spring, summer and early fall. Learn more at www.fmwalkthisway.com.
The “Wellness Walk” program began when a few “Walk this Way” participants wanted to continue walking together throughout the year. The group meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m.—now through spring they meet at the Minnesota State Technical College, Southwest Commons area. Show up for the “Wellness Walk” on a Tuesday and you can ask to be added to an email reminder that will keep you informed of the location (once the weather turns nice the group walks outside whenever possible, and the location can vary from week to week).
Logan Little is a local writer and marketing professional who specializes in online branding strategies. When not behind the keyboard, he enjoys volunteering and spending time at the lake.
Filed Under: Wellness
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