I’ve lived in CA, VA and SC and never felt quite rooted anywhere in the states until having a family of my own here. Minnesota is where I call home and I love enjoying all it has to offer. I get a lot of messages asking about the Twin Cities when people plan a visit and it made me think, so where would I take you if you were visiting me?
I’m sharing my favorite places to walk around, restaurants, and family-friendly spots. Whether you’re visiting or just want to be a local tourist, pin this post and scroll on through to start planning your adventures!
One of our favorite things to do as a family is to go on neighborhood strolls. Fortunately for us, the Twin Cities has so many amazing neighborhoods to walk around and explore! Here is a list of some of my favorite neighborhoods:
In the summer we love to walk to the Linden Hills Farmers Market. There are many great vendors and we love connecting with our neighbors in the community. After the farmers market, we walk to Sebastian Joe’s for an ice cream treat and you may likely spot me at Sunnyside Gardens picking up, yet another plant.
Sunnyside Gardens. Great nursery with loads of curated home + outdoor decor items.
2.Grand Ave & Summit Ave in St.Paul
These iconic streets are perfect for walking around and admiring all the beautiful old homes that are masterpieces. There is a lot of history that can be found in this neighborhood. It has the former home of F. Scott Fitzgerald (pictured below). If you are in the Cities on the first Sunday of June don’t miss the Grand Ole Day festival. We’ve also enjoyed touring the James J Hill House. It is a celebration to kick off summer!
Downtown Excelsior is an adorable little town right by Lake Minnetonka. We love walking around and exploring all the restaurants and shops. Perfect place to go with your kids and they have the yummiest ice cream shops! If you are looking for a quaint ice cream shop deff go to Licks Unlimited or if you want some frozen custard try Adele’s!
Right by Lake of the Isles, the East Isles neighborhood is another beautiful family-friendly area of Minneapolis. I suggest picking up a cinnamon bun from Isle Bun & Coffee and taking a walk around the lake. There are so many cool houses on the Lake of the Isles! I love walking around and admiring all of them.
5.50th & France
Located on the border of Edina and Minneapolis, 50th & France has a ton of shops and restaurants. Our family loves walking here and checking out all the retail stores. My favorite stores to browse are two locally owned kids’ boutiques. Oh Baby! is an upscale kid’s fashion and decor retailer that has the cutest stuff! You can find the coolest kid’s gifts at Pacifier, from clothing to toys they have it all. After some browsing, we love going to Coalition for some classic American cuisine.
The neighborhoods are also beautiful for a casual stroll, like the Country Club. So many charming old homes with stunning exterior and landscaping ideas!
Brian grew up in Wayzata so this is his stomping ground! We love all of the shops and restaurants lining its downtown area. It has an amazing view of Lake Minnetonka! For our anniversary a few years back, we stayed at the boutique Hotel Landing for a one night getaway with the kiddos and would highly recommend it! We had brunch there, grabbed lunch at COV, ate dinner at Gianni’s, got some ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s and the kiddos’ played in the nice playground overlooking the lake. After a busy day, a good way to get the kiddos to nap is to drive around the lake to take in the scenery and look at all the beautiful homes!
Brian and I are big foodies! When it comes to birthdays and anniversaries we aren’t big into getting each other presents. Instead, we celebrate through experiences, like going out to restaurants. We love ordering tasty drinks, delicious food, and having good conversations. Here are some of the best restaurants for date night and to meet up with family and friends!
Our go-to date night spot! Martina brings Argentinian cuisine to Minneapolis. With its warm and welcoming environment, it never disappoints. If you love seafood, meat and fancy cocktails this place is a must.
A restaurant, bakery, and event space, the Lynhall has the most beautiful aesthetic. It is a great place to meet up with friends or make new ones. They put a huge emphasis on the importance of community and the beauty that food has in bringing people together. There is a location in Uptown and a new location in Edina! Both spaces are gorgeous and the food is top-notch.
image via Hyde Development
We love getting Sushi from Wakame. It has the freshest selection and they really are artists when it comes to presentation. They also have amazing appetizers and soups!
4.Naviyas Thai Bistro
Another one of our go-to’s is Naviyas. It has Thai dishes that are so packed with flavor! They are definitely my comfort food. My family has a tradition, we call it “Thai-day Friday” and love getting our take out from here!
If you are looking for some of the best Italian food in Minneapolis I would suggest Arezzo! They have a wood fire pizza oven, an assortment of amazing wines, and the most delectable homemade pasta. (My mouth is watering just thinking about their food!)
6.Spoon & Stable
A hip modern ambiance with French-inspired cuisine that utilizes seasonal food, Spoon & Stable will make your date night extra special. The service is excellent as the food! It is located in the North Loop in an old horse stable (hence the name).
Located in North East Minneapolis Hai Hai is a Southeast Asian-inspired restaurant. I love their twist on flavor of popular dishes. My favorites are the Balinese Cauliflower, Beef Laab, Crispy Rice Salad and Vietnamese Crepe. They have bright drinks, flavorful cuisine, and a colorful atmosphere. It’s such a great casual and fun spot.
Minnesota is an amazing place to raise a family. It is very family-oriented and has so many kid-friendly things to do. Here are some things my family loves to do around the Twin Cities:
1.Lake Harriet Band Shell
Our family has SO much fun whenever we go to Lake Harriet. Our favorite thing to do is go to the bandshell, have a picnic, and watch some live music or go for a bike ride around the lake. The bandshell is right on the water and it has the most gorgeous view of the lake! It’s a recipe for the perfect family day.
Brian grew up going to Baker Park. It is located on Lake Independence in Maple Plain, MN, and is about 15 miles outside of Minneapolis. There are loads of fun activities to do! It has a beach, playground, tons of fishing spots, and a golf course. It also has the perfect “steep” hill for sledding!
3.Como Zoo & Conservatory
Right between Minneapolis and St. Paul you will find the Como Zoo & Conservatory. It has animals, an amusement park, and the most beautiful gardens. We could spend all day here, there are just so many things to do! The kids love looking at all the pretty flowers in the gardens!
Known for its gorgeous waterfall (in a city setting!) Minnehaha Falls is a great place to go to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It is located right outside of downtown Minneapolis and has hiking trails and a park with a variety of trees. You can rent bikes, including the family-friendly Surreys through Wheel Fun Rentals to explore.
This is one of our favorite places to go in Minnesota. Stillwater is a cute little town about 35 minutes outside of Minneapolis. It is known for its iconic lift bridge and for being “the birthplace of Minnesota”. There are countless activities to do here! You can go on a trolly tour, walk around the historic main street, spend time on the water, pick blueberries, bike through the different trails and even go on a hot air balloon ride! It is a must in the summertime.
My list could keep on going but I’ll end it here. There are seasonal activities so look out for my fall guide of things to do in and around the Twin Cities!