Chain of Lakes
Just minutes from downtown Minneapolis, you can walk, run, bike, skate, swim, canoe, sail, sunbathe, and do everything else there is to do on a lake, and in a lake. Plus, there's great shopping and dining nearby. And with five million visitors a year, the people-watching is pretty good, too.
Obviously, you could pick up some tasty smoked meat sandwiches to go, but why not sit down and relax with a beer? This bright and friendly Lowry Hill deli has a bar. 1930 Hennepin Ave., 612-871-1200
Locally, we are lucky to have legendary ice cream, but there is nothing with the BMOC status of Joe’s Oreo ice cream. The patio at this location is the center of the summer universe for this neighborhood. 1007 Franklin Ave. S., 612-870-0065
Blue Plate’s offering to the area includes many taps of local beer, a raw bar with fresh oysters, and late-night snacking until 2 am. 2112 Hennepin Ave., 612-341-2112
Chef Don Saunders will soon launch a modern eatery in the space next to Birchbark Books. 2115 W. 21st St.
Bread & Pickle
Besides walking up for an early egg sandwich or an evening black bean burger, you can pre-order from the picnic menu and pick up everything you need, ready to go! Lake Harriet Bandshell, 612-767-9009
Clancey's Meats & Fish
The perfect complement to your CSA produce box, Clancey’s stocks all sorts of meaty goodness from local producers and makes a mean sandwich to tide you over. 4307 Upton Ave. S., 612-926-0222
Naviya’s Thai Brasserie
If you can’t get a table at Tilia, wander over to Naviya’s for some amazingly fresh Thai food cooked with local ingredients. 2812 W. 43rd St., 612-276-5061
Have brunch in the restaurant, take a break at the wine bar, or just grab an entire chicken dinner from the to-go shop so you can spend more time in the sun. 1432 W. 31st St., 612-825-1572
Don’t be surprised to see skaters rolling with fish tacos or dog walkers happily noshing on a sandwich as they circle the lake. Tin Fish is a worthy pit stop. 3000 Calhoun Pkwy. E., 612-823-5840
The pub on the lake, UE does high-end bar food with local ingredients. Take in a spicy lamb burger with your view of the lake. 2730 W. Lake St., 612-920-5000
My Burger/Yogurt Lab
It’s a win-win-win. Tire the kids out at the beach, fill them up at fun and friendly My Burger, then top them off with a bucket of Yogurt Lab for the ride home. 3100 Excelsior Blvd., myburgerusa.com, yogurtlabs.com
Lake Hariett Bandshell
Free music almost every evening, spanning just about every musical genre imaginable: jazz, classical, folk, rock, blues, country, big band, you name it. Just stake out a spot on the lawn and enjoy. For a complete schedule, go to minneapolisparks.org
Yes, the trolley ride between Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun may be the shortest train ride you’ll ever take, but if you have kids in tow, you’ll see the wisdom in keeping it short and sweet. $2 fare (kids under 3 ride free).
Lake of the Isles Off-Leash Recreation Area
Dogs love summer, too, especially if you let them romp with their own kind at the fabulous 1.87-acre dog park near Lake of the Isles. In order to use the city’s Off-Leash Recreation Areas, pet owners must first obtain a permit from the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. 2845 Lake of the Isles Pkwy. W., 612-230-6400
Shakespeare in the Park
Cromulent Theatre Company presents the Bard at parks throughout the metro area, with several stops at these lakes. The Merry Wives of Windsor is the play of choice in June. For a complete schedule, visit cromulentshakespeare.org
Lake Calhoun Watercraft Rental
Don’t just look at Lake Calhoun; try renting something floatable to get out on the water, where the action is. At Wheel Fun Rentals, you can rent canoes and paddleboats, as well as single and double kayaks and pedal boats (bicycles, too). You can paddle over to Lake of the Isles, where you’ll see some of the Twin Cities’ most breathtaking homes along the lakefront.
It’s always a delight to browse the wealth of clever gifts, accessories, toys, and a million other things you will immediately need. 1009 Franklin Ave. W., 612-872-0880
Stop by for reading time with the kids, and pet the bunnies, chickens, and cats that live at this legendary independent bookstore. 2720 W. 43rd St., 612-920-5005
This Linden Hills destination brims with gifts, jewelry, women’s clothes, stationery, and more. 4315 Upton Ave. S., 612-925-3175
Get a skateboard! Or at least get outfitted in urban activewear at this longtime Uptown skate shop. 1715 W. Lake St., 612-822-6840
This is Uptown at its best: independent, eclectic, and edgy. Discover local designers and contemporary women’s fashion. 2813 Hennepin Ave., 612-871-8436
The fresh air and pretty water are likely to put you in an earth-friendly state of mind, so check out the green gifts and furnishings at this shop. 3056 Excelsior Blvd., 612-374-4581
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