We love our Twin Cities metro. But we really love these particular neighborhoods. Urban, suburban, old, new, there’s a ’hood for everyone here, plus the schools, history, and local flair that make each so great.
Above map by Randall Nelson; inner tube photo by JJ pixs/shutterstock.com; tulips photo by Natalia Klenova/shutterstock.com; coffee photo by Swellphotography/shutterstock.com; skates illustration by Jack Knoebber/the noun project; book photo by studioVin/shutterstock.com; bicycle illustration by Cedric Cummings/the noun project; raspberry photo by Nattika/shutterstock.com
Kenwood - Minneapolis
Stately on the Lakes
photo by Caitlin Abrams
Homes in Kenwood were made for turn-of-the-century titans. They’re filled with luxurious details.
Just southwest of downtown, between Cedar Lake Park and Lake of the Isles, near all of the urban amenities of Uptown, is arguably the most affluent of all Twin Cities neighborhoods. Kenwood is a tiny neighborhood of huge turn-of-the-century homes, all on winding streets with Minneapolis’s parks and trails system weaving through. Like its most famous (fictitious) resident, Mary Richards from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, when you live in Kenwood you really have made it after all.
Lake of the Isles and its shoreline were acquired by the City of Minneapolis in 1886, and once it was dredged to become part of the famed Chain of Lakes, the stately homes went up. As early as the 1920s, residents were reticent toward overdevelopment, which is why Kenwood Park has remained virtually untouched since.
The stuff of Sunday drives: jumbo Mediterranean, Colonial, and Arts and Crafts, mostly built before 1939. There are a few affordable gems among the 569 residential structures, and even a few townhomes, condos, and rentals. But the median household income is nearly three times higher than the rest of Minneapolis; the average home value was more than $400,000 in 2010. Kenwood is older, more educated, and more affluent than most of the metro.
SCHOOLS TO NOTE
Kenwood Community School This Minneapolis public elementary is a beloved neighborhood fixture with strong parental support and a focus on the fine arts at its core. kenwood.mpls.k12.mn.us
Blake Upper School This private, independent college prep school integrates academics, athletics, and world citizenry. The upper school is in Kenwood. blakeschool.org
Breck School This private, Episcopal college prep school in nearby Golden Valley integrates classroom, life, and a strong spiritual component for pre-K through grade 12. breckschool.org
Benilde-St. Margaret’s Just west of Kenwood, this private Catholic college prep school for grades seven through 12 boasts 15 AP courses and students from all over the metro. bsmschool.org
Kenwood Park Baseball and soccer fields, beautiful tennis courts, a beloved playground, and more than 32 acres of wild, wooded, open space. minneapolisparks.org
Birchbark Books National Book Award winner Louise Erdrich owns this independent “teaching bookstore,” which also sells Native American arts and jewelry. It’s cozy, intimate, and friendly for readers of all ages and backgrounds. birchbarkbooks.com
The Kenwood Restaurant Brunch, lunch, and dinner, all done well—this chef-driven neighborhood joint feels like it’s been there forever, but it’s only been in the ’hood since 2012. thekenwoodrestaurant.com
Minneapolis Chain of Lakes The most defining feature of our state’s largest city, and the Kenwood neighborhood sits right on top of it. This chain of five urban lakes (and its 15 miles of circumnavigating trails) is reason enough to move here.
Seward - Minneapolis
A Collective Community
photo by Eliesa Johnson
Long a healthy hub, Birchwood Cafe began as a dairy in 1926, became a grocery in the ’40s, and a café in 1995.
Minneapolis’s Seward is just south of 94 and east of Hiawatha. It’s a dense neighborhood, with a little more than 7,300 people in its 1-square-mile radius. That’s just how Seward likes it. This community is known for its liberal, roll-up-your sleeves approach to über-urban living. Kerry Cashman, community coordinator for the Seward Neighborhood Group, says, “We’re so close to bike trails, the Light Rail, and the river that it’s really easy to be car-less.” And the many long-time residents of Seward work to build a sense of a collective, creating a warm welcome for transplants and immigrants from other countries. “Even if you’re new to the neighborhood you have this strong sense of community,” she says.
Cooperation has always been a cornerstone. Seward’s first cooperative, Franklin Cooperative Creamery, founded in 1919, created union jobs with fair wages and health benefits. The Seward Community Co-op grocery, a neighborhood hub since 1972, recently leased the Creamery’s building for expansion. The neighborhood is also home to the oldest worker-run restaurant in the U.S., Seward Cafe.
A statistically classic Minneapolis neighborhood, Seward’s housing stock is a mix of high-rises, duplexes, and single-family homes, some dating back to the turn of the century, some 1930s bungalows. The average home price is about the average for most of Minneapolis (right around $200,000), and many people rent.
SCHOOLS TO NOTE
Minnehaha Academy Located near the border of Seward and Longfellow, this pre-K through grade 12 Christian academy has been helping students develop both intellect and character through a rigorous liberal arts curriculum for more than 100 years. minnehahaacademy.net
South High School Minneapolis’s largest public high school offers three different small learning programs, each with its own learning mission. The school has turned out some notable alumni such as Josh Hartnett and Rachael Leigh Cook. south.mpls.k12.mn.us
Birchwood Cafe This buzzing neighborhood hub wins with regulars and newbies alike, with a full and fresh menu plus beer and wine. The owners get to know their farmers who source their meat and produce, which means the items change each season. The brunch is one of the hottest seats in town, especially if you’re gluten-free or vegan. birchwoodcafe.com
Milwaukee Avenue Historic District Built in the late 19th century for low-income residents, these houses were saved from demolition in the 1970s by the neighborhood. The adorable two-block strip of houses is now on the National Register of Historic Places. milwaukeeavenue.net
West River Parkway Trail It runs from Northeast Minneapolis to Minnehaha Park where there’s even more trails. The Seward portion boasts some of the best views of the city of Minneapolis, and some of the best commuter access, too. minneapolisparks.org
Tangletown - Minneapolis
Delightfully Off the Grid
Even the repurposed gas stations (like Tangletown Gardens) are adorable.
It’s picturesque, off-the-grid living—the city grid, that is. Tangletown is aptly named: In a well-ordered city, the streets of this neighborhood tangle around each other like brambles. Located in southwest Minneapolis, between Lyndale Avenue South and 35W, and 46th and 54th streets, it’s a small community of 4,300 people, mostly families, living in some of the largest (and oldest) homes in the Twin Cities. It’s a coyly hidden labyrinth that bursts with charm and character.
In 1886, prominent Minneapolitans bought 200 acres of farmland near Minnehaha Creek for a wealthy residential development. It was a country getaway for the well-to-do—and it still feels like it. Developed all through the 1920s, it was officially known as the “Fuller” neighborhood—after feminist writer Margaret Fuller—until 1996, when it was renamed.
Homes are larger and more expensive here than in the rest of the Twin Cities, and often built into sloping lots on curvaceous streets. The average home price hovers around $460,000—nearly twice the Minneapolis average. (The average household income also is twice the average.) Most homes were built between 1900 and 1940, so you’ll find Tudor and Colonial Revivals, bungalows, and a few Victorians. There’s even a cluster of modern Lustron metal houses. You’ll also find a few midcentury gems along Minnehaha Creek. But good luck finding an apartment.
SCHOOLS TO NOTE
Washburn High School A Minneapolis public high school with a focus on intercultural understanding and respect, active student involvement, and lifelong learning, it’s also an International Baccalaureate World School. washburn.mpls.k12.mn.us
Washburn Park Water Tower It’s one of the gems of Minneapolis—a medieval-looking piece of water tower art, high atop a hill. Built in 1932 by three Tangletown residents, eight sternly sculpted knights and eagles guard 1.35 million gallons of water. Nearly 100 years old and on the National Register of Historic Places, it’s still used today.
Minnehaha Creek The creek winds through the neighborhood’s south side, with accompanying trails to run and bike on. It eventually finds its way to Minnehaha Falls and the Mississippi River. Tangletown’s portion of the creek is a perfect halfway vantage point to trails around Lake Harriet and Diamond Lake.
Tangletown Gardens and Wise Acre Eatery Yes, it’s a full-service restaurant on every “best-of” list, and a whimsical garden center remade in an old gas station, and the hottest CSA subscription in town. But to Tangletown neighbors it’s a collection of locally owned businesses fed by a 100-acre family farm and a lot of locavore love. tangletowngardens.com, wiseacreeatery.com
St. Anthony Park - St. Paul
Snug Civic Center
Muffuletta photo by Sarah Claire Ahlers
The Beaux-Arts Saint Anthony Park Library serves as a community gathering spot for kids and grownups alike.
Tucked into the northwest corner of St. Paul, between Highway 280, I-94, and the State Fairgrounds, is a hamlet of adorable proportions. It’s uniquely Minnesotan (the Lutheran seminary, the campus cornfields, the eclectic bookstore), with a hip, global perspective due to its U of M proximity. It’s young but by no means flyby—the ’hood is known for its civic-ness. Less than 8,000 make a community band, newspaper, charitable foundation, art festival, shared garden, and volunteer group for seniors. They’re more highly educated than average, and they use their cars less, too.
In 1873, famous urban planner Horace S. Cleveland designed this addition to St. Paul and Minneapolis, winding the streets to the topography. The St. Anthony Park Company divided the land into smaller lots, and when the St. Paul campus of the U was established in the late 1880s, the neighborhood took off.
Most homes were built before 1930 (bungalow, Craftsman, and Prairie styles, mostly), except for University Grove, which sits just outside St. Anthony Park. Built for faculty and administration at the U (and still sold first to them) it’s a stunning array of pricey midcentury gems, some Mondrian. As a whole, though, prices are mixed, meeting at a median of $254,000, and half of residents rent.
SCHOOLS TO NOTE
Como Park Senior High School A St. Paul public high school that’s “large enough to offer many paths” but small enough for exploration. And the state’s first school-based credit union offers great job and internship experience. comosr.spps.org/
Twin Cities German Immersion This K through eight school, founded in 2005, has the highest MCA test scores in the state. And everyone leaves proficient in German. tcgis.org
Luther Seminary and Old Muskego Church Graduates make up about one-third of ELCA Lutheran pastors. On campus is the first Norwegian Lutheran Church built in the United States. It’s made of oak logs in the Norwegian style, and stands (on gorgeous grounds) as a reminder of Minnesota’s immigrant heritage. luthersem.edu
Saint Anthony Park Library A Carnegie library built in 1917, it follows the convention of placing the entrance atop a flight of stairs, to symbolize how learning elevates us. It’s Beaux-Arts, and the children’s library off the back has a sunny rotunda for reading. sppl.org
Muffuletta Café It’s got beer cheese soup and one of the best patios (and wine lists) in St. Paul. Like the neighborhood, old haunt Muffuletta has long been dedicated to locally sourced goodness with international flair, even before it was cool. muffuletta.com
Summit Hill/Crocus Hill - St. Paul
Grand Old Treasure
Summit avenue photo courtesy of Visit Saint Paul
It’s a part of our Twin Cities that predates statehood—and it’s lovingly preserved. Roughly bounded by Summit Avenue and Ramsey Street on the north, 35E on the south and east, and Ayd Mill Road on the west, it’s filled with history and pedestrian-oriented shopping and dining. This is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s St. Paul: gorgeous.
More than 200 years ago, Zebulon Pike purchased land from the Dakotah for a fort. By the time Minnesota was a state some 50 years later, prominent St. Paul families had moved up from the river to Summit Avenue mansions. The 1900s brought middle-income development, including row houses, apartments, and a streetcar that rolled along St. Clair and Grand avenues. Smart zoning and the bluffs kept the neighborhood residential. It’s almost untouched since the 1920s.
Hello, Victorians! Summit Hill is known for its large number of old homes in a variety of turn-of-the-century styles. Preservation has been prominent since the 1960s, when mansions were rescued from flophouses or (gasp!) sitting empty. Buy a home in this neighborhood and gain entrance into a club of rehab buffs. (And pay a lot for it, too.) Luckily, condos and apartments abound; the mixed stock means the median price hovers at $260,000.
SCHOOLS TO NOTE
St. Paul Academy and Summit School This private, co-ed, college-prep K-12 school is a merger of two turn-of-the-century prep schools. Today it enjoys a national reputation with a focus on critical thinking and imagination. And 28 percent of students are of color. spa.edu
St. Paul Central Senior High School It’s often ranked among the top 20 high schools in the state, and it’s our oldest continuously operating one. It’s an International Baccalaureate school too, and offers post secondary enrollment options. central.spps.org
Grand Avenue Tree-lined streets, cozy coffee shops, patio dining, and brands like Anthropologie, J.Crew, and Pottery Barn. It’s world-class shopping in a small-town environment, and host to the Twin Cities’ annual festival-season kickoff: Grand Old Days. grandave.com
Cathedral of St. Paul It’s the reason our capitol city isn’t called Pig’s Eye Settlement anymore. The mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has been in service since 1915, and is one of the nation’s finest examples of Beaux-Arts architecture. cathedralsaintpaul.org
Summit Hill House Tour Every other year, the Summit Hill Association hosts this popular walking tour, which allows the public into some of the most beautiful and historic homes and public spaces on Summit Avenue. The tour supports the community programs and civic engagement of the Summit Hill Association. summithillhousetour.com
St. Louis Park - Minneapolis
The Shops at West End photo by Mod and Company
Dubbed “The Park,” this first-ring Minneapolis suburb boasts 51 parks, along with pools, trails, and ample green spaces. It’s also comfortably close to everything; downtown Minneapolis and the Chain of Lakes are a 10-minute drive or less, and the airport is just 20 minutes away. The city’s established Children First philosophy has landed it among the Promise Alliance’s 100 Best Communities for Young People.
In 1886, 31 people petitioned for incorporating the Village of St. Louis Park in the hopes that it would become a boomtown. Their hopes were realized: It was home to more than 600 industrial agriculture jobs by 1890, and the world’s first concrete grain elevator (now the Nordic Ware tower) in 1899. It gained official city status in 1954, and was almost entirely developed by the 1970s.
It’s about a 60-40 own-rent split. The majority of single-family homes were built in the late 1940s and early 1950s, so renovation options abound. As former St. Louis Park Mayor Jeff Jacobs puts it, “We’re a middle-aged suburb going through a renaissance.”
SCHOOLS TO NOTE
Calvin Christian School This faith-based school has a K through eight location just south of SLP in Edina. In 2014 it began a new curriculum focused on teaching for transformation. calvinchristian.org
Benilde-St. Margaret’s The private, Catholic college-preparatory school for grades seven through 12 offers 15 AP courses, and attracts students from more than 35 different school districts. bsmschool.org
Park Spanish Immersion School A Spanish immersion K through five where core classes are taught in Spanish, and specialty classes like physical education, band, and orchestra, are taught in English. slpschools.org/psi
Parktacular The city’s summer festival, with an array of activities—water slides, Belgian waffles, and the signature Grand Day Parade. parktacular.org
Outdoor Aquatic Park A lap pool, four slides, a water obstacle course, and, for young kids, a water geyser, spray arches, and a whale slide. stlouispark.org/aquatic-park.html
The Shops at West End More than 39 retail shops and restaurants converge in a rare Minnesota outdoor mall. theshopsatwestend.com
Hopkins - Minneapolis
Charm Plus Culture
Raspberry Festival photo by Katherine Harris
Named one of the friendliest towns in America by Forbes magazine, Hopkins boasts historic charm, with modern penchants that attract foodies and theater buffs. You can walk the entire city, and you (almost) never have to leave. On tiny Mainstreet alone: more than a dozen restaurants, two ice cream shops, a movie theater, a live performance center, multiple salons, and a collection of antique and retail shops. The majority of residents are younger couples and families. The most prevalent age group is 25 to 34.
The area grew quickly upon the 1887 establishment of the Minneapolis Threshing Machine Company (later Minneapolis-Moline), which employed most of the area’s residents. The company housed employees in properties built by The West Minneapolis Land Company, many of which still stand in Hopkins today. It was incorporated as the Village of West Minneapolis in 1893, and renamed the Village of Hopkins in 1928 after Harley Hopkins, the town’s first postmaster.
A mix of 1900s-era homes alongside newer construction, with a bevy of new apartments, condominiums, and townhomes along both sides of Mainstreet, and even more luxury apartments rising in anticipation of the METRO Green Line’s 2020 arrival.
SCHOOLS TO NOTE
Hopkins High School Ranked one of the best high schools in Minnesota, about half of students take Advanced Placement (AP) courses.hopkinsschools.org
Main Street School of Performing Arts This tuition-free public charter high school offers a performing arts-focused education with advanced theater, art, and music courses alongside traditional curricula. msspahs.org
Hopkins Raspberry Festival The raspberry fields may be gone, but Hopkins continues to celebrate its heritage in this annual July festival with more than 30 family-friendly events, including its arts and crafts fair, Golden Raspberry hunt, fireworks, car show, live music, and signature Grande Day Parade. Business folk organized the very first Raspberry Festival in 1934, making it one of the oldest-running festivals in Minnesota.raspberrycapital.com
Hopkins Center for the Arts The performing arts venue hosts concerts, art exhibitions, and Stages Theatre Company productions, as well as a menu of community art and dance classes. hopkinsartscenter.com
Roseville - St. Paul
Green Suburban Dream
Gardens (always) Growing
The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory is great in warm weather (and a heavenly cold-weather getaway).
Northern suburb Roseville, situated comfortably between St. Paul and Minneapolis, rarely shows you its largesse. Says Roseville mayor Dan Roe, “One of the reasons [people] live in Roseville is because it’s a small-town feel in the midst of a larger community.” And because it’s heavily peppered with commercial business, homeowners here get two major retail hubs (HarMar and Rosedale malls) and some of the lowest property tax rates in the metro. Residents also get terrific parks, many connected by walking and biking trails.
Named after one of the first white settlers to the region, Isaac Rose, Roseville was incorporated in 1948. It boomed with new families and businesses in the ’50s and ’60s—the first Target store was here, and the state’s first Dairy Queen.
Median home value is a reasonable $216,500, but there’s wide diversity there, including many rentals. Roseville has around 35,000 residents, most in homes or buildings built after 1940. If you’re looking for a large rambler, or a walkout on a small urban lake, look no further.
SCHOOLS TO NOTE
Roseville Area Senior High Considered one of our state’s best schools by U.S. News and World Report, students score high in mathematics and reading. True to the city of Roseville’s nature, it has more than 2,000 students but relatively small class sizes for such a large school. isd623.org
Mounds Park Academy An independent pre-K-12 private college preparatory school close by in St. Paul, it was one of the first Minnesota schools to give students laptops. moundsparkacademy.org
Hill-Murray School Located in nearby Maplewood, Hill-Murray is a private Catholic Benedictine prep school for grades six through 12, and one of only 21 Minnesota schools accredited by North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Hockey fans: Steve Janaszak skated here before his 1980 Miracle on Ice days. hill-murray.org
Roseville Ice Arena and “The OVAL” The Arena is a year-round mecca for athletes of all ages and all ice skating sports. There’s plenty of room with seven locker rooms and capacity for 2,000. The Guidant John Rose MN OVAL is 110,000 square feet of outdoor refrigerated ice November through March (including a 400-meter speed skating track). In warm weather, it’s a wicked skateboard park and inline skating area.
Como Park Zoo & Conservatory Near the Roseville-St. Paul border, this free zoo includes a polar bear exhibit, a gorilla habitat, and the kid mecca Como Town, with 18 rides and attractions. For adults, gardening talks are hosted in the Majorie McNeely Conservatory nearby. comozooconservatory.org
The State’s First Dairy Queen It still has its midcentury neon signage and angled windows. 1720 Lexington Ave. N, Roseville, dairyqueen.com