Photo courtesy of Minnesota Zoo
Aquarium at Minnesota Zoo
Daily dive shows at the Minnesota Zoo give floor-to-ceiling views of experts feeding sharks and interacting with tropical fish.
Located south of the bisection of 35E and 35W and neighbor to Burnsville, Apple Valley is roughly 20 miles from St. Paul and Minneapolis. “Apple Valley has two AAA bond ratings (Moody’s, and Standard & Poor’s), and we’ve been ranked as one of the most fiscally stable cities in the nation,” says Apple Valley mayor Mary Hamann-Roland. Money magazine declared Apple Valley the 17th best place to live in the United States in 2013.
History: In the 1850s, Apple Valley—then known as Lebanon Township—went through a few name changes until becoming an official city in 1974. The theory of how Apple Valley got its name is that the rural landscape resembled Apple Valley, California. There’s a 200-foot difference between the city’s highest and lowest elevation points among the valleys and plains, so the name stuck. Additionally, when prolific builder Orrin Thompson began building homes in the area in 1963, he planted an apple tree at each home in some of the new developments.
Housing Stock: Population remained below 600 through 1960, then rose to 8,502 in 1970 and 21,818 in 1980—a 156.6 percent population spike. Today, Apple Valley’s population remains consistent at about 50,330. Most townhomes are priced below $200,000, while the area’s median house price is $302,450. The median age of people in Apple Valley is 39, which nods to the accessibility of Minneapolis and St. Paul for working families. Only 11 percent of residents are 65 or older.
Schools to Note
Apple Valley High School: One of two Apple Valley public high schools in Independent School District 196, Apple Valley High School has been recognized by the National Blue Ribbon Schools Program, which honors high-performing schools. It’s also a STEM school, which emphasizes science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. district196.org/avhs
Eastview High School: Ranked 10th best high school in Minnesota by U.S. News & World Report, and 10th most challenging high school in Minnesota by The Washington Post, Eastview High School has Advanced Placement, honors, and College in the Schools courses through the University of Minnesota, and a full range of special education courses. The public high school provides a curriculum enriched with career-focused skills and interests for students looking to enter the workforce after graduation. district196.org/evhs
School of Environmental Studies: The two-year magnet School of Environmental Studies opened in 1995 in an effort to solidify the relationship between humans and the environment. The campus sits on 12 acres of the Minnesota Zoo, which is a partner of the school. Traditional classes focus on environmental topics. sesmn.org
Rosemount High School: Opened in 1918 as the area’s first high school, Rosemount High School remained the area’s lone public secondary school until Apple Valley High School opened in 1976. Today, its attendance exceeds 2,000 students in grades 9 through 12, and U.S. News & World Report ranks it the 27th best high school in Minnesota. district196.org/rhs
Apple Valley scenic view
In 1963, builder Orrin Thompson planted an apple tree at every home erected in the new developments.
Minnesota Zoo: Opened in 1978, the 485-acre Minnesota Zoo is home to more than 4,700 animals, many of which are endangered, and has the largest indoor interconnected zoo exhibits in the country. See the critically endangered Hawaiian Monk Seals in their habitat and interact with trainers, or stop by the World of Birds Show, where a variety of birds take flight. The Minnesota Zoo also hosts Music in the Zoo, which features local and national acts like Blondie, The Jayhawks, and Indigo Girls. Kids can spend the summer at the zoo by signing up for summer camp where—depending on their age—they’ll be exposed to animal exhibits, crafts, guided tours, and animal care. mnzoo.org
Cedar Avenue Red Line: Since 2013, the Red Line provides Apple Valley residents a carefree round trip to Mall of America or a daily commute to downtown Minneapolis or St. Paul for work, with a quick transfer to other lines along the way. Mall of America is a 25-minute ride and Twin Cities Premium Outlets is a 15-minute ride on the Red Line from Apple Valley. metrotransit.org
Bogart’s Event Center: A multi-purpose entertainment hub, Bogart’s is more than a daily bowling alley—it’s got jackpot prizes in the bowling alley on Saturday nights October through April, a bar and grill, outdoor summer sand volleyball leagues, weekly karaoke, and rotating live entertainment—including ’80s cover band Hairball. bogartsplace.com