The blocks surrounding the intersection of Upton Avenue and 43rd Street are full of cozy retailers and eateries, some specifically geared towards kids. Creative Kidstuff has long been a Twin Cities family favorite. A place chock full of toys, many of which have educational bents, but those are well hidden within the fun. Even better there are many items open for hands-on exploration.
Just around the corner is the equally delightful Wild Rumpus bookstore, named (of course) for the classic Maurice Sendak book, Where the Wild Things Are. The Twin Cities has an excellent selection of independent bookstores, and Wild Rumpus is right up there at the top of my favorites list. The staff is topnotch, the shop is well stocked (including items for grownups), and physically it’s a fun place to explore.
Besides, how can you beat a store that has its own pet chicken?
There are also plenty of places to get a bite to eat. But here’s the thing: Linden Hills has casual places with kids’ menus, but the attendant adults don’t have to sacrifice anything—they can get an excellent meal (and in a couple of places, an adult beverage, if desired) at the same time. On the same street as Wild Rumpus is newcomer Tilia, a friendly, boisterous restaurant that takes its food seriously, but doesn’t mind catering to the little ones. Nearby is Café 128, housed in a historic building with a lovely outdoor patio and a limited but thoughtful menu—and again, food for kids.
Across the street is the Zumbro Café, a cheerful long-time Linden Hills’ purveyor offering hearty and tasty breakfasts and lunch. Finally, who’d want to miss a chance to stop for ice cream at Sebastian Joe’s?
Just a few blocks away you’ll find the summer paradise of Lake Harriet.
Many hours can be spent romping here, whether it’s biking or inline skating around the lake (almost 3 miles), swimming at the beach, playing in the adjacent playgrounds, and visiting the Lyndale Gardens (especially the Rose Garden). Plan ahead and book a ride on the Como-Harriet trolley, a lovingly restored century-old streetcar.
Better yet, take in one of the nightly live concerts (in the summer) at the historic Lake Harriet Bandshell.
While you’re there, stop by the new concession stand, Bread & Pickle, for far-better-than-average snacks and light meals.
Amy C. Rea lives with her family in the Twin Cities. She’s the author of “Backroads & Byways of Minnesota and Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes: an Explorer’s Guide.” She can also be found chatting about Minnesota travel topics at www.flyover-land.com.