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Best Of Home

Best Things To Do In Minnetonka

November 3, 2010 6:12 PM

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Even though it was settled in the mid-1800s, you might be surprised to learn that one big suburb to the west of the cities wasn’t a city until 1956. Minnetonka may share the name with a huge metro lake, but only a small part of the city actual touches the lake. The city boasts nearly 50 parks, miles and miles of trails and more than 1,000 acres of public open space filled with greenery. Large companies — like Cargill and Carlson — call Minnetonka home and there’s plenty of shopping at Ridgedale Center and other retail areas. But among these businesses you will still find neighborhoods lined with trees and plenty of escape from any concrete jungle. 

In no particular order …

Gold Nugget

14401 Excelsior Blvd
Gold Nugget Website

The Gold Nugget is back in Minnetonka! For 30 years the neighborhood restaurant sat on Excelsior Boulevard until it closed when the owner passed away. But the same great food and neighborhood feeling came back in May 2009 when the Gold Nugget opened in the same place but in a new building. You could say their menu is comfort food done well. They’re known for their delicious hamburgers that are still cooked the same way as the Original Gold Nugget Burger. They keep it simple with food that is fresh and made-from-scratch. And they’ve got a large beer list to quench those thirsts. If you’re looking to hold a party or dinner meeting, check out their private dining room for events.

Bennett Family Park

3717 County Road 101
Bennett Family Park Website

Ah, the smell of freshly cut grass and dugout dirt. You can get the taste of freshly popped popcorn as you sit in the bleachers and gaze at the field in front of you. For that experience, head to the Bennett Family Park where you can find ballplayers of all ages get into the game. The park was named after the family who donated their land for a ballpark in the 1950s, when the first Little League teams in Minnesota were formed. The park is home to eight baseball diamonds, including the newly-dedicated Miracle Field, home to the West Metro Miracle League. The park is also home to girls’ softball, Little League and Babe Ruth baseball.

Shady Oak Beach

(credit: eminnetonka.com)

Shady Oak Beach

5200 Shady Oak Road
Shady Oak Beach Website

Ready for the beach? Shady Oak Beach lives up to its name with more than 70 feet of sandy beach shoreline and clear, spring-fed water to swim and splash around in. The beach is staffed with lifeguards for your safety when swimming out to the high dive. But there’s not just swimming to be had — enjoy canoe rentals, sand volleyball and fishing. It does cost $5 to enter the beach, but you can get a season pass and it’s definitely less expensive than heading to the waterpark. And you can’t beat the feeling of sand between your toes.


14401 Highway 7
General Store of Minnetonka Website

Old-fashioned from the outside and filled to the rafters with amazing finds on the inside. With more than 15,000-square feet and two levels worth of great stuff, this store is anything but general. The gifts, clothes, jewelry, toys and food items are unique, handpicked. Since 1984, the General Store has called Minnetonka home with six family members who help run the store. During the holidays you could call this place a winter wonderland for all your festive needs. Customers have been known to spend hours in the General Store, so if you get a little famished, head to the café for more homemade goodies like salads, soups and their famous chocolate chip cookies.

Minnehaha Creek Headwaters

16501 Grays Bay Blvd
Minnehaha Creek Headwaters Information Website

Located at Grays Bay, the Minnehaha Creek starts in Lake Minnetonka and winds its way for 22 miles through Minnetonka, Hopkins, St. Louis Park and Minneapolis, bubbling and crashing over Minnehaha Falls and ending at the Mississippi River. At its headwaters, grab a canoe because you can paddle almost the entire distance of the creek. This place is also the home to Minnehaha Creek Headwaters Park where you can learn about the history of the site and walk through the wetland interpretative trail. It’s also a great place for walking trails, biking trails, kayaking and bird watching.

Charles H. Burwell House

(credit: eminnetonka.com)

Charles H. Burwell House

13209 E. McGinty Road
Charles H. Burwell House Information Website

The Charles H. Burwell House is located on Minnetonka Boulevard, alongside the Minnehaha Creek, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was built in 1883 by Charles H. Burwell, who managed the Minnetonka Mill Company, a company that milled flour on Minnehaha Creek. The Burwells lived in the home until the late 1950s. The home was purchased by the city of Minnetonka in 1970, which restored the home to look like it did in 1894 — a Victorian home, in the Italianate style. Inside the home you’ll find many original Burwell furnishings. The five-acre site also includes Burwell’s mill office, a millworker’s cottage, ice house and woodshed. Tours of the home are offered in the summer, June through September. Just visit their website for more information.

Spasso

17523 Minnetonka Blvd
Spasso Website

If you’re a wine lover and haven’t heard of Spasso, this is your wake-up call. For more than two years, Spasso has tickled the taste buds with a unique wine program that gets you amazing wine at even more amazing prices for a restaurant. Choose from a selection of 140 bottles of wine from their menu at retail pricing. And if they don’t have your favorite, head next door to their sister business, the Wine Shop, pick up a bottle and don’t worry about a corking fee. Oh yes, and this is a restaurant too with what Executive Chef Ben Peine calls “an American menu with an Italian influence.” You can find the Italian in a variety of pastas and wood-fired pizzas, and the American in house specialties like walleye and short ribs. There’s lunch, there’s dinner and also enjoy with all-you-can eat favorites for Sunday brunch. Spasso connects with the community through supporting local sports teams and hosting community fundraisers. The restaurant also offers a complementary car service — they’ll pick you up and take you home — a great way to enjoy the night without having to worry how you’ll get home.

The Landing Shop

11280 Wayzata Boulevard
The Landing Shop Website

The Landing Shop (previously called the Mills Landing Gift Shoppe) is not only a great place to pick up homemade gifts, it’s also a place for some special residents to show off their crafts. The new shop opened Oct. 1 at 11280 Wayzata Boulevard and features items made by area senior citizens. Check out all the goods Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. They offer a variety of handmade toys, doll clothes and furniture, sweaters, booties, towels, bibs, quilts and more. And in December, The Landing Shop will be open additional hours for all your gift-giving needs! For more information call (763) 591-4868 or visit www.eminnetonka.com and search “the landing shop.”

Gray's Bay Marina

(credit: eminnetonka.com)

Gray’s Bay Marin

a
County Road 101 South and Gray’s Bay Boulevard
Gray’s Bay Marina Information Website

While Minnetonka has the same name as a big lake to its west, the city just barely touches it. Gray’s Bay, located at the corner of County Road 101 South and Gray’s Bay Boulevard, was acquired by the city of Minnetonka to give people public access to Lake Minnetonka. Being the easternmost part of the lake, this site gives boaters access that also includes parking 112 vehicles and trailers and 21 car-only spaces. And for Minnetonka residents, this could be the ideal option for renting a boat slip for the summer.


Minnetonka Mills

Located on Minnetonka Boulevard between I-494 and Hopkins Crossroad, Minnetonka Mills is the site of history. In 1852, Minnetonka’s first settlement was established at the current Minnetonka Mills site. Because the Minnehaha Creek runs through this corridor, the water power helped to establish a saw mill, the only one west of the Mississippi River at the time. The area also includes the five-acre Burwell House site, as well as a small shopping district. Grab a coffee at Dunn Bros. or a cone at Dairy Queen and take a walk on the tree-lined trail that follows the creek.

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