Exploring neighborhoods of Minneapolis is one of my most loved things to do. I’ve lived in the Twin Cities for more than a decade, and still frequently encounter crossroads that I’ve never seen before, with local coffee and ice cream shops, clothing boutiques or unique, hard-to-resist toy stores. The Linden Hills area– specifically 43rd and Upton – is one of my favorites of those types of neighborhoods (yup, it’s my Favorhood) and was recently voted Southwest Journal‘s Best Neighborhood (see? I’m not alone). It serves all audiences well with its variety of shops, from mom-fave Good Things to dad-fave Tilia to kid-fave Wild Rumpus. Heck, even your dog will enjoy tagging along, as many shops have water dishes sitting out and doggie biscuits available at the counter to treat your furry friends. We usually spend a solid morning shop-hopping and very rarely come home empty-handed. Plus, it’s a short three-block walk to Lake Harriet‘s bandshell and William Berry Playground. That’s a major bonus for us Minnesotan lake-lovers!
What is it?
The Linden Hills 43rd & Upton area is a comfortable place to park and walk with limited traffic and lots of selection! In a two-block radius, you will find ice cream, books, eclectic gifts, bread, coffee, organic goods, wine, and – oh yeah – one of our 10,000 gorgeous lakes. This super charming neighborhood is nestled between some seriously gorgeous homes and the shores of Lake Harriet, and sits just south of Uptown (another of my Favorhoods). I enjoy taking my kids to this area to spend a morning and the best part is, you can entertain them for hours while spending next-to-nothing (see more “free” pointers in “Tips” section below). It’s also a fun spot for a full-family adventure (ie biking around the lake with a stop to Sebastian Joe’s before catching a free concert in the park) or a romantic date night (ie craft beer and dinner at Tilia followed by a walk around the lake). Please note: If anyone would like to watch our kids so I can GO on said date night, drop me a line 🙂
Fit for what ages?
There is a lot in this area for all different ages. My all-time favorite stop is Wild Rumpus. This is a book store with live animals (cats, lizards, birds, chinchillas) and a section for every age group, so no matter your child’s age, they are sure to be entertained there. Younger kids will also enjoy the small Dunn Brother Coffee’s play area. Even Great Harvest Bread has some toys set up to entertain while mom and dad place their order. Older kids might enjoy packing a bike and riding around the lake or gobbling some ice cream on Sebastian Joe’s awesome outdoor patio. Changing stations are not a-plenty and strollers are tough to squeeze through some of the smaller shops, but don’t let that stop you from strapping baby into a Bjorn and bringing them along for the fun. And if you have the energy, the Como-Harriet Streetcar station is just down the hill near the Lake Harriet Pavilion, so take then for a roundtrip 15-minute ride during their open hours for only $2.50 (or free if under 3).
How much are we talkin?
This is completely your call. Spend as much or as little as you’d like. I use the neighborhood for mostly free entertainment, but man, I could spend a million dollars at Good Things and Heartfelt letting my kids make fairy gardens until their hearts’ content. It’s a shopping/dining district, so shop and dine to your credit card limit. Parking is free in lots and on the street, however sometimes very limited.
Want some tips?
Have money? Want to spend it? Get the kids (and yourself) a coffee and cinnamon roll at Great Harvest to start your adventure. Or go to Dunn Brothers for java if you’re in to the fancier stuff. Shop the Co-Op for some groceries or pay for a hands-on craft project at Heartfelt for you and your kiddo to create together. Peruse unique gift items at Good Things (formerly Bibelot). Get lunch at Zumbro Cafe or pack a cooler to enjoy near the lake, and don’t forget your ice cream dessert from Sebastian Joe’s (only the best ice cream in all of Minneapolis). And of course, make a visit to Wild Rumpus for a book of choice.
Have money? Want to save it? This is totally the category I fit in to. Start your day at Great Harvest with a $2 coffee and some free bread samples for the kids. Sometimes you even get lucky and they have freebie cookies! Visit Wild Rumpus on a Monday at 10:30 for a free story time (holy busy though so plan accordingly), and pet the roaming animals. Then just lounge and read books to your kids on the floor until they bore of your storytelling voice. The Linden Hills Library (right in the area) also offers free Baby and Family storytimes and it’s far less crowded than Rumpus. Heartfelt Crafts has a pretty cool climbing tree in the back of the store that entertains preschoolers for a short bit, and when that wears off, either head down to William Berry Park near the Lake Harriet Pavilion or the other direction towards Linden Hills Park (there’s even a wading pool at that one).
General tips: Weekends can get busy, but weekdays are usually pretty sparse. Parking is free and you can usually find a spot on 43rd headed down the hill, or around the corner by Wild Rumpus. There are a few parking lots, but they are very business-specific, so be mindful of signage. My bathroom of choice is in Wild Rumpus or Dunn Bros. Some of the stores (such as Wild Rumpus) aren’t too keen on strollers since their space is already so limited, but people don’t seem to mind lining them up outside the door. Other free options include the playgrounds or beaches around Lake Harriet or a short drive to the Rose Garden to run and sniff some pretty flowers on a sunny day. Or of course, the Como-Harriet Streetcar, which is only a 15-minute roundtrip and the station is literally down the hill. Summer also offers a weekly Farmer’s Market (Sundays from 9-2 in the Ace Hardware store parking lot) and free evening concerts and movies in the park at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.
Hours and Location
Corner of 43rd & Upton Ave. S | Minneapolis, MN 55410
Parking can be tougher on the weekends and evenings, but neighborhood street parking is free and the atmosphere is so pretty, a little hike to your destination isn’t the worst thing in the world. Every store and restaurant has its own set of hours, so be sure to visit their individual websites for specific open and closing times.
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