Things to do around Lake Nokomis during the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships
ESPN.com listed the tournament in their “101 Things Sports Fans Must Experience Before They Die.” Come cheer on the teams, January 19-29, 2023.
What is it?
The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships are held annually on Lake Nokomis in South Minneapolis. Yes, on the frozen lake.
It’s a strictly amateur, just-for-fun tournament (the players themselves shovel the rinks before games), though some teams have ringers with pro and college hockey experience. It’s good-natured chaos, with team names like the Mighty Drunks and The Little Lebowskis, with a persistent, underlying concern that the beer will run out before the end of the day. Not a chance.
But it’s undeniably cold out there and you may want to take a break from standing on a frozen lake with no protection from the wind. Here are some suggestions.
Where to Eat Nearby
If keeping the party going is your goal, you have several options. The 5-8 Club, just south of the lake and one of the disputed inventors of the renowned Juicy Lucy hamburger, is a good place to retreat, especially if you’re still wearing hockey clothes and don’t want be judged. Farther north are Matt’s Bar, the other home of the “Jucy Lucy,” and Pat’s Tap gastropub, both of which may require some patience to get a table - but it's totally worth it.
If it’s a restorative meal you’re looking for, nearby Hot Plate, with interior decorating that defies description, is a breakfast place open till 2pm. Fat Lorenzo’s, a legendary neighborhood pizza joint, is perfect for families. Closer to the rinks is Carbone’s Pizza & Pub, also a good family option. Across the street from Carbone’s, ie Italian Eatery is the place to go for classy pasta and wine. If all you need is a sugary pick-me-up, Mel-O-Glaze Bakery is only a minute or so away from the rinks by car or for some gluten free friendly options, head over to Sift Gluten Free. If all you need is a jolt of caffeine then Sovereign Grounds or Turtle Bread are the spots to go. Both places have some light lunch options and delicious baked goods. Down the road is Heather's, serving up sandwiches, burgers and all your other favorites. It also has a heated patio dining area so you can stay outside all day if your heart desires. And if you feel like grabbing something for the road, try Herbie Butcher's Fried Chicken. This vegan restaurant favorite includes plant-based options of all the best foods found at a fried chicken joint.
Things to Do Nearby
If the outdoors are still calling to you, Minnehaha Park is only a few minutes down the parkway to the east. Winter activities in the park include cross-country skiing, ice fishing, sledding/tubing, snowboard lessons and off-road winter cycling.
Shopping in the neighborhood, can have you walking away with a few really good finds, such as Vintage Music Co. (vinyl and turntable accessories), Candy Jar (candy store), and Southside Vintage & Quality Goods (antiques). Head to Bill St Mane Sporting Goods to fix/replace broken gear, or just pack it in for the day at Cork Dork Wine Co. and Elevated Beer, Wine & Spirits to stockpile supplies for the evening.
Jenny in the City focuses on modern women’s fashion, and they also carry chic jewelry and fun gifts (yes, you really do need that Betty White coffee mug). Cake Plus-Size Resale offers sweet deals on plus-size clothing. You can even book a one-on-one style session with owner Cat Polivoda, who’s known for giving thoughtful fashion advice and personal attention to anyone who walks through the door.
One of the most fun stops in the neighborhood, Tom’s Popcorn Shop takes visitors on a tasting tour of freshly popped goodness. After 40 years in business, the cheese, caramel, and Krunch Corn (made with sugar and butter in a copper kettle), remain tried-and-true favorites.
Keep the friendly competition going at Town Hall Lanes with some bowling action. This neighborhood bar also features some good food and all around good time.