Outside: The 12 Best Places to Live in 2019
By Stephanie Pearson
The Green Acres
Population: 422,326Median Household Income: $60,789Park Acreage: 5,070
Stereotypical Resident: The hardy midwestern striver who paddles in summer, nordic skis in winter, and cycles year-round in whatever conditions nature serves up.
What’s Happening: As part of the Minneapolis Big Build, city stakeholders are investing more than $1 billion in projects to improve local facilities and amenities, including plenty of new urban greenspace.
The Neighborhood: Sandwiched between a 740-acre park and downtown, Bryn Mawr is perfect for families who want out-the-door adventure without sacrificing their city fix. “It’s got world-class nordic skiing and miles of singletrack mountain biking at Theodore Wirth Regional Park, along with a canoe launch that connects us to the city’s lakes,” says Steve Yore, an analyst at Quality Bicycle Products. “We can bike downtown on paved trail in under 20 minutes.”
The Race: The centerpiece of February’s City of Lakes Loppet Ski Festival is the Loppet Classic, a 23-mile point-to-point nordic marathon that starts at Bde Maka Ska, the city’s largest urban lake, and winds around the frozen trails of south Minneapolis.
The Loop: In 2020, Theodore Wirth Park—home to 15 miles of groomed ski trails—will host the first FIS Cross-Country World Cup event held in the U.S. in nearly 20 years.
The Hub: The Trailhead, a new adventure center at Theodore Wirth Park, has a gear shop that will service your bike or skis, outfit you with new equipment, or rent you a fat bike, cross-country planks, and snowshoes.
The Adventure: Cycle the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway, a 51-mile road route and multi-use path that circles the city, taking you through nearly unbroken parkland. “You can recharge at any of more than 100 amazing restaurants, cafés, and brewpubs without leaving the trail,” says Bruce Martens, director of Loppet Cycle Works.
The Weekend Trip: Twenty-five miles northeast of the city, you’ll find the sleepy Saint Croix River town of Stillwater and the 40-room Lora, a new boutique hotel built inside a 19th-century brewery. Paddle part of the 255-mile Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway, or cycle dozens of miles of paved trails.