Cooler by the Lakes
Bordered by two of the city’s most popular lakes (Bde Maka Ska and Lake Harriet), Linden Hills residents know how to have a good time on and off the water. There’s plenty of rich history here, too, as the neighborhood started buzzing when the Como-Harriet streetcar line began rolling through in the 1920s (you can still take a nostalgic ride today). Just steps away from the line, the commercial hub of the neighborhood thrives with fabulous cafes and a vast array of indie shops.
Things to Do
There are countless ways to play at Lake Harriet, part of the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes Regional Park. Nearly 3 miles of pedestrian and bike trails circle the perimeter and pass some of the city’s most stunning homes. No matter where you’re at on the lake, it’s hard to miss the castle-like Band Shell, complete with turrets. Here, you’ll find a full lineup of free concerts and movies through the summer, plus sunrise yoga facing the lake every morning from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
During warmer weather, lounge on three beaches, get active on the soccer and softball fields or sand volleyball court, and rent bikes—in addition to canoes, kayaks and paddle boats—through Wheel Fun Rentals.
As the chill sets in and the lake freezes over, the area continues to draw outdoor enthusiasts even on the coldest days. You may spot people ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowkiting, and skijoring across the frozen surface. Each February, the sky above the lake is festooned with a rainbow of kites both large and small during the annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival.
A stone’s throw from the lake’s western shoreline, The Bakken Museum offers a treasure trove of science and technology discoveries. The only Smithsonian-affiliated museum in the state features immersive experiences including Frankenstein’s Laboratory. “Meet” author Mary Shelley and watch Frankenstein’s famous monster come to life.
Decades before the Light Rail came to town, commuters hopped aboard streetcars to get from home to work and back. The Minnesota Streetcar Museum offers rides aboard the beautifully restored trolleys. Hop on the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line for a scenic tour between the lakes, and enjoy a full calendar of annual events, from Vinternatt holiday rides to the Trick 'r Trolley each Halloween.
On the western edge of the neighborhood at France Avenue and 44th Street, get your wine and cheese fix at the aptly named France 44. This family-run destination has specialized in a worldly selection of wines, beers and spirits—plus ethically sourced cheeses—for over 60 years. Sign up for a personalized tasting for up to 8 wine and cheese lovers, or dig deeper with one of their enlightening courses focused on a variety of foods and beverages.
Farther south on France, around 50th Street, more character-filled shops—along with restaurants and an indie movie theater—reinforce this area’s must-visit status.
Where to Eat and Drink
You don’t have to travel far from Lake Harriet to get a taste of the fine eats in Linden Hills. Plenty of options await where Sheridan and Upton Avenues converge at West 43rd Street. Find some of the freshest meat and seafood in town at neighborhood butcher shop Clancey’s, where corned beef and roast turkey gets piled high atop bread from nearby Patisserie 46. For sophisticated takes on American faves, come hungry to Tilia, for a choose-your-own-adventure three-course pix fixe dinner. Naviya’s Thai Brasserie dishes gorgeous vegetable-centric stir-fries and their curries.
South-of-the-border staples get modern makeovers at a pair of fine-dining favorites. If you think you know empanadas, think again as you indulge in one filled with creamed leeks and gorgonzola at Martina. The Argentinian-inspired menu rewards culinary adventure-seekers with cinnamon fried calamari, grilled beef tongue bruschetta, and other one-of-a-kind delicacies. Colita masters the art of modern Mexican flavors, from lamb barbacoa tacos to charred eggplant tostadas with roasted tomato and tamarind. (A bonus for allergy-aware diners: everything from the kitchen is naturally gluten free.) Cool off with a handmade scoop—or two—of signature raspberry chocolate chip ice cream at family-run scoop shop Sebastian Joe's.
You’ll also find a smattering of unique eateries on the neighborhood’s western end near West 44th Street and France Avenue South. Since 1934, the Convention Grill has been a haven for juicy local gossip and even juicier burgers. Bring a friend to split the massive malts and homemade hot fudge sundaes. Huge portions also star at Old Southern BBQ, a palace of protein with to-die-for brisket and pulled pork. Need a quick breakfast or a fresh loaf to-go? Turtle Bread Company is your spot. In addition to their masterfully crafted breads, they’re known for their flaky croissants and small-batch muffins and scones, all of which pair beautifully with a bold cup of Joe. Want a little more spice with your breakfast? Head to Cafe Ceres for Turkish-style coffee and bagels with labneh and za'atar.
Where to Shop
The parking lot of Settergren’s Hardware is the place to be every Sunday morning from May through October, where the Linden Hills Farmers Market gathers the finest fruits, herbs, and veggies from more than 50 vendors. Just a couple of blocks down the street, Wild Rumpus features a magical land of books targeted at younger readers, plus live critters including Caldecott the chinchilla and a chicken named Neil DeGrasse Tyson.
Vintage lovers will have a blast searching for hidden treasure at Hunt & Gather, where antiques and oddities of all kinds unfold across two floors of space. Looking for a great gift? You’ve got lots of terrific options, including Heartfelt, an arts and crafts store dedicated to creative gifts and in-studio projects for kids and adults, and Everett & Charlie, a one-stop shop for gallery goods for the art love. Bean + Ro specializes in chic women’s apparel, along with a wide selection of stationery, gifts, and paper goods.
Getting to and Around Linden Hills
(Starting point of Meet Minneapolis Visitor Center on 5th & Nicollet)
You’ll find plenty of free street parking around the Linden Hills neighborhood. Open spots become more competitive as you get closer to Lake Harriett, especially on warm, sunny weekends. Pay lots around the lake cost $1.25 per hour.
From downtown, you can get within walking distance of Lake Harriett Bandshell Park on the 6 bus. It’s about a 20-minute trip.
Public Transit Routes: