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. Rent bikes—in addition to canoes, kayaks and paddle boats—through Wheel Fun Rentals. 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. Harriet stays colorful in the winter months, with the annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival drawing kites of all shapes and sizes. You’re also likely to spot ice fishing and snowshoeing enthusiasts during the deep-freeze months.
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 cars. Hop on the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line for a scenic tour between the lakes. The line’s North Platform drops riders off at Bde Maka Ska, the largest of the Chain of Lakes. During warmer weather, lounge on three beaches or get active on the soccer and softball fields or sand volleyball court. As the chill sets in and the lake freezes over, you may spot people catching the breeze and snowkiting across the surface. 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.
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 60 years. Catch one of their free tastings on Fridays and Saturdays, or sign up for 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 Clancey’s, where roast beef and turkey gets piled high atop bread from Rose Street Patisserie across the street. For sophisticated takes on American faves (think a cheeseburger with wagyu beef and smoked cheese fondue), come hungry to Tilia, and don’t miss their brussels sprouts with ham and walnuts. Naviya’s Thai Brasserie dishes gorgeous hot plates and stir-fries, and their curries are killer. Cool off with a scoop—or two—of signature raspberry chocolate chip ice cream at family-run Sebastian Joe’s.
You’ll also find a smattering of unique dining joints 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. Their food-coma-inducing BBQ Bowls deliver all the comfort food with a little less risk of dripping sauce on your shirt. 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.
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 Mexican mole sauce, using it to flavor wagyu beef brisket tacos and other elevated street food specialties. Treat yourself to a strong Trevino cocktail, crafted with reposado tequila and fermented agave.
Where to Shop
The parking lot of Settergren’s Hardware is the place to be every Sunday morning from May through December, because that’s the home of the Linden Hills Farmers Market. Snatch some of the finest fruits, herbs and veggies from more than 50 vendors. Just a couple 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 tarantula named Rubeus Hagrid.
Vintage lovers find their paradise at Hunt & Gather. Antiques and curios of all kinds unfold across two floors of space. Looking for a great gift? You’ve got lots of terrific options, including Heartfelt, where kids and adults alike fall in love with the naturally-made gifts and craft items. The garden and string-lit porch at Lily & Violet Boutique charms visitors before they even walk through the door to shop for women’s clothing and cute gifts. Bean + Ro also specializes in chic women’s apparel, along with a full-service stationery department that allows for the perfect personal touch on invites and holiday cards.
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: