Plan on spending a fair amount of time exploring this historic Minneapolis community made up of four individual neighborhoods: Cooper, Hiawatha, Howe, and Longfellow. Established in the 1880s, Longfellow is named after the American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, whose famous poem, “The Song of Hiawatha,” incorporated tales of the Dakota Native American tribe who inhabited this area for centuries before European settlers.
Located along the breathtaking Mississippi River Gorge, the Longfellow community is rich in nature and recreation with scenic expanses including the fabled Minnehaha Falls and miles of parkland, biking and hiking trails. It is also home to unique Craftsman-style and star architect residential housing and the Minnehaha Mile, a wide, bike-friendly retail boulevard hosting an abundance of antique, vintage, retro and secondhand shops, along with great eating and entertainment establishments.
Things to Do
Absolutely free are cycling, running, hiking or walking along the Mississippi River’s scenic East River Road that forms Longwood’s eastern border.
Okay, go for the surrey with the fringe on top – for real! Family surreys, other fun wheels and water vehicles are available for rent at Minnehaha Falls from Wheel Fun Rentals.
No trip to this area would be complete without exploring the many attractions of Minnehaha Regional Park, naturally, including the Falls themselves, and the historic Longfellow House and Pergola Garden.
Nighttime fun can be found year round at Longfellow’s Trylon Cinema. This tiny venue is step back in time using authentic 35mm projectors to screen many of its classic films, six nights a week. Though compact, the Trylon features 90 brand new comfy seats with ample spaces for wheelchairs. Cash only, check their website for current listings.
One place that’s literally hoping day and night is Tapestry Folk Dance center at 3748 Minnehaha Ave. This non-profit organization is dedicated to dance, and classes go well beyond folk with offerings of Zumba, Flamenco, even Karate. Great place to meet the locals and drop-ins are welcome. Check the website for times and offerings.
Where to Eat and Drink
Sea Salt Eatery
At the southern end of Longfellow by its scenic waterfall is Sea Salt Eatery, a seasonal restaurant located right in Minnehaha Park. Open from spring to late fall daily, it serves fresh seafood, wine, beer, soft drinks and treats. Go back in time at Hi-Lo Diner, a 1950s themed diner car with modern takes on old favorites. Try their Hi-Tops, house-made donuts piled high with seemingly unusual toppings like fried chicken, peanut butter & bacon, or pulled pork & zesty salsa. Trust us on this one.
Sonora Grill on East Lake Street is the perfect indoor getaway in the winter and ideal culinary escape in the summer, featuring a beautiful patio to enjoy the weather with a warm ambiance and plant-filled space. Owner and Chef Conrado Badilla Paredes brings Sonora-style Mexican cuisine to Minneapolis with a variety of tacos, seafood, soups, and handmade tortillas - all packed with flavor. Don't forget to indulge in their creative cocktails and fully stocked tequila and mezcal bar too.
Due north of the Falls at the corner of East River Road at Lake Street, the Longfellow Grille attracts out-of-towners, locals and cyclists who enjoy an extensive made-from-scratch menu in the light filled restaurant or seasonally on the spacious outdoor patio. Known for reasonably priced specialties such as sweet potato fries, fish tacos, turkey burgers, banana waffles, and tasty, potent craft cocktails, the grille is a crowd pleaser.
Smack dab on Minnehaha Mile’s retail road, located at 3637 Minnehaha Ave, the Howe Daily Kitchen & Bar offers a pub-like setting, huge weekend brunches, and a mind-blowing 40 beers on tap. If your pooch is indispensible to your outings – the Howe showcases not only a dog friendly patio, but a Fido-friendly menu as well! Check the website for the many happy hour specials and events.
Minnehaha Ave is also a coffee lovers paradise. Just a few blocks south of Howe at 3860 Minnehaha Ave is Selam Coffee, a Longfellow mainstay. Featuring traditional Ethiopian as well as American brew, Selam also serves up a few Ethiopian staples like tasty, spongy njera bread and other baked goods. Founded by Ethiopian immigrants – Bilal and his wife Rahel – the building is noted for its large colorful murals of a traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
Further north at 3262 Minnehaha Ave, find the playful prominent pink façade of community-based Wonderland Park Peace Coffee in all its caffeinated glory. Serving up fresh roasted brew and a variety of pastries, including gluten free offerings, the spot is laid-back Longfellow at its most authentic.
Due north along Minnehaha is a node of dining establishments offering something for every taste. Hit the Town Talk Diner & Gastro Pub with its modern American original décor, history and charm. But that’s where history ends. Try the totally updated “ingredient driven” French-influenced cuisine featuring farm-to-table items crafted to perfection by chefs Kacey White and Charles Stotts. With an ever-changing menu, the best advice for this foodie destination is to follow their house rules: Come Early. Stay Late. Eat Better. Be Happy!
No visit to Longfellow is complete without experiencing the most authentic Indian cuisine outside of Bangladesh at Gandhi Mahal, just around the corner from Town Talk at 3009 27th Avenue S. Voted the Best Indian restaurant in the Twin Cities, the owners here consistently deliver mouth watering authentic recipes sourced as locally as possible. The simple Papadum cumin wafers dipped in Gandhi Mahal’s mesmerizing homemade spicy and savory dips curb the appetite until the arrival of such main courses as their beloved Delhi Tikka Masala or Vindaloo. All entrees can be modified for vegans or vegetarians, but order succulent meats if you’re so inclined. Known for their generous all-you-can-eat lunch buffets, the Gandhi Mahal’s live evening performance series showcases authentic music by an array of talented local performers. Call ahead for details.
For a thoroughly “spirited” Minnesotan experience, end the day at Du Nord Craft Spirits’ Cocktail Room, at 2610 E. 32nd St. Using only their handcrafted, small batch, highly touted spirits, this locale is where the twin Cities hipsters and local bartenders gather after a long day or evening. Open from 5 to 10 weekdays, and until midnight Friday and Saturdays, Du Nord encourages patrons to bring their own meals or to grab something tasty from their outdoor food truck to sop up the libations. Du Nord’s L'etoile Vodka and Fitzgerald Gin are gold medal award winners, and their array of products are sold and heralded throughout the state. Tours and private parties can be arranged!
Where to Shop
With lots of distance to cover, the savvy tourist should plan a few hours along this store-studded street. Beginning at Moon Palace Books to the north on Minnehaha Ave may mean never getting anywhere else! The epitome of Minneapolis’ well-regarded indie bookstores, Moon Palace offers a highly curated selection of national and international titles, plus a masterful section by local authors on local topics. There is a café with coffee and treats, and the nighttime rocks with readings, music and theater in an intimate setting.
Journeying a few blocks south is a double-bubble of Heroic Goods & Games, with its new and vintage selection of board and electric games, and the Strange Boutique, where an assortment of vintage, antique and repurposed furniture, household items, clothing and accessories abounds.
A Longfellow favorite is quirky Paris Antique and Gifts. This eclectic shop has a discerning collection of…well…everything! Not particularly French, there are antique and contemporary decorative, bric-a-brac, jewelry and gift items. Summertime is renowned for the backyard “Paris Courtyard.” Open Friday and Saturday noon to 6, or by appointment.
Tucked in an un-presupposing storefront is Ricardo Levins Morales Art Studio, brainchild of “healer and trickster organizer disguised as an artist” of the store’s name, Ricardo Levins Morales, a Puerto Rican Native who has used art as a means of social peacemaking. His prints, posters, cards, buttons and more are as unique as his mission to foster a socially just world.
Another Minnehaha Mile favorite is Turquoise Vintage, a shoppers’ sanctuary for quality, much sought-after vintage pieces. With an infamous Pyrex collection, the store virtually bulges with designer clothes, pop art finds, midcentury pieces and Aunt Millie’s lawn furniture.
Junket: Tossed & Found is all that its name implies and more. Shopping for those elusive “Admit One” tickets on a roll, beads, buttons, and thread, how about ancient office supplies? You’ve found the merchandize mecca. With its cavernous square footage, be sure to have your GPS on hand in case you get lost within its cavernous space.
After miles of vintage shopping, find a relaxing stop at the south end of the avenue. Awakenings is a store and learning center for all things spiritual and metaphysical. From oracle and tarot cards to essential oils, crystals, jewelry, books and CD’s, Awakenings can be a retreat after a busy day.
Getting to and Around Longfellow
Bordered on the north by the Midtown Greenway, a bicycle and pedestrian trail linking the Mississippi River all the way to the Uptown Neighborhood, and the Chain of Lakes in the west, on the south by Minnehaha Park and Falls, on the east by the Mississippi River Gorge, and on the West by the Hiawatha (Blue) Light Rail line, Longfellow is easily accessible by public transportation to downtown Minneapolis, MSP International Airport, and the Mall of America. Because the Longfellow Community is rather sizeable, it may be advisable hire a car or ride share. Seasonally, bicycles are a perfect way to tour the area.
Public Transit Routes:
46th Street & Minnehaha Station
Metro Blue Line
SCHEDULE times for A Line buses
Connecting bus routes:
7 - serves south Minneapolis, downtown Minneapolis, north Minneapolis
9 - serves south Minneapolis, downtown Minneapolis, Golden Valley, St. Louis Park and Minnetonka
46 - serves Edina, 46th Street, Highland Park, Cleveland Avenue, Sibley Plaza
74 - serves Highland Park, Randolph Avenue, St. Catherine's University, downtown St. Paul, Sun Ray, Oakdale