The Best Ways to Spend Long Summer Days in Minneapolis Northwest
Summer is a wonderful time of year, with long beautiful days and starry nights. Whether you enjoy outdoor concerts, theater or a walk in the park, there’s something for you during this magical season.
1. Free Outdoor Activities
Elm Creek Park Reserve | 12400 James Deane Parkway, Maple Grove
With more than 20 miles of trails, the largest park in the Three Rivers Park District — Elm Creek Park Reserve — is a paradise for nature lovers. Bike or hike the beautiful trails and watch for wildlife, then cool off with a dip in the swimming pond (for a small entry fee). This man-made pond has filtered and chlorinated water, a sandy beach, a changing shelter and concessions. Check out the floating boardwalk at Eastman Nature Center and enjoy a variety of nature activities. This is also where you can find cellphone audio stops, trail guide sheets, exploration kits and more.
Central Park | 12000 Central Park Way, Maple Grove
With the LED-illuminated splash pad, the gardens, the pickleball courts and playground, there are plenty of things to do in Maple Grove’s Central Park. This beautiful urban park is the perfect place to spend a long summer day with the family .
Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park | 10360 West River Road, Brooklyn Park
Hike, bike, run, walk and explore Coon Rapids Dam Regional Park. With 160 acres, access to the Mississippi River (complete with two miles of trails along the banks of the river) and a 12-foot-wide observation walkway on top of the dam, getting lost in the beauty of the park is half the fun. Plus, you never know when you might spot one of the minks, beavers, hawks, ospreys or river otters that call this area home.
2. Festivals, Festivals, Festivals!
June 8-9 | Chalkfest at Arbor Lakes | Main Street & Elm Creek Boulevard, Maple Grove
For two days only, talented artists from around the world pour into Minneapolis Northwest to transform Main Street at Arbor Lakes into one of the largest street art festivals in the Midwest — Chalkfest at Arbor Lakes. Visit on Saturday to watch international artists begin their artistic process, and come back on Sunday to enjoy their finished masterpieces. From gigantic chalk murals to 3-D pieces, this free festival brings in artists and chalk art lovers from around the world.
June 13-15 | Tater Daze | 5600 85th Avenue North, Brooklyn Park
Started in 1964, Tater Daze embraces the city’s past as a potato-growing center and includes free events like bingo, a petting zoo, live music and even a parade. Feeling the need for speed, test your legs at the Spud Run! Hungry? Don’t miss the pancake breakfast.
June 20-22 | Earle Brown Days
This year, take part in the 37th annual Earle Brown Days, which kicks off on June 20.
Watch the entertaining parade along Dupont Ave. N, tee off in the Golf Festival at Centerbrook Golf Course, and enjoy food and dueling pianos while sipping on wine and craft beer at Red, White & Brew.
There’s also the Family Festival at Centennial Park, where you can lace up your sneakers for the Run, Jump, or Fly 5K and Kids 1K Fun Run. From entertainment and food, to the community market and plenty of activities, there’s omething for everyone at this family festival.
July 10-14 | Maple Grove Days | Maple Grove Community Center, 12951 Weaver Lake Road, Maple Grove
Marking its 31st year, the annual Maple Grove Days events are quite the spectacle. This five-day event includes everything from fireworks to an art fair, kiddie games, a fishing clinic, outdoor yoga, and a medallion hunt. You especially don’t want to miss the silent auction for the chance to bid on hotel stays, restaurant certificates, salon packages and more, all to support a good cause.
3. The Best Places to Grab a Delicious Treat and Cool Off
Wagner’s Drive-In | 7000 West Broadway Avenue, Brooklyn Park
Nothing screams summer nostalgia like pulling up to a family-owned joint and eating in your car, Wagner’s Drive-In is the perfect summer spot to do just that. Everything is made from scratch, including the fried chicken, burgers (make it a combo!) and soups. Wash it all down with a root beer malt.
The Best Scoops in Town
When the days heat up, cool down with a scoop or two (or three!) from any one of these popular spots. Yogurt Lab’s frozen yogurt selection includes 16 flavors “on tap,” and plenty of toppings from its do-it-yourself topping bar. Cold Stone Creamery’s fun take on ice cream means you get to put whatever you want in it and see your creation made right in front of you. Plus, they have gluten-free cakes and cupcakes. (Tip: Print their coupon before you go!)
For a more hometown feel, visit Two Scoops in Anoka to try the Tornado challenge. This 20-scoop challenge includes a scoop of every flavor available, all topped with hot fudge (or another topping of your choice), whipped cream and a cherry on top, naturally.
If you have a taste for something truly unique, there are plenty of options around town where you can satisfy your craving, including Tii Cup in Maple Grove for bubble tea, coffee and shaved snow. Or try Nadia Cakes in Maple Grove for cupcakes of all kind, such as cheesecake cupcakes, gluten-free cupcakes and doggy cupcakes. You might have even seen them on TLC’s “Fabulous Cakes”!
4. The Perfect Patios for Summer Lounging
There’s something about dining outside in the summer that soothes the soul, and Minneapolis Northwest has plenty of patios that fit the bill. Lookout Bar & Grill in Maple Grove has one of the biggest in town and is equipped with a volleyball area, a fire pit and a children’s play area.
Claddagh Irish Pub in Maple Grove lives up its name. Expect great Irish food and even better Irish entertainment. 3 Squares is a must if you’re a fan of savory food. Maple Tavern in Maple Grove is more than a traditional bar and grill. It has a great patio, and more importantly, an exceptional build-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Last but not least, The Highlander, located at Rush Creek Golf Course, is a romantic spot complete with a stone fireplace and gorgeous views of the golf course.
5. Local Breweries for beer lovers
Minneapolis Northwest is heaven if you’re into the craft beer scene (and even if you’re not). OMNI Brewing Co. offers an inviting taproom and a solid selection of craft beers. Check out its calendar for fun events like Yoga in the Taproom, Cribbage Sundays, Taproom Trivia and more. Blue Wolf Brewing Company was one of the first breweries to open in Brooklyn Park and focuses on German-style beers. Besides its flagship brews, the brewery also offers rotating taps with various styles and seasonal varieties. Wicked Wort Brewing Company is another must-visit spot, with its dog-friendly patio, live music and interesting history. The family-owned spot took over the old TCF Bank, which was built back in 1967. Another place to visit: 10K Brewing. Because with a motto like “Nice Beer. Nice People,” why wouldn’t you grab a pint here?
5. Theater Events You shouldn’t Miss
This spring’s theater season in Minneapolis Northwest is sure to thrill audiences of all ages. Head to the Lyric Arts Main Street Stage to see Junie B. Jones is Not a Crook (May 3-12) and A Raisin in the Sun (May 31-June 16). Or check out Mamma Mia! (March 1-Sept. 28) at the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre!
6. Play a Few Rounds
As the saying goes, a bad day on the course is better than a good day in the office. And you’ll certainly never have a bad day when you’re at one of Minneapolis Northwest’s championship golf courses. Head to Rush Creek Golf Club for 18 hole (or a quick 9) or Edinburgh USA, one of the top public championship golf courses in the country, for its famously tricky 17th hole.
For a different type of golf, Brookland Golf Park in Brooklyn Park offers FootGolf, FlingGolf and even night golf. Or check out Lilli Putt in Coon Rapids for mini golf, go-karts and bumper boats. Make it a family outing and see who the best all-around player in your family is.