Main Streets 2017: Minnesota
It’s only 20 minutes by car from busy downtown Minneapolis to Excelsior, where people enjoy life in the slower lane. This miniscule Minnesota city has a population of less than 2,400, with Lake Minnetonka as its picturesque backdrop.
The aptly named Water Street runs through downtown past Lake Street, where you can catch a ride on the The Minnehaha, a restored steamboat that ferries passengers across the lake from Excelsior to Mayzata (and back) in the summer months.
And though there’s plenty of fun to be had on the lake, Excelsior’s downtown, just one square mile, also entices with its mix of historic ambience and contemporary shopping and dining options.
The Minnesota Streetcar Museum, with its fleet of six historic restored streetcars, opens an interesting portal into the city’s past. The Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail, an attraction for bicyclists and walkers, traverses the downtown area, crossing Water Street as its runs between the Excelsior Library and the museum of the Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Historical Society.
Water Street is a great launching pad for enjoying the annual events presented by the Excelsior Chamber of Commerce and other local groups. July brings Crazy Days, a fun festival with street car rides, a carnival for kids, a sidewalk tent sale and live music by fiddlers and pickers known as the String Beans. Enjoy funnel cake and other delicacies while strolling the downtown and joining in the “crazy” goings on.
Take a left off Water Street onto Lake Street and you find The Commons park and recreation area, with a swimming beach, playground, tennis courts, places to play baseball, and spots to enjoy a family picnic while taking in a concert. The annual 10,000 Lakes Concours d’Elegance, also in July, is a car, boat and motorcycle show on the banks of Lake Minnetonka. There’s a prize for best period dress, and visitors can enjoy food vendors, live music, a kids’ zone and other entertainment.
It does get cold in January, but the Arctic Fever celebration is the perfect antidote for cabin fever. Its fun things to do include a bicycle race, ice sculpting and a wine and paint party, where participants can sip while creating snowy hill scenes. For kids, there are wagon rides, a magic show and ice fishing off of Water Street.
Minnesota may be “The Land of 10,000 Lakes” — but for community spirit and year-round family fun, there is only one Lake Minnetonka. And one Excelsior.
Excelsior Farmer’s Market and Parade photos courtesy of Al Whitaker
All other photos courtesy of Excelsior-Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce