Bank on intentional ways to spend time around town.
Being more intentional in the way in which I spend free time is important to me. Making plans. Organizing outings. It’s all part of constructing a life with experiences—large and small—that are meaningful, engaging and fun! This isn’t to say that there isn’t room for a healthy serving of spontaneity, but it’s all part of infusing a breath of the unknown and unplanned into life’s lineup.
As I gathered my thoughts about what to share with you this year as my Editor’s Picks in our Best of Lake Minnetonka issue, I decided to highlight some local spots that can add an exclamation point to an experience. What qualifies as “best” for me? Honestly, that all depends. But I do hope you’ll find some nuggets of joy for yourself in my suggestions. At the end of the day, we all have so much to celebrate and enjoy in our lives around the lake!
Best Way to Spend a (Matinée) Day
While those of us in these parts love to celebrate (brag about) the extensive and expansive outdoor activities that living here provides, there are times—let’s be really honest here—that we all need to duck inside to cool our heels or toast our toes. Might I suggest having some extra fun while doing so? The Old Log Theatre opens its doors for 1 p.m. Thursday matinee productions that offer audience members the opportunity to enjoy live local theater without the hassle of a drive “downtown” or the fuss that entails. And the curtain drops well before the kids are finished with their school day or evening activities kick into gear.
5185 Meadville St., Excelsior; 952.474.5951; oldlog.com
Best Way to Spend an Antiquing Day
Call me an antiquer. Call me a hunter and gatherer. Regardless, I love poking around antique shops to add to my collections (yes, plural) or tapping into memories by seeing old favorites on the shelves and cases. I particularly enjoy visiting haunts while traveling, but we don’t have to pack our bags to go antiquing when we have three specialty shops in Excelsior. Regardless of what you’re looking for or in need of to complete your collection or series, I’m betting that you’ll utter, “Well, will you look at that!” at all of these locations—treasures in and of themselves.
Country Look in Antiques, 240 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.0050
Leipold’s Gifts & Antiques, 239 Water St., Excelsior; 952.474.5880
The Vintage Loft, 434 Second St., Excelsior; 612.296.0413
Best Way to Spend $13
There’s plenty of contenders here, but when it comes to what is becoming a must-order breakfast item, the promise of a breakfast burrito from Hash House (formerly Buddy Boy Fine Barbeque) goes a long way to get me up and at ’em. The first order of business is choosing the meat (or go veggie). Options include Buddy original sausage, Ferndale turkey, house smoked bacon, green chili pork, hot link jalapeño cheddar, pork belly, prime brisket or red chili brisket. The burrito is rounded out with scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, queso (I think that’s the secret to the goodness.), cilantro and lime all snuggled up in a warm flour tortilla.
8175 Highway 7, Minnetrista; hashhousemn.com; Take note: Buddy Boy Fine Barbeque is now located next door at 8201 Highway 7, Minnetrista, where lunch and dinner are served, including a full bar and extended menu.
Best Way to Spend a Time with a 700 Year Old
If you’ve ever been to the Wood-Rill Scientific and Nature Area, you know what it means to stand in the presence of natural history. It is thought that the big woods forest is about 700 years old. With the Luce Line Trail running to its south and hiking space within, the area is a welcome spot for those craving unencumbered time outdoors. (Biking is not allowed in the scientific/nature area.) Visit the Sugar Maple Forest (big woods), Black Ash–Alder Swamp, Tamarack Swamp, Sedge Meadow, Forest Restoration and more. Be sure to check the Department of Natural Resource’s website for a list of what is/isn’t allowed in the area and specific details about the site. It’s important to note that scientific/nature areas are not equipped like other nature sites. While it might not have all the bells and whistles of other nature areas—who needs them when Mother Nature already invited the best guests?
917 Old Long Lake Road, Wayzata; 651.259.5800; dnr.state.mn.us
Best Way to Spend Moments Browsing
I can usually determine if I’m going to enjoy a retail experience once I’m just a couple steps past the store’s threshold. It didn’t take that long at Harvest Home. The witchy weather vane perched atop the floral and gift boutique in Wayzata had me at its east- and west-only indicators. Get it? (Hints: One was the original wearer of the Ruby Slippers (east), and Margaret Hamilton played the other in the 1939 film version (west).)
Once in the store, the vibe is decidedly European with weathered plant and flower vessels, rustic accoutrements galore and antique architectural elements. And don’t we all feel better surrounded by greenery—large and small? The space in chock-full of them, and the seasonal space holds its own bounty of plants. While I appreciate shopping for décor items of all sorts, I love taking extra time while choosing greeting cards. (I adore sending and receiving greetings brought by way of the U.S. Postal Service.) Harvest Home features an extensive inventory of Shannon Martin cards suitable for many occasions served with a side of giggles. The store’s layout affords shoppers the chance to wander while they ponder their next purchase. You can special order floral and plant elements for your next event. Regardless which way the wind blows, I’ll be back.
320 Wayzata Blvd., Wayzata; 952.476.7603; havesthomewayzata.com
Best Way to Spend Money for a Good Cause
If you drop into Wayzata’s Hope Chest Resale Shop, odds are you’ll leave with something in hand. From new, higher-end clothing (Check out the selection of jeans!) to used, upscale furniture and décor items, there’s plenty to pluck through during your visit. Some of the furniture pieces are unique and ideal for anchoring a room in individuality, and don’t forget your vacation home. Fill any abode with personality and décor that reads culled, not cookie cutter. Since 2000, the shop has raised funds support the Hope Chest for Cancer Foundation, which helps local breast cancer patients, who are in urgent need of financial assistance.
3850 Shoreline Drive, Wayzata; 952.471.8700; hopechest.com
Best Way to Spend the Golden Hour Taking Senior Photos
We’re four for four in this house when it comes to having kids’ senior photos taken around Excelsior and along Lake Minnetonka’s shoreline. For a walkable area, it really boasts plenty of venues, ideal for incoming high school seniors to stop and pose. Want more hardscapes and geometric elements? There are plenty of spots around Pique Travel Design that fill the bill or between the Water Street buildings. Needing a nature vibe? The entrance near Excelsior Commons and the Port of Excelsior offers plenty blooms and greenery for ideal backdrops. The lake is an obvious and perfect choice to add just the right local touch. And, for the, “I’m Looking Toward my Future” pose, there’s a quiet spot that jets out into the lake that is between the commons and the beach. Find it, and you’ll get the perfect reflective shot.
Locations vary around downtown Excelsior.