In no particular order ...
No. 1: The Lookout Restaurant
8672 Pineview Lane North
The Lookout Bar and Grill Website
When you talk about old school Maple Grove, you're talking about The Lookout, a restaurant that has called Maple Grove home before Maple Grove was even a city! Owner Mike Kinnan opened the restaurant in 1958 and when you visit, you'll see why it's called The Lookout. You can see the skyscrapers of downtown Minneapolis, and Kinnan said you can see more than a dozen water towers spotting the beautiful landscape. But don't forget this is a restaurant with a huge, mouth-watering menu that even the kids will eat up. Speaking of kids, there's a playground in the back of the restaurant making this place extremely family-friendly. And for the older crowd, live music entertains along with sand volleyball tournaments and serious happy hour specials. There's a reason why they have loyal customers -- the Lookout also prides itself in community involvement from charity golf tournaments, concert benefits and supporting local sports.
No. 2: Elm Creek Regional Park
12400 James Deane Parkway
Elm Creek Regional Park Website
Four seasons of fun can be had at this Three Rivers District Park. Spring: visit the Eastman Nature Center as the buds and birds start to appear after a long winter. The nature center has floor-to-ceiling windows to see the birds and wildlife emerge from the cold. Learn at an interactive exhibit area and sneak a peek at live Minnesota frogs, salamanders, turtles and snakes. Summer: swim, swim, swim at the man-made swimming pond that offers a sand beach and filtered, chlorinated water. Or hop on your bike for almost 30 miles of trails to explore. Fall: Enjoy the changing colors by hiking on more than 50 miles of trails. Or play a brisk round of disc golf on the park's 18-hole course. Winter: it might be cold but there is plenty to get your heart pumping including a tubing hill with lifts, a beginner-level downhill ski and snowboard hill. If Mother Nature doesn't do her job, park officials make their own snow. And if you're looking to avoid the hills, there's almost 18 kilometers of cross-country ski trails.
No. 3: Town Green
Arbor Lakes Parkway and Pineview Lane
Website Information On Town Green
The newest park in Maple Grove is preserving green space in a bustling retail area while also providing an amphitheater for outdoor performances. Located just north of the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, the Town Green is a great place to relax and read a book by the pond located in the middle of the park. Or take a brisk walk on the paths that circle the water. The park has only been open for a few months, but it has already played host to a summer full of performances at the beautifully-constructed amphitheater. The park includes three pavilions for performance concession, restrooms and a rentable room that would be a relaxing setting for meetings or a small party.
No. 4: The Maple Maze
12951 Weaver Lake Road
Maple Maze Website
Grab your socks and get ready to climb! If you want to exhaust your children with some good ol' fashioned playtime, head to the Maple Maze inside the Maple Grove Community Center. For kids 12 and younger, this indoor playground gets out all that pent-up energy by sliding down tube slides, crawling through level after level of a playhouse that brings you all the way up to the ceiling or testing out your rock climbing skills. There's even a separate play area for toddlers with features and even a ball pit. And parents, rest while your kids run with chairs that circle the playground. There is a small fee for all the fun and if you forget your socks, you can buy a new pair.
No. 5: The Studio at Rush Creek
9481 Garland Lane North
The Studio at Rush Creek Website
Part coffee shop, part art studio, part art store, part art education -- all sorts of fun! The Studio at Rush Creek is almost hidden behind Walmart off Garland Lane but this hidden gem is worth finding. The coffee shop offers a full menu of hot and cold drinks to whet your thirst or warm you up. Plus, comfy chairs and tables to take a break while checking out the beautiful art that decorates the walls. Think you'd like to try your hand at some of that art? Sign up for one or many classes offered at The Studio -- from jewelry making to glass fusing to ceramic painting to just creative painting -- or sign up your kids to see if they're the next Picasso or just to add some fun art to the fridge. And once you take a class, you can use the art studio almost any time to get your creative juices flowing. Or plan a private party and pick a craft everyone can do together! If you're not the artistic type, check out all the locally-made crafts for sale.
No. 6: Shoppes at Arbor Lakes
I-94/I-694 and Hemlock Lane
Shoppes at Arbor Lakes Website
Attention Shoppers -- want to enjoy some fresh air while still hitting all your favorite stores? Then head to the outdoor Shoppes at Arbor Lakes that offers an abundant choice of national retailers, unique boutiques and lots of places to eat. In a picturesque setting, walking from store to store feels like a walk through the park. Don't let the cold weather scare you, the Shoppes offers lots of events all year long, even Christmas shopping specials complete with Santa and his reindeer.
No. 7: The Great River Energy Windmill
It might not be something to do but it is definitely something to look at: the wind turbine that sits at the headquarters of Great River Energy. The 166-foot, 200-kilowatt turbine was installed in 2007 and is an interesting landmark with bike trails circling it. The wind turbine creates renewable energy that can power the equivalent of 40 homes and provides a portion of its power to the headquarters. Plus, it's just really cool to watch it spin round and round and round.
No. 8: Maple Grove Library
8001 Main Street North
Maple Grove Library Website
Open and inviting, like a new or favorite book, the new Maple Grove Library actually looks like an open book from the outside. You'll notice the floor to ceiling windows from the outside but when you walk inside you'll be welcomed by the natural light shining through those windows that illuminates the library. Even though it's new, you'll still enjoy that "book smell" as your browse through the colorful rows of literature. The new library has almost three times more space than the old one and more technology with 69 computers. The library is very kid-friendly, so don't be surprised to hear the voices of children, followed by the "shhhhs" of parents.
No. 9: Maple Grove Farmers' Market
Maple Grove Community Center - 12951 Weaver Lake Road
Maple Grove Farmers' Market Website
If you're looking for a wide variety of fresh produce, baked goods and yummy food, head to the Maple Grove Farmers' Market that boosts more than 60 vendors in one spot every Thursday from 3-7 p.m. It's a place you'll want to visit often, because as the seasons change so does the produce. You can also show your local loyalty by joining the Frequent Shopper Program that rewards people who come back to the market five different times. Need some recipe ideas for your new purchases? Stop by the Market Information Booth and get free recipes, plus an activity sheet to keep the youngsters busy while you shop around. And if you need to see the best way to make that fresh produce into something yummy, they also have chef demonstrations throughout the market.
(credit: Black Forest Boutique)
No. 10: Black Forest Boutique
16515 Bass Lake Road (Inside St. Patrick's Cemetery)
Black Forest Boutique Facebook Page
If you've never seen, or heard, of the Black Forest Boutique, consider this amazing insider information if you love arts, crafts, antiques or unique finds. It might feel a little creepy driving into a cemetery to go shopping (St. Patrick's Cemetery to be specific), but that's where you'll find the old one-room schoolhouse filled to the rafters with handmade treasures. Celebrating its 15th anniversary, the boutique's owner, Pat Aldritt, gives more than 80 local artisans a place to sell their wares for two months, starting now until early November. Aldritt says the shop is open every day and there is something for everyone and for every price. And shop often because there is so much stuff to sell, you'll see new things every time you stop in.
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