Apple Valley

Calm down, professor! I’m about to tell you!

A lot of these blog posts are actually motivated by me trying to answer the question “why?” about a particular suburb or area of town. I live in Minneapolis and while I spend time in the suburbs looking at homes for clients or visiting a venue or store, I try to take a bit of a closer look when I do these so I can really understand the character of the different communities around the metro areas.

It’s a Bedroom community – Apple Valley is residential with the exception of the shopping centers serving it along 150th & Cedar & parts of Galaxie. If you want to live near your company’s HQ, this is probably not the place. There isn’t really any nightlife or a a wide selection of non-family style entertainment options. But that’s great if what you are looking for is a quiet community that serves your everyday needs and you don’t mind taking a short drive when the urge strikes to do something else.

It’s only about 25 minutes into Minneapolis and less than 20 to the airport.

How do residents keep themselves occupied?

The Minnesota Zoo is located in Apple Valley. The zoo is great because they actually do more than educate & entertain children, the zoo holds a concert series that has some pretty big headliners and attracts people out of the city down to Apple Valley for some fun as well.

Apple Valley has easy access to Lebanon Hills Regional Park which is the largest park in the Dakota County system. They have really well marked trails that are various distances to get out and get a hike. We’ve been there and had a great time spotting different animals and types of caterpillars. If you’re an equestrian and want a place to ride – there are a lot of trails for you here as well!

The park also has a campground if you want to get a taste of roughing it without driving very far and a beach at Schulze lake.

Galaxie Library is really a gem – big and beautiful and looks to have been newly renovated.

Apple Valley goes for that small time community vibe by having celebrations a couple of times a year to bring everyone together – Freedom Days in summer with the pre-requisite parade and fireworks, but the one that sounds more interesting (and needed) happens in February when everyone in Minnesota has about had it with being cold or in the house – they have what they call “Midwinter Fest”. It’s sad that February is MID-Winter, but who am I to argue? Midwinter Fest has horse drawn wagons, ice skating and ice hockey, bonfires and smores, and indoor activities like pickleball and volleyball tournaments.

About 52,000 people call Apple Valley “home”, and 79% of them are home owners. The median income in Apple Valley is $87,164, and the median single family home price is above the twin cities median at $331,000. However, I thought it was really noteworthy how many townhouses, twinhouses, and condos were in Apple Valley – really great housing diversity. Condos have a median price of $122,000 and Townhomes are at $218,500. Another thing that struck me was that there were a lot of homes that looked to be single-level living and that isn’t the easiest thing to find in the Twin Cities area, so if that is a requirement for a comfortable lifestyle for you, you may want to consider Apple Valley.

And last, but not least, if you have kids and you’re evaluating schools, Apple Valley is ranked an A+ on niche.com. The high schools are really large, but there is a lot of diversity in educational choices for elementary – they have 4 schools that really stood out for specialized programs. They have a School of Environmental Studies, Cedar Park Elementary STEM School, Diamond Path Elementary School of International Studies and Echo Park School of Leadership, Engineering and Technology.

This week I spent some time in Apple Valley and found a couple of neighborhoods that need to be highlighted! Stay tuned for those.

Neighborhood Tours

Ahhhh… Victoria. Seriously one of my very favorite towns!

I don’t live there, but I think it would be way better than a sharp stick to the eye. (My mom says that… sorry if you’re grossed out).

I do, however, spend time in Victoria whenever I get the chance.

My favorite things to do there are camp in the Carver Park Reserve – it’s not crowded, it’s clean, there is a really nice little beach, and a LOT of walking/hiking trails.

I also like camping there because it’s short trip into this adorable town for a civilized lunch, a glass of beer and / or an ice cream cone. I like my camping with a side of delicious food that I don’t have to cook. Haters… save it.

Victoria is located near the Landscape Arboretum and the UMN Apple House so you can get first dibs on the apple crop. Minnesotans are very in tune with apple varieties and that may be because the U breeds apples (is that the right term?) – they experiment and develop new varieties. Love your Honey Crisp? Thank the UMN. Into SweeTango’s … UMN.

Anyway – I’ve been out there a lot lately and not minding a bit. Check out what Victoria has to offer. Let me know if you have questions or ideas about another place you’d like to see. 🙂

Neighborhood Tours


I’ve been viewing and showing homes a lot in the western suburbs of the Twin Cities lately and one of the suburbs is Chaska. It’s super charming!

Chaska, MN

Chaska has a sweet old historic downtown. It’s beautiful and you can imagine grabbing an ice cream an spreading a blanket out on the lawn to listen to a band play in the gazebo. The buildings are primarily made with what I think of as Chicago style brick -and I LOVE that.

Chaska has a really lovely park with a beach, event space, and playground. And this charming downtown is surrounded by some older homes, but primarily newer subdivisions.

Short post – but watch the video to see what Chaska has to offer! Let me know if you have questions or drop a comment below, I’d love to know if there are other neighborhoods or topics that you’s like to know about. 🙂

Neighborhood Tours

Maple Grove

I decided to do my latest neighborhood tour on Maple Grove, MN. It was like trying to eat an elephant in one bite. Maple Grove isn’t a “neighborhood” – it’s a city of over 60,000 people, so … I’ll call this an overview? Summary? Drive by? Basically, I was a little ambitious about what I thought I could include in one video.

Maple Grove Minnesota

In the video you can see the housing stock that is available – from a planned community surrounding Central Park including everything from apartments to townhouses and larger single family homes. I love the idea of having community space for a neighborhood to gather and enjoy, and this community space was really nice. A lake, a skating ribbon, playground, basketball and tennis courts, a farmers market every week – just so much to appreciate! The neighborhood is really close to 2 major shopping centers as well.

Maple Grove also has very easy access to freeways for commuting – it’s probably about 20-30 minutes to downtown Minneapolis during rush hour and far less when not. So you can get in and out of the city for Twins games or festivals relatively easily.

The other aspects that really appealed to me were access to giant lakes – big enough for motorized boats and water skiing, as well as Elm Creek Park Reserve. Elm Creek Park is part of the Three Rivers Park District – I was a fan of it before because we have found their trails to be really well marked, the camping uncrowded and clean, the parks are easy to access from the Twin Cities… but I had never been to this one. It is so nice! They have skiing and tubing in winter, disc golf, an off leash dog park, camping – in camper cabins if that’s your thing!, an enormous and amazing playground, a manmade swimming area, bike and roller blade paths, picnic areas… If I lived closer I would probably be there every week for one reason or another.

The homes that border the park are older and similar to what you see in many other suburbs of Minneapolis – ramblers or split levels.

Other things that stood out to me are the library – drop dead gorgeous! And HUGE. As well as the community center and all of the things that Maple Grove provides for its residents – from a pool to 2 hockey rinks and senior citizen services. If this is a suburb you’re considering at all – check out their web site and just start to get an idea of all the things that Maple Grove has. If the suburbs are your jam – I would say that Maple Grove should be near the top of the list.

City of Maple Grove https://www.maplegrovemn.gov/

Neighborhood Tours

Neighborhood tour – Eagan MN

Go for a walk – in Eagan!

I’ve been talking to several people interested in the suburbs of Minneapolis so this week I decided to poke around Eagan MN. I live in Minneapolis, so of course I’ve been to Eagan before, but what is fun about these tours is that it makes me dig a little deeper and look a little closer at the details of a community and really think about living there and what would be a plus or a minus.

Deciding on suburbs of Minneapolis?

Housing in Eagan

Eagan has very diverse housing options. Lots of apartments (rents around $1800/mo), condos, townhouses/twin homes, typical suburban homes from the late ’80’s and through the ’90’s, and even a couple of incredible mansions.

On the low end of the price points in Eagan are condos that run about $100k for 2 bedrooms. They are midrise, shared laundry, well maintained and a great option if you live alone, don’t want maintenance, want an apartment near the city as a second home etc.

Townhouses similar to those in the video are in the high $200 – mid $300K range, and some of the larger and newer town homes in Eagan are $450-500K.

Single family homes run the gamut from 1970’s ramblers to an outright castle, but homes in the subdivisions of Eagan tend to be set on .3 – about 1 acre lots and are larger, lots of them with 3 car garages and minimum of 4 beds, 3,000 SF. Prices sit in the mid $500’s as a median.

Things you may like about living in Eagan


Eagan is ideally situated. It is close to the airport & an easy commute to both downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul via 35 E or W.


Eagan also has easy access to a large park system. On the north side is Fort Snelling which is part of the National Parks. There are also two off leash dog parks in that area – one close to the airport and another a little further north at Minnehaha Falls.

To the south is Lebanon Hills Park – this place is amazing. The visitor’s center is quite new and clean, the park itself is very well maintained. There are many many hiking trails to take and it is a great place to go with kids. I took my daughter there last fall and we selected a 3 mile hike and were given a map that told us which trail markers to follow. The trails are really well marked! I love that! We saw so many animals and birds on our walk and while we weren’t completely alone the park is large enough that even when there are a lot of people visiting you are still able to achieve that feeling of having spent time in the quiet of nature. If you have horses, there are trails marked for that as well.

Eagan has 27 soccer fields and 56 parks – 14 of which have outdoor skating rinks in winter.


“The Mall” as people here call it. The Mall of America is not actually located IN Eagan but it is right next door. I confess to having not been there until last weekend and I was surprised at how much I actually liked it! It’s not mobbed with people. The variety of stores is really nice and there are things there that are harder to come by in other places. The amusement park and roller coasters were larger than I expected and look like a lot of fun – we did Flyover America and loved it!

There is a brand new Costco on the north side of the city, and unlike the one in St. Louis Park, the parking lot doesn’t make you want to tear your hair out (or that other person that can’t park’s hair out… it’s occurred to me and I am a peaceful person… ). It’s a joy to shop there. A zen experience compared to SLP.

If you like Walmart – there is a shopping center with Walmart on the north side of the city and for the True Minnesotans™ who want to shop their hometown retailer, there is a large shopping area with Target in the triangle between 77 and 35E.

Finally – Eagan is home to Twin Cities Premium Outlet Mall on the NE side of the city.

Family fun

In summer, Eagan has an outdoor pool and water park called Cascade Bay. Summer in MN we just soak up as much outside time as we can, and this place looks like a lot of fun if you have kids.

Eagan Civic Arena has 2 indoor ice skating rinks that are open year round – if you live in MN, this might be one of your concerns! Hockey. It’s a thing here.

Schools and libraries

Speaking of kids – the schools in Eagan are rated fairly highly by Great Schools, so if you are looking for quality public education, this may be a good place to look. There are also quite a few private schools in the area.

Last, but for me not least, they have a large library (Westcott) that is open 7 days a week. The library is something that my family has made great use of over the years – children’s programming in the early years and now just feeding the voracious readers in my house without spending ALL the money.

Top employers in Eagan

Eagan is home to Thomson Reuters, Blue Cross Blue Shield of MN, UPS, Ecolab, and while maybe not a “top employer”, it is also home to the Minnesota Vikings training facility – and that place is hard to miss as you drive down 494. 😉


Eagan is home to 67,509 people.

More than half of the population has a bachelors degree or higher.

The median income in Eagan is $82,265.

If you don’t like driving to downtown you can commute on the MVTA busses. They are clean! I always mention this after living in Chicago and spending a lot of time on busses and trains that had suspicious odors and stains. I loved the transit system there, but not everyone behaves well, so I appreciate it here.

I hope this helps if you’re considering Eagan as your next place to live!

Questions? leave a comment or tap one of the links below.

Neighborhood Tours

St. Louis Park, MN – a winter tour

Theodore Wirth Park has TWELVE sledding hills + tubing + bike & ski trails… it’s fun to be outside in winter!

I made a video on Saint Louis Park – stop by my YouTube Channel! https://youtu.be/W0ESPeTzz00

When I make neighborhood tour videos for my YouTube channel they always seem to get the most interest, and I stopped doing them when the snow and cold came around. Today I woke up and wondered why I was being such a wimp. I realized I didn’t want to shine a bad light on MN, and people hold so tightly to their convictions about the terrors of snow and cold – in fact a Washington Post reporter that moved to far NW MN from DC and wrote a book and an article about how happy he was and how much he actually enjoyed winter, was fairly viciously attacked in the comments when it posted on line.

So, I guess I was traumatized. undefined

And then I said to myself – NO! I will not let the haters get me down – I will stand in solidarity with Christopher Ingraham and defend winter!

So here goes nothing! Don’t hurt me.

I took myself on a little driving tour of the first ring suburb of St. Louis Park. It sits directly west of the city and abuts the Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis on one side and the City of Edina to the south. It is more affordable than the two of them, but because of the proximity to the city and the relatively more affordable prices, it has become a really hot area and things do not stay on the market for very long. The housing stock is pretty typical of SW Minneapolis in general – lots of 1950’s cape style bungalows, gradually giving way to 1960’s and 1970’s ramblers & split levels. I’m adding info about the home prices and the current market to the video….

It would be easy to picture the Brady Bunch living in SLP. I would not say that there is a lot of “historic charm”, but people have done some nice things with the ramblers (for the rest of the world – this is the MN term for a ranch style home). Lots are larger. There are sidewalks – and to me that is worth noting. I like walking without being hit by a car.

I admit to not spending an incredible amount of time in SLP other than driving through or shopping, so this was an enlightening trip for me as well. I was pretty pleased by some of what I found.

The Saint Louis Park rec center is not what I expected AT ALL! I thought it was a gym. It’s actually a park with an outdoor pool and water slides, and THREE full size ice rinks – 2 inside and a gorgeous outdoor rink as well. It’s a hockey paradise. Men with beards and big bags of equipment were pouring in for the open hockey that was happening.

SLP sits right on the the Cedar Lake Trail (temporarily closed because of light rail construction) and that connects to the Midtown Greenway and a whole network of other bike trails throughout the city and the suburbs.

At the “West End” you can find shops, restaurants (I tried “Lucky Cricket” Chinese restaurant and Tiki Bar today – Andrew Zimmern’s place. I was alone so I didn’t order a lot, but loved what I had – ShuMai burger). The insane Costco is over there, so if you’re feeling very Zen and can deal, or alternatively, if you’re feeling aggressive and want your anger to blend in, stop by! It’s mostly the parking lot that can change normally kind people into homicidal maniacs. Side note – there are 8 in the metro area, so if you go to the one in SLP consider yourself warned. There are other (more peaceful) choices. Just sayin’.


SLP has a very nice nature center on the far NW side of the city – I’ll come back in summer. The visitor’s center is being rebuilt and there are trails around a lake there. It’s called Westwood Nature Center and it reminds me a lot of the little oasis in Richfield – the Woodlake Nature Center.

Other outdoor activities… Theodore Wirth Park – an amazing and HUGE park with snow tubing! Groomed x-ctry ski trails! Biking trails – yes, even in winter! 12 sledding hills there alone! Snow boarding!

11 of the neighborhood parks have some sledding, night time lights, ice skating and a few have warming houses. I love this aspect of MN- it’s easy to be outside having fun year round.

Disc golf in winter at Brookview Golf Course! CURLING! I mean – that seems like a very Minnesota thing to do. Don’t ask me what it is.

Indoor – head to Punch Bowl Social for food and bowling. Or take the kids to Roller Garden – it’s old school fun.

That’s all I have for today and it’s way more than I thought I would have when I started out this morning. St. Louis Park surprised me. You may like it too!

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