Neighborhood Tours · small towns and exurbs · Uncategorized

Elk River and Otsego

I had a request from someone on my YouTube channel to do an overview of Otsego. I admit, that isn’t anywhere near the top of the pile for places that people have asked to see so I haven’t spent much time there. As with all of these neighborhood profiles, I learned a lot about what is out that way and some of it made me pretty happy! This is going to be the beginning of a series where I look at smaller towns an exurbs of Minneapolis – I have some video footage ready for Excelsior as well as Northfield and I’m looking forward to both of those as well.

shopping pins where you’ll see stores

The map give a sense of where Otsego & Elk River are – far NW of Minneapolis. It’s definitely what I would consider a 3rd ring suburb / exurb.

What surprised me most was that Elk River is actually the larger hub of economic activity! This is why it’s important to see things in person! Otsego itself is fairly rural with a lot of subdivisions “planted” on farm lands and still a lot of farm surrounding the neighborhoods. If you want a newer home but in a rural environment you may like it in Otsego.

Elk River has a charming and BUSY little downtown area that is right on the Mississippi River. The primary reason I headed that way after looking at Otsego was that I like to show the public library and any other city services and Otsego had the Elk River library listed as the closest, and it IS right next door. The Elk River library was a surprise to me as well – large and modern. I didn’t go into the building, but it exceeded my expectations by a LOT based on their minimal web site.

Elk River Library

Check out the video to get a good look at the downtown and the library. The police department, utilities and parks and rec buildings were similarly new and located directly across the street form the library- my point would be that the residents seem to be investing in their community infrastructure.


Photo by olia danilevich on

Otsego is served by three different school districts depending on where your home is located – St. Michael/Albertville, Otsego & Elk River schools. So again, this is a situation where you’ll ask your agent to include or exclude homes based on which district is best for your family. Elk River is served by ISD 728 – Elk River Schools.


Photo by Jill Wellington on

Home prices in Otsego are higher than in Elk River and I am guessing that is because most of the available housing is in newer subdivisions on former farmland. The median home price in Otsego for a single family home is $366,248 & the median townhome price is $228, 950. For Elk River the median single family home is $330,000 and the median townhome price is $205,000.


Otsego has a Target with a liquor store and a few other small shops, but no real “downtown” per se. Elk River has more available but while it has more options including a Menards hardware store and larger groceries, you’ll need to leave this immediate area if you want more choices.

About 10 minutes away is Rogers MN, and Rogers has a lot of shopping and chain restaurants, and then if you continue south to Maple Grove (about 20 minutes drive) you have just about everything that you would expect in a large metro area, including Costco and stores that cater to a larger audience.


Photo by Kampus Production on

There is a city park next to city hall in Otsego that has a a splash pad, larger playground, ball fields etc and as I was driving by they had their little zamboni-ish contraption going over the ice of the outdoor skating rink. A+ for the creativity of whoever came up with whatever that was to add a fresh layer of water to the surface – don’t ask me to explain, I’ve never seen anything like it.

Elk River takes it’s parks seriously! I just did a google search to see what is up there and made a squinty face at the list because I thought it was giving me parks from other areas – I could not believe that they have as many as they actually do! So even if you don’t LIVE in Elk River it seems like it might be a good place to visit if you’re looking for some time outside. I guess I should have had an inkling from their beautiful new parks and rec building!

In addition to hiking trails, community parks, a public amphitheater on the river, & 4 outdoor skating rinks, Elk River also has an archery range.

Otsego doesn’t have as robust of a park system – they have many small, neighborhood parks, but when your park map highlights areas in the city that have sidewalks… it seems like they may be reaching a little.

If you go just south of Otsego you can take advantage of a Crow-Hasan Park. It has 18 miles of hiking trails, camping, paddling on the Crow River, off leash dog areas, and it is part of the Three Rivers Park District which is a bit of a curiosity to me because it seems independent of any county or city. It has parks across the metro area and my experience with them has been excellent in all ways so far.

To sum up – I think that if you’re looking for QUIET and space – Otsego may be a good option. Its definitely going to be a very slow pace of life out there, but you can get what you need within a reasonable distance. If you like the small town feel that has a bit more going on but it’s not a “CITY”, check out Elk River. It’s really charming! If Otsego is more your speed, Elk River is right next door and easy to get to. 🙂


Minnetonka – more than a fun thing to say. :)

When we were moving to MN and searching for a home we had a bizarre desire to live in Minnetonka just so we could tell people we lived there and make them say MINNETONKA, too. Side note, our GPS had fun pronouncing it and made us laugh every time. Do GPS’ learn regional pronunciation at some point? I haven’t noticed the weirdness since I moved here, but then again I’ve started saying things like “OPE!” and “UFFDA!” and the most common of them all “Oh, sure!” (it’s not “You betcha” – I think that must be more North Dakota, or “NoDak” if you’re cool)

I also had a strong association with Minnetonka slippers. Warm feet. Cold winters. Fun words.

What is the reality of Minnetonka? Here are 5 things to know if you’re thinking about moving there.

  1. It’s a second ring western suburb of Minneapolis. Commute to downtown is about 20 minutes (14 miles to the heart of downtown). Maybe about 5 minutes further to the airport.

2. Minnetonka is not the most affordable place to live in the Twin Cities metro area. The median home price in Minnetonka is $436K for a single family home, $282K for a townhome. The median income in Minnetonka is $91,374 (national median is closer to $55K).

The population is educated – about 60% of adult residents have some college education. And speaking of education – the schools in Minnetonka are consistently rated A or A+ on Niche and other school rating web sites.

3. Other than nice homes and great schools with an easy commute – what do you get for your money in Minnetonka? Well, how about easy access to a lot of really nice parks like including the Bryant Lake Regional Park (technically in Eden Prairie but close!) which has a beach, trails, disc golf, and a dog park and as well as the Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail and easy access to the Dakota Regional Trail which begins in Wayzata.

Per the Three Rivers Park District: “The Lake Minnetonka LRT Regional Trail stretches over 15 miles between Hopkins and Carver Park Reserve, offering scenic views of Lake Minnetonka along the way. This aggregate trail passes through the communities of Minnetonka, Deephaven, Greenwood, Excelsior, Shorewood, and Victoria. For more ambitious trail users, pack a tent and enjoy an evening under the stars while camping at Carver Park Reserve. No car required!” If you really like biking, this trail also connects to the Cedar Lake Trail heading into Minneapolis and the Midtown Greenway which heads east and west across Minneapolis and into St. Paul.

Dakota Rail Regional Trail


“The Dakota Rail Regional Trail is a popular attraction for bikers, in-line skaters and hikers. The 13 mile paved trail offers spectacular views of the lake and passes through a variety of scenic areas, including wetlands, wooded areas and agricultural land. In Carver County, an additional 12.5 miles of paved trail extends west of St. Bonifacius to Mayer.”

4. Minnetonka is close to shopping – my fave, Costco, is just south of Minnetonka in Eden Prairie. There are a lot of smaller shops and restaurants within Minnetonka as well Ridgedale Mall and shopping center up on the northern side of the city.

5. What do you get from the city?

Things I like to see are places for the community to enjoy outside of their homes. Minnetonka offers the Williston Fitness Center – aquatics, batting cages, indoor pickleball & tennis, fitness center and gym.

They also have the Minnetonka Ice Arena, Lindbergh Center (basketball courts, weight room), Grays’s Bay Marina where you can rent a boat slip or have public boat access to Lake Minnetonka and two public beaches.

PLUS – you get to say “MINNETONKA” all the time!

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. 🙂