I don’t know why I’m consistently surprised every time I profile a community, but I seriously underestimated Waconia. I think in this case I may have had a bit of urban arrogance… 😉

Waconia is a small community – only about 11,000 people – and it is 30 minutes directly west of Minneapolis. It’s kind of on the edge of Twin Cities development and there are still farms and fields on the way there and more so as you head west. I did not expect it to be able to offer all that it does!

Waconia has a charming downtown area that is still alive and kicking – businesses were busy when I drove through there on a Wednesday morning. I didn’t notice any vacant store fronts- something that breaks my heart when I drive through small towns. The downtown sits just off Lake Waconia and has the classic central square with the gazebo and a playground.

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I’m always interested in parks, schools, libraries, and what things the city offers it’s residents – Waconia scores well on all of these things, plus a lot more.

The location on the lake is a huge plus – Lake Waconia Regional Park has a beach, geocacheing, sled hills, cross country ski and snow shoe rentals for winter fun on the trails. Waconia is a small community but it has has 3 community parks and 18 smaller neighborhood parks.

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For such a small town, I was surprised at the amenities offered by the city – Safari Island (the name confuses me a bit, why SAFARI in Minnesota?), has an indoor aquatic center, fitness center, running track, basketball courts, and a kids play area. Hockey & ice arenas are a big deal here, and Waconia is keeping up with the Jones’. You won’t be deprived of your ice time here – and if the prices listed on their site are accurate, it’s super affordable.

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Waconia has 3 wineries, a distillery, and a brewery that hosts food trucks or allows you to order or bring in your own food. If alcohol isn’t entertaining enough for you check out Carlson’s Lovable Llamas. Don’t say that there isn’t variety!

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There is a wide variety of housing in Waconia – townhomes, and twinhomes, older single family homes near the center of town – either historic, character type homes or more mid century as you move outward a bit. On the outer edges of town are newer subdivisions with large modern homes on smaller lots. The least expensive home for sale in Waconia today was a 3 bed, 2 bath 2015 townhouse listed at $280K, and the most expensive single family home is a brand new lake adjacent build listed at $1.345M, but the median SF home price in Waconia is $340K, so higher than the twin cities median of $290K, but I would say lower than other western suburbs.

Niche.com gives Waconia schools an A rating, so if you have kids, there is lots to do between the parks, lakes and llamas, and they will likely make it out of school with some knowledge stowed between their ears.