Edit ModuleShow Tags

Excelsior Hotspots


Lake Minnetonka, with its beautiful views and shore-front dining, is just one of many reasons to visit Excelsior this summer.

Since 1877 the city of Excelsior has been the hub for summer tourism in Central Minnesota. In the 1920s, trolley cars brought people in from the cities by the thousands. They came to play at Excelsior’s shorefront amusement park, stay in its luxury hotels, and sail ‘round the glistening shores of Lake Minnetonka on one of the iconic yellow steamboats.

Almost a century later Excelsior remains a cultural hotspot, renowned for fine dining and summer leisure activities. Tucked away on the edge of the western suburbs, this gem has spent the last 20 years transforming into a cultivated center for foodies and brewery enthusiasts alike.  

Growing up in Minnetonka, my friends and I biked to Excelsior as often as we could. Back then it was about getting ice cream at Licks Unlimited and seeing kittens at the pet shop. Now we’re college graduates and, reliable as ever, Excelsior has matured right along with us. Here are some of my favorite spots to grab a bite or glass of wine for the perfect Excelsior night out:  


One of the newer additions to Water Street’s international food crawl, Miyabi is where the locals go for authentic Japanese and Asian cuisine. Its diverse menu offers a broad range of traditional dishes—from beautifully plated fresh sashimi and sushi to Indian curry and Chinese Szechuan. With the sophisticated allure of a modern ambiance, combined with affordable dining, Miyabi is a great choice for a night out.

Victor’s on Water

An elegant setting and homegrown Italian cooking is what you’ll find at Victor’s on Water. Their creed is to pair Mediterranean ingredients with produce from local farms and businesses, creating fresh dishes rooted in the community that supports them. When eating at Victor’s, patrons can expect to be fully immersed within the dining experience. From the scents and sounds that sizzle from the open kitchen, to the main street sights afforded by the unique panoramic views, dinner at Victor’s is sure to entice your senses. Reservations are recommended.

Lago Tacos

Since opening in 2013, word has spread about Lago Tacos. On any given night, this trendy restaurant and bar is packed. However, with their street vender influences and food truck roots, the wait to be seated is never long. Boasting “one of the best happy hours just off the lake” Lago Tacos is ideal for fresh margaritas and ice-cold beers after a long day exploring Lake Minnetonka’s many bays and inlets, or just as a quick top-off for girls’ night out.

Jake O’Connor’s Public House

Also known as Jake’s Pub, this classically designed tavern reflects the charm and character of owner Dermot Cowley’s native Irish roots. According to the website, once an old hardware store, the pub is now fully refurbished complete with fireplaces, “buttoned-leather” booths, stained glass dividers, and an ornate bar, built by Irish woodworkers. Jake’s Pub offers 16 beers on tap, casual dining, live music, and a fun atmosphere. Check the website for their summer entertainment schedule.

Coalition Restaurant

With an intimate setting and refined décor, Coalition provides a memorable atmosphere for special occasions. Diners can enjoy fine-tailored American dishes and handcrafted cocktails—regionally sourced from “boutique distilleries” including 45th Parallel Vodka (New Richmond, Wis.), Cedar Ridge Iowa Bourbon (Swisher, Iowa), and Bittercube Bitters (Minneapolis)—in a warm and welcoming environment. The space, located in an 1886-era brick building, features rustic floors, industrial lighting, tall booths, a white marble bar, leather bar stools, and oversized chandeliers.      

318 Café

One of my favorite intimate live music venues around the lake, the 318 Café is cozy, classy, and always inviting. Known for their music and events—as well as their craft beer, coffee, and small plates, flatbreads, and dessert—318 is the perfect place to unwind with a glass of wine and a few good friends on a summer evening (the café sits only 50 people). Built on the grounds of the old Excelsior Mill, pinewood beams fill the air with a fresh, rustic scent, adding to the charming ambiance. 

Excelsior Brewing Company

Perhaps the most talked about venue in the Excelsior community is the Excelsior Brewing Company and their newly renovated taproom. Located on the corner of Third and Water streets in downtown Excelsior, the new expansion now includes 16 draft lines (and a rotating beer list), a dog-friendly outdoor patio, and an indoor stage where live, local music is played on an almost nightly basis. Take a tour of the brewery during the day and finish with a sample pint of one of their Lake Minnetonka-inspired microbrews. Growlers and merchandise are available for purchase. They don’t serve food at the brewery, but if you’re hungry, you can order pizza from nearby Olives and have it delivered to the taproom.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

About This Blog

Whether you are a seasoned Twin Cities traveler or planning your first trip to Minnesota, this blog will introduce you to many new adventures to add to your itinerary. From day trips and scenic discoveries to luxurious girls weekends, travel tips, and insider scoops, our editors will give you all the information you need to enjoy your stay Up North.

Learn about the contributing writers.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Travel Blog

Plan a Trip to Roanoke, Virginia

This East Coast visit comes with history, a burgeoning craft beer scene, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Appalachian Trail, and more

Cannon Falls Wine & Art Fest

Taste Minnesota wines and ciders, browse through local art vendors, and eat delicious food at Cannon Falls Wine & Art Fest, July 21-22

Day Trip to Taylors Falls

A Taylors Falls day trip made up of beautiful river views and a classic malt shop.

Record Store on Wheels

Like a food truck, but for music—and debuting this Sunday at Open Streets Minneapolis

Green Thumb Gardens

The 2018 Hennepin County Master Gardener Learning Garden Tour flaunts its foliage July 14

Best Caves of Minnesota

Explore Minnesota’s man-made and natural curiosities this summer

Amble Over to Afton

While you’re in Afton for Selma’s, stay a while and check out the state parks, historic buildings, quaint downtown, and more

Take a Trip for (Frozen) Treats

Grab a scoop from the state’s oldest ice cream shop in Afton: Selma’s Ice Cream Parlour

Journeys: A Minnesotan’s Happy Place

Time wasted at the lake is time well spent

Journeys: The Start of Adventure

To prep for wilderness canoe trips, Les Voyageurs brings campers out on the Mississippi River

Top 5 Instagram Spots Along the Mississippi River

Bluffs, hiking trails, and waterfalls make for beautiful summer photos

Summer Sunburn Solutions

Six ways to beat the burn

Brews and Views at the Hopped Up Caribou Festival

There's no better place to tie the knot than at a craft beer festival, and if you're not into that, you can cliff climb, too

A Day Trip to Hudson

St. Croix River views, hiking trails at Willow River State Park, and quaint downtown eats await in Hudson
Edit ModuleEdit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags