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Remember back in March when we were all marvelling at the balmy weather? Well, mild March has made for brutal July. While there are lots of ways to beat the heat indoors, one of my family's favorite places to be outside is the Jim Lupient Water Park. It has something for everyone: morning swim lessons, zero-depth entry for toddlers, clearly marked depth transitions, multiple slides for multiple ages, lap swim from 12:10 to 1 p.m. before the park opens, and spots in the sun or shade depending on your preference.

That's for the fun. For the food, there's a snack bar, but that's better for a sometime treat than for lunch or dinner. For more substantive food, we've found a few good options nearby:

Baja SolBaja Sol in the adjacent quarry shopping center has a wide menu of Mexican standards, a kids menu (that's only $1.99 after 4 p.m.!), and a dozen choices of freshly made salsa and toppings. My six-year-old son liked the peach/mango salsa, while my nine-year-old liked the mild red sauce.

Jimmy John's has subs that range from simple to gourmet. For picky eaters, try the slim options, which are less expensive and don't have lettuce or tomato on them. If you're trying to cut carbs, go for the Unwich, where any sandwich's ingredients are wrapped in a lettuce leaf. Jimmy John's has good, giant dill pickles which are rumored to be good for keeping hydrated on hot days.

But the closest, cheapest, and easiest option is the hot dog stand at Home Depot, which carries Uncle Franky's beef dogs with a variety of toppings.

I prefer all of these to the McDonald's/Burger King/Taco Bell trifecta. And I love that they're a quick walk or bike from the pool, so we can head over on a safety break, or any other time the "I'm hungry!" alarm sounds.

Jim Lupient Water Park
1520 Johnson St. NE, Mpls.
612-370-3989
Mon through Fri, 1–8 p.m.
Sat & Sun, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

Baja Sol Quarry
1730 New Brighton Blvd., Mpls.
612-788-3000

Jimmy John's
2317 18th Ave. N, Mpls.
612-788-7827

Uncle Franky's at Home Depot
1520 New Brighton Blvd., Mpls.

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Minnesota Monthly's Taste Blog answers your restaurant and dining questions, dishes on latest discoveries, reflects on breaking news, and generally brings the plate to the page with a skilled crew of experts: Learn more about the Taste bloggers.

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