A Day Trip to Excelsior

Just 20 miles west of the Twin Cities, this waterfront town is complete with charming shops and lakeside dining

Photo courtesy of Excelsior – Lake Minnetonka Chamber of Commerce

Despite the horrible (and slightly concerning) amount of snow that recently fell from the sky, spring weather is coming—or so they say. There’s nothing that compares to Minnesota winters, but with that, nothing can really compete with Minnesotans’ excitement for summer. With fingers crossed and window blinds closed we just hope to wake up to green grass, open lakes, and warm breezes, and with it we want beach side afternoons and patio dining—preferably with a cold drink in our hand. Visitors will find all these things and more in Excelsior. Located on Lake Minnetonka, opposite from Wayzata, this waterfront town is a perfect day trip destination with plenty of shops, restaurants, and activities for a day trip with a special someone or the whole family.

For a mid-morning coffee or light early lunch, visit 318 Café on Water Street. If you’re still in breakfast mode, go for a latte and quiche; for lunch try the turkey, apple and brie sandwich or the chicken taco with black bean and corn salsa, cheddar and guacamole. If you’re a fan of live music, stop by later in the evening for acoustic sets.

A trip to Excelsior wouldn’t be complete without browsing in and out of its quaint collection of charming shops. Visit Cherie Consignment Boutique for gently used designer clothes, Lake Effect Nautical Gifts for lake-inspired décor, Excelsior Bay Books for new books and games, Brightwater Clothing and Gear for high-quality outdoor items, and  Ooh La La, The Golden Rule, or Primp for trendy women’s clothing and accessories.

For lunch or dinner, visit Maynards on Excelsior Boulevard. No seat is a bad seat here, with extensive patio dining and its location right on the wharf. (Note: This is a good first date destination). For a taco or burrito, stop by Lago Tacos (there’s an Uptown location, too) or, for a more sophisticated setting, visit Coalition and try one of their steak, salmon, or walleye entrees. Fans of craft beer will want to stop by Excelsior Brewing Company for happy hour or after-dinner drinks and try one of its flagship beers—Big Island Blond Ale, Bridge Jumper IPA, and Bitteschlappe Brown Ale are all popular options.

And of course, there is the beach to consider, too. (Yes, it’s a little too cold right now—also, the lake is covered with ice—but we can dream!) Grab some sunscreen, pack a picnic for your family, and spend a happy afternoon in Commons Park, a 13 acre space with playgrounds, picnic sites, docks, and two swimming beaches. If you’re looking for an encore to your relaxing day (or if you’re just looking for a more theatrical endeavor), see a show at the Old Log Theater, the oldest professional theater in Minnesota.