I have spent my last three summers at my family’s lake home in Navarre, a small town in Orono just minutes from Excelsior’s downtown. Despite the lengthy, windy drive from Minneapolis, I’ve fallen in love with this friendly, tight-knit community and the surrounding area. On nights that we can get my younger siblings off of Lake Minnetonka, we venture into town. I didn’t expect much from the three block span of Water Street, but in the last few years I have been awe-struck by downtown Excelsior’s drastic growth and transformation. If you ever travel by boat, foot, bike or car to this quaint (yet bustling) area, here are a few of my favorite new additions:
My Asian-fare-obsessed family and I anxiously awaited Miyabi’s opening all summer—often stopping to peer into the windows and watch the construction workers. The Saturday night of opening weekend, we were excited for a hearty meal. The service was a little bit slow and discombobulated; as to be expected at a new restaurant, but the food certainly lived up to the hype. Offering fresh, delicious, creative sushi rolls and tasty salads—alongside traditional Asian chicken and beef dishes—this restaurant left us excited to return.
Iviva is the ultimate shop for active, trendy girls who want to dress just like Mom in her Lululemon yoga gear. My younger sister falls into this category and was thrilled to find out that she would no longer have to trek all the way to Mall of America for her favorite clothing brand … it was now right around the corner! Inside a semi-hidden, white cottage-like structure, Lululemon’s children’s brand offers adorable activewear including leggings, tank tops, sweatshirts, headbands, and more. Before you get your little one too excited, make sure to check the store’s hours on their website—they’re only open Thursday through Sunday, with different afternoon hours each day.
Downtown Excelsior’s new Kowalski’s is the stuff of grocery store enthusiasts’ dreams. With an open, inviting layout, Kowalski’s offers everything you could possibly want in a grocery store: a bakery, a deli, crisp produce, a Starbucks, a flower shop, a sushi department (with fresh-made specialty rolls!), and a large wine shop. With so much to offer, I could peruse the aisles of this high-end grocery store for hours.
Olive’s Fresh Pizza Bar
While the surrounding Excelsior area boasts outstanding pizza at Joey Nova’s, downtown Excelsior was lacking in a great pizza joint. That is, until Olive’s Fresh came to town this summer. Sleek modern décor and casual vibes make this restaurant the perfect option for a laidback dinner with friends or family. Olive’s boasts a variety of creative gourmet woodfire pizzas such as the Alaskan with cream cheese and smoked salmon, and the Greek with gyro lamb, feta, and artichokes. You can also order a delicious, hearty salad and enjoy a cocktail from a beautiful fully stocked bar.