Local suburbanites will tell you three things about Twin Cities' suburbs: They're popular, they're affordable, and they're hipper than you may think. In fact, most of the suburbs support city centers with something for everyone, from trendy boutiques and restaurants, to top-of-the-line park systems and golf courses, to convenient community centers and grocery stores. Add open, family-friendly spaces, larger lot sizes, and more-house· for-your-money values, and you have the formula that's inspired a remarkable suburban expansion during the last twenty years. Even die-hard urbanites have been seen sampling the goods that lay beyond city limits. Newcomers from other large cities may be impressed by the relatively short commute times Twin Cities suburbs offer, a perk not lost on natives: Apart from the occasional traffic tangle, a trip to either downtown from most surrounding suburbs takes anywhere from fifteen to forty-five minutes. The steadily improving road infrastructure and the promise of more suburban light-rail transit lines hold yet more hope. So, is the Twin Cities suburban lifestyle right for you?
Those who live in the northeast metro are some of the friendliest and most loyal you'll meet, though some worry about further expansion and longer commute times as younger suburbs continue to grow around them. Though some worry about further expansion and longer commute times as younger suburbs continue to grow around them. The towns in the northeast quadrant of the metro are Saint Paul's most established suburbs. Roseville, the largest in this region 34,000 is about a ten-minute drive from both downtown Minneapolis and downtown Saint Paul. A few new housing developments are being built here, but for the most part, Roseville has been established since the late 1940s and saw most of its growth during the following two decades. As such, much of the housing stock consists of ramblers and bungalows. Nearly nineteen percent of Roseville's land is dedicated to parks, lakes, and golf courses. Roseville is also one of the easiest suburbs to navigate, especially with two major interstates (35W and 35E) nearby. Twelve miles northeast of Roseville is White Bear Lake, a town of 26,000 people that prides itself on being an established village long before it was a suburb. As its name suggests, the town was built around a large lake. It is one of the few suburbs with an existing, main street like thoroughfare, which features a variety of restaurants and specialty shops several blocks off the waterfront. The regattas and farmers' markets in the summer, ice fishing in the winter and children playing in the area's lush yards and along its narrow roads create an idyllic charm. Smaller, more elite suburbs have since sprung up around White Bear Lake and several surrounding lakes, as Minnesotans continue to put a premium on waterfront property. The small town allure continues in Stillwater, twenty miles from Saint Paul on the Saint Croix River near the Minnesota-Wisconsin border. Pride in the town is evident in its well-kept stores and homes, which range from quaint cottages to grand manses of the late 1800s. Perhaps picturesque Stillwater's biggest enemy is progress, particularly in its historic downtown. Much to the chagrin of its longtime residents, several large condominium projects are being developed downtown, blocking views and crowding streets. Those who live in the northeast metro are some of the friendliest and most loyal you'll meet, though some worry about further expansion and longer commute times as younger suburbs continue to grow around them.
The southeast metro offers a diverse mix of housing, neighborhoods, and populations. Woodbury is the most upscale of the cities in this region. At about 57,000 people, the town is about a ten-minute drive southeast of Saint Paul. A variety of residential neighborhoods composed of single-family homes and townhouses dot the town. Woodbury offers plenty of recreational opportunities, more than ninety miles of trails wind through the city. The western side of the town holds the major retail hub, which offers every item on a shopping list. With an average age of 33.4, Woodbury is home to many young parents who are actively involved in the school district and serve on various advisory boards throughout the city. Across the Mississippi River southwest of Woodbury is a cluster of suburbs, including West Saint Paul, South Saint Paul, Mendota Heights, and Inver Grove Heights, that range from 11,000 to 32,000 inhabitants. Eagan and Apple Valley arc two of the larger suburbs in this region the former more established and the currently experiencing explosive growth. Despite a population nearing 67,000, Eagan is a rather subdued suburb with a combination of luxury estates, high-end town· homes and apartment complexes. In Apple Valley, existing home stock from the 1970s covers the older part of town, while townhouse developments now populate much of the newer residential areas. To avoid homogenized development, Apple Valley s implementing "mixed use projects, as are many other suburban communities dealing with fast growth. These new developments contain single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and in some cases, apartments and assisted-living facilities, as well as retailers and schools. The most prominent example is Apple Valley's Cobblestone Lake, the city’s newest neighborhood. The neighborhood's centerpiece and namesake features, a pier and regular kayakers and anglers. The Minnesota and Mississippi rivers run through many of the southeastern suburbs, creating beautiful tree-filled landscapes and some navigability problems. If you're commuting into either downtown during rush hour, plan on delays over bridges.
The suburbs immediately north and northwest of Minneapolis have an interesting history. Although they have always been close the city, the infrastructure has not supported an easy entry point into the city. As such, they enjoyed almost an isolated existence for years. But as the Twin Cities continues to expand, people have had no choice but to go north. Cities like Blaine, Champlin, and Anoka have worked to maintain their small-town appeal as they see their populations swell. One city that has thoroughly and effectively embraced suburban expansion is Maple Grove, about sixteen miles northwest of Minneapolis. Part of Maple Grove's appeal is its location. It sits on Interstate 94, which leads down into Minneapolis and up toward Saint Cloud. It is also home to Weaver Lake, complete with a beach, fishing pier, and bike trails. Since the 1990 census, the population has increased by 58 percent and the city has created a master development plan to address this growth. One of Maple Grove's most significant additions has been its Main Street, four blocks of retail, office, and restaurant space. Townhouse developments are springing up nearby, with the hope of creating a pedestrian-friendly area. National retailers and local boutiques exist in harmony downtown and in the nearby Shoppes at Arbor Lakes, an open-air lifestyle center:· Most of Maple Grove's seventy plus restaurants are near these shopping complexes, but be prepared to wait, as these favorite destinations draw big crowds throughout the week. Health care is catching up with the population boom; a multi-specialty clinic was opened in 2008, followed by a hospital in 2009. Single-family dwellings built in the 1970s and 1980s can still be found throughout the area but most have been hidden by new developments. Those who moved here a decade ago for the chance to own acres of land have become the population's minority.
The suburbs immediately to the south and west of Minneapolis rank among the oldest in the area. With rural communities such as Chanhassen and Jordan now becoming outer ring suburbs. To the south of Minneapolis is Bloomington, the Twin Cities· largest suburb at more than 85,000 residents. Best known for the Mall of America and the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, Bloomington has a slew of housing types, from multiple apartment units to homes on serene wetlands. Saint Louis Park, which adjoins Minneapolis' western side, promotes itself as a place for families. The nonprofit group America's Promise named the community one of the 100 best for young people, and all seven of its public schools have been designated Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education. Young professionals also look lo live in Saint LouisPark because of its proximity to the city and its carefully maintained homes. Edina, just south of Saint Louis Park, features some of the most upscale homes in the Twin Cities. It's posh shopping district 5oth & France, anchors the city's east side. To the west of Edina is Lake Minnetonka, another symbol of the Twin Cities' most affluent. Many of Minnesota's top executives, and even some professional athletes, call Edina and the Lake Minnetonka area home. Smaller villages such as Wayzata, Deephaven, Orono, and Excelsior also surround Lake Minnetonka and offer vacation-like retreats. Eden Prairie, which borders Minnetonka and Edina, is known in the realty industry as "Relocation Alley" because of the high number of transplants who choose to live there. It's home to Bearpath, one of Minnesota's first gated golf communities, but it also features nicely remodeled older homes in traditional neighborhoods starting in the mid $200,000s. Its community center and school district offer plenty of recreational opportunities for young and old alike.