Eden Prairie has found the right mix of well-developed parks, great dining and city feel. One weekend and you’ll know why the housing market is so competitive there. Eden Prairie has so many things to do, it’s hard to narrow down the list. But I’m sharing some of my favorite things to do in my old home town, Eden Prairie.
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The Best Things to do in Eden Prairie
Boating at Lake Riley Park
Lake Riley was where Prince built his home in the ’80s and used it as his studio to record and write music. His official residence was on the Chanhassen side of the lake. Looking at the lake you can see why he chose the property.
The primary public access is on the Eden Prairie side. The park has a great boat launch, beach, and playground for the kids. The playground is massive. It rivals Start Lake in the number of things to do there.
Cool off at Round Lake Park
Round Lake Park is a great smaller park for families. But what makes this park so much fun is the Splash Pad. Every summer, families flock to this place to cool off. They also have a beach, playground and skate park. The paved path is about a mile long and goes all the way around the park. Round Lake is also where the city throws it’s 4th of July celebration, and the towns Schooner Days carnival is held. It really is a fun place to hang out during the summertime.
Catch a Show at Staring Lake Park
Staring Lake Park is where anyone goes to have a good time in Eden Prairie. It has some of the best features all in one park. A paved walking path around the lake. Dog Park, Frisbee Golf, Amputheatre with performances running all summer long, giant playground and an outdoor center. That just the summer run down. When the snow falls, there is an epic sledding hill, cross-country ski trails, ice skating rink with warming house. Whenever we wanted to go to the park when I was little, Starting Lake is where I would beg my parents to take us. It is truly epic.
Stargazing at the Staring Lake Observatory
In addition to Staring Lakes Outdoor Center, they also have an Observatory out on the lake. The Observatory has one of the largest telescopes in the country. A 16” Commercial Mead telescope that uses GPS tracking. Once a month they offer classes through the Community Education program. Eden Prairie does a have a little bit of city light pollution to deal with but being right next to the water staring at the stars, nothing beat that.
Visit Santa’s North Pole Experience at the Cummins House
If you have kids, you’ll want to get a reservation at Santa’s North Pole Experience as soon as possible. This is a truly unique experience that beats any mall Santa. It all takes place inside the Historic Cummins House.
Visit with Santa’s reindeer out front of the house, then warm-up inside. Kids color as they wait their time slot with Santa if they get there a little early. When it’s their time, they go into a special waiting room, to get picture ready. When it’s your time, go inside Santa’s private room and meet with the big man themselves. Kids have plenty of time to talk without the pressure of a line of kids waiting or the other distractions at the mall. Santa’s brother does all the photography and you can pick up your photos on the way out. It a memorable experience. Make sure to get reservations early, because it books up fast.
Hiking at the Staring Lake Off-Leash Dog Park
This is one of the best Dog Parks I’ve come across. Starting with a short walk on one of Starting Lakes trails near the Cummins House, you come across a fenced-in area known as the Staring Lake Off-Leash Dog Park. Eden Prairie has another dog park, but its nothing compared to this. The best part about Staring Lakes Dog Park is that it has a wooded hiking trail too. I love this option because it gives the dogs more room to roam. There is also a traditional grassy area if you don’t want to walk through the woods.
Green Acres Event Center Barn
One of the most interesting things along Pioneer Trail is the Green Acres Event Center. Most recognizable by a large number of cow statues out front. Each year, they seem to find a new grazing spot. The Historic Barn was transformed into an event center a few years back, hosting parties throughout the year.
Watch Planes at Flying Cloud Airport
The Flying Cloud Airport is home to some great soccer fields. Behind the fields is the airplane viewing area. Similar to the one outside of MSP Airport, they have a sheltered area, with seating to sit back and watch the planes. Depending on the direction of the wind and time of the day, you can spot several small aircraft coming in here.
Fly a Kite at the Soccer Fields
Another thing locals love doing at the soccer fields is fly a kite. The best place is on the lower field because it’s used less. There is nothing but wide-open skies and if there is a small breeze, your kites will fly straight up into the air. Last time I was there, we had eagles coming over checking out what was in their air space.
Wings of the North Museum
The Wings of the North Air Museum in MN is great little museum in Eden Prairie. Taking over multiple hangers in the Flying Cloud Airport, they have 7 different aircraft on display along with other memorabilia. The museum is also in the process of restoring aircraft. The Wings of the North also hosts an AirExpo each summer. This gives people the opportunity to see a few of these planes in action as well as several ground displays.
Taste Something Refreshing at the Fredrick-Miller Spring
Residents have been making their way over to the Fredrick-Miller Spring for generations. They have records of some of the first European Settlers making use of the water source. The city of Eden Prairie made acquired the property and made some improvements to it over the years, but little has changed. Water is constantly flowing as its piped up from underground. Yes, you can get great tap water from most faucets, but when you can get fresh water from the ground, why not fill up a few jugs! The spring is located at 9995 Spring Road in Eden Prairie.
Visit a Movie Location at Eden Prairie Center
The Eden Prairie Center holds a special place in movie history. Looking at it you would never know. Cult Classics like Kevin Smiths Mall Rats and Drop Dead Gorgeous were both filmed there. Shortly after the movies were filmed, the Mall went through a major renovation. You’ll need to take to a local to find out where your favorite scenes were filmed because it looks nothing the same. The elevator scene and escalator still remain the same. But I always giggle when I ride the elevator.
Today the mall has a variety of different stores that attract visitors year-round, include places like Von Maur. They are also adding in a multi-level Scheels Sporting Goods Store. It’s going to have a Ferris Wheel and 16,000-gallon aquarium inside.
See the Viking Ship at the Old Vikings Training Center
Before the Vikings decided to move to Eagan, their training center as in Eden Prairie. Outside they had a giant Viking ship. It was a popular spot for Vikings fans to get pictures taken outside of. Life Time Sport has taken over the facility but the Viking ship still remains. The ship can be seen off Highway 494 if you are stuck in traffic or the frontage road. Really, the only spot to stop safely is in Life Times Parking lot. I’m not sure how much they want visitors doing that.
Walk Around Purgatory Creek Park
Purgatory Creek Park is a playground for grownups. In the middle of downtown Eden Prairie, you wouldn’t expect to find a park as beautiful like this. Part of some of Purgatory Creek that runs through most of Eden Prairie, its paved paths and open gazeebo make it a popular place for 5Ks and other events. The trails are used for walking, hiking and bike riding. A small walking bridge goes over water where locals love to fish. It’s green landscape and freshwater make it a perfect retreat. It’s also home to Veterans Memorial Park.
Get a Legendary Burger at Lions Tap
Eden Prairie attracts some of the best restaurants. One of the oldest in the City is Lions Tap. The popular bar has been serving burgers since 1958. Lions Tap has found a recipe for success and hasn’t altered it ways. It only serves, burgers, fries and onion rings. They do one thing and they do it right. Lions Tap consistently win awards for best burgers. You won’t find chicken, veggie burgers or even the ‘impossible burger’ on their menu. There definitely isn’t a Juicy Lucy either. I wouldn’t want it any other way. One bite of their burgers and you’ll be hooked.
There are so many things to do in Eden Prairie you could spend a whole weekend there. If you need to spend the night, my favorite places are the Fairfield Inn & Suites and Hyatt Place. Of all the different things to do, the Parks is where I would start because they stand out more than anything else.