Excelsior is a lakeside town filled with plenty of things to do and explore. Here are some of the best things to do in Excelsior, Minnesota.
Excelsior, Minnesota. Ever heard of it? It’s a lakeside town along Lake Minnetonka that features main street vibes, culture, restaurants, lake life, and more. You will leave Excelsior filled with a day or two of exploration.
Excelsior is famous for the old boats and the creation of the song “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones. Minnesota is known for its lakes and waterways. We’ve provided you with the best things to do along the Minneapolis Riverwalk.
We are back to provide the best things to do in one of our favorite lake towns around the Twin Cities.
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Things to Do in Excelsior, Minnesota
Let’s get into some of the best things to do in Excelsior. There are plenty of things to see, do and eat. No matter the season. Alex grew up near Excelsior and would bike here during the summer to enjoy some waffle fries, ice cream, and great beaches.
It’s a true gem and one of the reasons why we named it one of the best things to do around Lake Minnetonka. Before we get into the fun stuff to do, take a tour of the city with a video from our YouTube channel.
Here are our favorite things to do.
Choose Your Favorite Ice Cream – Lick’s Unlimited vs Adele’s Custard vs Sebastian Joe’s
The great debate among Excelsior locals is what the best ice cream shop is. Adele’s and Lick’s are close to each other but completely different. Adele’s is frozen custard. Smooth, creamy, with toppings galore, Adele’s is perfect for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
They boast a flavor of the day and are their staple favorites for all their clientele. You can even pick up a flavor of the day menu for the month and visit on the day that piques your interest. Adele’s is Alex’s favorite. She opts for vanilla custard with Oreos every time!
Lick’s Unlimited is down on the main street of Excelsior and is a scoop ice cream shop. Lick’s has the best cones: chocolate-dipped waffle cones, chocolate-dipped with sprinkles, and more.
Their ice cream flavors change frequently and include some staples such as cotton candy and cookies and cream. Lick’s is Kyle’s favorite because he never knows what he’s going to get.
The best part about picking your favorite is trying both. Grab a scoop at Lick’s then, while you’re enjoying it, walk up to Adele’s and try a cup of custard. No matter what you will walk away happy – you just need to choose your winner!
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Minnesota
Soak in the Sun / Cozy in a Winter Wonderland at Maynard’s Restaurant
Maynard’s Restaurant gets a lot of credit for the summer vibes. It’s equally as fun in the winter. There are plenty of amazing happy hour specials in the bar and TVs galore. It feels like a northern cabin bar in the winter.
P.S. we love it for Minnesota Vikings games. For summer, they have a great patio section outside that you can boat, and motorcycle up to. The lakeside views are a great way to relax, slow down time, and get a true Minnesota perspective.
The people-watching is phenomenal as well. Take in the views, grab a big beer and order some waffle fries. That will make for the perfect afternoon.
In the winter you can cozy up inside and enjoy great food and winter beverages. A great spot during the holidays too – Maynards puts up greenery and holiday lights inside to make it extra cozy.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in St. Paul, Minnesota
Grab a Beer at Excelsior Brewing
Excelsior Brewing is one of our favorite breweries in all of Minneapolis. As a local Minnesotan, we have plenty of breweries to choose from. Excelsior is among the top in the Twin Cities, but the brewery itself offers more than just beer.
I love the various festivals they hold. There is a May Fest, Oktoberfest, Prince day, St Patrick’s Day and so much more. They have live bands on weekends, which keeps the place rocking all weekend long.
Tent parties rock. Keep them coming Excelsior. You will have a continuous customer… Going to be in Excelsior during a mid-week summer day? Grab a beer and sit out at the Excelsior Brewing patio.
See Related: Best Breweries in Rochester, Minnesota
Channel Your Inner Nostalgia at Leipold’s
A true gem. Leipold’s is a unique antique shop in downtown Excelsior. Alex, a writer for ViaTravelers, would bike 45 minutes from her house growing up to visit Leipold’s and pick up a treasure. Today it is still owned by the same family and filled with all the wonders and treasures from Lake Minnetonka.
Leipold’s has an amazing postcard selection. They own hundreds of postcards from the 1800s and early 1900s. We picked up one from late 1800s Lake Calhoun with horses and buggies driving around the mansions. You can find postcards written during the war eras and find some special gems from Duluth.
Reading the stories of old Minnesota families is interesting. You may even find one mentioning James J. Hill! They also have a collection of dollhouses and miniatures. From small bedroom furniture to mini Titanic magazines, they have everything to make your dollhouse and miniature collection complete.
Leipold’s also has lots of old books. They specialize in more antique houseware, but the books they have are unique and from a personal collection.
We picked up “The Rover Boys on the Great Lakes” printed in 1901. Although not incredibly well known – the book had handwritten names inside and looks splendid on a mantel.
Leipold’s is a great spot to stop in and wander for hours. Make some conversation with the owner, he will tell stories that will leave you wanting to learn more.
See Related: Best and Fun Things to do in Minnesota
Relax at the Lake Minnetonka Beaches
Excelsior has two beaches right next to each other. One is family-friendly right next to a full park with swings and slides, and the other is more meant to sunbathe and relax. Both beaches are great spots to lay down the towel and relax all day. The people are kind and the water is always cool.
The “adult” side (called this only because it doesn’t attach to the park) has better views. You can see a good part of the lake from here and are perfectly positioned for the best sun.
Next to the beaches is a tennis court and basketball court for you to work off some steam. Once you’re done, stop by Adele’s or Sebastian Joe’s cart for some ice cream. Check out these other top beaches in Minnesota to visit.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Minneapolis & St. Paul
Ride the Excelsior Trolley
Excelsior is a historic city. Down on the main street by the farmers market, you can ride the Excelsior Trolley to the train museum. The museum is free to enter and great for families. The Trolley ride takes only a few minutes. But you feel like you are back in the past riding the trolley.
Within ten minutes you are at the local train museum where you can see old train cars and read about the history of Excelsior.
See Related: Best Restaurants in Duluth, Minnesota
Dine at Top Boutique Restaurants
Excelsior has some great small restaurants to try. Some of our favorites are Olives, Lagos Tacos, The Suburban, Red Sauce Rebellion, and Haskells. In no particular order, each of these restaurants makes Excelsior what it is. Haskell’s is a legend – the true Excelsior bar. Excellent bar food, large wine pours, cheap beer, and a patio facing the lake.
What more can you ask for? We’d come here every day if we could. The Suburban has the best burgers and cheese curds around. Owned by a local family, this restaurant puts pride into the food they serve. This is a great spot for hungry people.
Olive’s has the best pizza. Simple, light, and easy to pair with an Excelsior Brewing beer or glass of wine, the pizza they make is fantastic. They have a small patio on Lake Street where you can people-watch and mingle.
Excelsior is a great spot for so many restaurants because visitors can walk up to different restaurants and try new things at each spot. Have an appetizer at Lagos Tacos and finish up with pasta at Red Sauce Rebellion. Then, head over to Haskell’s for bar games and beer.
See Related: Best Midwest Road Trips
Visit During Apple Day
Apple Day is a lakeside festival that promotes the Excelsior community while featuring locally produced food, art, antiques, and handmade crafts. The city also puts together a street dance.
On Apple Day the city shuts down Water Street so local vendors and restaurants can bring out their best goodies for visitors to enjoy and purchase. All the local shops have a stand and thousands of people come to shop and experience new foods.
Apple Day is fun for the whole family. Bring the kids, dogs, and grandparents for an enjoyable day.
See Related: Best Things to do in Lanesboro, Minnesota
Take a Boat Ride with Al & Alma’s or the Minnehaha Steamboat
Al & Alma’s is an Excelsior staple. Boat rentals for groups of 5 to 55, the boat company with charter a boat for your event around Lake Minnetonka.
Popular for weddings, proms, and reunions, Al & Alma’s has a package for every occasion. They also have annual parties for that you can purchase tickets. This is the best way to experience Al & Alma’s without renting a boat for a large party.
The Minnehaha Steamboat is a historic boat that was resurrected from the bottom of Lake Minnetonka and put back into operation in the 1990s. The boat was built in 1901 and sank in the 1920s.
The historic society brought it back to life and it sails on the lake on weekends from May through October. The Minnehaha Steamboat is more cost-effective for families, and you get to learn while you cruise around on the lake.
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Explore the Excelsior Farmer’s Market
The Excelsior farmers market has some of the best produce in the area. Our favorite perk is the honey sticks. You can buy a bunch of honey sticks for under $5 and enjoy them throughout the day.
Local farmers and artisans come to share their produce, gifts, and goods with the community. Pick up some vegetables, fruit, or goods for the family.
The best part about the Excelsior Farmer’s Market is the people. Great people bring fantastic produce and you simply can’t go wrong. Stop by to chat with some of the vendors and hear about their history and relationship with the town. This is also where the Excelsior trolley picks up. Make sure to enjoy a ride!
See Related: Best Things to do in Rochester, Minnesota
Watch Ice Hockey During the Pond Hockey Championships
Ice hockey is huge in Minnesota in case you haven’t heard. Maynard’s usually holds an ice hockey championship that features local talent on Excelsior Bay every winter. It’s not just an ice hockey tournament.
It’s a full-on festival that features tent concerts with local bands and other activities that keep you busy during the winter. In Minnesota, we don’t like to fear the cold. We embrace it. If you are coming from out of town, be sure to pack your winter travel clothing.
See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota
Channel Your True American Pride During the Fourth of July
Excelsior is the best place in the world to celebrate the Fourth of July. Fireworks from every corner, a small carnival with food trucks, ample blanket space, great bars, beaches, and even better people.
Excelsior during the Fourth of July is a unique experience because it takes you back to the past. Flags on every lamp post, street food, and laughter are all right on beautiful Lake Minnetonka.
It is the good ‘ol America you see in the movies where people from all walks of life come together for ice cream and fireworks. Visiting Excelsior at any time is enjoyable, but the Fourth of July takes the cake.
See Related: Best Lakes in Minnesota
Watch a Local Show at the Excelsior Bandshell
The Excelsior bandshell boasts concerts for every interest. From orchestra to the banjo and everything in between, the bandshell brings people together. The bandshell is next to the baseball field and the beaches, perched in front of Lake Minnetonka with spectacular views.
Check online to view their upcoming shows. Bring a blanket or chair to get cozy and enjoy the shows. Many times the Minnetonka high school students will put on shows at the bandshell. Some of these bands end up becoming quite popular. So go see them now! Check out these other things to do in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
See Related: Best Things to do in Wayzata, Minnesota
Excelsior is a small town with big vibes. You can experience a diverse set of activities no matter the weather. There is always something fun to do in Excelsior. You can bring the entire family or just a close set of friends for a night out. Get a northern Minnesota vibe only 20 minutes outside of the city. Excelsior can make for a nice, quiet Minnesota family vacation.
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