The vibe in Roseville, Minnesota is friendly and familiar to those seeking a close-in location equidistant between Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Small towns that turned into suburbs feel welcoming and familiar to me, after having lived in more than half a dozen: Camarillo, San Pedro (CA), Mt. Clemens, Wyoming (MI), Chanhassen, Minnetonka, Deephaven, St. Louis Park, and Maple Grove (MN). It’s tempting for self-appointed sophisticates to relegate these communities to anonymity, thinking that they lose their individuality after being engulfed by some of the less positive aspects of a spreading metropolitan area. But I prefer to look through the mask of franchises, parking lots, and cul de sac layouts to find the individuality and heart which attracted residents and developers to them in the first place. Case in point: Roseville, Minnesota.
Pete and I both have only lived on the Minneapolis side – that’s how we say it in the Twin Cities; you live on one side or the other. Before we left I could count the number of times I found myself in Roseville, Minnesota on two hands. Located equidistant and just a bit to the north of the twin downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Roseville stays under the radar. It seems as though people who actually live there might already appreciate the city’s low profile more than they don’t. Their friendliness underscored an easy familiarity that will strike a particularly Midwestern chord with visitors.
In a series of recent visits, we discovered there is much to like about Roseville, Minnesota. Today’s Roseville was originally part of a larger township established by settlers in the 1840s and 50s on land previously occupied by Dakota and Ojibwe. The Native Americans believed this location, because of its proximity to the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers, was valuable because it was situated between the centers of both earth and heaven. They were on to something: Roseville lies exactly on the 45th parallel (halfway between the equator and the North Pole). There’s a marker to that effect one block north of the intersection of Cleveland Ave and Roselawn.
Population numbers in Rose Township began to spurt prior to World War II; in 1948, Roseville incorporated as a village with a total area of just under 14 square miles. There was dramatic growth here during the 1950s and 1960s, with rural agricultural tracts yielding to residential development. As St. Paul grew, Roseville became a first-tier suburb, connected with east-west and north-south freeway access to both of the Twin Cities. This enabled commuters to reach either downtown in the space of ten or fifteen minutes.
Roseville, Minnesota has Bragging Rights
With a current population of about 35,000 residents, Roseville can boast many suburban-y firsts: the first Target and Best Buy stores in the nation, the first McDonald’s and Dairy Queen locations in Minnesota, and the first Barnes and Noble outside of New York City. Roseville is headquarters for Old Dutch Foods, the Minnesota Department of Education, and the Minnesota State Lottery. Roseville’s public library just happens to be the busiest in Minnesota, too. It claims more restaurants on a per capita basis than anywhere else in Minnesota, with per capita retail spending from the seven shopping centers located in the city exceeding that of Bloomington (where the Mall of America is located).
Rosedale Center, the third of the “dales” built by the Dayton-Hudson Corporation in the Twin Cities, opened in 1969. Through the years, anchor department stores came and went and wings were added and demolished. A lifestyle wing added in 2006 included an AMC Cinema and upscale retail tenants. This signified a premier profile shift as the mall’s traffic grew. Now, Rosedale is rated one of the top shopping destinations in Minnesota, welcoming more than 14 million shoppers to its one million+ square feet and 160 retailers. A current expansion project promises to add more than 140,000 square feet in anticipation of its new anchor, Von Maur, which is scheduled to open in 2018.
Roseville’s proximity to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds makes it a popular choice for the influx of visitors when The Great Minnesota Get-Together is on (as it is at the time of this writing). Year ‘round events and activities at the fairgrounds contribute to shopping and entertainment spending in the city, as well. But Roseville is also close to the University of Minnesota, which makes it a great option for visiting families of students. Likewise, Roseville’s corporate corridor is home to a growing number of small and mid-range businesses, whose day-to-day activities require office and warehouse space. In short, Roseville, Minnesota is thriving with positive energy.
Where to Play in Roseville, Minnesota
Lest you think Roseville’s retail, residential and commercial development resulted in a plethora of pavement, consider this: Today, no one in Roseville lives farther than ¼ mile from one the city’s 44 parks, which cover over 600 acres. The Central Park Muriel Sahlin Arboretum has 8 acres of theme gardens for day and special events visitors.
The city also boasts 44 miles of recreational trails, and there’s a Heritage Trail which links remnants of the city’s past for history buffs. That’s lots of green space through three seasons of the year. Roseville Park and Rec holds over 1000 programs and events each year.
As you might expect, winter sports are obligatory in Minnesota; residents embrace winter like no other state with perhaps the only exception of Alaska. In Roseville, kids of all ages “skate the OVAL” at the Guidant John Rose MN OVAL. This is the largest refrigerated skating facility in North America, with over 110,000 square feet of seasonal (November to March) ice for speed skating, hockey and bandy, inline skating, and an aggressive skate park facility during the months of May to September.
Where to Dine and Drink in Roseville, Minnesota
Bent Brewstillery is a multiple award-winning hybrid which grew out of an amateur homebrewer’s hobby to a contract with an existing brewery, Pour Decisions, and then a merger between the two companies in 2014. Bent Brewstillery has a mission to bring diverse adult beverages to the public, fueling the craft movement toward favorable drink with a sustainable ethos which respects the environment. The company culture is bold, fun, and direct, with a hint of the rebellious. The result is self-described as “traditional German ideology balanced with modern, contemporary American.” What craft brought to beer is mirrored in spirits; Bent Brewstillery thinks whiskey is what beer wants to be when it grows up. Food trucks on Thursdays – Saturdays, and growler jugs, even on Sundays. Pets welcome on the patio.
Pizza Luce With eight locations, Pizza Luce claims “best pizza in Minnesota.” Who are we to argue? Moderate menu is great for lunch or dinner, full bar features more than 20 craft beers, vegan and gluten-free options, innovative and build-your-own pizzas, hoagies, pastas, salads and desserts. Try the Fire Breathing Dragon pizza for some (uncharacteristic for Minnesota) spice or the Focaccia Katarina with goat cheese if you’re craving comfort food.
Axel’s Charhouse Classic American steakhouse with two other suburban locations claims the “Best Happy Hour in the Twin Cities.” We don’t know about that, but the luxe atmosphere at the bar was welcoming and felt like an upscale supper club. Their Chanhassen location was a favorite of ours when we lived in the Twin Cities. Since then, the menu has been modified with updated sophistication. Start with Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes and move on to the Bistro Sandwich (chicken breast with open-pit ham, red onion jam and melted brie, on toasted focaccia). Or opt for Lamb Chops, a bone-in Ribeye or Surf and Turf for a classic experience.
Chianti Grill With another location “south of the river” (another thing Twin Cities residents say when referring to suburban locations below the Minnesota River), this offering from the Superior Concepts restaurant group is a moderately upscale brand offering an Italian-based assortment of entrees for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. Signature dishes include Zuppa di Pesce (a tomato basil broth with shrimp, scallops, salmon, and sautéed vegetables) and Pork Maque Choux (bacon-wrapped, Cajun-spiced pork medallions served on a bed of roasted corn Maque Choux with a spiced sherry cream sauce). Full bar, happy hour, and party options.
Snuffy’s Malt Shop Classic and kitschy, Snuffy’s is a Twin Cities favorite with accolades like “Best Milkshake” and “Best Family Restaurant.” On the menu? Everything you’d expect from a bonafide malt shop: frankfurters, burgers, grilled sandwiches, combo baskets, cheese curds, sodas and sundaes, and specially-flavored malts such as banana cream pie, mint chocolate chip and orange dreamsicle. Seriously the best onion rings ever and still serving phosphates in four flavors for $2.49.
Where to Stay in Roseville, Minnesota
Disclosure: We partnered with Visit Roseville and TPI Hospitality during our visits to Roseville, Minnesota and couldn’t have been more delighted by the experience. Follow Visit Roseville on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.