I’ve finally reached that mildly thrilling point in parenting where much more often than not I don’t have to schlep a stroller around town when I’m out and about with the kids. But even those for whom a stroller is still a daily staple might find they don’t need it in the Linden Hills shopping district of Minneapolis. These five storefronts are, in most cases, just a stroll across the street from one another. If it’s possible for you to visit on a weekday, there is convenient street parking a block or less from crafts, critters, toys and treats. Here’s how my preschooler and I spent a couple of hours this fall afternoon:
1. Great Harvest Bread Co., 4314 Upton Ave S
Open: Mon-Fri, 6am-6:30pm • Sat, 6am-5pm • Sun, 9am-1pm
Stop for: Fresh bread and other baked goods. I was astonished by the sample size of cinnamon roll I was given (seriously, it was so large I felt guilty that it filled me up), and for a second score, a cup of their great coffee is only $1.25 if you bring your own mug. A small children’s play nook at the front of the shop holds space to munch and read together.
Plan ahead: Several Great Harvest locations offer tours of the bread-making process. The Linden Hills location usually offers them to groups only, but you can try calling them at 651-929-2899 to see if it would be possible to tag along on their next 15-30 minute tour.
2. Heartfelt, 4306 Upton Ave S
Open: Mon-Sat, 10am-5pm • Sun, noon-4pm
Stop for: Seasonal drop-in crafts are available every day of the week – get an idea of September’s menu here. Or, you’re welcome to browse the shop for inspiration and spend some time playing — my preschooler loved peeking out at me from the treehouse and setting up the fairy house display.
Plan ahead: Preschool classes have moved to a new monthly festival format! September’s Autumn Festival will be held Sept. 28 & 29 at 10:30am and will include crafts for both caregiver and child, a snack and other seasonally-appropriate activities. Cost is $18/pair, additional kids $10 each.
3. Creative Kidstuff, 4313 Upton Ave S
Open: Mon-Wed, 10am-6pm • Th-Fr, 10am-8pm • Sat, 10am-6pm • Sun, 11am-4pm
Stop for: Limitless gift options — for your own kids or someone else’s. Mine was obsessed with the kid-sized ice cream cart and play kitchen sets. She could have spent the whole afternoon.
Plan ahead: Every Saturday from 10-11am the Linden Hills store hosts demonstrations of games, science sets, art kits and other wares. Come try before you buy.
4. Wild Rumpus Books, 2720 West 43rd St
Open: Mon, 10am-5pm • Tues-Fri, 10am-8pm • Sat, 10am-5pm • Sun, noon-5pm
Stop for: Slip through the little purple door and find an independent bookseller that also happens to house a menagerie of critters – can you find the chinchilla, ferrets, kittens and birds? Plus, “recycled” books are just a buck to take home.
Plan ahead: Wild Rumpus holds “Tail Time” stories at 10:30 each Monday. Crowds can accumulate, so the best plan is to get their early to grab a good spot.
5. Dunn Bros. Linden Hills, 2814 W 43rd St
Open: Mon-Fri, 6am-8:30pm • Sat-Sun, 6:30-8pm
Stop for: Decent fare with a kids nook of toys and books to entertain your youngins. We recently included this location on our list of Kid-Friendly Twin Coffee Shops/Cafes and maintain that it’s an option if you’re looking for a place for kids to move around while you grab your cup of coffee, but I was disappointed to find today that the play space was poorly kept up. The shop does have good choices for an a la carte kids lunch.