Pollinators, such as honey bees and wild bees, help carry pollen from flower to flower, fertilizing plants so that they produce seeds and fruit. Minnesota is home to over 450 wild bee species, including both solitary bees and 18 bumblebee species. Because of the vital role that these pollinators play, the City Council passed a resolution declaring St. Louis Park a bee-friendly city. In acknowledgment of this, we’ve created a fun, family-friendly, bee-themed itinerary to help you have a “bee-autiful” day in our city.
Start your day off with a visit to Honey & Rye Bakehouse, a woman-owned bakery serving freshly baked breads, pastries, pies and cakes. Their yeast starter is made with honey and rye (hence the name). Grown-ups will be buzzing over their coffees and teas, including their specialty Miel – a latte with honey and cinnamon. Kids will enjoy their assortment of cookies, scones, coffee cake and monkey bread. On Fridays, pick up a loaf of their honey challah bread – it’s even dairy free. Plus, you can purchase a jar of locally made Ames Farm honey!
Bee One With Nature
Next, head over to the new, net zero energy Interpretive Center at Westwood Hills Nature Center. Explore their interactive exhibits, which include a colorful display on pollinators. Learn which plants are bee-friendly and check out the apiary to watch bees in action. The Nature Center also features live animals, including a flying squirrel, a red-tailed hawk and a barred owl. Go hiking on over 3 miles of trails through marsh, woods and restored prairie. Kids will love running along the floating boardwalk that crosses Westwood Lake. If you’re lucky, you might spot deer, turtles, foxes, minks or owls.
A Picnic Lunch That’s The Bee’s Knees
After a busy morning exploring at Westwood Hills, pick up lunch to go at yum! Kitchen & Bakery. At this neighborhood restaurant, everything is made from scratch, using only the freshest ingredients. Try the chicken club, which features a chicken breast topped with lettuce, tomato, avocado, Nueske bacon (a MN favorite) and pommeray honey aioli on toasted whole grain bread. You’ll also find yummy salads, homemade soups, pizzas and fresh-squeezed lemonade. For a sweet treat, grab a slice of their signature patticake (chocolate cake with buttercream frosting) or chose from among their many cupcakes, cookies, muffins and other baked goods.
You’ll find the perfect picnic spot at Lilac Park, a 2.7-acre historic park located near Highway 100’s famed Lilac Way, a 12.5 mile stretch of freeway built during the Great Depression that is lined with over 8,000 lilac plants. Lilac Park is home to one of only two remaining beehive-shaped fireplaces in the entire U.S. The fireplace, and neighboring picnic tables, are made of limestone that was quarried along the Minnesota River. Built by local stonemasons in 1939, each stone was cut by hand. The fireplaces were nicknamed beehives because they resemble skeps, which are straw baskets placed open-end down and used to house bees for more than 2,000 years. Back in the day, families would stop at these roadside parks and roast hot dogs in the fireplaces. Although no longer functional, the beehive remains the centerpiece of this park.
A Honey Do Shopping List
For a quick and fun shopping trip, stop by the nearby Nordic Ware Factory Store. The bundt pan was invented here in 1950, by H. David Dalquist, the owner of Nordic Ware. Today, the factory store sells bundt and bundtlette pans of all shapes and sizes, as well as other bakeware, cookware, kitchenware and grilling gadgets and accessories. Go on a bakeware scavenger hunt and see if you can find the beehive-shaped cake and cakelet pans, the honeycomb pull-apart pan, the honey bee pancake pan or the honey bee cookie stamps. And don’t forget the honeybee dish towels!
Another tasty stop you won’t want to miss is the Droolin’ Moose, a distinctly Minnesota gourmet chocolate shop located in the Miracle Mile Shopping Center. You’ll find over 50 varieties of goodies made with milk and dark chocolate, caramel, nuts (cashews, pecans, almonds), fruits (cherries, blueberries), and even gummy candies. You’ll want to try the Tangles – honey cinnamon grahams covered in milk chocolate.
Flight Of The Bumblebee
To spot bees in action, head over to Wolfe Park. The park is one of eight designated pollinator habitats where no pesticides are sprayed and dandelions and white clover are promoted. Walk along the paved trails that meander through the park and stroll around Wolfe Lake. For those who like to fish, bluegill, black crappie, largemouth bass, northern pike and yellow perch are all present in this 3.3 acre lake, which features a fishing pier and four shore fishing stations. Young children will delight in the large playground area filled with swing, slides, and things to climb. Be sure to catch a ride on Nectar the Bee, a two-person spring rider that gently rocks back and forth.
Then travel north on Hwy 100 to The Shops at West End. There you’ll find the aluminum sculptures entitled Bee Way. Designed by Foster Willey in 2009, the piece was inspired by the beehive fireplace in Lilac Park. It consists of two concrete columns embossed with honeycomb patterns and bee-themed ceramic tiles topped by aluminum sculptures that represent the flight of the bees as they move with the wind. The plaza is decorated with hexagons to represent the honeycombs of a bee’s nest and a butterfly bench provides a fanciful resting spot.
A Colony Of Restaurants
St. Louis Park’s West End is known for its diverse restaurants which offer a delightful array of patio dining options and the perfect way to end your day. The Loop West End is an American restaurant full of local fare. Start with the chopped salad, with its honey citrus vinaigrette dressing, then order one of their specialty plates, such as the lemon pepper walleye or a juicy loopy, a burger stuffed with bacon and cheddar.
Raku Sushi & Lounge is an upscale destination for globally inspired Japanese plates, creative sushi rolls and cocktails. Try the crispy duck salad served with honey glazed walnuts, the rock shrimp tempura or sashimi by the piece.
At Yard House, you’ll find over 100 menu items made from scratch and an equal number of beers on tap. You’re sure to find something for everyone here, like the Wisconsin fried cheese curds or the Nashville hot chicken, both served with honey hot sauce.
The Hum of the Hive
We hope you’ll enjoy your travels through St. Louis Park, as guided by our friendly bees. To help get you in a hive state of mind, we’ve created a totally eclectic Spotify playlist of bee and honey-related tunes, from Blake Shelton’s Honey Bee to the Bee Gee’s and The Honeydrippers.
Have an un-bee-lievable day!