5 things to do in Richfield

Throughout our Minnesota travel series Get Out There, we have visited cites in all different areas of our state, from Fargo-Moorhead to Montevideo. This time we stayed a little closer to home and took it to the suburbs. But not just any suburb — the oldest suburb in the state.

Hidden natural gems, popular local businesses and one global retail giant are right in your backyard if you live in Richfield.

“Richfield is a thriving first-ring suburb,” says MPR Public Insight Network source Aimee Bissonette. “The local government has been very smart about providing programs to improve the housing stock, inducing businesses like Best Buy to move here, working with developers to build affordable housing and bring in new retail.”

For many Minnesota residents it’s easy to stay in a familiar neighborhood and get comfortable with regular spots, but we think it’s worth your time to make a stop in Richfield.

1. Escape the city hustle

Wood Lake Nature Center. (MPR Photo/Nicole Oran)

You wouldn’t even know it was there, considering the airport is just miles away, but the Wood Lake Nature Center is a 150-acre area of land that was named a municipal nature center in 1971 and dedicated to providing authentic wildlife observation, education and an outdoor experience right on the outskirts of the Twin Cities.

Mother duck and babies at Wood Lake Nature Center. (MPR Photo/Nicole Oran)

“Wood Lake Nature Center is an oasis in the middle of a busy metropolitan area,” says PIN source Kalla Kalloway. “Freeways are all around it, but once you get in there, you can’t hear the noise and it seems like you’re in the middle of nowhere.”

2. Indulge in baked goods

A favorite for locals, Patrick’s Bakery & Cafe provides a plentiful helping of cakes, savory items and other treats, but it’s also a welcoming place to just hang out, get some work done or socialize with friends. Customers work on their computers on the tables out front; others enjoy intimate lunch dates inside.

One of the many chocolate cakes displayed at Patrick’s Bakery & Cafe. (MPR Photo/Nicole Oran)

3. Enjoy a world of cuisines

The smell of cinnamon in Andale Taqueria & Mercado is overwhelming as dough and sugar become pastries and employees help customers purchase their produce and other Latin products.

“Richfield has a large Hispanic population (about 20 percent) and Andale caters to them with great foods and a market where you can get Mexican pop, fresh cuts of meat, including  goat, and lots of pastries,” said Frank Jaskulke.

Guadalupe Ibarra preparing dough at Andale Taqueria & Mercado. (MPR Photo/Nicole Oran)

Other PIN sources recommended a variety of restaurants that encourage diverse palates: Khan’s Mongolian Barbecue, Aida Egyptian, Joy’s Pattaya Thai, Cadao Express for Vietnamese and El Tejaban Mexican Grill.

4. A suburb with history? Yes

Riley Bartholomew (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Riley Bartholomew was one of the first settlers in the area and became a Richfield justice of the peace and a Minnesota senator.

The house that he built next to Wood Lake is now included in the National Register of Historic Places.

The Richfield Historical Society, next to the Bartholomew house, provides an extensive look back at how the settlers first inhabited the area and the diverse immigrants who made Richfield home.

Bartholomew House.  (MPR Photo/Nicole Oran) Plaque on the exterior of the Bartholomew House. (MPR Photo/Nicole Oran)

5. Hit the thrift shop and support a  Twin Cities non-profit

One of our PIN sources recommended checking out Arc’s Value Village thrift store, a community establishment that recently celebrated 30 years in business. According to the Arc’s website, the stores around the cities have generated more than $2 million for The Arc Greater Twin Cities’ programs that help adults and children with disabilities.

Whether you’re taking some time to donate to a cause or searching for your own hidden treasures among the 10,000 new items that arrive each day, Arc’s Value Village is a worthwhile stop while in Richfield.

  • Joseph Hoover

    The “oldest suburb” of Minnesota title comes from a creative play on history where the land that made up Richfield surrounded Fort Snelling (1820s). Suburb comes from the latin Suburbium – the land outside the walls/fort. Thus Richfield is not just a suburb of Minneapolis, it is a suburb of Fort Snelling – becoming Minnesota’s oldest suburb.