Nokomis East Neighborhood Association (NENA)
Keewaydin, Minnehaha, Morris Park, Wenonah
The Nokomis East Neighborhood Association is made up of four different south Minneapolis neighborhoods, which are Keewaydin, Minnehaha, Morris Park and Wenonah. The location of NENA is what makes these neighborhoods unique. They are surrounded by the Mississippi River, Lake Nokomis and Lake Hiawatha. Historically this was great for Native Americans and then later for settlers because it was close to bodies of water. Now, because the natural beauty of the area has been preserved as parks, many come to this area to visit, making it a popular area to live. It is also great for transportation because highways and the light rail system border it. There are many local shops and eateries as well as chain stores and restaurants. There are many different trade schools and the area is very diverse. But a huge asset of the neighborhoods is the clear commitment to the idea of a community. The Nokomis East Neighborhood Association does a great job of bringing the community members together for celebrations and special events, giving the people a voice on issues in their neighborhood and investing locally. This is what makes NENA great.
Then and Now:
Parts of the Nokomis East Neighborhoods were originally a Native American Village up until around 1880. It was a great location between Lake Nokomis and the Mississippi River and below Lake Hiawatha because early on both Native Americans and settlers needed bodies of water not only to travel but also to survive. Because of the value that Minneapolis has always placed on its natural wildlife, much of the land was set aside to remain as parks instead of being developed. The location drew countless outsiders. Many people would come from all over the city to see Minnehaha Park and the Falls. This led to an early development of the neighborhoods in the area. There was rail transit in and out of the area as early as 1865. As the highway systems developed, these neighborhoods were even more sought after because of the easy access to both highway 62 and 55. Still today, the homes in the area are well kept, which communicates pride and satisfaction from residents.
E Minnehaha Pkwy to the North, Hiawatha Ave/Hwy 55 to the East, Hwy 62/Crosstown Hwy to the South, and Cedar Ave to the West
Here are some online sources that speak to the crime levels and statistics:
Home Sale Stats / Real Estate:
As of 2015, the average home sales price $205,418 with an average days on market of 60 days. The average year built was 1940 with 2.7 bedrooms, and 1.6 baths with a total finished sqft of 1385. For more up to date information on Nokomis East Real Estate, please contact Steven Hong with RE/MAX Results.
Nokomis Naturescape Garden (5000 E Lake Nokomis Pkwy, 612-724-5652) is on the shores of Lake Nokomis and home to many monarch butterflies. These are beautiful gardens that are maintained by volunteers.
Lake Nokomis Park (2401 E Minnehaha Pkwy, 612-370-4923) is one of the most well known parks in south Minneapolis. The park is right on the shores of Lake Nokomis and has so many different things to offer. There are sport fields and courts, walking, biking paths and skiing paths, a pool, a boat dock, a playground, art, fountains, a fishing pier, a grill and picnic area, an ice rink, and a horseshoe pit. But the community really enjoys the beach. It is one of the larger beaches on the Minneapolis lakes.
Keewaydin Park (3030 E 53rd St, 612-370-4956) is much smaller and connected to Keewaydin Elementary school. It has a picnic area and playground, sports fields and a small pool.
The Longfellow Gardens (3933 E Minnehaha Pkwy, 612-230-6400) are also located within the neighborhood association. It is a landscape garden along a creek dedicated to the writer and poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who wrote a poem about Minnehaha Falls. There is also a replica of his home near the gardens.
The Nokomis East Gateway Gardens (4224 E 50th St, 612-724-5652) were developed after the blue line of the light rail came through the area and left some land unused. This land was turned into beautiful wildlife gardens.
Morris Park (5531 39th Ave S, 612-370-4934) is a typical park with a picnic area and playground, sport fields and a pool, but what makes it unique is the skate park. It is one of the few parks in Minneapolis that has a skate park.
Bossen Field Park (5701 S 28th Ave, 612-370-3936) was mostly created to suit the Bossen Fields. There are a number of fields at the location along with a basketball court and sports facility. There is also a playground and a pool. These are just a handful of parks that make Minneapolis the best park system in the country.
There are several different restaurants in NENA. The Sandcastle (4955 W Lake Nokomis Pkwy, 612-722-5550) is a particular favorite because it rests on the shore of Lake Nokomis. The American style food is served over the counter, which is perfect for a day at the beach.
Sassy Spoon (5011 S 34th Ave, 612-886-1793) is a restaurant that caters to the gluten free public. The entire menu is gluten free so those with food allergies involving gluten can eat anything and everything!
If you’re looking for a genuinely homemade meal you need to stop at the Berry Sweet Kitchen (5406 S 34th Ave, 612-345-7376). This restaurant uses all natural and fresh ingredients to create some of the tastiest and most beautiful masterpieces when it comes to food!
Finally, Boss’ Pizza & Chicken (5501 S 34th Ave, 612-727-2677) is a newer spot that has only been open in Minneapolis since 2014. It is quickly becoming a favorite because of it’s quality food, delivery services, and the fact that it is open until 3am! This gives you a taste of the many other restaurants in the area.
The Nokomis East Neighborhood Association offers a bit more services than it has shopping. But the shops that it has are very unique and many have been around for quite a while. One example of this is the Nokomis Shoe Shop (4950 S 34th Ave, 612-724-1406), which has been around for 80 years. It is a family owned store that started off doing shoe repair. It has since grown and in 2003 it opened a second location in Crystal, MN. The shop is big on customer service and sells a wide range of work and outdoor shoes as well as socks and some clothing.
Orange Rhino (4913 S 28th Ave, 612-868-4914) is a clothing store that sells only organic items. It is owned by a husband and a wife that screen print their designs on hoodies, onesies and tees. All the materials are organic, fair trade and made in the USA. The shop originated in the neighborhood but has been spreading very quickly not only in the USA but all over the world.
Finally, Oxendale’s Market (5025 S 34th Ave, 612-724-4474) is the community grocery store in NENA. This store is dedicated to keeping everything local. This means that the produce is local, and the employees live and shop locally as well. Their goal is to strengthen their community through groceries and good service. Each of these shops is local and are vital to keeping the neighborhood feeling more like a community, even within the city of Minneapolis.
The biggest draw for nightlife in the Nokomis East Neighborhood Association is Town Hall Lanes (5019 S 34th Ave, 612-767-3354). It is a pub with a bowling alley and one of the largest beer menus around. People love to meet up here with friends late at night, grab something to eat, get a drink and bowl for a couple hours. It is a relaxing but fun environment. Al Vento (5001 S 34th Ave, 612-724-3009) is another spot that people like to hit up for a good time. It is an Italian restaurant with great food, but the real draw for nightlife is the large list of wines, beers and mixed drinks.
Community Arts & Music:
The Nokomis East Neighborhood Association seems to have a bent toward arts and crafts. This can be seen through several events put on by the neighborhood. One of such events is the Nokomis Fall Urban Craft and Art Fair (2401 E Minnehaha Pkwy, 612-370-4932), which takes place in the middle of November. The fair represents the work of 48 different indie artists and crafters. Admission is free but there are many items that are showcased and even for sale such as jewelry, art, ceramics, sweets, woodwork, soaps, textile glass, paper goods, candles and more. This gives artists a chance to showcase their work and it involves the whole community. Combined with this event is the Lake Nokomis Craft Crawl. This crawl takes participants to three different locations, Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Minnehaha United Methodist Church, and Nokomis Square Coop to make, buy and sell crafts. These are the main ways that NENA contributes to the artistic bent of the community. Live music also takes place in several restaurants and at special events.
NENA does a great job of putting on many events throughout the year to get people involved in the community. There are countless events that take place but there are four larger events. One of those events is the NENA Garage Sale. The association organizes it and anyone can join and set up a booth for free. It usually takes place on a weekend in the middle of June and it’s great for people who want to clean out the closet and for those looking for good deals. The neighborhood always puts on a big block party for National Night Out in August. There is always food, games and fun. This event really helps the community get to know each other better. The Monarch Festival (Lake Nokomis Community Center) is a particular favorite of the community. It is a celebration of the monarch butterfly and its Mexican heritage. Children are encouraged to dress up as butterflies; there is Latin food, a parade, art activities, and the University of Minnesota even brings in real butterflies for the event. This usually takes place at the beginning of September. At the end of November each year is the Tree Lighting Ceremony at Oxendale’s Market (5025 S 34th Ave, 612-724-4474). The community Christmas tree is lit up at this time and then there is free root beer, an opportunity to get your picture with Santa and free books for children. This is a fun event for the community to welcome in the Christmas season. Finally, the Night Before New Year’s Eve has been a popular event in NENA for 16 years now. On December 30th there is a big party that is both free and kid friendly to celebrate the coming New Year. There is always music, games, food, hayrides, a photo booth, marshmallow roasting and even a countdown. This is great for parents that want to celebrate the New Year with their small children and still go out on New Year’s Eve.
When it comes to transportation in NENA, there are several aspects that are unique. First of all, because it is so close to Lake Nokomis many parks, there are lots of paths for walking or biking throughout the neighborhood. There is also public transportation in this area, but the community really encourages ride sharing for those who drive to work. For public transportation, there is both light rail and buses, which can get you all over the city. The 7, 22, 440, and 515 are all buses that stop on almost every block throughout the neighborhood. The light rail’s blue line also goes through NENA with stops at 50th Street-Minnehaha Station and the VA Medical Center Station. Current fare for both buses and the light rail is $2.25 during rush hour and $1.75 at all other times. Visit Metro Transit for more bus and light rail information..
There are many trade or skill schools in the NENA neighborhoods, but only a few academic schools. And all of the academic schools are elementary or middle schools. The Minneapolis Academy (5011 S 31st Ave, 612-455-1340) is a high quality private middle school that is actually a college prep school. It was started in 2004 and was the first of its kind. The school is quite diverse, has very high standards and pushes students in order to prepare them to succeed in high school and then college. Hiawatha Academy (3810 E 56th St, 612-987-5688) is another private school within the neighborhoods. It is divided into four schools. There are two leadership academies that are grades K-4, one college prep school that is grades 5-8 and one collegiate high school that is grades 9-12. Only one of these schools is located in NENA and it is in the Morris Park neighborhood. It is one of the leadership academies. The focus of this school is obviously to teach leadership, as well as knowledge and character and prepare children for their education at the next highest level. Wenonah Elementary School (5625 23rd Ave S, 612-668-5040) and Keewaydin Elementary School (5209 30th Ave S, 612-668-4670) both make up Lake Nokomis Community School, which is a public school. Wenonah is grades K-2 while Keewaydin is grades 3-8. There are many programs that these schools offer that have to do with sports, hobbies, academics, arts and competitions. These schools may not be as academically rigorous as the private prep schools but they certainly offer more when it comes to extracurricular activities. Students from these schools often go on to attend high schools such as Roosevelt or Washburn, which are a little further. Several kindergartens, a law school, many music schools, karate schools and even an aviation school are also location in the NENA neighborhoods.
Other Schools / Child Care:
Places of Worship
Getting back to the basics, what everyone needs, at one point or another: