Apple Valley is a suburb of the Twin Cities, and it is the 18th most populous city in the state. It has quietly become one of the best cities in the country to live in, rated 28th in 2007 by Money Magazine all the way up to 17th in 2013. It's not well known outside of Minnesota, but it's held in high regards by locals.
It's the home to the Minnesota Zoo, which is respected around the country for its geographically diverse collection of animals. It also has the yearly Apple Valley Winter Carnival which is a celebration of all things winter, including a medallion hunt and ice skating. It also has many parks including Alimagnet Dog Park, Johnny Cake Ridge Park West, and Johnny Cake Ridge Park East. For golf lovers, there is the Valleywood Golf Course, which is a public golf course.
There is strong value placed on arts as well. The Apple Valley Arts Foundation has been supporting the arts and local artists since 1999, and they have donated more than $300,000 to schools in that time frame.
Apple Valley History
Apple Valley has a long and storied history that started back in the mid-1850s when settlers from Lebanon, New Hampshire traveled west to Minnesota. They named the area they found Lebanon in honor of their hometown, and for reasons still unknown, it was part of another town called Union for a short period of time. Union Township emerged, and then the boundaries were changed and most of it became Lebanon Township.
It was mostly a farming community in the early days, and change was minimal until roughly a hundred years later. Things started growing, and a planning commission was started in 1962. In 1963, a developer named Orrin Thompson began to build in the area. The story goes that he named it Apple Valley because he planted apple trees in his developments, but another explanation is that he had some connection to Apple Valley, California, and named it after that city.
In 1968, the motion to change the name from Lebanon Township to Apple Valley was introduced, and it became a statutory city in 1974.
Now, it's a thriving community and is a desirable suburb in which to live. There are parks with walking trails and biking trails that allow the residents to take a break from their hectic lives and enjoy an afternoon communing with nature.
Green / Environmental
Apple Valley is committed to sustainable practices even though it doesn't have an official written policy. The City has focused on building green buildings as well as updating their current facilities. They use the Green Globes rating system which was started by the Green Building Initiative. Projects are rated from one to four Green Globes with each additional Green Globe indicating a higher level of commitment to the project. There are two Two Green Globes buildings and one Three Green Globes building.
The City has used the ARRA funds they've received to install more efficient lighting and other sustainability benefits to their city facilities. They also have a Better Energy program that they encourage the homeowners of Apple Valley to use.
They are interested in providing their youth with the tools to continue the ecological improvements. To that end, they partnered up with Independent School District 196 and the State of Minnesota to create the School of Environmental Studies (SES) in 1994. SES is a highly-esteemed high school focused on teaching the leaders of tomorrow how to care for the environment.
The City is also dedicated to tending to the natural environment around them by regularly evaluating the natural resources. They partnered with Great River Greening to remove an invasive species of buckthorn from Alimagnet Park as part of their commitment to the environment.
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Johnny Cake Ridge Park East - (5800 140 St. W,, 952-953-2300, website) Johnny Cake Ridge Park East is a park aimed at the sports-loving person. There is a softball complex that can be rented, and there are public softball/baseball diamonds as well. In addition, there is a playground area that has plenty of equipment so any kid can find something fun to play on. There are also athletic fields on which you can play soccer or football if you are more a footie person. There is a horseshoe pitch if that is more your speed, and there is a barbecue grill for you to get your BBQ on.
Johnny Cake Ridge Park West - (14139 Johnny Cake Ridge Rd.,, 952-953-2300, website) Johnny Cake Ridge Park West can be enjoyed for a multitude of reasons. It has a water park and playground equipment, as well as baseball and softball diamonds. There are also fields on which you can play soccer, lacrosse, and football. There is also a basketball court, a volleyball court, and a tennis court. In addition, there is a hockey rink and an ice-skating rink for those who enjoy having their fun on ice. There are plenty of places to take a break and admire the view if that's more your style.
Kelley Park - (6855 Fortino St.,, 952-953-2306, website) Kelley Park is a neighborhood favorite with a splash pad that is watery fun for the whole family. Near the splash pad is the playground area, so any little ones who don't care for frolicking in water can swing on the swings or go down the slides instead. There is also a picnic shelter so you can take a break and have a meal or just have a few minutes rest from all the fun. Kelley Park also participates in the Music in the Park series in the summer when the weather is nice. It's a great way to enjoy some music outside with family and/or friends.
Ooka Asian Bistro - (6520 150th St. W, Suite 400,, 952-997-6652, website) Ooka Asian Bistro is a family-owned Asian fusion restaurant with a chef/owner who has been cooking as a chef since he was a teenager in China. He's cooked as a chef in America for over a decade, and his dream is to have a chain of quality restaurants. They use only the freshest of ingredients, and their service is friendly. Their menu includes fried shrimp shumai, sashimi parfait, and a vast array of sushi, rolls, and sashimi. They also have beef short rib, pad Thai, and hibachi dishes. They also do delivery.
Osaka Seafood Steakhouse - (7537 149th St. W, Suite A,, 952-432-6155, website) Osaka Seafood Steakhouse is a local chain restaurant that serves Japanese food including sushi and hibachi. The restaurant is spacious and upscale, and you can watch the teppanayaki chefs grill your food on the hibachi grill. The service is conscientious, and the atmosphere is relaxed. The menu includes different hibachi items including chicken, lobster tail, and filet mignon. Their sushi includes special rolls such as Winter Roll, Godzilla Roll, and Lisa Lisa Crunch Roll. They also have hand rolls, sushi, and sashimi, as well as tempura. If you like Japanese food, you are guaranteed to find something tasty here.
Satay 2 Go - (6670 150th St. W, #103,, 952-891-8551, website) Satay 2 Go is an unassuming place with fantastic Asian delicacies. There are a few tables, but their emphasis is on takeout. They are friendly and helpful, and they believe in service with a smile. Their menu is diverse, borrowing cuisine from several different countries in Asia such as Malaysia, Korea, Indian, and Japan. The menu includes Hokkien Mee, Roti Canal, and kimchee soup. They have pastries that they make on a daily basis as well, so you can buy a variety of buns if you can't decide which one you like best.
Taste of Thaiyai - (7705 147th St. W,, 952-431-4144, website) Taste of Thaiyai was opened in 2008 by Nyi Htun in order to bring the tasty dishes of Thailand to Minnesota. He is dedicated to serving appetizing Thai food to the members of his community seven days a week. The restaurant is very nondescript from the outside, and the decor is pretty simple. The staff is friendly, though, and the atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming. The menu includes roast duck curry, Pad Prig Khing, Pad Med Mamuang Himaphane, and Laab Nua. They also have rice and noodle dishes, appetizers, and desserts. They have vegetarian options, and they are willing to help with gluten sensitivities. They also have takeout.
Umami Bowl - (15465 Cedar Ave., Suite #130,, 952-683-9550, website) Umami Bowl is no-frills pan-Asian restaurant that prides itself on fast and efficient service. They have Chinese, Thai, Japanese and Vietnamese dishes, including Thai curry (red or yellow), drunken noodles, and pho. They have takeout as well as delivery, and their food is made with the freshest ingredients.
Abdallah Candies and Gifts - (6075 147th Street W, 952-890-4770, website) Abdallah Candies and Gifts was opened in 1909 by Albert Abdallah and his bride, Helen Trovall in what is now Uptown. Back then, Albert was making his candies in a kettle over an open flame. More than a hundred years and three generations later, the store is run by Karen and Steve Hegedus, fourth-generation owners. The shelves are crammed with all sorts of delectable temptations, including truffles, peanut butter cups, chocolate mints, and caramels. They also have assorted boxes if you can't choose just one. They also have sugar-free versions of many of their chocolates, and jelly beans for those who don't care as much for chocolate.
Apple Valley Square - (7500-7600 150th St. W,, 630-645-2820, website) Apple Valley Square is a popular community shopping mall that has recently been renovated to accommodate changes and the times. The shops include CorePower Yoga, Five Below, Half Price Books, and JOANN Fabrics. There is an Aldi grocery store, and the food options include Poke Bowl and Subway.
Goodwill -- Apple Valley - (7320 153rd St. W,, 952-953-4410, website) Goodwill -- Apple Valley is a nonprofit thrift store as part of a national chain with the proceeds benefiting those in need. It is well stocked and has friendly staff members who are eager to help out. The products include previously-owned furniture, home furnishings, and clothing. You can also donate gently-used items to the store to continue the cycle of giving.
Kalli's Popcorn Shop - (7535 148th St. W,, 952-432-3311, website) Kalli's Popcorn Shop is a fun and colorful store that sells gourmet popcorn. It's a family-owned store that is named after the owner's granddaughter. They opened in 2003, and the popcorn is popped in small batches in the shop on a daily basis. They only use natural ingredients, and they never use white sugar in their caramel popcorn. In addition to popcorn, they sell ice cream, cotton candy, and more. You can also order their products online as well.
Valley Bike & Ski - (7707 149th St. W,, 952-432-1666, website) Valley Bike & Ski is passionate about proving its customers with the best service and products. The staff members are knowledgeable and eager to find the right bike/ski equipment for each customer. They have a 30 Day Risk Free Program, and they have a layaway program as well. They sell a wide array of bikes, accessories, and clothing as well as skis and snowboards. They have full service for both bikes and skis, and they are always willing to help their customers have a satisfying experience in their shop.
Bogart's Entertainment Center - (14917 Garrett Ave.,, 952-432-1515, website) The Bogart's Entertainment Center is a great place to go for a fun night with family and/or friends. They have bowling, sand volleyball, pool, and that's just the start of it. They also have live music, plenty of munchies such as pizza, sandwiches, wings, and mini donuts. On the drink side, they have beer and wine. In addition, they have events such as trivia night, designer purse bingo, and karaoke night.
Celts Craft House - (7083 153rd St. W,, 952-683-1533, website) Celts Craft House is a gastropub with a relaxed atmosphere and a cheerful staff. They have adopted the Irish Trinity Knot (Triquetra) as their way to signify the merging of three aspects. In their case, the trinity consists of hand-crafted cocktails, authentic food, and craft beer. Their menu includes Banger Bites, Celts Craft House Kolsch Beer Cheese, Belfast Burger, and Corned Beef & Cabbage. They offer drinks such as Irish Mule, Beer and a Bump, and Craft House Singe Barrel Old Fashioned.
PR's Sports Bar - (14889 Florence Trail,, 952-855-8888, website) PR's Sports Bar is a spacious bar that is open and welcoming, and the staff members are friendly. The patio is a lovely place to have a pint or two in the summer with a group of pals while enjoying a gentle breeze. Their menu includes all sorts of wings, flatbreads, sandwiches, and burgers. They have several kinds of drinks such as beer, wine, margarita, and bourbons. They have different kinds of night, including bingo night, taco night, and flatbread night.
Rascal's Bar & Grill - (7721 147th St. W,, 952-431-7777, website) Rascal's Bar & Grill is a place where you can relax and chat with the staff members in a casual atmosphere, all the while sipping on a beer or cocktail. It's also a place where you can feast on some fine dining food, such as The Fiesta Skillet (breakfast), Fish & Chips (lunch), and St. Louis Style Pork Ribs (dinner). They also make their desserts by hand, and they have catering.
Wild Bill's Sports Saloon - (15020 Glazier Ave.,, 952-432-2455, website) Wild Bill's Sports Saloon is a regional chain of sports bar where you can go to hoist a drink with your friends as you root on the home team. It has a homey atmosphere, and the staff members are are welcoming and friendly. They have a patio that you can enjoy in the summer. They have different specialty days/nights, including Kids & Ribs Wednesdays, Fajitas & Rita's Night, and Sunday "Power Hour", and they have entertainment throughout the week as well. Their menu is extensive, ranging from Chipotle Orange Pork Rib Tacos to Smokey Gouda Mac to Eggs Benedict. They have a wide assortment of drinks as well, of course.
Community Arts & Recreation
Accent Note Studio - (5275 132nd St. W,, 952-423-6886, website) Accent Note Studio is operated by Linette Werner from her home and where she gives piano lessons to students across the metro area. She has been teaching for a quarter of a century, and she also teaches for ISD 196 Community Education and frequently guest teaches as well. She is a believer in making learning fun because she's found it works better in making the lessons stick. She offers group lessons in addition to individual lessons, recitals, and a keyboard enrichment lab.
Apple Valley Arts Foundation - (P.O. Box 240725, , website) The Apple Valley Arts Foundation (AVAF) was founded in 1999 as a an organization supportive of arts and artists in the community and in the schools. In their time as an organization, they have donated more than $300,000 to the local schools. They recognize and embrace the diversity of art within their community, and they are committed to nurturing that art to the best of their ability. The majority of their events take place in Kelley Park and the Valleywood Golf Course. One such event is the Music in Kelley Park Concert Series, which includes the Belfast Cowboys, Salsa del Soul, and Coyote Wild.
Apple Valley Community Center - (14603 Hayes Rd.,, 952-953-2300, website) Apple Valley Community Center is the hub of activity for the community. There are several amenities including two gyms, a basketball court, a volleyball court, and a public meeting room. It hosts several adult recreational athletic leagues, and they have rental space for off-peak hours. There are several community activities in this space as well, and there is something for everyone here.
Betty Jo's Dance Center - (14803 Energy Way,, 952-953-4999, website) Betty Jo's Dance Center was founded over four decades ago by Betty Jo in order to share her passion for dancing with others. She wanted to provide a welcoming place for others to learn to dance, and the current staff members are carrying on her legacy. They have classes for all ages, 18 months and upwards. The classes include creative movement for toddlers, ballet and tap for younger kids, and ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop as they reach 2nd grade. As the kids grow older, there is more focus on technique and personal expression, all in a supportive and positive environment. There are recitals for the kids, and there are tap classes for the adults who want to find their inner rhythm (both beginners and those who have already been tapping a while).
Heartbeat Performing Arts Center - (7661 145th St. W,, 952-432-7833, website) The Heartbeat Performing Arts Center was founded in 1998 by a mother and daughter duo, Deborah Lysholm and Kristin Freya. They started it as a dance studio only, but opened it up to other performing arts that includes travel study programs to Barcelona and Tokyo, a critically-acclaimed dance studio called Vox Medusa, performing companies, and an academy program for budding performers. It is a collaborative and supportive environment, and the staff has a philosophy of noncompetitive performance because they want their students to experience art in a pure form.
MacPhail Center for Music - (14200 Cedar Ave. Suite 102,, 612-321-0100, website) The MacPhail Center for Music has a long tradition of teaching music to people of all ages, from the young to the old and everyone in between. The Apple Valley branch of the MacPhail Center opened in 2010 has 13 studios and two classrooms. The latter are custom built for the purpose of the center, including student lessons, recitals, music therapy, and their own proprietary Sing Play Learn with MacPhail programs.
Minnesota Zoo - (13000 Zoo Blvd.,, 952-431-9200, website) The Minnesota Zoo was opened in 1978 by the State of Minnesota to educate people about the nature around them and to preserve said nature/wildlife. In addition to the exhibits, they have educational programs and conservation programs to protect endangered species. It occupies 485 acres, and it has nearly 5000 animals of 533 species. There is a Zoomobile that travels around the state to bring the facts about nature to the people who might not be able to make it to the zoo. They have several different events including Adult Night Out, Tiger Tracks 5K Family Run/Walk/Roll, and guided tours.
SEP: Fall Festival - (6885 160th St. W,, 952-431-4345, website) The Fall Festival is hosted by Pahl's Market to kick off the fall with a bang. There will be a corn pit and a straw maze for the enjoyment of everyone, and there will be a bouncy castle for the little ones. They will also have face painting, story time, and sampling of apples and salsa. It's a fun time for everyone and a way to welcome the changing of the leaves and the cooling of the weather.
SEP: Tiger Tracks 5K and Family Run/Walk/Roll - (13000 Zoo Blvd.,, , website) The Tiger Tracks 5K and family Run/Walk/Roll is hosted by the Minnesota Zoo and starts at the Shady Oaks Picnic Area in the zoo, continuing along the trails within the zoo. The proceeds go to benefit the animals, and it's a good time for the whole family. If you participate, you get free admission to the zoo on the day of the race and a free t-shirt, too. Plus, you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you helped the wildlife around you.
DEC: 2nd Annual Joyful Gifts Holiday Market! Vendor and Craft Show! - (4851 McAndrews Rd.,, , website) The 2nd Annual Joyful Gifts Holiday Market! Vendor and Craft Show! will be held at the Valleywood Golf Course in December so you can get all your holiday shopping done. The event will showcase South Metro talent and creativity. It will be hosted by South Metro Events of Minnesota, and it'll be a fun time for everyone.
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