There are more than 100 suburbs surrounding the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, but only 15 are first-ring suburbs… cities which touch either Minneapolis or St. Paul. These cities are still close to the city for easy commuting for both business and pleasure, and often have many things in common with the city neighborhoods on their borders. If you love urban living but are ready to move out of the city, first-ring suburbs could be a good option for you. They often have bigger lots, easier parking, good schools, and are more affordable both in price and taxes!
Each has its own unique identity. Here are some key characteristics of each, presented in alphabetical order. Note the average year homes were built and median price… that can give an idea of housing stock and styles to expect in each suburb. Although many of these suburbs began their lives as small farming villages in the 1800s, most saw their greatest growth in the mid 1900s following WII… consequently good places to look for mid-century homes, including 1 12/ story homes, ramblers and mid-century moderns.
Housing data is compiled from NorthstarMLS for all of 2022. Condos, town homes and twin homes are broken out from houses so you can get a sense of which suburbs have the most potential for finding those styles, if that is what you are looking for. School district grades are from NICHE.com. Individual schools within the district may vary.
Brooklyn Center is located on the west bank of the Mississippi River, touching the northwest corner of Minneapolis and crossing I-694, Hwy 100 and touching I-94. It has easy access to downtown Minneapolis and other parts of the metro. It started as farms focused on market gardening for the city prior to WWII, and became a bedroom community and industrial job center after the war. Incorporated as a village in 1911 and as a city in 1966, they have recently rebranded themselves with a new tagline: AT THE CENTER… emphasizing affordability, proximity to major highways, diversity, parks and trails.
Columbia Heights borders the north edge of Minneapolis, with hilly terrain, 5 lakes and one of the highest points in Hennepin, Ramsey, and Anoka Counties. The tiny village of Hilltop is in the center of Columbia Heights. This suburb with Polish-American roots was formed as a village in 1898 and became a city in 1921. It was selected by the National Civic League as one of 10 cities to win the All-America City Award in 2016 for outstanding community accomplishments. Columbia Heights came through as a shining example of a community that rose to the occasion of putting children first.
Edina started as a farming and milling community in the 1860s, was founded as a village in 1888, and today is one of the most affluent Twin Cities suburbs, known for its luxurious housing, exceptional shopping and outstanding schools. Its popular 50th & France shopping district borders the Minneapolis city lakes district. Edina serves as headquarters for several large companies and is well known as the home of Southdale, the country’s first enclosed shopping mall. The Southdale district has developed extensive walking paths along Centennial Lake, making it a walkable community connecting condos, apartments, shopping, library, and medical facilities. It is the home of the country’s first senior co-op and many affordable condos… no wonder its YMCA has the most active senior community in the metro. Its coveted location has made Edina the site of many tear downs for new construction in recent years, resulting in many new $1M+ homes.
Falcon Heights is a small suburb on the northwest side of St. Paul, also close to Minneapolis. It is tucked into the southern section of Roseville and shares its school district. Falcon Heights is home to the St. Paul Campus of the University of Minnesota, the Bell Museum of Natural History and the Minnesota State Fairgrounds… meaning about 2/3 of its land is state owned. Luther Theological Seminary is also its neighbor. Relatively young as suburbs go, it became a village in 1949 and a city in 1973. Its University Grove community of architect designed homes is a unique treasure trove of modern architecture.
Fridley is a suburb that is primarily north of I-694, but has some portions that wrap around the west side of Columbia Heights… with a small section that touches Minneapolis on the east side of the Mississippi. It became a village in 1949 and a city in 1957. It is the operational headquarters of Medtronic. In 1965 one out of 4 homes were damaged or destroyed when Fridley was hit by two F-4 tornadoes. In 1986 another tornado spent about 15 minutes in Springbrook Nature Center on the north edge of Fridley, destroying thousands of century old trees. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul draw their municipal water supply from the Mississippi River in Fridley. North and South Innsbruck are unique communities north and south of I-694 with many custom homes built by different builders/architects… in other words, not a typical development. It even has a very unique mid-century modern home on a unique lot that is one of the highest points in the metro area.
Golden Valley is located on the west side of Minneapolis, with easy access into the city and the rest of the metro. Its hills and valleys include parks and nature areas, with parts of Minneapolis Theodore Wirth Park that rivals NYC Central Park within its borders. Founded as a village in 1886, it didn’t become a city until 1972, but much of it was developed in the 1950s and 1960s. This makes it a good suburb in which to find mid-century modern homes. Tyrol Hills, bordering Minneapolis on both the north and south sides of I-394 is a treasure trove of custom designed mid-century and modern homes on generous lots. Golden Valley is the corporate headquarters of General Mills. Golden Valley does not have its own school district… parts are in the Hopkins school district, parts in the Robbinsdale school district.
Lauderdale is the smallest of the first ring suburbs. It is easy to miss this tiny suburb less than half a mile in area, surrounded by Minneapolis, St. Paul, Roseville and Falcon Heights. The village was incorporated in 1949. Luther Theological Seminary touches its southeast corner, which is also close to the University of Minnesota St. Paul campus. It is served by Rosedale school district.
Maplewood, which is the corporate headquarters of 3M Corporation, was incorporated in 1957. Its unusual shape stretches across most of the northern and eastern borders of St. Paul, giving it easy access to many different parts of the east metro. It includes both Battle Creek Regional Park and Keller Regional Park, the oldest park in the Ramsey County park system.
Centrally located along the southern bluffs of the Mississippi River between St. Paul and Minneapolis, Mendota was one of the oldest settlements in the area, incorporated as the village of Mendota Heights in 1956. Today it is a high quality, family oriented community with a focus on aesthetic excellence, surrounded by a green belt formed Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers and touching Fort Snelling State Park. Excellent schools and well-educated residents reflect the traditional but progressive character of the city.
Located straight south of Minneapolis, Richfield is bordered by Edina’s Southdale area on the west and the MSP airport on the east. It began as a small farming community, became a village in 1908 and a city in 1950. Largely residential with many 1950s ramblers and 1 1/2 story homes, it also has a couple clusters of 55+ age condos. It park include the first municipal nature center in the metropolitan area. It is the headquarter for Best Buy corporation.
In its early days Robbinsdale was a destination for duck hunting near Crystal Lake. The village of Robbinsdale was founded in 1893 as the first suburb to Minneapolis, with a city charter adopted in 1938. Now a suburb only 15 minutes from downtown with a small town feel, it is made up primarily of single family homes and is also home to the regional North Medical Center. It has charming homes with historic character, a great neighborhood feel, easy access to downtown Minneapolis and affordable prices. The eastern edge borders Victory Memorial Parkway…a Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. The historic downtown is home to the 4-star restaurant Travail and Pig Ate My Pizza, both noteworthy foodie destinations.
Roseville is uniquely situated with with borders touching both St. Paul and Minneapolis. With parks, trails and major shopping centers, as well as easy access to both downtowns and multiple colleges and universities, it is a great location loved by people who live there. Roseville Central Park is one of the largest city parks in the area…so big that it is officially listed as five different developed parks connected by trails and one undeveloped park area…so sprawling that it is divided by three major streets…so broad that it has something for almost everyone. It includes a nature center, arboretum, lake, playgrounds and picnic areas, amphitheater and 6 ball fields!
St. Anthony Village (not to be confused with nearby St. Paul suburb St. Anthony Park) was incorporated in 1945, when it was still largely agricultural and rural. Today this first ring suburb between northeast Minneapolis and Roseville is uniquely positioned in both Hennepin and Ramsey counties, close to both campuses of the University of Minnesota and both Minneapolis and St. Paul. It is well know for its outstanding schools, which do not accept open enrollment. It is not uncommon for people to buy in St. Anthony specifically to be in its exceptional school district, which has only one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. It is the home of wonderful Silverwood Regional Park on Silver Lake, part of the Three Rivers Park District. Its emphasis on the arts includes classes, art exhibitions and free outdoor summer concerts.
St. Louis Park borders the west side of Minneapolis near the city lakes district and is known for its 1 1/2 story homes built for returning vets and their families after WWII. It was incorporated as a city in 1954, but its history extends back to 1886, when it was incorporated as a village. It is also the site of the first highway cloverleaf when Highway 100 was built by the WPA in the 1930s. Its location near the lakes, easy access into the city, and mix of housing styles from starter homes to luxury homes makes it a suburb always in demand. It includes the first Trader Joe’s in the Excelsior and Grand ‘surban’ development, the first movie theater complex with reserved seating and liquor service in the West End development, and a ‘rails to trails’ corridor with bike paths connecting to the city lakes, downtown and western suburbs.
The first settlers arrived in the mid 1800s and West St. Paul was incorporated in 1889. Today it is home to Dodge Nature Center, which reflects its lush green fields, lakes and wildlife… all within minutes of downtown St. Paul.
West St. Paul has 15 parks, a municipal golf course, ice arena, the Regional Athletics Center dome, and community swimming pool. The City is also home to Dodge Nature Center, Southview Country Club, and Thompson County Park. West St. Paul boasts a superior public educational system, along with some great private schools. We have a diverse, well-maintained housing stock available with an established housing program to maintain the housing quality. There are over 600 businesses in West St. Paul, including a light industrial park. South Robert Street is a busy thoroughfare that has approximately 30,000 cars travel it per day. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the population of West St. Paul is 19,504