Visit the northern suburb of Anoka for eclectic fun with a mix of dining, shopping and entertainment

By Aubrey Schield

Anoka may be known to most as the “Halloween Capital of the World”, but this community located just 30 minutes northwest of Minneapolis has so much more to offer the whole year round. Its location at the intersection of the Mississippi and Rum Rivers gives Anoka a quaint, waterfront town aesthetic, and its historic downtown boasts thriving shops, eateries and more that you’d be hard-pressed to find anywhere else.

Following a two-year makeover, downtown Anoka is a bustling business district accented by historic buildings and the nostalgic Main Street. Check out some of our favorite spots for a day or two of shopping, dining, outdoor fun and entertainment.

Kickstart the Day
An unassuming storefront precedes this diner-esque breakfast joint on downtown Anoka’s Main Street. Locals rave about G’s biscuits and gravy special, a hearty, stick-to-your-ribs entrée with homemade gravy and cheddar garlic biscuits. And G’s wait staff is known for their friendliness and great service—your coffee cup won’t sit empty for long before a refill is on its way.

Downtown Shops
Anoka merchants are local, eclectic and surprising—you never know what you might find. Walk along Main Street to 9 Design for unique jewelry pieces, art and apparel; Antiques on Main to peruse collections from more than 40 vendors; and find vintage decor and restored furniture at Nic Nac Paddywac’s.

Local Luncheon
Located on Main Street, Avant Garden is a cozy coffeehouse that offers soups, salads and sandwiches for a delightful midday pick-me-up. The interior is decorated with an eclectic mix of artwork, and out the back door you will find a secluded, secret garden-like patio for outdoor dining on a warm day.

Explore the River
Weather permitting, head west from downtown Anoka toward the Rum River to explore the walking paths along the water’s shores. The Rum River flows south from Lake Mille Lacs in northern Minnesota until its confluence with the Mississippi River in Anoka. Visit Peninsula Point Park where the two rivers meet for scenic outlooks and a playground for the kids.

Delectable Dining Options
Downtown Anoka is also home to several wonderful restaurants, each of them offering unique menus and atmospheres. In the mood for comforting Irish pub fare? Check out MaGillycuddy’s, which prides itself on being the best and only Irish pub in the town. For south-of-the-border cuisine and some of the best margaritas in the Twin Cities, head to Casa Rio. And The Mad Hatter is a dining experience unlike anything you’ve ever had. Offered on Friday and Saturday evenings only, the dinner menu has an air of refinement while presenting the tried and true favorites such as Swedish meatballs, a pork chop accented by brandied cherries and flourless chocolate torte for dessert.

One half-empty beer glass and one empty beer glass sitting on a table.

Image by Aubrey Schield

Catch a Show
Lyric Arts Main Street Stage presents a full season of live theater and concerts, including musicals, dramas, comedies and children’s productions. Formerly known as the Anoka Cinema Building, the Main Street Stage received a total makeover in 2001 to host its many performances throughout the year. Now through April 2, see Urinetown or check out Revenge of the Space Pandas April 28 through May 7. Part of their Music in the ’Burbs series, Lyric Arts will also host Tonic Sol-Fa on April 7.

Nightcap Libations
Named for the 10,000 lakes Minnesota stakes claim to, 10K Brewing is a must for all beer lovers. Opening its doors for the first time just a few years ago, it didn’t take long for folks around the Twin Cities to fall in love with 10K’s arsenal of unique brews, which include a citrus-infused IPA, hefty milk stout called Loonar Uprising, a beer masquerading as a hard cider and more. Their taproom buzzes with friendly patrons enjoying a few pints, and they often host live music from the talents of local musicians.

Anoka Accommodations
If you want to extend your stay in Anoka, I’d encourage you to make reservations at Ticknor Hill Bed & Breakfast. Built in 1867, the home has all the charm of a historic residence while offering all the best modern amenities.

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