Traveling 20 miles southwest of the Minneapolis will bring you to the city of Prior Lake. Like many cities in Minnesota, Prior Lake is named after the large body of water that is Prior lake. It’s a fairly large city with lots of lakeshore homes. Some of the larger attractions within the city include Mystic Lake Casino and some large regional parks.
Let’s look into the history of this long-standing Scott County city.
The earliest records of the area around Prior Lake date back to the 1870s when the town consisted mostly of a small farming community that occasionally attracted summer residents who would enjoy the lake and stay at the local hotel.
It wasn’t until 1960 that the city truly began to grow into what it is today. From 1960 to now, the city has experienced great growth around the development of the lake and Hwy. 13, which runs right through the city. Today, the city has over 26,800 residents and is still growing as one of Minnesota’s more popular suburbs.
Prior lake Schools
Bordering the south of Prior Lake is Savage, another small town slightly further from Minneapolis. These two cities have worked together to create the Prior Lake-Savage Area School District. While the district might have the impression of just getting started, they’ve actually made some great strides. Currently, they are ranked 8th in the state for the best district. But competitions in the west and southwest metro is tight. With Edina, Wayzata, and Minnetonka, all having some of the best schools in the state.
According to Niche.com, around 70% of students’ graduation proficients in math and reading.
Take note that there are also some great charter and private schools in the area as well. One notable public-charter school in the area is Aspen Academy, which was awarded a National Blue Ribbon in 2019. You can find more info and a complete list of schools on the public school district website.
Prior Lake is a great place to catch a bite to eat. Even residents from Minneapolis will make the 30-minute drive for some of these great restaurants. Here are the four that caught our eye.
An elegant Italian bistro serving up some of the best steaks, seafood, pasta, and wines. Perron’s makes for a romantic evening out with a great menu that’s sure never to disappoint. Be sure to save room for dessert as well because there’s nothing like Italian pastries and desserts.
Charlie’s is located right on Prior Lake. One thing that can always make a day on the lake better is a restaurant that you can pull your boat right up to. Who doesn’t love that? Their menu is famous for the walleye that’s fresh and locally sourced. Whether you like your walleye as a sandwich or a taco, Charlie’s is sure to deliver.
An elegant American eatery, Plate on Main, is a locals favorites that also has a food truck. If you’re lucky enough to catch their food truck out and about, you’re in for a real treat. The steaks at Plate are one of the highlights of many that visit. From ribeye to aged pork chops and pasta, there are many great menu items here. They also serve a full selection of wine and other drinks.
Looking for a classic diner? This is the place to go! Ze’s has been serving up home-cooked food in a 50’s style atmosphere since 2009. It’s a family-style restaurant with great eats and a great atmosphere that anyone will enjoy for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
A quaint downtown bakery offering specialty pastries, cakes, and lunch items like soups and sandwiches, Edelweiss is a great little shop. They offer minimal seating in their charming little location, but they’re always inviting. Stop by to get a coffee and warm up from the cold or meet a friend for a peaceful summer day on their patio.
While you might not find as many shops in Prior Lake as cities like Minnetonka or Minneapolis, there are still some great places to look for good finds. And, if you find yourself needing a few more places to shop, here are some of our favorites throughout the surrounding cities.
Born in Minnesota, Mainstream Boutique has grown to a franchised store throughout 29 U.S. states. In Mainstream stores, you’ll find all the women’s fashion needs. Whether you’re looking for exclusive pieces or unique finds, Mainstream has gained a reputation as one of the best boutiques around.
Lake BuOY is a downtown shop that offers all different types of clothing and goods. You’ll find small nicknacks and gifts as well as a clothing selection large enough to put together an entire outfit. We love this shop and think that they offer some really great unique items that many other stores in the area don’t. While downtown, be sure to check out their sister store Sweet Nautical.
This fun little boutique-style shop is another gem in the heart of downtown Prior Lake. From their website, “We are passionate about supporting small business AND giving back. The Wild Ruffle shop donates 20% of profits to charitable organizations. Learn how you can raise funds for YOUR favorite charity by emailing us at [email protected]” Wild Ruffle is a shop with a purpose that offers some great find, including kid’s, baby, and women’s clothing and accessories.
Parks and Recreation
Prior Lake has 55 parks, including neighborhood parks and amenities. There are more than 1,000 acres of land dedicated to parks and 80+ miles of sidewalks and trails. There are also over 13 lakes and several other beautiful bodies of water throughout the area.
Lake Front Park is the gem of Prior lake. This 130-acre park was developed in 2001. It features an amphitheater, an extensive three-mile trail system, a floating boardwalk, a fishing pier, Watzl’s Beach, a pavilion, two park shelters, a playground, a skate park, two full-size hockey rinks, soccer and baseball fields, winter sliding hill, and a volleyball court.
If you spend any time in Prior Lake, visiting this park is a must. It’s beautiful and full of fun things to see and do. If you live in the area, we suspect that this could become one of your favorite spots!
As part of the Three Rivers Park District, Spring Lake Regional Park is a massive 374 acres of diverse natural habitat for wildlife. You’ll find geocaching programs, biking trails, snowmobiling trails, hiking opportunities, dog trails, and off-leash dog areas. This is another great park to use if you’re interested in getting out to enjoy nature.
Sand Point Beach is located on the North end of Upper Prior Lake. The boat launch near the beach is the most heavily used on the lake. For that reason, you will have to pay a $5 fee to park, but residents can get a season pass for $50. The beach does offer tow picnic shelters, a playground, three sand volleyball courts, bean bag boards, a fishing pier, and restrooms. What a great spot to enjoy the summer sun!