The clock tower on Mainstreet in Hopkins, MN

10 Fun & Unique Things to Do in Hopkins, MN

Hopkins, MN is a hidden gem. Nestled between St. Louis Park, Minnetonka, Edina, and Minneapolis, Hopkins maintains a small town feel right next to a big city.  Whether you’re a foodie, outdoorsy, artistic, or adventurous, there are endless fun things to do in Hopkins.

In this article, we’ll cover 10 fun (and maybe a bit lesser known) things to do in Hopkins, MN.

Fun Things to do in Hopkins

1. Bike Trails

Let’s start with an obvious one.  Cycling pros and casual bikers flock to Hopkins for its trails.  Hopkins is the hub of 5 different Three Rivers Park regional trailheads.  Three Rivers Park maintains the trails during spring, summer, and fall.  

Bikers aren’t the only frequenters of these trails.  Strap on some rollerblades and cruise, or take a relaxing walk and enjoy the beautiful Minnesota outdoors.  No matter what your speed, there is a trail for you to enjoy. The trailheads that meet up in Hopkins include: 

Cedar Lake Regional Trail

A paved trail that runs along the former Great Northern Railway and the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway.  It runs between Hopkins and Minneapolis to the east and further trails to the west. This trail is fabulous for those who prefer a smoother terrain.

Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail

This trail will bring you west from Hopkins out to Carver Park Reserve, passing by a magnificent view of lake Minnetonka on the way. This trail is great for nature lovers and those who want to spend a day by the lake.

Minnesota River Bluff Regional Trail

A semi-paved trail between Hopkins and Chaska.  Following another old railroad route, this trail will bring you by several parks and lakes, providing excellent scenery.

Nine Mile Creek Regional Trail

This trail is for the adventurous. Connecting Hopkins with Edina, Minnetonka, and Richfield, expect to see wetlands, wooded areas, and, of course, the Nine Mile Creek. If you’d like to continue your journey to the lakes of Minneapolis, you can connect to the Nokomis-Minnesota River Regional Trail in Richfield. 

North Cedar Lake Regional Trail

Looking for a relaxing ride and a beach day? This is the trail for you. Passing through St. Louis Park, you’ll get a view of the Minneapolis skyline before ending up around the Cedar Lake trails.  While at Cedar Lake, put a towel down at one of its numerous sandy beaches and relax.

A scenic view of and unpaved section of Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail
Photo provided by TrailLink

2. Cream & Amber

Speaking of relaxing, what’s a better way to wind down than curling up with a book in a cozy coffee shop?

Cream & Amber is a combination of a comfy café and an independent bookstore selling new and used books. They serve up tasty seasonal beverage creations such as the Mini Donut Iced Latte and a Creamsicle Cold Brew as well as food pairings such as their Hot Pretzel and Paninis. 

If you’d like to spend your happy hour with a new book, you’ll be happy to know that Cream & Amber also offers a selection of local craft beer to the 21+ crowd. 

Be sure to check out their events held weekly, such as book signings and trivia on the patio in the summer months. 

A moody, cozy view of book shelves lining the wall in front of café tables and the coffee station in the background of Cream & Amber bookstore and coffee shop in Hopkins, MN.
Photo taken by Aela Johnson on Google Reviews

3. Mess Hall

If you feel the need to express your artistic side or simply get your hands dirty, it might be time to make an appointment at Mess Hall.  Mess hall is an art studio that offers “unconventional art experiences and messy activities for all ages”.  

Encouraging play for children and adults alike, on-staff creators will guide you through multiple art techniques like splatter paint, acrylic pouring, and pendulum swinging. Paint with precision, or let your wild side take over and get messy.

Participants are able to book single sessions, or opt in for a group experience such as kids birthday parties, corporate events, and a date night deal.

A sunny view of Mess Hall's painting room featuring plywood easels, abstract paintings, paints and supplies, and a backsplash with the words "Mess Hall" written in graffiti script and covered in paint.
Photo provided by Krystal Sheibel on Google Reviews

4. K’kinaco Nikkei & Pisco Bar

On the corner of Mainstreet & 10th Ave sits a restaurant with flavors so unique, you’ll want to try everything on the menu.  K’kinaco shows off the cultural and culinary diversity of Peru by preparing Peruvian ingredients in the Japanese style. 

While Nikkei once referred to people of Japanese heritage living in other parts of the world, it has emerged as a way of describing Peruvian food influenced for more than 120 years by Japanese presence. This includes methods of cooking and flavors.

 Pisco refers to a spirit made by distilling fermented Peruvian grapes.  The flavor can be described as floral and herbaceous and can be slightly sweet or dry.  To get to know its distinct flavor you can order one of K’kinaco’s delicious cocktails including the traditional Peruvian Pisco Sour.

A view of the bar at K'kinaco Nikkei and Pisco bar in downtown Hopkins, MN
Photo provided by K’Kinaco

5. Costa Rica Ballroom

No matter if you’re a dance aficionado or looking to try an active hobby for the first time, Costa Rica Ballroom offers lessons for all levels.  Although they specialize in partner dances such as salsa, waltz, and bachata, you don’t have to have a partner to take lessons.

The first step is to schedule an introductory lesson and consultation.  There, you will go over a couple dances and determine which level is right for you.

A dance studio at Costa Rica Ballroom illuminated by a chandelier and disco balls, featuring pictures of dancers on the wall.
Photo provided by Kyle Ahlborn on Google reviews

6. Valley Park

Valley Park is full of activities for all ages and tastes.  Get active and enjoy the archery range, basketball, sand volleyball, and tennis courts. Those who want to enjoy scenic nature can take advantage of the bike and walking trails.

The park also offers community garden plots where prospective gardeners can lease a plot to plant and tend.

Picnic shelters can be reserved in advance for large gatherings, but feel free to utilize picnic tables and grills for weekend cookouts. 

Summer isn’t the only time of year to enjoy Valley Park.  Winter activities are also plentiful with sledding hills and an ice skating and hockey rink.

There are ways for everyone to enjoy the outdoors at Valley Park.

Community garden plots that can be rented at Valley Park in Hopkins, MN
Photo provided by Abdifatah Kofiro on Google reviews

The Vine Room

Calling the Vine Room just a wine bar would be a huge understatement. While their elegant, bright, and cozy space provides a perfect atmosphere for sipping small batch wine, there is much more going on behind the scenes.

Aside from enjoying a wine flight and live music in their main space, the Vine Room hosts frequent events and classes for creatives and wine lovers alike. Art classes, photography sessions, and charcuterie board building are just some of the events that might appeal to the imaginative. Vinophiles may enjoy the ample wine education classes. They even offer a “Vine School” for those who would like to refine their palate and wine tasting chops.

The folks at the Vine Room are committed to sustainable and mindful practices, and they display this in every aspect of their business. Their wine offerings come from small-lot, family owned wineries who provide fair labor wages and use “organic, sustainable, and/or biodynamic” farming practices. Behind the scenes, they stock their space with biodegradable single use items, focus on responsible electricity consumption, and use environmentally friendly cleaning products.

A view of the bar and pillowy seating in front of a wall of diamond shapes mirrors at the Vine room in Hopkins, MN.
Photo provided by Melanie Dunker on Google Reviews

7. SS Billiards

SS Billiards has been a staple in the Hopkins community since 1970.  Named after its original owner, Sam Snelling, the humble gaming hall began with just 6 pool tables. Now in 2023, SS Billiards is a hub for pinball, boasting 22 machines ranging from 25¢ – $2 per play.  Pool sharks need not worry, there are still 5 billiards tables available to rent by the hour.

SS Billiards aims to create a safe, family friendly environment where all can have fun. For this reason, they do not serve alcohol and maintain a clean environment with well kept machines and knowledgeable staff. 

For true pinball aficionados or those looking to expand their personal collection, SS Billiards also sells machines and parts.  If you need additional help, the owner LLoyd (or “LTG”) is a wealth of information.  He operates several phone lines, email addresses, manufacturer help desks, online forums and columns to freely share his lifetime of knowledge to pinball lovers.

An array of brightly colored, lit up pinball machines at SS Billiards in Hopkins, MN
Photo provided by Chance Kostuck on Google reviews

8. CeramicSow

Looking to pick up a new skill? CeramicSow is a local pottery studio that provides classes in wheel throwing and sculpture, as well as selling beautiful ceramic works. 

Even if you’ve dabbled in clay before, the classes at CeramicSow have a style of their own. The studio was started by Adama Sow, a ceramist from Senegal in West Africa. Adama has taught classes all over the world and enjoys combining African techniques with western techniques to create pieces that are a mix of cultures and entirely unique. 

Classes are held every day of the week at different times so they are accessible for any schedule.  The classes come in sets of 3 or 4 so you can build upon your skills each class.

Photo provided by CeramicSow

9. Bear Cave Brewing Co

The newest brewery in Hopkins brings the future of restaurant service to town.  Bear Cave Brewing Co boasts three levels of self-serve taps and seating so patrons can customize their experience. If beer isn’t your thing, they serve a variety of wines, seltzers, and NA beverages, as well as a curated menu of food labeled “Pizza” and “Not Pizza”.

Speaking of food, ordering snacks for the table has never been easier. At Bear Cave, customers order food and pay straight from their smartphone.  

If all the self-serve technology feels too overwhelming, don’t worry.  Bear Cave staff can help walk you through the process, give recommendations, and assist in any part of the experience.

Besides serving up sips and noshes, the brewery hosts live music events, beer pairing dinners, and community events for every season – and we do mean every season.  When the weather turns chilly, the Winter Tent envelops the outdoor patio so that folks can stay cozy even in the colder months.

Indoor seating and self pour wall taps inside of Bear Cave Brewing in Hopkins, MN
Photo provided by Brian Hartman on Google Reviews

10. The Atelier Academy of Beauty

At the Atelier Academy of Beauty, we’re thankful to be a part of the vibrant Hopkins community.  Seated on the west side of Mainstreet, our unique space and talented students make our school a must-visit.

Our beauty academy occupies a former auto body shop, which lends to our clean, streamline space and giant garage windows that let sun in year round. On nice weather days, we open the garage doors to create a transitional environment between the indoors and outdoors. This way, our clients never have to choose between getting pampered and enjoying the fresh air on beautiful Minnesota days. 

The number one reason to come visit our school, however, is our amazing students. At the Atelier Academy, we strive to create a positive, uplifting learning environment for our students to complete their training in hair, nails, skincare, and eyelash extensions.  Part of this training is providing services to clients from the public. 

We provide an array of services in different departments. Stop in for an express facial, or schedule a day of self-care with a mani-pedi. Our students can help touch up your grays or give you a total makeover.  Not only will you get excellent services at an affordable rate, you’ll also help our students with their education.

Visit our Guest Services page for a list of all services our students offer.  While we do take walk-in appointments, we recommend booking ahead of time either online or over the phone to assure you can get the appointment you want at a time that works for you.

The exterior of the Atelier Academy of Beauty lit up by blue light.

Enjoy Hopkins!

Hopkins, MN is truly a hidden treasure in  the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro. Whether you’re strolling through its charming downtown, savoring culinary delights, or immersing yourself in the great outdoors, Hopkins promises unique experiences. So come and explore this delightful pocket of Minnesota, and find your new favorite hang-outs in a city where small-town charm exists near the big city.

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