What do you picture when you hear the name “Wayzata”? The jewel of Lake Minnetonka. Lakeside village. City with a small-town feel. The city fosters different images for different people.
According to the city’s chamber of commerce, the name Wayzata (pronounced Wise-etta) is derived from the Native American word Waziyata, which had almost a mystical connotation to the Sioux tribes who originally inhabited the area. “Waziya” was their god of the North who blew the cold winds from his mouth. With the suffix “ta” added, the name meant “North Shore.” Though Lake Minnetonka was noticed by white settlers in 1822, it was not until 1852 that two pioneer families settled on the present site of Wayzata. Over the next few years others followed. A townsite was laid out and several establishments sprang up, among them a general store, a sawmill, a post office, and a log schoolhouse.
With the help of railroads and tourist trade, Wayzata boomed to be the city you see today. Here, you’ll find the latest in lakeside fashions, artwork, antiques, and collectibles. And here, you’ll find an eclectic assortment of restaurants that range from casual to elegant. Most offer lakefront views, and none are more than a stone’s throw away from the water. You can watch the cruisers go by or look out at picturesque clusters of sailboats. The theater of seasons never shuts down.
In the winter, you’ll see ice racers, skaters, and dozens of ice fishing houses. The Wayzata Depot, with its exceptional view of the lake, still stands as a symbol of the city’s glory years. It is now home to the Greater Wayzata Area Chamber of Commerce and the Wayzata Historical Society. Just 11 miles west of Minneapolis, it’s the best place to see Minnesota’s most popular lake. Enjoy the past, present, and future that is Wayzata. It’s as good as the good life in Minnesota gets.
The citizens of Wayzata have a great deal of pride in their lakeside community (just go into any shop and ask about the city, they’ll beam with excitement). Wayzata has a thriving downtown business community, high-quality developments in the works, and beautiful residential neighborhoods. Careful planning has allowed the city to maintain open space, park lands, and a “small-town” feel that makes Wayzata truly a special and historic community.
Looking down the main roads downtown at all of the shops and restaurants, I can’t help but get a Mamma Mia! vibe. You know the one: where the columns and textured, plastered walls bring a sense of calm, serene, seaside life. Even the Walgreens looks like a coastal beach house!
There’s even an artificial boardwalk outside of Gianni’s Steakhouse, which has earned a reputation for its juicy 22-ounce porterhouse and 12-ounce bone-in filet mignon topped with the smoothest, creamiest béarnaise sauce in town. Gianni’s is the perfect venue for lunch, or to share a romantic night out, celebrate a special occasion, or simply unwind at happy hour.
For munchers looking for a more trendy and less classic eatery hotspot, check out C?V (located where Sunsets used to be). This restaurant and bar combines Midwest comfort and hospitality with the unmistakable allure and energy of Nantucket or the Hamptons. The coastal environment and water views transform the Minnesota lakeside into a unique East Coast getaway. The combination of high style and relaxation creates a charming atmosphere that few will want to leave (and being awarded Minnesota’s Best Crab Cakes by the Star Tribune doesn’t hurt either).
Still have room for dessert? Walk on over to Ben & Jerry’s for a treat. Seriously — take a walk and feel the freshwater seaside breeze. Becky Pierson, president of the chamber of commerce says, “Sometimes we have parking right at our front doors but sometimes we have a chance to get out and stretch our legs and stroll a couple blocks and take in the sights along the way.”
Ben & Jerry’s has a long history of commitment to issues of social justice, including gay rights, and have been supporting marriage equality for over 35 years. According to the company’s memo, this commitment is grounded in the company’s core values, which include “a deep respect for people inside and outside our company and an unshakable belief that all people deserve full and equal civil rights.”
Mary Kay Kopp, owner of the Wayzata Ben & Jerry’s, shares the company’s beliefs and says her shop will be carrying the “Apple-y Ever After” flavor this summer following the company’s rollout of the flavor designed for marriage equality (the pints feature a male couple standing atop a rainbow-decorated wedding cake!). But don’t feel pressured to try this flavor if it’s not your cup of tea when there are so many others just waiting to hit your taste buds. “Anyone who comes into our shop will have a great experience,” Kopp says. “Our saying here at Wayzata Ben & Jerry’s is ‘We serve Joy for the Belly and Soul.’”
Got pets? You’ll want to hit up LuLu & Luigi. The family-owned store is home to an award-winning grooming “Pawlour” and an enchanting boutique full of unique merchandise for dogs and cats. They take pride in bringing you the latest in fashion, collars, leashes, supplies, and even a dog bakery! So, whether you have a cat, purse-dog, or hunting dog, there is something for you at LuLu & Luigi.
Maybe you’re looking to pick something up for yourself. For distinctive gifts, home, and kitchen merchandise, take a peek into Five Swans. Whether you are looking to freshen up your home or are interested in a fabulous gift idea, Five Swans has you covered with products that are traditional, elegant, unique, and vary with the seasons, trends, and customer preferences. They guarantee that you’ll be able to find the perfect gift for any occasion.
Or walk down the road a little bit to Grace Hill, a full-service interior design studio, with a twist. You can walk in and purchase pieces for your home, or take advantage of their design services for a custom look. My favorite item in the shop? Lafco candles designed with specific rooms in mind.
Lafco (Luxury Articles and Fragrance Company) believes that a candle should complement the mood of a familiar, beloved space — and not overpower or interfere with it. This sparked the underlying concept of their first complete home fragrance line: the House & Home collection features “A Candle for Every Room,” and “A Candle For Every Home.” Lafco uses a custom blend of premium vegan waxes, optimized to burn cleanly and evenly for 90-100 hours. And with a smell like Daffodil (Guest Room) or Citrus Berry (Breakfast Room), those hours might be used up quicker than you’d think.
Don’t forget the pampering! A la Mode Boutique & Nail Spa uses organic, eco-friendly products that are free of Formaldehyde, Dibutyl Phthalate, and Toluene — so you can breathe easy (and so can the employees). A la Mode is an exclusive fashion and home accessory boutique with a luxurious nail spa that even offers male-specific manicures and pedicures. Talk about a femme night out!
After a full day of eating, shopping, and pampering, why not stay the night? A new hotel space is currently in development. Originally designed as a boutique hotel — one of the first on Lake Minnetonka in decades — along with retail and office space, the design has since grown to include residences. Hotels and resorts used to dot the shores of Lake Minnetonka in the 1800s, with the last one closing in 1964.
“We’re getting back to the grand ol’ history days of Minnetonka,” Steve Bohl, president of Wayzata-based BohLand Development, told the Star Tribune in March, adding that the hotel is estimated to draw 22,000 to 25,000 visitors to the lakeside city each year. “It’s almost magical what it can create for the community.”
In addition to providing beautiful new homes to many new, as well as longstanding Wayzata residents, the development offers new stores, retail business’ and restaurants. “These new additions will continue to bring an increase in business to the many existing shops, spas, and restaurants in area,” says Mallory Busacker, BohLand’s marketing director and project coordinator. “The new Landing Hotel & Residences will be a huge asset in Wayzata’s rapidly growing reputation as a vacation and entertainment destination. BohLand Development was very fortunate to come in as the developer for the Regatta condominiums and the soon-to-be Landing Hotel & Residences.”
Located in the heart of downtown Wayzata, the newly built Regatta condominiums offers a gracious and upscale lifestyle just steps away from everything this Lake Minnetonka town has to offer. As the owner of one of only 59 residences you will have exclusive access to the rooftop terrace kitchen, a dog wash and pet area, 24-hour fitness room, and more. Just around the corner from the new residences is a Lunds & Byerlys Kitchen, a first-of-its kind food destination in the Twin Cities featuring prepared food offerings, a wine and beer bar, a tailored selection of groceries and more — all in one space.
As a local company with a vested interest in the community, BohLand feels that Wayzata has so much to offer. “The city of Wayzata is unique in its small town feel, incredible amenities, strong community engagement, walkability to nearly everything you could need, as well as it’s incomparable location nestled along Lake Minnetonka,” Busacker says. “It is quickly becoming the lakeside retreat and is one of the most convenient and desirable locations due to the fact that it is mere miles to downtown Minneapolis. Wayzata is the gateway to Lake Minnetonka for those working, living, or visiting from downtown and neighboring suburbs. You kind of get the best of everything.”
Whether looking for some good eats, small gifts, or a place to stay, Wayzata has it all — and set against a gorgeous lakeside backdrop to boot! There is truly something for everyone, no matter what you’re in the mood to eat or boutiques to shop away an afternoon. So, “Why Wayzata?” The better question is, with everything at your fingertips and next to the water, why not Wayzata?