Isaac and Liz Knoot moved to Maple Grove eight years ago, after searching for a place that offered easy access to Minneapolis—and even easier access to bike paths, running trails, and open space. This small city fit the bill then, and, thanks to a provision requiring developers to fund trails and green space, has only gotten better since. Today a 36-mile network of paved paths loop through Maple Grove, making it easy to reach its parks, sports complexes, schools, and all 10 lakes. “When I was training for a marathon, I could run 24 miles and only cross one street,” says Isaac, 36, who walks to his in-town job as a director of sales strategy at Boston Scientific. Liz, 33, runs a small law practice just outside of town.
Now that the couple have two kids, 5-year-old Aila and Beckett, 3, all that outdoor space has taken on a whole different meaning. They walk to T-ball and soccer fields from their house, and cool off at a swimming pond at the Elm Creek Park Reserve, a 4,900-acre regional park. The park is a popular spot for frisbee golf and mountain biking in summer, and it offers miles of cross-country ski trails when the weather turns; there’s even a tubing hill and small downhill ski area and chalet.
The heart of the city is Town Green, a lakeside park and amphitheater that hosts music, dance, theater, and outdoor movies. The nearby library, opened recently, and community center are other hotspots.
Maple Grove doesn’t have a historic downtown, but its Main Street shopping development and nearby Shoppes at Arbor Lakes are a good proxy, with a mix of local and chain shops and restaurants.
For Erica and Pat Mulcahy, who moved to the city from Bend, Ore., last summer, the booming economy of Maple Grove and the whole Twin Cities region was jaw-dropping. “We knew the job market would be strong, but I couldn’t believe the options we had,” says Pat, 45, who now teaches technology education at Maple Grove Senior High School. Erica found work as a cardiac nurse at a major medical center just eight miles out of town.
Meanwhile, home prices are still well within reach. Nice houses in the older parts of town range from $200,000 to $300,000, says Sandy Chanen, the agent who helped the Mulcahys find their home, located in one of the city’s central neighborhoods. “From our house, we have five parks within two miles,” says Erica.