Small Towns Offer Big Advantages in Scott County, MN

Small-town life near a big city is the best of both worlds

By
Laura Hill
On Thursday, August 14, 2014 - 09:39
Shakopee

When Ryan Thorman moved to Shakopee in 2004, he had one goal in mind: to buy a starter home, keep it for a while, then sell it and move elsewhere. He ended up changing those plans – and he’s glad he did.

“It was purely a financial thing,” Thorman remembers. “I came to Shakopee thinking it would be a stop, a first home, that we’d get some equity and move on. But the community just took over, and we decided we really liked the lifestyle.”

Easy Pace, Convenience

Thorman, his wife and two young children are now in their second home in Shakopee. Like many Scott County residents, they have found that small-town life near the Twin Cities offers community spirit, convenience and an easy pace of living in an attractive setting.

“With young children we need places to go and things to do at the drop of a hat,” Thorman says. “We need the opportunity to go to a park, a community swimming pool or Prior Lake and still be able to run to a big box shop. Here, you have everything you need within a small geographic area.”

Quaint Downtowns

Scott County’s small towns and their quaint Main Streets reflect the area’s rich history. Visitors to New Prague, settled by Czech immigrants, are greeted by a traditional Czech gateway, or brana, and Main Street shops sell everything from Czech jewelry to Czech bakery treats. The annual Dozinky Festival each September brings thousands of visitors in for parades, dancing, ethnic food and fun.

Family-friendly Prior Lake provides an astonishing 54 parks, 100 miles of trails and sidewalks and 14 lakes. Downtown businesses offer food and drink, jewelry, hardware, clothing and more – a working downtown that underwent an upgrade during a 2004 streetscape project.

Downtown Jordan boasts 16 properties on the National Register of Historic Places. A fascinating walking tour includes a former opera house, now a Chinese restaurant, and the Mini Met, an iconic baseball park. Five antique stores, a variety of shops and eateries and the largest candy store in Minnesota keep downtown humming.

Big-City Advantages

A longstanding family business and reasonably priced housing brought Mark Roberts and his family to Savage. But the town’s sense of community and its proximity to the Twin Cities has kept him there.

“It has a small-town feel and yet you are also connected to all the things of being in a bigger city as well,” Roberts says. “There are so many entertainment options, shopping options and the airport is close by.”

Roberts, a live music devotee, says he enjoys plenty of listening options at home, from clubs to festivals, but heads to the Twin Cities when he needs to. And, as a Minnesota Twins fan, he appreciates being just half an hour from their games. Still, big-city life is more appealing at a distance.

“Here in Savage you get the sense that you are not just a resident amongst thousands – you’re part of a community that shares a common sense of values. Everybody is kind of on the same page in terms of what they value and what they want to see in their city.”

Big-City Amenities Near Scott County:

Scott County residents enjoy being close to Twin City amenities.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was the 16th-largest airport in North America in terms of passengers served – more than 33 million in 2013. It has won numerous awards, including one for its food options, and offers free WiFi and charging stations. It is a Delta Air Lines hub.

Mall of America. A roller coaster. An aquarium. A Lego exhibit.  More than 50 places to eat. And, oh yeah, 520-plus stores of every variety. Since 1992, this phenomenon has been drawing 40 million visitors from around the world annually to Bloomington.

Pro sports are big here, from the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball team to the Minnesota Wild National Hockey League club and the Minnesota Timberwolves National Basketball Associaiton team. The National Football League's Minnesota Vikings have been thrilling fans since 1961, with greats such as Fran Tarkenton, Tommy  Kramer and Adrian Peterson on the roster. They have made the playoffs 25 times and been to four Super Bowls.

Penguins and sharks and flamingos, oh my – the Minnesota Zoo has something for everyone. Located on 485 acres in Apple Valley, the zoo has been bringing people and animals together since 1978. Today it is home to more than 4,300 animals from around the world.

"You get the sense that you are not just a resident amongst thousands – you’re part of a community that shares a common sense of values."

Mark Roberts

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Hill is a former reporter/columnist for the Tennessean and a contributor to Journal Communications publications since 1996.