Lake of the Isles. File photo

A neighborhood for all seasons

Cradled by a lake, parks and parkways, Kenwood neighborhood is a charming place to take a walk. To help you explore Kenwood, I’ve outlined a route that will introduce you to local businesses, a mix of house styles, historic landmarks and, of course, nature!

Kenwood walking tour

Distance: 3 miles

Time: Plan one hour for walking the loop and extra time for stopping to enjoy the highlights along the way.

Starting at the intersection of West Franklin and Logan avenues, walk west toward Oliver Avenue. Turn left onto Penn Avenue South. Turn left onto West 21st Street.

Birchbark Books
2115 W. 21st St.

The moment you step into Birchbark Books, you know you’ve entered a special place. Committed to being a good neighbor, this is a perfect stop on your Kenwood walk. Owned by award-winning author Louise Erdrich, who is an enrolled Turtle Mountain Chippewa, the bookstore is proud to support Native American staff, authors and artists.

Within its walls you’ll find carefully curated book titles, handmade jewelry, a birch loft for kids, beautiful paintings and comfy chairs. Walking through the store, I was given a warm welcome by the people who keep this independent bookstore running. Handwritten notes posted by many of the books lining their shelves is another way they engage their customers. The store is open 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily, so plan your walk accordingly!

Birchbark Books mpls
The staff at Birchbark Books post handwritten notes next to favorite books. Photo by Janelle Nivens

The Kenwood Restaurant

2115 W. 21st St.

Serving breakfast, dinner and everything in between, The Kenwood restaurant opens its doors every day except Mondays. Owned by chef Don Saunders, The Kenwood aims to be “a regional, seasonal, European neighborhood kind of joint” and is a perfect spot to stop on your walking tour.

Bockley Gallery

2123 W. 21st St.

Open noon–5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Bockley Gallery features exhibitions by a list of artists with diverse backgrounds and artistic styles. Opening receptions occur about once a month and often feature artist talks. Bockley Gallery also hosts their neighboring business, Birchbark Books for their events.

After stopping at the businesses on 21st & Penn, continue walking east on West 21st Street. Turn right onto West Lake of the Isles Parkway and follow the curve of the lake.

Emery Mapes House

2218 W. Lake of the Isles Parkway

My time spent in the Tangletown neighborhood introduced me to the contributions of Harry Wild to our city’s architecture. In 1915, he built a home for Emery Mapes, founder of the Cream of Wheat company in Kenwood.

After crossing Penn Avenue, turn left toward the lake. Here, you’ll find a dock where you can pause for a break. This would be a great spot to watch sunrises and sunsets or to read a book.

 Emery Mapes House on West Lake of the Isles Parkway
The Emery Mapes House on West Lake of the Isles Parkway. Photos by Janelle Nivens

Lake of the Isles

Did you know that Prince name-checked Lake of the Isles in one of his songs? Listen to “Rock and Roll is Alive (and it Lives in Minneapolis)” and you’ll hear the line “Sure as the drive around Lake of the Isles is cool I know.” A drive is fine, but I definitely recommend you walk around Lake of the Isles to fully appreciate its beauty in all seasons.

Unlike some of the other city lakes, the foot and bike traffic around Lake of the Isles is lighter. That is, unless you’re there for one of the events that takes place on or near Lake of the Isles. In October, thousands of runners and spectators are in the area for the Medtronic Twin Cities marathon and in the winter it is turned into a winter wonderland for the Luminary Loppet.

Return to W. Lake of the Isles & Penn to continue walking west on the sidewalk.

Peavey Fountain

Kenwood & W. Lake of the Isles

In 1891, Frank Hutchinson Peavey donated the fountain to the people of Minneapolis as a drinking fountain for horses. In 1917 it was rededicated as a memorial to the horses of the 151st Field Artillery Minnesota National Guard killed in action. Today, Peavey Fountain would be easy to miss standing in the middle of an island diverting car traffic between Kenwood Parkway and Lake of the Isles Parkway.

I recommend visiting the Minnesota Historical Society website to travel back in time to see what the the fountain and neighborhood looked like in the early 1900s. I was curious about the fountain’s connection to Peavey Plaza in downtown Minneapolis and learned that the company Frank started in 1874, F.H. Peavey & Company (renamed Peavey Company) gave $600,000 towards the $2.5 million budget for the plaza which earned them naming rights. The gift was given in 1974, the company’s centennial year.

Peavey Fountain
Peavey Fountain is located on the island where Kenwood and West Lake of the Isles parkways intersect.

Turn right onto West 24th Street to walk west. Turn right onto Sheridan Avenue South. Turn right onto West 22nd Street and walk east.

Benjamin and Cora Franklin House

2405 W. 22nd St.

If you walk by 2405 W. 22nd St. and think that the home looks like the type of home you’d find in California, you’d be correct. This Prairie Style home is a City of Minneapolis landmark and is believed to be inspired by a home designed by California architects Frank Wolfe and Carl Wolfe.

The Benjamin and Cora Franklin House is an example of Prairie Style architecture.
The Benjamin and Cora Franklin House is an example of Prairie Style architecture.

Mary Tyler Moore House

2104 Kenwood Parkway

Made famous in the 1970s by the “Mary Tyler Moore Show,” the home that stands at 2104 Kenwood Parkway is a Queen Anne built in 1892 by architect Edward S. Stebbins. In the show, Mary Richards lives in an apartment on the third floor. In real life, this a single family home and, at the time of this writing, is on the market.

Continue walking on Kenwood Parkway

Kenwood Water Tower

1724 Kenwood Parkway

A designated landmark in the City of Minneapolis, the Kenwood Water Tower was built in 1910 to address water pressure and storage problems in the Lowry Hill area. It is interesting to know that in the 1970s there were proposals to convert the tower into condos. This was blocked by concerned neighbors and today the tower is used for storage. I like the view of the tower from below on Douglas Avenue as it reaches up above the tall trees and prairie flowers.

The Kenwood Water Tower is located near the border of the Kenwood and Lowry Hill neighborhoods.
The Kenwood Water Tower is located near the border of the Kenwood and Lowry Hill neighborhoods.

Continue walking on Kenwood Parkway. Turn right onto Morgan Avenue South. Turn left onto Douglas Avenue. Turn right onto Logan Avenue South.

Kenwood Park

2101 W. Franklin Ave.

In the northeast corner of the neighborhood, Kenwood Park is 32 acres of rolling hills reaching up from Lake of the Isles. Though there are a few paved trails, if you are able, I recommend venturing off the beaten path to experience this park. It’d be a great place to take a picnic as there are benches located throughout the grassy area.

Continue walking on Logan Avenue South. At West Franklin Avenue, you’ll be back where you started.