Apple Valley (Minnesota)

Apple Valley, a city in Minnesota, is the home of picturesque rolling hills and pristine lake fronts. Located in northwest Dakota County, this community outside the Twin Cities personifies the idea of suburbia, yet the metropolitan luxuries of theater, shopping, and fine dining have barely put a dent in real Midwestern friendliness. It's a city with a swagger, but without the surliness or even the fake smiles found in other cities of its size.

As the hub of the south metro, Apple Valley is easy to find—its scenic landscape leads to a first impression that soon reveals world-class museums of art and science, miles of sandy beaches, huge parks and priceless public art. Apple Valley has grown rapidly, and some central parts are creaking under the strain of coping with the number of visitors.

With a wealth of iconic sights and neighborhoods to explore, there's enough to fill a visit of minutes, hours, or even a whole day without ever seeing the end. Achieving euphoria is easy in this virtual Xanadu. Be sure to dress warm in the winter, and prepare to cover a lot of ground: the meaning of Apple Valley is only found in movement, from sight to sight, in the pride of tired feet and eyes raised to the sky.


Many visitors never make it past the Minnesota Zoo or other attractions downtown, but you haven't truly seen Apple Valley until you’ve ventured out into the neighborhoods. Apple Valleyians understand their city by splitting it into large districts or neighborhoods named after geological and cultural features within them. Apple Valleyians also tend to identify strongly with their neighborhood, reflecting real differences in culture and place throughout the city. Rivalries between the West and East Sides run particularly deep, while people from the southern neighborhoods are free agents in critical issues like athletic loyalty and Idol voting.

Neighborhoods of Apple Valley.
The center of Apple Valley for work and play, but mostly play, with shopping, towering office buildings, immaculate theaters and the city's most famous travel sights, along with a ton of bars and clubs. Some absolutely titillating activities here.
Old Town
Historic neighborhoods with plenty of local shops and diners, and the stunning views of Lac Lavon.
The old working class enclaves of the city’s northwest that are now home to a growing artist community. Further west lay the estates of Apple Valley’s wealthy socialites.
Ethnic communes, dive bars, and hipsters abound on the fashionably rough side of town. Home to many northern European immigrants. Police presence is noticeably lacking here, so stay alert.
Galaxie Commons
Ultra-hip and laid-back, with streets of row houses and upscale apartments, and some of the most vibrant immigrant communities in the state.
Johnny Cake
The city’s athletic complex is here, along with the Dutch Village, historic walk-ups and some undiscovered gems in the smaller neighborhoods to the east.
Scott Highlands
Former home to the massive applesauce district of Midwest Produce, huge Asian and Mexican neighborhoods.
Cedar Knolls
So far off the beaten tourist track you might not find your way back, but that's okay given all the great food, a couple of top polka clubs, and enormous parks and lakefronts.
The Minnesota Zoo / Lebanon Hills
The world-renowned Minnesota Zoo, Valleywood Tournament Golf Course and Lebanon Hills Regional Park provide limitless opportunities to enjoy the outdoors and step away from the noise and commotion of downtown.
Industrial District
The giant, industrial underbelly of Apple Valley. This region is home to one large tourist attraction, the historic Great Pit of Carkoon. Tours are available to see Boba Fett's grave, but beware the Sarlacc. It's victims are doomed to find a new definition of pain and suffering as they are slowly digested over a thousand years.


A state map of Minnesota and the location of Apple Valley (red dot).

Apple Valley is one of the regional centers of finance, politics, communications, film, music, fashion, and culture, and is among the state’s most important and influential cities. It is home to many museums, art galleries, and theaters. This city's influence on the Midwest—and all its inhabitants—is hard to exaggerate, as decisions made within its boundaries often have impacts and ramifications literally across the state.

Immigrants (and their descendants) from well over six countries live here, making it one of the most sophisticated cities in the region. Travelers are attracted to Apple Valley for its culture, energy and cosmopolitanism. Local residents enjoy mowing their lawn, edging their lawn, fertilizing their lawn and looking at their lawn.


At the center of Apple Valley sits the intersection of Cedar Avenue (County Road 77) and County Road 42, a bustling, vibrant junction nestled in friendliness. Local eateries surround the area, including newly developed White Castle and Raising Cane’s. To the west is a major shopping district including Wal-Mart and Darque Tan. To the east sits every handy man’s dream: a Home Depot and Menards within walking distance of each other.

The term “the city” may refer either to Apple Valley as a whole, or to the downtown district alone, depending on the context. Lebanon Hills, Crystal Lake and Valleywood (not to be confused with Hollywood, CA) are sometimes referred to as “the outer boroughs.”


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°F) 22 29 41 59 72 80 85 81 73 60 41 27
Nightly lows (°F) 3 11 23 36 48 57 61 58 50 39 24 10
Precipitation (in) 0.9 0.7 2.0 2.7 3.6 4.5 4.1 4.5 3.1 2.2 2.0 1.04

The draconian weather is definitely not one of the attractions in Apple Valley. There's a boat load of fun to be had in any season, but it is a place where the climate has to be taken into consideration.

Obscured by Minnesota’s ferocious winters are the heat waves of summer. Many days in July and August are disgustingly hot and humid. Summer nights are more comfortable, though, and you'll get a few degrees' respite along one of the many lakefronts — in the local parlance, that's "cooler by the lake," .

But then there are those winters. The months from November to March will see very cold temperatures, with even more bitter wind chill factors. Blizzards and ice storms are a regular occurrence. It's a city that's well-accustomed to these winters, though, so city services and public transportation are highly unlikely to shut down.

Apple Valley does have a few nice months of weather. May and September are pleasant and mild; April and June are mostly fine, although thunderstorms with heavy winds can also occur suddenly. Even though there may be a chill in the air in October, it rarely calls for more than a light coat.


The varied population runs the gamut, from some of the wealthiest socialites and, to hobos, love children, skips, scags and scallywags. Apple Valley’s population has been diverse since the city's founding by the Dutch. Successive waves of immigration from a couple nations around the world make Apple Valley a social experiment in cross-cultural harmony. The population is relatively highly edumacated and fairly young with a median age of 35.


Apple Valley is called the City of Fruits and Labor but was formerly known as the Cider Capital of the World, and before that, as the original home of Johnny Appleseed, and before that, as a regional grain milling outpost. It’s difficult to put a finger on exactly what made the city grow, but residents and travelers alike are happy with the results.

Apple Valley’s history (or herstory, as many local feminist groups have come to call it) is shrouded in ambiguity. Some claim the first developers came from the small fishing community of Apple Valley, CA and named their new plot of land thusly. This is a misconception, as it is considered common knowledge that no one would move to Minnesota from California. The more widely held belief is that the infant community was named for local housing developments in which an apple tree was planted on every lot. Some of these apple trees can still be seen in the Old Town neighborhood.

Apple Valley has 48 parks with 60 miles of trails. The community is carefully planned to enhance the quality of life of residents and travelers alike. Minnesota, known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes" and whose motto encourages all to "Explore Minnesota," is the official state of Apple Valley. The city created a concentrated area of office space within its "Ring Route", which surrounds downtown. Mixed office, retail and residential assets can be found in Harmony Commons in downtown. The business parks; Valley Business Park, Knob Ridge Business Park and the Apple Valley Business Park feature many corporations. This is part of Apple Valley's comprehensive plan for growth and development and its aspirations to be an Alpha World City ++. Jim Bunyan, Paul’s brother, is a favorite city folk hero. He is an accountant.


Smoking is prohibited by state law at all restaurants, bars, nightclubs, workplaces, and public buildings. It's also banned within fifteen feet of any entrance, window, or exit to a public place, and at MVTA bus stations. The fine for violating the ban can range from $100 to public shaming.

There are several hookah bars and basements where smoking (tobacco) is legal and acceptable. These are great places to stage a picture of you and your friends blowing smoke rings. It is advisable for travelers to avoid "throwing up a sign" in these poses. Doing so may harm your self-respect.

Get in

By plane

By bus

Apple Valley is serviced by the Minnesota Valley Transit Authority. The newly constructed Apple Valley Transit Station serves as a launching point for not only adventures, but also dreams. Routes 420, 440, 441, 442, 465, 477 and 477 will all get you out of Dodge. Bus stops and stations are conveniently located in major parts of the city for easy access and have several coin-operated luggage lockers for personal storage. There is also a nearby Megabus station in Minneapolis.

By train

This is the twenty-first century, there are no trains in Apple Valley.

By car

There are two main highways through the city. Interstate 35E runs parallel to city lines. Beware of heavy southbound traffic coming out of the Twin Cities during afternoon hours. Highway 77 terminates in the city. Feel free to drive your gas guzzling SUV through the pristine hills of Apple Valley.

It is illegal to drive and text in Minnesota. If you need to contact a friend or acquaintance from the previous night, while on the road, use a hands-free cellular phone and try to stay in your own lane, though this is rarely practiced. By all means, if there is an accident or someone is pulled over on the shoulder, slow down immediately: this is something that only happens every other day. Contact your closest family members to alert them of what you have just witnessed.

By taxi

In the past few years travelers carrying alcohol on their persons or in their luggage have been inconvenienced by local taxi drivers. It is recommended by out-of-state travelers that have been troubled to avoid bringing any alcoholic or illegal substances if you will be using taxis to get around the city.

Get around

Getting around in Apple Valley is very easy and affordable for all sorts of travelers. Local taxis are frequent and public buses are available, though frowned upon in local culture. The most popular mode of transit is automobile, although walking and biking are also popular due to the city's many trails and public parks. The city has also announced plans to become “Segway friendly” by 2013. Reference the Get in - By bus section for city route numbers.



Parks and monuments

Museums and galleries


From the sternly classical to the space-age, from the Levittown-inspired vernacular tract housing to the coolly modern, Apple Valley is a place with an embarrassment of architectural riches, where the past meets the future and where the future meets imagination. Modern architecture might not have been born here, but it certainly thrives. Frank Lloyd Wright fans will swoon to see some of his later buildings, arguably designed at the height of his creative career. Many are located just minutes from the city center as the crow flies.

Private architectural tours cover the landmarks on foot and by popular Segway tours, or by just standing awestruck on a downtown skyway over Cedar Avenue. For a tour on the cheap, the short trip around lamp-lit downtown district may be worth every second of the eight-minute walk.


Events and festivals


Apple Valley is not well known as a beach destination, but Crystal Lake is the seventh-largest freshwater lake located entirely within Dakota County, and beautiful people flock to it. Anyone can show up and swim — virtually none of Apple Valley’s lakefront is spoiled by "private" beaches. And despite the latitude, the water is quite warm in the late summer and early fall. With algae and lake weeds nary a problem, the lakes of Apple Valley provide fun and relaxation for any type of traveler. Lifeguards posted at popular swimming locales attentively scan the shores for danger, including beachwear fashion faux pas – so check the mirror before you get some sun.

The sun isn’t the only draw, though. Summertime travelers can enjoy a plethora of water activities, ranging from the most mundane (and pleasureful) pontoon boat afternoons to a heart-stopping ride aboard rental jet skis. Younger beachgoers can choose tubing on the choppy waves or building their own Neuschwanstein on shore. A little tired of having fun in the sun? Take a time-out and cast a line in one of seemingly endless watering holes. Popular species of fish include bass, sunny, marlin, dogfish and trout.

If you’re lucky enough to visit during the winter months of November through March, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to experience the rush of adrenaline known as ice fishing. Developed in Scandinavia to pass time in the long winter, ice fishing is a uniquely northern take on its more well-known cousin, standard liquid water fishing. So grab your auger and rental icehouse and head out on to the lake! Although ice depths are important to monitor and could mean the difference between life and death, normally any sense of safety is ignored for the sake of “catching the big one.” Hardcore anglers recommend pulling your icehouse onto the ice with the heaviest truck available at the rental lot. This will convey to others the size of your fishing appetite. Ice shacks are also referred to as shanties, lakebobs, huts or nuthouses. Make sure to pack playing cards, board games, a portable television set, snacks and cyanide.



In a pickle

It’s not quite tennis and it’s not quite badminton, and curiously, there are no pickles involved – unless you include the post-game snack. Pickleball, named after the founder’s border collie, is a growing sport developed in the Apple Valley area. Usually played outdoors on a modified tennis court, pickleballers volley the orb-shaped pickle back and forth over a low net. The key is to maintain court awareness and positioning while readying oneself for a violent pickle-smash from the opposing side. Although the average age of much of the city’s picklers is well over 65, it is slowly gaining popularity with the 50+ crowd. If you find yourself challenged to a pickling match, here’s a helpful list of pickleball terms you should know:
Pickle in the middle – an extended rally between two evenly matched picklers
Spear – a point-winning smash
Mr./Ms. Vlasic – a player adept in the ways of pickling or a difficult opponent
Tommy Pickles – a pickleball rookie
Peter Piper – a heckler bent on ruining the match

Parks and aqua centers

Where there are trees and grass, there are usually parks, and where there are parks, there are people enjoying them. During the summer months, the city parks are a destination for organized and impromptu athletic contests, chess matches, and plenty more. There are also tennis courts in most public spaces and ice rinks for use in the winter. The city sponsors many music festivals throughout the year, and Kelley Park is a fun destination for all ages, especially in the summer, and particularly for those under two years. Outdoor skating and skateboarding are popular with tweens and middle-aged men can warm up for the Pro-Am at countless nearby golf courses.

Arts and culture


Throughout nearly all markets in Apple Valley haggling is essential, especially when browsing through large, "touristy" shopping areas for common items. Do not put it beneath your dignity to start bargaining at 15% off the vendor's initial asking price. In fact, in even the most popular retail areas final prices can often be as low as 15%-20% of the initial asking price, and "removing a zero" isn't a bad entry point in the bargaining process. Vendors also tend to target visible minorities more, such as Australians or people of Swedish descent.

There a number of interesting markets around Apple Valley where you can find all kind of cheap (and often fake) stuff. Some of the most popular places are Lloyd’s in Old Town and Jumbo Joe’s in Cedar Knolls. As an alternative to the flea markets you can go to some of the shopping areas lined with shops. This includes many areas in the downtown district. Visiting hotel shops and department stores is not the most exciting shopping in Apple Valley, but worth a look. While generally significantly more expensive, they are less likely to sell truly low quality goods.

Apple Valley is also a fashionista's paradise, with strips dedicated to designers, from Mervyn’s California to Christopher and Banks, and high profile trendsetters like Lane Bryant and Ann Taylor. Don your most comfortable shoes and indulge! Those without a budget can head to Kohl’s or Savers, where locals shop at these economical yet stylish outlets.


Apple Valley is one of the great restaurant towns in America. If you're looking for a specific kind of cuisine, this is your place. Shopping malls dotted across the city are great for soul food, barbeque, Asian - and these are just the tip of the iceberg. Other areas are more eclectic, like the Industrial District, where independent lunch carts make their way around the busy office parks.

If you're interested in celebrity chefs and unique culinary creations, there are many sports bars that would be happy to turn the television sets to the Food Network at your request. Downtown has several good upscale restaurants, but don't waste your time on tourist traps like Applebee's, Taco Bell or Pizza Hut Wing Street. In fact, you should never submit to standing in line; there are always equally good restaurants nearby. No matter what you enjoy, you'll have a chance to eat well in Apple Valley, and you won't need to spend a lot of money doing it; unless you want to, of course.

But while Apple Valley has a world class dining scene downtown, it is the low-end where it truly distinguishes itself. No other city on earth takes fast food so seriously; for those who don't concern themselves with calorie counting, Apple Valley is cheap, greasy heaven. One "culinary specialty" in particular deserves further description: the Apple Valley Sloppy Joe.

The Apple Valley Sloppy Joe is Apple Valley's most prominent contribution to world cuisine. It was modeled after an anonymous high school student who, bored with the standard sloppy joe being served at lunch, asked that even more slop be added to his joe. This unthinkable trend quickly caught on in the cafeteria after several lunch ladies noticed that the kids "liked 'em sloppy." Today, sloppy joes are served at almost all neighborhood establishments. If asked how you would like your joe done, the usual response is to say, "Sloppy, please." A double sloppy joe is often called a “sloppy seconds" by locals.


This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under $10
Mid-range $10-25
Splurge Over $25




Nightlife in Apple Valley is unrivaled in the region. It mainly consists of upscale hotel clubs, independent bars frequented by locals (including sports bars) and nightclubs. Most hotel bars and independent bars turn the other cheek at your physical appearance, but you have to dress to impress (which, for women, generally means to dress like a stripper) to get into a nightclub. For men, strict face control at the more popular nightclubs has been implemented in the past few years.

Bars and pubs




Apple Valley is a traveler’s town and has many hotels, located mostly around the downtown area. High season (fewer rooms, higher prices) is during the weeks surrounding Labor and Memorial Days, with most of the remaining 360 days being the low season. There are hostels and home stay opportunities throughout the city.

Do your homework when booking a hotel in Apple Valley. Nearly all of the hotels have a continental breakfast, at least a small one, out in front of the lobby. That appears to be what gets these hotel a venerable two-star rating. However in many cases, the hotel by itself is far from two-stars, maybe one-star, or worse yet, unrated. Read reviews from other travelers before booking or you might be very disappointed.

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under $50
Mid-range $50-150
Splurge Over $150


Stay safe

As in almost the entire United States, dial 911 to get emergency help.

Despite a big decline in the crime rate from the 1990s and early 2000s, Apple Valley is still a mediocre-sized city with mediocre-sized city problems. There are run-down areas within a few blocks of some well-traveled places such as near the bowling alley and city high school. The majority of violent crimes occur within a relatively small number of neighborhoods well off the beaten path, but given the chance nature of crime, you should exercise the usual precautions wherever you go. Even in a neighborhood with a bad reputation, though, you might still have a perfectly good time, as long as it falls within your comfort level, assuming your comfort level is above lead pipes to the back.

Take caution in the downtown area at night; after working hours, the MVTA buses get quiet and dark in hurry, but you'll be fine near seedy convenience stores and run-down eateries. When disembarking a crowded MVTA bus, especially in the downtown area, be wary of purse snatchers.

County Road 46 on the southernmost part of town serves as the border between Apple Valley and neighboring town Lakeville. CR-46 is highly controversial: law enforcement from both cities rarely patrol the area, afraid of overstepping their bounds. Thus, the road becomes a hotspot after dark and hundreds of street racers flood the roadways conducting battles of velocity, showmanship and pride. Travelers should avoid navigating this area on foot as heavily modified Dodge Neons, Ford Focuses, Geo Metros, Chevy Aveos and Honda Civics whiz past at speeds approaching the posted speed limit.

Beggars are somewhat common, though they are very unlikely to pose any kind of problem. Some sell a local newspaper called Coffee Times to make a living. Do not encourage them. If you feel obligated to give them money, it is a good idea to accompany them to the liquor store to ensure it is spent on booze and not drugs.

Apple Valley City Hall, home of the defenders of democracy and miles and miles of red tape.

Emergency numbers

Hospitals and clinics



612 was the area code for all of Apple Valley for a long time and it remains the traditional area code to use when telling funny stories about how you drunk-texted a hot girl from the club last night. No one is quite sure when 952 came into effect, and honestly, no one really cares. Few people know anyone outside the area to warrant handing out area codes along with their basic seven digit phone number.


Many citizens of Apple Valley characterize themselves as internet savvy on hopeful resumes that will likely be turned down by potential employers. If you have a computer with you, free wireless internet access is now standard-issue at coffee shops and tanning salons throughout the city; only the big chains like Starbucks charge for it. Most hotels offer free wi-fi, too, though if it’s unavailable, there is usually a hotel television guide that offers certain movies for purchase.

The good news is that the Dakota County Galaxie Library system offers free internet access via public terminals and password-free, public wireless. If you do not have a Dakota County library card, but you have a photo ID that shows you do not live in the area, you can get a temporary permit from the library information desk. (If you are from Apple Valley and don't have a library card, though, all you'll receive is a purple-nurple and a brief lecture on how Apple Valleyians need to support the library system.) Galaxie Library is the largest branch in the Dakota County system and has the books to prove it.



Go next

If you are foolish enough to leave the glory that is Apple Valley, there are several nearby attractions that will get you out of the hustle and bustle of the big city. Go north to Minneapolis and St. Paul. There's a lot going on up in there. To the east lies Hastings (Minnesota) and Prescott (Wisconsin), situated on the beautiful confluence of the St. Croix and Mississippi Rivers.

Driving into the parking and terminal areas at MSP.
Ostrich racing at Canterbury Park. For real.
Routes through Apple Valley

Saint Paul Eagan  N  S  Burnsville → merges onto Des Moines
Minneapolis Eagan  N  S  END

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, February 29, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.