June 28, 2017 08:38 PM
Thinking of splurging for that getaway to Miami Beach, or spreading out on the sand in Malibu?
Why not save your money and instead head for the beaches of ... Eden Prairie?
Yes, at least according to one website's list, the Twin Cities suburb ranks third in the nation when it comes to 2017's Best Beach Towns to Live In.
That's 24 spots ahead of Miami Beach, which ranked 27th. And a full 183 spots ahead of Malibu. That California playground of the rich and famous was ranked all the way down at 184.
The list was assembled by financial website Wallethub.com. It said in its post that analysts compared 227 cities, looking at six dimensions: affordability, weather, safety, the economy, education and health and quality of life.
Within those dimensions, 49 relevant metrics went into the evaluation including factors like housing costs, weather, crime rates, school quality, employment numbers and various amenities available. Each was assigned a corresponding weight
The study included all cities with populations between 10,000 and 150,000 with at least one beach listed on TripAdvisor.
Using that criteria, only top-ranked Naples, Florida and second-ranked Key West, Florida came in ahead of Eden Prairie, which heretofore had not exactly been known as the kind of destination where one once might have run into Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon playing a game of beach blanket bingo.
"I'm stunned," Eden Prairie mayor Nancy Tyra-Lukens said. "I guess it's good company to be in. We certainly haven't been marketing ourselves that way.
"Maybe we should start."
Jay Lotthammer, the city's parks and recreation director, points out the city does have three very well-used beaches at Bryant Lake Park, Round Lake Park and Riley Lake Park. Round Lake Park also features a picnic area overlooking a splash pad.
"When you think of beach towns, you usually do think of Florida, California, the East Coast - places like that," Lotthammer said. "But we do have some really nice beaches that draw a lot of people in the summertime.
"We may not have surfers. But we do have paddle boarders and canoe rentals."
Eden Prairie was far from the only Minnesota city to crack the top 20. Duluth checked in at No. 10, Stillwater was ranked No. 15, Chanhassen was ranked No. 16 and Cloquet landed at No. 17.
Cloquet made the list despite the fact it does not have an actual beach on a lake or river. Which explains why parks and streets maintenance superintendent Les Anderson couldn't control his laughter when told of the city's lofty ranking.
"That's pretty amazing," Anderson said. "I wonder if anybody else knows about this. We might be missing an opportunity here."
Cloquet does have a beach at Pinehurst Park, where what was once a frog pond has been modified over the years and now features filtered, chlorinated water and a sand-bottom.
It seems like a very nice place. But it's probably not likely to draw many full-time beach bums to northeastern Minnesota.
"I sort of picture someone with their hair in braids and a surfboard on their back," Anderson said. "I haven't seen any of those guys hanging around up here."
Other Minnesota cities making the list were Blaine (No. 25), Hastings (No. 48) and Fridley (No. 75). Noted sun and surf hotspot River Falls, Wisconsin checked in at No. 62.
All well ahead of, say, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, which was ranked 172nd.
So perhaps folks in Eden Prairie should start preparing for an onslaught of professional beach-goers.
"Maybe they'll turn up and start asking us which way to the surf," Tyra-Lukens said.
"We really ranked ahead of Malibu. That's pretty crazy."
Updated: June 28, 2017 08:38 PM
Created: June 28, 2017 04:17 PM
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