If you were in the vicinity of the southwest metro area this past September, there’s a high likelihood that you were impacted by some little event called the Ryder Cup. An estimated 250,000 fans (more than ten times the city’s year-round population) flocked to Chaska’s Hazeltine National Golf Club and the surrounding area to take part in the historic tournament with big name golfers including Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and Sergio Garcia. With a long-awaited U.S. victory on a course specifically designed to play to the American team’s strengths, Hazeltine (and subsequently Chaska) are officially on the map!
But even after all the crowds and camera crews departed (and, indeed, long before they arrived), Hazeltine is and has been the midwest’s premier destination for major championship golf. Lush grounds and beautiful landscaping make it an ideal choice for a picturesque day at the links along with exclusive private events such as weddings and corporate parties.
Speaking of scenic venues, the Oak Ridge Hotel and Conference Center attracts many to its lakeside facilities each year. (Undoubtedly, many of those Ryder Cup visitors had their reservations there.) Situated on 130 scenic acres on Lake McKnight, it’s easy to see why many choose Oak Ridge for their wedding locale or company retreat. But even if you’re just looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of the Twin Cities, the center acts as an idyllic, serene getaway.
If you’re looking to get away without ever leaving Chaska, though, a visit to the Chaska History Center will serve as a journey through time. Step inside the signature brick building and you’ll find everything from Native American artifacts to newspaper copies dating back to 1862 (10 years after the city’s founding). See the genealogical history of a dozen of Chaska’s oldest families, or take a look through photos depicting what life was like long before the advent of computers and cellphones (and remind your kids that, yes, there was a time before computers and cellphones).
Because of its small town feeling, it’s easy to forget that Chaska is a good-sized suburb with a lot of variety to offer, especially when it comes to entertainment and dining.
For starters, there’s the Chaska Curling Center. Opened in December of 2015, the center is currently home to the nation’s largest curling membership. What can we say? We Minnesotans definitely love our sports on ice! Spectators who prefer frosty mugs to frosty shoes can watch all the action from the toasty comfort of the attached Crooked Pint Ale House. Also adjacent to the Curling Center is the Chaska Event Center, another popular venue for wedding receptions.
One of the city’s favorite destinations for families is the Chaska Valley Family Theater. Since its first production in 1996, the theater has been delighting audiences of all ages with traditional musicals featuring members of the local community. But over the years, a handful of plucky playwrights from the area have been given the opportunity to present their original works on the CVFT stage, much to the enjoyment of their local adoring fans.
Foodies can also rejoice, because there is no shortage of options when it’s time to chow down. From old-fashioned diners and malt shops, to Chinese, Italian, Japanese, and Mexican cuisine, there’s something to please everyone in the family.
The diversity in eateries reflects the city’s growing – and changing – populace. Like its northeastern neighbor Chanhassen, Chaska has really seen a population boom over the last few decades. In the last sixteen years alone, the population has grown by nearly 40%. To keep up with demand, as the population increases at a rate of about 500 households per year (with an expected peak in 2025), new development is on the rise. New build neighborhoods such as Chevalle, The Harvest, and Symphony Hills have sprung up all over town, resulting in a median home age of just 28 years. Tellingly, in the past six months, a majority of sold homes were under 20 years old.
Over the last two years, Chaska’s median estimated home value has grown from $235,000 to $275,000. Compared to the entirety of Carver County, the rate of increase is about twice as fast.
No doubt, contributing to that impressive increase is the sale of many new construction homes within the past 12 months alone, most with 3-4+ bedrooms and 2000-2500 sq. ft. This typical home size is understandable as a majority of Chaska households are made up of married couples with adolescent and teenage children.
In spite of the city’s increasing population, though, Chaska has been able to successfully maintain its small town feel through the concentrated efforts of the City Council. After all, the city’s mission is to be the “best small town in Minnesota.” Indeed, in 2007, Money Magazine even ranked Chaska as the #8 best small town in the entire country. This accomplishment was achieved, in part, through seasonal community events such as River City Days and the Turkey Trot (coming up this weekend!). Organized efforts like Christmas in May also add to the feelings of closeness and camaraderie within the community.
As you can see, Chaska has a vibe all its own. Many may be tempted to write it off as just another stuffy suburb, but they’d be mistaken. Chaska has the warm inviting feel of a small town – compounded by its charming downtown area (complete with gazebo and historic mill) – while enjoying big city amenities in neighboring towns. Also home to the world’s largest mustache, Chaska brings a funky freshness to the ‘burban world!