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Nature Meets Luxury in Eagan

The suburban city, teeming with green space and posh accommodations, is so much more than the 'Onion Capital of the United States'

By Camille Lefevre

Eagan’s convenient location near two interstate highways, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and Mall of America is optimal for meeting planners. || Photo by Jacob, courtesy of Adobe

Settled in the mid-1800s by Irish immigrants Patrick Eagan and Margaret Twohy, Eagan grew into a farming community known as the “Onion Capital of the United States.” That legacy of the land lives on, minus the tears. Today, Eagan is a growing meetings and conference destination as it is easily accessible via Interstate 35E and state Route 55.
It’s also a quick hop to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Minnesota Zoo, and Mall of America.

Eagan lies just south of St. Paul on the south bank of the Minnesota River, upstream from its confluence with the Mississippi River. And, at its center, is the Eagan Core Greenway, an ongoing project to preserve the suburb’s environmentally sensitive green space that includes a 2-mile trail connecting the greenway with Lebanon Hills Regional Park. With more than 2,000 acres of outdoor space for walking, canoeing, and stand-up paddleboarding, Lebanon Hills Regional Park also includes park and picnic facilities that can be rented for get-togethers.

Parks, green space, and walkability: Those are just a few of Eagan’s competitive advantages when groups and organizations seek locations for meetings or events. Eagan has more than 20 hotels, over 100 dining destinations, and attractions such as Twin Cities Premium Outlets and Cascade Bay Waterpark. The city is home to the deluxe Omni Viking Lakes Hotel at the heart of the Viking Lakes mixed-use development. The hotel campus features 35,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, additional outdoor meeting space and hospitality suites, a full-service spa, and a James Beard award-winning, chef-run restaurant, Kyndred Hearth. The hotel campus is also attached to the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings headquarters and training facility.

Eagan Omni Viking Lakes Hotel
The elegant Omni Viking Lakes Hotel has a warm environment with expansive views. || Courtesy of Omni Viking Lakes Hotel

“We’re not surrounded by concrete and roads,” says Brent Glashan, general manager at Omni Viking Lakes Hotel. “There are many walking and biking trails around the lakes on our campus and along the greenway, and we’re connected to the Vikings facilities. So, whether visitors are here for meetings or events, or just having a leisurely holiday, there are plenty of opportunities to get outside, enjoy nature, take in the shopping and entertainment amenities in the area, and just stretch out and get away from the hotel.”

The 14-story hotel was built in 2020 and features design elements inspired by American-Nordic landscapes. The property includes the full-service Idlewild Spa, which emphasizes thermotherapy with hot treatments (like the steam room or sauna) and cold treatments (including an invigorating ice fountain and deluge shower). The spa also has an indoor lounge with a fireplace; an exterior lounge equipped with a hot tub, lounge seating, and fire pits; and a relaxation room with Himalayan salt lining the walls.

The hotel has four restaurant and bar offerings including an upscale lounge, and a coffee bar and market. The signature on-site restaurant, Kyndred Hearth, focuses on local, quality ingredients executed with simplicity by Minneapolis-based Chef Ann Kim at the helm.

“We’re really brand-forward,” says Glashan. “Because of Ann Kim and our Kyndred partnership, all of our food, including our catering, is executed at an exquisite level. We also embrace our community’s heritage with subtle nods to our agricultural history, Nordic culture, and the Vikings sports team. Moreover, how we manage our facilities and offerings is respectful of Minnesota attitudes—we’re not just a box of hotel rooms.”

Glashan adds, “More organizations are selecting Eagan because of our outdoor spaces and our hotel because of its luxury amenities. Moreover, we’re close to the international airport, and even closer to St. Paul’s private airfield.”

Brent Cory, president and CEO of Enjoy Eagan, the city’s convention and visitors bureau, emphasizes that the Viking Lakes development “has propelled Eagan’s meeting capabilities to new and exciting heights.” In addition to the Omni Viking Lakes Hotel meeting spaces, the adjoining TCO Stadium and its spacious plaza give corporate and nonprofit planners enhanced capabilities for hosting elite events with attendance capacities topping out at 10,000. “Viking Lakes and the Omni Viking Lakes Hotel in particular have taken Eagan’s meeting-hosting capabilities to an astonishing new level,” Cory says. “It’s exciting to think about what opportunities will exist once the campus is fully developed.”

Eagan also boasts a variety of conference centers for smaller groups. One of these spaces is the Eagan Community Center, which has nearly 5,000 square feet of meeting space and is perfect for groups of 50 to 175 people. “The community center has inviting fireplaces, and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking beautiful Central Park,” says Cory. “The park itself has more than 5 miles of paved trails for walking, jogging, and biking, and offers a large playground for children, many picnic areas with tables and grills, and an outdoor amphitheater.”

Other entertainment options in Eagan include Cascade Bay Water Park, the largest municipally owned water park in the Upper Midwest, which has a lazy river, slides, and pools for attendees and their families to enjoy during their downtime. Eagan’s Twin Cities Premium Outlets offers 80-plus designer and name-brand outlet stores, such as Nike, Coach, Under Armour, and Michael Kors. Bloomington’s Mall of America, a mere five-minute drive away, is home to more than 500 stores and 50 restaurants, along with Nickelodeon Universe, Sea Life aquarium, and FlyOver America.

The staff of Enjoy Eagan “are happy to assist meeting planners with obtaining rates from Eagan’s 20 hotels,” Cory explains. “We’re able to make welcome bags for attendees, which can include visitor guides, maps, coupons, and information on all there is to see and do in Eagan and the surrounding areas. Our Enjoy Eagan team also offers registration assistance and can have staff on-site to answer questions from conference attendees.”

Denise Olsen, senior sales director at Enjoy Eagan, adds, “Our renowned hospitality, first-class amenities, and location have always propelled Eagan to the top of the list for most meeting planners.”

Eagan’s variety is an asset, too, adds Rebecca Scholz, events and program manager for the Dakota County Regional Chamber of Commerce. She notes, “In Eagan, you can find everything from the luxurious to the really down-to-earth. Yes, Kyndred Hearth at the Omni is exquisite, but visitors also love the Volstead House Whiskey Bar & Speakeasy,” a brick hideaway with small plates, burgers, innovative cocktails, weekend brunch, and outdoor seating. Andiamo offers authentic Italian cuisine from insalata and zuppa (for starters) to pizza, pasta, and paninis—along with a full bar.

The popovers are a favorite at Jensen’s Food & Cocktails, a classic American steakhouse. Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill & Lounge offers fresh fare along with an outdoor hookah patio with its own flavor menu. “If you’re having a one-day meeting,” Scholz says, “Eagan has so many easy options for catering or deli food whether you’re looking for Mexican, sushi, pizza, Greek, Italian, or American.” Even the A&W Restaurant has plentiful outdoor seating to enjoy root beer and ice cream while soaking up Minnesota’s warm summer weather.

“Eagan is truly an exceptional option for groups and companies looking to hold their meetings, events, and planning retreats thanks to the city’s amazing amenities and absolutely perfect location,” she adds. “It’s a good place to come, as Eagan can be everything you need it to be.”