Discover the story of Lilac Way.

Lined with 7,000 lilac bushes, Lilac Way was a 12.5 mile ‘Showcase Section’ of Highway 100 near Minneapolis, MN.

Built by the WPA during the Great Depression of the 1930s, it featured seven roadside parks with beehive-shaped fireplaces and stunning rock gardens.

Only two parks remain today, plus a rock garden from a third park. Help support preservation of Graeser Park and Rock Island and visit restored Lilac Park.

Graeser Park’s restoration takes the first big step.

Watch the CCX Media video at left to follow MnDOT’s project to repair and stabilize this historic park. See Northern Bedrock Historic Preservation Corps installing the first picnic table and restoring table platforms for future tables.

Includes interviews with Andrea Weber, MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program Manager, Robbinsdale City Manager Marcia Glick and Kristi Gibson from non-profit Graeser Park Restoration & Preservation.

We are so grateful to MnDOT and this team, the community has waited a long time for this. And there is more coming, will keep you updated as we get the details.

Rock Island’s green space comes back to life.

Surrounded by open space, Rock Island is Lilac Way’s hidden gem in St. Louis Park, MN. Since MnDOT completed their maintenance project in spring 2021, the natural habitat is quickly returning.

It may support native pollinators in decline, such as native rusty patch bumblebee and monarch butterflies, which have been identified nearby.

This open space provides many benefits to the community, including:

  • Enhances neighborhood livability and connectivity
  • Increases community and property values
  • Enhances pedestrian and bicycle access and safety
  • Adds desirable urban green space for the community
  • Draws people outside and fosters social interactions

Take your own Lilac Way tour—three parks, eight miles, no entrance fees.

A Lilac Way tour is the perfect summer 2021 escape, and it’s free! Stop in at Graeser Park, Rock Island and restored Lilac Park—all located on an 8-mile stretch of Highway 100.

lilacway-lilac-iconWhat was Lilac Way?

The Lilac Way was considered the ‘Showcase’ section of Highway 100 in Minneapolis, MN. Built as a WPA project during the 1930s, this 12.5 mile stretch of highway was lined with thousands of lilacs and seven historic roadside parks.

lilacway-lilac-iconWhy was Highway 100 called Lilac Way?

Inspired by the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C., in 1935 a local newspaper encouraged the MN Highway Department to plant lilacs along the new Highway 100. They agreed, and a garden club helped raise money.

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Beehive Fireplaces
 Seven Parks
Graeser Park
Lilac Park, restored

Supporting preservation of two historic 1939 Lilac Way parks

Join the groundswell to restore Graeser Park and its rare beehive fireplace.

Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, MN has one of only two beehive fireplaces left in the U.S. Handcrafted in 1939 as one of seven of Lilac Way parks, this piece of history desperately needs to be saved and restored.

Group formed for future Graeser Park fundraising

The Graeser Park Restoration & Preservation (GPR&P) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization with one mission – future fundraising to restore Graeser Park.


Help preserve Rock Island and raise awareness of this 1939 park.

Saved from demolition, Rock Island is all that remains of the original Lilac Park on Minnetonka Boulevard. Its oval pool, 10′ footbridge to an island and handcrafted curved stone bench are hidden by a noise wall.

We encourage efforts to preserve and raise awareness for this park.

In 2008, the beehive fireplace in the South section of Lilac Park was moved and restored.

Where were the seven Lilac Way parks located on Highway 100?

If you grew up in the area, you probably remember the roadside parks with with picnic tables. The fireplaces had round tops and were nicknamed ‘beehives.”

Only two of the seven parks remain today. Sadly, the other five parks were razed for Highway 100 reconstruction. Check the map for locations and info.

Meet the Lilac Way enthusiast behind this volunteer project.


Karen Laukkonen launched to document Lilac Way’s history, and support and encourage restoration.

The pro bono project was conceived, written and designed through her website design company, Laukkonen Design.

Browse the photo albums.

Photo Albums Overview Page

Start your virtual drive down Lilac Way’s history and parks right here.

RESTORED: Lilac Park (formerly Roadside Park)

St. Louis Park, MN


Robbinsdale, MN


St. Louis Park, MN

Become part of the Lilac Way Storytellers.