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.

Visit restored Graeser Park and renewed Lilac Park to see the only two remaining beehive fireplaces. Stop by protected Rock Island Park to see one of only two rock gardens in Minnesota.

Take your own 2024 Lilac Way tour—three parks, eight miles, no entrance fees.

Take a break for the perfect escape.

Bring a lunch, family, friends or just a good book. See the heroic preservation efforts of dedicated volunteers and MnDOT.

These three Insta-worthy 1940 parks make for a great getaway. Visit all three to see the only two beehive-shaped fireplaces in Minnesota, as well as the last two rock garden in the state.

See Graeser Park’s historic restoration up close. Now eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, it is a national treasure.

Help cleanup and beautify Rock Island Park on August 4, 2024, 8am – 12pm

Meet at Rock Island Park on August 4, 8am – 12pm, 2024

Here’s your chance to roll up your sleeves and be part of Lilac Way history.

This first Fern Hill Neighborhood Association (FHNA) cleanup event will remove invasive plants from the park, including honeysuckle, burrdock and buckthorn. This will help to clear the space and allow for landscape planning.

FHNA has received a $1,500 city grant to revitalize Rock Island Park.

Questions? Email Todd Tanner at the FHNA with comments and ideas.

Help us create a living tribute to Graeser Park supporters who have left us.


The Graeser Park Angels Memorial Fund

The Fund was established to honor the lives of dedicated Graeser Park volunteers that we have lost. Donate in memory of Robbinsdale Lions Jeannine ‘Niner’ McDonald (1964-2024) and Kent Brun (1952-2023), Architectural Historian Carol Ahlgren (1958-2021), or to the General Memorial Fund.

Please join this effort to memorialize dedicated volunteers and beautify the park. Learn more

Restored Graeser Park is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places!

Graeser Park, June 11, 2024. Restored rare beehive fireplace with tables in picnic area.

The only Lilac Way park eligible for the National Register of Historic Places

After reviewing documentation from MnDOT, on January 22, 2024 the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) agreed that Graeser Park in Robbinsdale, MN has been deemed eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP). Now that it is eligible, there is another step to get it officially listed on the Register.

Read or download MnDOT’s press release. Amazing news!

Graeser Park was first identified as historic in the late 1990s. MnDOT salvaged and stored several stone tables and stones in Robbinsdale. They were meticulously restored starting in 2021 and served as the basis for the initial historic re-evaluation which was expanded to include the entire site. (Thank you, Andrea Weber at MnDOT”s Historic Roadside Properties Program.)

Graeser Park, Oct. 25, 2023. Overlooking rock garden. Photo: Mark Christman.

MnDOT’s 2021-2023 restoration program made the park eligible

MnDOT’s Historic Roadside Property Program restored the rare beehive fireplace, rebuilt 11 picnic tables using salvaged stonework from lost Lilac Way parks, installed ADA accessible paths and picnic table, and installed informational signage.

They repaired and repointed four benches, pond walls, some paths in rock garden, planted 120 perennials plus shrubs, and much more.

We are all grateful to Program Manager Andrea Weber for making this historic park a priority.

MnDOT plans to convey the park to the city of Robbinsdale, date TBD.

Photo: Mark Christman

Check out the new poster shop!

Restore Lilac Way poster shop

Four poster designs. Two sizes. For the one and only Lilac Way.

Display your love for Lilac Way’s historic parks and quirky beehive-shaped fireplaces. Show off your favorite park, or get the whole set for a lovely series. Includes restored Graeser Park, renewed Lilac Park, protected Rock Island Park and the classic Restore Lilac Way.

Available in 11″ x 14″ and 16″ x 20″, ready for easy and affordable framing. Get a poster for yourself, and another for a gift.

Pick it up in St. Louis Park to save shipping costs!

lilacway-lilac-iconWhat was Lilac Way?

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.


Follow the Facebook page with nearly 1,500 other Lilac Way fans


Watch 140+ Lilac Way videos on YouTube. Choose the Graeser Park playlist, renewed Lilac Park playlist and Rock Island Park playlist.

Beehive Fireplaces
 Seven Parks
Graeser Park, June 19, 2022. Beehive fireplace, preservation by MnDOT Historic Roadside Property Program. New accessible walk.
Graeser Park
Lilac Park

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, plus a rock garden from a third. Sadly, the other parks were razed for Highway 100 reconstruction. Check the map for locations and info.

Meet the designer and 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.

Browse the photo albums.

RESTORED: Graeser Park

Robbinsdale, MN

RENEWED: Lilac Park (formerly Roadside Park)

St. Louis Park, MN

PROTECTED: Rock Island Park

St. Louis Park, MN

Photo Albums

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

Share your Lilac Way story.

The best way to honor Lilac Way’s wonderful history is by sharing stories about its seven roadside parks and Highway 100.

Just email your memories to Karen, she will add them to the Lilac Way Stories page, and keep Lilac Way’s memory alive.


Read Paula Brookins Pentel touching story of visiting restored Graeser Park in 2023.


Read the Lilac Way love story from Tim and Michele Wendling Olson.