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The town of Eagan—these days one of the bigger suburbs in the Twin Cities metro area—got its start as a farming settlement in 1860, but its human history of course extends much further back. When American settlers arrived here along the southern banks of the Minnesota River a little upstream of its mouth at the Mississippi, this was the site of a Mdewakanton Dakota village headed by Chief Black Dog.

Eagan's early days had a very particular aroma: From the mid-1800s to mid-1900s, its fertile soils earned it the nickname of the Onion Capital of the World. You can learn about that onion-y heritage and other aspects of Eagan's backstory within the former Town Hall building, a 1914-vintage structure now hosting the Eagan Historical Society's museum. More history awaits in nearby Farmington at Dakota City, which reconstructs a 1900-era Dakota County village complete with living-history interpreters.

Within easy reach of the world-class cultural attractions and entertainment of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Eagan lays claim to its very own worthy destinations, including some fabulous places to enjoy the Minnesota outdoors. The biggest park in Dakota County lies here: Lebanon Hills Regional Park, a lake- and trail-rich swath of rolling forest that offers camping, picnic areas, as well as rentable overnight facilities. Close by, too, sprawls the woods, wetland, and prairie paradise of Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, strung along the floodplain of the Minnesota River.

And then there's Caponi Art Park, 60 timbered acres of sculpture garden established by the Italian-born artist and educator Anthony Caponi, and home to one of the area's largest outdoor amphitheaters, which presents a variety of live performances in summertime. And family fun comes easy over at the city's Cascade Bay Waterpark, the biggest outdoor municipal waterpark in the region. Meanwhile, multimedia creativity takes center stage at Art Works Eagan, which offers studio and performance space for artists as well as community galleries.

Among the most vibrant corners of the country, the Twin Cities has plenty to offer in big-city attractions, but you'll also be well rewarded for exploring their surrounding communities—Eagan being a prime case in point!

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