It’s a well-known fact that summer in the Land of 10,000 Lakes just hits differently than any other place across the country. And you better believe that we Minnesotans take advantage of every second of sunshine and every ounce of vitamin D we can get. Here are the 5 hottest lakes around the Twin Cities plus some reasons why you should visit one (or all!) of them ASAP.
Boasting 100+ miles of shoreline that’s home to daydream-inducing residences and its own paparazzi, Lake Minnetonka is the epitome of a see-and-be-seen summer vibe. Dive into the lake’s storied past from Big Island‘s Gilded Age amusement park to today’s glitzy mansions with a guided tour on the three-deck sternwheeler Lady of the Lake. Or rent a pontoon and create your own adventure. We recommend swimming (purification not guaranteed) or fishing in the calmer waters of Brown’s Bay then docking at Lord Fletcher’s or Maynards for a happy hour fix.
Sail, swim, paddle or pedal at this local fave in the heart of Minneapolis’ popular Nokomis neighborhood. Two sandy swimming beaches, watercraft rentals, a playground and sustenance at Sandcastle eatery (for one final year!) mean you can easily make an entire day of it. For a heavier dose of wilderness, rent a canoe and paddle down the lazy waters connecting to Minnehaha Creek, which winds through forests, parks and the backyards situated along the waterway. Nokomis also offers the ideal distance for runners looking to get in some miles.
In 1868, the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad expanded service to White Bear Lake, turning a three-hour trip from St. Paul into a 20-minute ride. Cue the slew of resorts that would seal the lake’s reputation as a high society summer playground. (Historians say F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was partially inspired by his time living at the White Bear Yacht Club.) Enjoy one of Minnesota’s largest lakes by renting a boat by the hour from Tally’s Dockside, relaxing on a guided tour or getting your downward dog on with an on-water yoga class.
The almost two miles around St. Paul’s Como Lake make it the perfect size for a romantic date night outing. Fish off the pier on the south side or get out on the waves with human-powered watercraft from Wheel Fun Rentals. (New this year: LED-lit swan pedal boats for hands-down the cutest couples’ evening on the water.) Dine indoors or out at the no-reservations-taken Dock & Paddle restaurant at Como Lakeside Pavilion. And peep a full summer lineup of outdoor theater, music and movies.
With two beaches, sailboats dotting the water, walking and biking trails with views of historic homes, and a soaring music pavilion where concertgoers have flocked since the 1880s, Lake Harriet resembles a Norman Rockwell painting (in a good way). You can take a ride on a preserved section of the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line. Down burgers, beer and ice cream at the lakeside Bread & Pickle, then stick around for live music at the pavilion five nights a week. If you’re strolling the shoreline, look for a tiny door in a tree on the lake’s south side. It’s home to Mr. Little Guy, a tree elf who’s been replying to letters from kids and adults alike for some 27 years. Leave a note inside the door, and within a few days you’ll find a magical reply.