The Land of 10,000 Lakes has plenty of places to soak in the summer sun. The metro area is in no shortage of selections. This author’s top pick is the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes which provides total access to each lake and a vast variety of high-quality water-related fun options on each lake. The surrounding suburbs provide many awesome options of outdoor natural park reserves for weekend fun and sun. Check out any one of these six select metro area places to kick back and enjoy the rays.
Minneapolis Chain of Lakes
South Minneapolis, MN
Just south of the Twin Cities is a chain lakes that city folk flock to to escape the hustle and bustle and to catch some rays. Check out each lake below.
Pick a lake and pick a beach to match your way of life. Starting with Cedar, sunbathers have the choice of the counter-culture lifestyle offered by Hidden Beach. Cedar’s south beach is fine for families and play in the sand.
Lake of the Isles
Go to Lake of the Isles for serenity and elegance. Mansions of millionaires surround his cozy lake with wooded islands sheltering duck nests. Spread a blanket on the grass and draw in the ambience.
Catch some rays at the busy supervised beach on the Lake Street side of Calhoun. Go to Thomas Beach, a social locus for teens and the young at heart, for plenty of sand to catch some rays, volleyball courts to get some exercise and grassy areas to toss a football around.
Beautiful Lake Harriet offers two supervised beaches and a bandshell with plenty of grass surrounding the lake.
While not in the chain, large Lake Nokomis has the best expansive areas for spreading a blanket on the grass for fun in the sun. Watch a ballgame at the many diamonds or watch swimmers crossing the lake in a triathlon.
Schulze Lake Beach
Lebanon Hills Regional Park
860 Cliff Road
Eagan, MN 55123
Easily the best spot for beach people on the south side of St. Paul, this enormous 2,000-acre park in Eagan is open to all at no cost. It offers a beach, wooded hiking, mountain biking, rental canoes, rental kayaks, nice restrooms and a visitors center. People pack the popular beach and picnic grounds on hot summer days open daily from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through September 22.
Bryant Lake Regional Park
6800 Rowland Road
Eden Prairie, MN 55344
Take your car or bike on a trail to Bryant Lake for one of the better-designed and well-maintained multi-use parks. This family-oriented park has plenty of sand for bathers to enjoy the sun and at no cost. Most noteworthy is a first-class and sometimes challenging Frisbee golf course available for a modest fee.
Lake Elmo Park Reserve
1515 Keats Ave. N.
Lake Elmo, MN 55042
One-fifth mile of sandy man-made beach surrounding a six-foot-deep pond of filtered and disinfected water make up the ideal in recreation and safety. Grab a picnic table with a large umbrella for a picnic lunch. Take advantage of the concession stands, ample changing rooms and clean restrooms available in a nearby beach building. Five dollars will get you in, but $25 is good for a 12-month vehicle permit.
Lake Minnetonka Swimming Pond
4610 County Road 44
Minnetrista, MN 55331
Perfect sand, perfect water, nice changing shelters, large beach umbrellas and a concessions stand make the 1.75-acre swimming pond west of Lake Minnetonka an ideal spot. This six-foot-deep swimming pond uses filtered chlorinated water and is completely surrounded by sand. Get a season pass for $12 or a day pass for $4 Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day.
Shady Oak Beach
5200 Shady Oak Road
Minnetonka, MN 55343
The clear spring-fed waters contribute to an outstanding water quality at Shady Oak Lake. While the park requires a $6 entry fee, the 76-foot sandy shoreline beach is wildly popular. The city of Minnetonka provides concessions, changing area, canoe rental, sand volleyball, lifeguards, swimming, high dive and free parking.
Robin Johnson was born in Annandale, Minn. and graduated from Richfield High School and then the University of Minnesota where he studied Political Science, Business and Industrial Relations. A writer for Examiner.com, he also consults with a variety of organizations and individuals helping them develop and grow. His work can be found at Examiner.com.