The Best Boating Trips Near Minnesota

June 30, 2012 6:00 AM

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The season for spectacular sunsets on a shimmering lake is back again. Boasting more than 10,000 lakes statewide, it’s water, water, everywhere in Minnesota, and there’s no shortage of opportunities to enjoy the area’s lakes, rivers and wilderness areas. With public cruises available on Lake Minnetonka, as well as on the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers, it’s time to hit the water.

al almas The Best Boating Trips Near Minnesota

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Al & Alma’s Charter Cruises
Lake Minnetonka
5201 Piper Rd.
Mound, MN 55364
(952) 472-3098

Click here for prices
Al & Alma’s has been sailing massive Lake Minnetonka’s 114 miles of shoreline since 1973. Its beautiful fleet of luxury yachts are available for public and charter cruises, serving up great food and drink daily. Relax and take in the spectacular scenery while learning about past and current residents of the mansions that line the lake. Hop on a public cruise with no minimum guest requirements for a perfect day out on the water, but be aware of the company’s no-refund policy on ticket purchases.

Related: Best Dates for Adventurous Couples in Minnesota

vista star cruise The Best Boating Trips Near Minnesota

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Vista Fleet Harbor Cruises
323 Harbor Dr.
Duluth, Minnesota
(218) 722-6218 or (877) 883-4002

Click here for prices

When it comes to the king of Minnesota’s lakes, Lake Superior is clearly the winner. This massive member of the Great Lakes is the shipping terminus for ocean-going vessels that have crossed that Atlantic and sailed the St. Lawrence Seaway hundreds of miles to Duluth/Superior. With more than 50 years of experience, a Vista Fleet boat trip on the largest freshwater lake in North America is an experience that you will never forget. View the busy harbor activity and take in the rugged and rocky North Shore coastline of northern Minnesota, but don’t miss out on this amazing option.

river rides The Best Boating Trips Near Minnesota

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Jonathan Padleford
Harriet Island
St. Paul, Minnesota
(651) 227-1100

Click here for prices

Named for the grandfather of the founder of the Padleford Packet Company, the all-steel Jonathan Padleford is one of few authentic sternwheelers sailing on the Mississippi River. It can carry up to 200 passengers and operates the same way as old steam engines did, but hydraulically. From a launch point on Harriet Island just across the river from downtown St. Paul, narrated cruises sail up-river past the High Bridge, Pig’s Eye Cave, the mouth of the Minnesota River, all the way to Fort Snelling.

Related: Road Trip Rules

queen of excelsior The Best Boating Trips Near Minnesota

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Queen of Excelsior Cruises
adjacent to 2 Water Street
Excelsior, MN 55331

(952) 470-8439

Click here for prices/options

This popular cruise company offers unique themed sailings throughout the week from downtown Excelsior, as well as public cruises from Wayzata on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Each sailing includes plenty of food ranging from an extensive Sunday brunch to creative buffets. A full cash bar is always available, as well as wine flight tastings, specialty mojitos, rum flights and a variety of margaritas on select sailings.

jubilee ii The Best Boating Trips Near Minnesota

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St. Croix Boat & Packet
525 S. Main St.
Stillwater, Minnesota 55082
(651) 430-1234

Click here for prices/options

St. Croix Boat & Packet offers boats that can accommodate 49, 140 and 350 passengers on cruises of the beautiful St. Croix River Valley that separates Minnesota and Wisconsin. The very busy stretch of river from Stillwater to Prescott and Hastings is lined with bluffs and stately homes, making for an interesting and beautiful cruise. Each public cruise includes excellent comfort food, and the company also charters its boats for private sailings.


New York City native Marc Friedman has called the Twin Cities home for nearly 30 years. His urban upbringing has him constantly exploring Minneapolis and St. Paul for locally owned dining spots and neighborhood shops. His work can be found at

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