Minnesota is known for its fierce winters and record-breaking snowfalls. However, during the spring and summer months, it’s one of the most exciting places to be. There are numerous beaches and lakes to bask in the summer sun.
There’s no need to travel to the ocean for a dip in the tranquil waters, you can have the same experience right here in Minnesota. Here are the 18 best beaches in Minnesota for you to explore.
1. Nokomis Beach
There are several beaches in this area connected by The Ground Round. The larger beach is also the main one that most people visit. Nokomis beach has a dock that floats for swimming. There is a parking lot that has ample spots for parking, and the Sandcastle is a local bistro serving up great food.
There are lifeguards posted at this location, as well as a bathhouse. However, there is a smaller beach on the other side that has no lifeguards and is pretty much deserted. With all the beaches in this little area, there is most certainly a spot where people can enjoy some alone time on these beaches in Minnesota.
2. Lake Harriet
Lake Harriet is known as a family area where two small beaches are welcoming for children. There is a floating swimming dock, as well as a playground and concession stands.
The Bread and Pickle is a favorite eatery located on-site with scrumptious foods. The parking lot beside the lake charges to park there, but visitors can park in the neighborhood for free. The parking lot is often full, so be sure to get there early for good spots. It’s a highly visited area and one that is often busy, so don’t miss your chance to visit one of the best beaches in Minnesota here.
3. Cedar Lake
Located in a picturesque park, Cedar Lake is home to a hidden gem. From June to August, lifeguards are on duty from 12-7 during this time.
Because this park is a bit off the beaten path, it’s often called a hidden gem. It’s not super crowded, and the water is always gorgeous, making it one of the best beaches in Minnesota for those who enjoy a less-crowded beach day.
4. Lake Calhoun
Lake Calhoun attracts people from the Uptown area. It is more of a hangout for the local singles. The South end of the lake is where the action is. Thomas Beach has sand volleyball courts, as well as a swimming dock.
Canoes and Kayaks may be rented at the Tin Fish concession stand on the Northern end. The only parking is over by North Beach and 32nd Beach, but it’s always crowded, so carpooling is recommended. If you enjoy people-watching and don’t mind a more crowded beach, then this is one of the best beaches in Minnesota for you.
5. Long Lake
Long Lake, Minnesota
Located in Hennepin County, Minnesota, this Lake is breathtaking. The beach is located at the Nelson Lakeside Park, which also has hiking trails, picnic areas, and plenty of things to explore.
There are only 1,700 people that live in this area, so it’s pretty much a getaway that many people enjoy instead of the most crowded beaches in Minnesota.
6. Lake Hiawatha
Lake Hiawatha is located in the Minneapolis vicinity. The lake takes up 54 acres and there are no lifeguards on duty. There is a fishing dock, pool, and plenty of tennis courts to entertain. The lake sits right alongside a golf course, which makes the entertainment factor of this area incredible.
This best beach in Minnesota also has a park that really draws a crowd in the winter too. They set up ice and hockey rinks for the locals to enjoy. The Lake has bike and walking paths, and incredible falls that make for exceptional photography shoots.
7. Pelican Lake
Breezy Point, Minnesota
Pelican Lake is located in Otter Tail County, Minnesota. This is an area where the most affluent hang out, as they have a place to dock yachts. This massive lake is 3,986 acres wide, and it got its name because of its pelican-like shape.
The Fair Hills Resort is located on the lake and brings a great deal of traffic to the area. There are no lifeguards on duty, and this highly developed area is a fishing hot spot too. So if you’re looking for a great fishing opportunity, Pelican Lake is one of the best beaches in Minnesota for you.
8. Square Lake
Located near Stillwater, Minnesota this lake is in a country area near the Twin Cities. Many people head here to learn how to scuba, as it is a favorite spot of teachers.
There is a nice sandy beach area that has a grassy area perfect for picnics. It’s on the East side of the Gateway State Trail, which makes it a nice spot for bicyclists. It costs $5 to park here, and there are no lifeguards on duty. Still, it’s a great spot right in the middle of the city area that serves as a great getaway.
9. Park Point
Duluth, Minnesota’s Lake Superior Beach, also known as Park Point is stunning. The sand dunes here are mesmerizing and the Aerial Lift Bridge is entertaining to watch. One sand bar is over six miles long.
This public beach in Minnesota has restrooms and a view of the beautiful Duluth hillside. There is free public parking and it fills up quickly. The cool water temperatures feel great on a hot day. There are lifeguards on duty during peak season.
10. Father Hennepin State Park
Hennepin State Park
Just a couple of hours north of the twin cities is this little gem. The Lake within the park is known as Mille Lacs. The best beach in Minnesota is small but pristine.
The water is always good and clean here. Bicyclists frequent this area to ride the eleven-mile Soo Line Trail. There are no lifeguards on duty here.
11. Zippel Bay on Lake of the Woods
Zippel Bay, Minnesota
The cool Canadian waters of this lake feel amazing on a hot day. Sitting in the park, guests can see 80 miles over into Kenora, Ontario.
There are two miles of white, pristine beaches. The flowers are another attraction here. They have ladies’ slippers and orchids. The stone jetty is also a big attraction that dates back to the turn of the century. If you’re looking for a beautiful view as close to the ocean as you can get with a lake, then this is the best beach in Minnesota for you.
12. Green Lake
Green Lake is home to Spicer’s big Saulsbury Beach. This active area attracts people from all over the state. Enthusiasts line up to jump from the massive towers into the water.
There is always a beach volleyball game going on, and they have lifeguards during peak seasons. This is one of the best beaches in Minnesota for you if you’re looking for a thrill.
13. Medicine Lake
Medicine Lake, Minnesota
In Hennepin County, Minnesota resides Medicine Lake. This lake area is only home to over 300 people. It’s considered a hidden gem because it is not crowded and is a great place to relax.
There are yacht clubs, as well as some of the best fishing in the state. It isn’t the best area for swimming, though.
14. Bayport-Lake Side Park
Washington County has one of the most happening waterfront beaches in Minnesota. Lake Side Park is home to festivals, horseshoe rings, volleyball games, playgrounds, and ample swimming areas.
It’s free to park and there are lifeguards on duty. Children will love the beaches here, as well as the playgrounds. The water quality is always good and there are numerous activities to keep all age groups busy.
15. Excelsior Common Beaches
Lake Minnetonka is home to the Excelsior Common Beaches. It’s just 12 miles South of Minneapolis. The sandy beaches are inviting in the warm summer months, making them some of the best beaches in Minnesota
There are no lifeguards on duty, but there is plenty of shorelines to enjoy. Lifeguards are on duty from 12 to 6 pm daily. There are many things to do in this area, like taking a ride on the Minnetonka steamboat.
16. Long Lake
Hennepin County, Minnesota
Long Lake is the hidden getaway that most people long for in Minnetonka, MN. When the other beaches are crowded, this beach usually sits deserted. There’s usually not another soul in sight, and that makes this area special.
It’s a special place to enjoy the sunshine without buildings blocking the gorgeous country view. No lifeguards and no facilities, it’s nature at its best.
17. Bryant Lake Regional Park
Eden Prarie, Minnesota
Bryant Lake has a golf course, dog park, canoe rental, and plenty of sandy beaches. It’s one of the best beaches in Minnesota visit in the summer if you want to bring your furry friends along.
There are 170 acres to explore, and the beaches are voted one of the cleanest in the state. It’s just the kind of friendly place you want to bring children for a summer excursion.
18. Lake Itasca
Park Rapids, Minnesota
Lake Itasca is one of the coolest lakes, state parks, and campgrounds in Minnesota. But the coolest thing about this great place is that it is the source of the Mississippi River.
Around the Mississippi source, you will find one of the most interesting beaches in Minnesota. It includes rocks sticking out of the water which allows you and your kids to walk across the river without getting wet, a bridge to walk across and dip your toes in, and plenty of sand the enjoy.
If you want to see this incredible site, this is the best beach in Minnesota for you.
19. Bonus for Wisconsin Readers – Big Bay State Park
La Pointe, Wisconsin
We couldn’t leave Big Bay State Park off this list, it’s just too cool! Situated on the beautiful Madeline Island, this State Park has 1.5 miles of beach area that is perfect for a day of fun. Not only is there a family campground and shelter houses for picnics, but there are hiking trails and plenty of untouched nature to observe.
The picturesque sandstone bluffs make picture-taking essential. This park is located right on the border of Wisconsin, so the park is actually located in both states. This Lake Superior beach is always clean and voted one of the best spots to see in the state.
Wrapping Up the Best Beaches in Minnesota
Are you excited to visit some of these beautiful Minnesota beaches? Whether you’re looking for a beach camping getaway with friends or a family-friendly staycation, you’re sure to have a blast swimming, fishing, and grilling around one of the best beaches in Minnesota.
Can’t get enough of Minnesota lakes? Then keep living the Minnesota lake life with the help of my info posts and guides!
Love spending time outside? Then discover the Minnesota Outdoors to continue learning new ways to reconnect with nature!
Ready for more Minnesota advice, info, and guides? Whether you’re a local or a passerby, discover the best of Minnesota that our great state has to offer!
Looking for some warm weather recommendations? Discover spring and summer in Minnesota for best destinations, travel recommendations, small (and big!) town events, and more!
- About the Author
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.