Minnesota is one of the best states in the country. It’s full of down-to-earth people living the small town life, but still has plenty of big cities that offer opportunities for all. Forest Lake combines both of these dreams. It’s far enough north of the Twin Cities to give you some privacy, while also being close to Minneapolis and St. Paul for everything else. Here’s some of the best things to do in Forest Lake MN.
21 Things To Do In Forest Lake MN
Keys Café & Bakery – For a tasty breakfast in a casual setting, visit Keys Café on Broadway Avenue. Open seven days a week, they offer oatmeal, rolls, pancakes and waffles, and egg dishes you’ll love. If breakfast isn’t your thing, they also serve sandwiches, soups, salads, and chili for lunch. When you’re looking for something to fill you up, check out their pasta and burger entrées.
The Old Log Cabin Restaurant – When you’re in need of a hearty lunch or dinner option, stop in at The Old Log Cabin Restaurant on Scandia Trail N. Their menu features a wide range of choices to suit everyone in your party. Start off with a tasty appetizer of wings, nachos, or artichoke dip. There are a variety of salads for those who like to keep it light. They also offer sandwiches and burgers, or dinner meals with beef, pork, chicken, or seafood.
Don Julio’s Mexican Restaurant – If you’re looking to spice things up, head over to Don Julio’s Mexican Restaurant on Lake Street S. Celebrate happy hour or taco Tuesday with their menu specials. They offer all the items you expect including nachos, quesadillas, combination plates, soups and salads, fajitas, and plates featuring steak, chicken, or seafood.
Lakeside Park – It just wouldn’t be a Minnesota city without a lake! At the northwestern edge of Forest Lake, on East Broadway Avenue is Lakeview Park. This beautiful area gives you access to a boat dock with lake access, gazebo, grill, benches, picnic shelters, a playground, and more. Enjoy a day on the lake or simply gather together and have a barbecue with family and friends.
Clear Lake – The second largest lake in town, Clear Lake, has a one acre park nearby. This offers a large, mowed open space for kids to run around or play sports. There is also a basketball court and a playground with swings.
Hardwood Creek Wildlife Refuge – When you need to step away and reconnect with nature, visit Hardwood Creek. This wildlife refuge encompasses 583 acres of planted prairies, wooded wetlands, and wooded upland islands. Go hunting in the fall for deer, bear, small game, and birds. You can also try out skiing, snowshoeing, and the snowmobiling trail in the winter.
Punchout Gaming – Kids have loved video games since they were first invented. Help your child discover their new favorite game at Punchout Gaming on Lake Street South. They sell new and used games for Atari, Sega, PlayStation, XBOX, Nintendo, Gameboy, Wii, and more. You can also rent a virtual reality gaming station and let your kids try something new.
Splitrocks Entertainment Center – Just four miles north in Wyoming is Splitrocks Entertainment Center. In under 10 minutes you can have the kids burning off their extra energy in the bowling alley or arcade. They also offer a full-service menu of pizza, burgers, chicken, steak, and salads for when the group gets hungry. When it comes to celebrating your child’s next birthday or other big milestone, Splitrocks can help you plan the perfect event.
Forest Lake Community Pool – Located inside the Southwest Junior High School is a community swimming pool that’s open year-round. Its shallow end is just 3.5 feet deep and features six lanes that are each 25 yards long. Adults pay a small admission fee and must be in the water with any children under 50″ tall. Gendered locker rooms are available with showers to rinse off before and after swimming, lockers to store dry clothes, and restrooms.
4th of July – Grab your red, white, and blue and get ready for the multi-day Independence Day celebration. Every year there is a parade featuring local schools, businesses, and groups. The carnival has tons of rides and tasty snacks to enjoy the summer. You can also count on plenty of live music and a beautiful fireworks display over Forest Lake.
Arts in the Park – Take advantage of Minnesota’s short summers by getting out on Tuesday nights for Arts in the Park. The weekly farmer’s market has all the produce and baked goods you could ever want! Between the live music concert series, local vendors, craft fair, and children’s activities, there’s something for everyone in the family to enjoy.
Hometown Holiday – No matter how cold it gets, Minnesotans will still celebrate the holiday season in style! Every year, right around Thanksgiving, you can attend the tree lighting ceremony downtown at Lakeside Park. Then, stop by later for the perfect photo op! You can also take the kids to see Santa, Mrs. Claus, and their reindeer, also at Lakeside Park. And don’t forget to shop local for all your gift-giving needs!
Living Well Boutique – When you’re looking for a special gift for any woman in your life (or even just yourself!) take a visit to Living Well Boutique on Lake Street S. This cute shop has tons of great items including candles, jewelry, drink mugs, clothing, and home decor. Plus, your purchase supports women-owned businesses and charities from all over.
FXR Racing – If your idea of fun involves snow, motorcycles, or fishing, FXR Racing will be your favorite store in town. The factory outlet super store on 11th Avenue SW has tons of snow gear like helmets, goggles, and jackets. Motorcycle enthusiasts will find jackets and pants, footwear, and gloves. For a day on the lake, check out their rain gear, ice fishing clothing, and bags for all your lures and bait.
Forest Lake Cycle & Skate – For those who love to go fast, Forest Lake Cycle & Skate has got you covered. Located on N Lake Street, this shop has everything you need for fun on wheels including bikes, clothes, helmets, and shoes. They also have a hockey shop on 206th Street N that sells hockey sticks, skates, and more. Plus, you can have professional fittings completed to ensure you get the right size skates.
Forest Lake 5 Theater – Catch the latest new releases at the Forest Lake 5 Theater on South Lake Street. Save a couple bucks on Tuesdays when all tickets are just $5.50. There are also occasional retro titles for $5. Before you pick your seat, don’t forget to grab a snack at the concession stand. They offer all your favorites including popcorn, nachos, candy, and soda.
Best Defense Armory & Range – Practice your shot at the Best Defense Armory & Range on 8th Avenue Southwest. This all-new facility features a standard public gun range with seven lanes and a 25 yard maximum distance. There are also three VIP tactical shooting lanes for more experienced visitors. There’s even a virtual reality room to practice live, digital firing emulating real-world scenarios or just taking out zombies.
Rendezvous Retreats – When you need to get away for a break, or want to invite all your friends to town, Rendezvous Retreats offers a comfortable and charming Craftsman home in Forest Lake for a variety of needs. From bachelorette parties, to kids’ craft events, and scrapbooking workshops, anything you can think of can be accommodated. There’s even a bed & breakfast option for out-of-town guests.
Forest Hills Golf Club – Have a relaxing afternoon on the links at the Forest Hills Golf Course. The gorgeous landscaping features 18 holes suitable for all athletes to enjoy. Set your tee time and prepare your scorecard for a day of fun. You can also stop by The Golf Shop if you’re in need of a new outfit or clubs to enhance your skills. They feature top golf brands including Callaway, Ping, Titleist, and more.
Running Aces Casino – Just across the city lines in Columbus is Running Aces Casino, Hotel & Racetrack. They offer a variety of ways to play including poker, blackjack, baccarat, and Texas Hold ‘Em. Open 24/7, they also offer food and drink menus and live entertainment. Live horse racing is scheduled every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday at 6:05 pm from mid-May through mid-September.
Hardwood Creek Regional Trail – Take a walk, ride your bike, or rollerblade down the Hardwood Creek Regional Trail. This paved path runs north and south for 9.5 miles through the middle of Forest Lake. With three parking lots and plenty of intersections, you can hop on almost anywhere and explore to your heart’s content. Pop in your earbuds or chat with a friend while you enjoy some exercise and the scenic views of Forest Lake.
Whether you’re a local resident looking for something new to try, a visitor who wants to see all that Forest Lake has to offer, or are considering relocating to this great city, there’s certainly no shortage of things to do in Forest Lake MN. No matter your budget, age, or gender, this town has a lot to do that will suit your interests. Plus, it has the great advantage of being just 30 minutes north of the Cities. So even if your hobbies are extremely niche, you’re not too far away from the fun you crave while still enjoying a quieter, small town life.
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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.