Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes; of these, the Minneapolis area enjoys more than 20 publicly accessible bodies of water offering pristine spaces to relax, exercise and escape. Whether you're into swimming, boating, skating or just sitting by the water, these lakes are some of the best in town.
Translated as "big waters" from the Dakota language, this large lake created by melting glaciers in the last Ice Age now offers more than 110 miles of shoreline to enjoy. Restaurants, charter cruise lines and several theaters merge nature and culture in a splendid setting.
4610 County Rd. 44, Excelsior, MN; lakeminnetonka.com
A sailing and swimming lake in the warmer months and an ice rink in winter, Lake Nokomis offers waterfront appeal year-round. Athletic rentals allow visitors to make use of the fields, while a fishing pier is available to reel in dinner. Paddleboarding, golfing and the Sandcastle restaurant are also popular Nokomis attractions.
4955 W. Lake Nokomis Pkwy., Minneapolis, MN; minneapolisparks.org
Bde Maka Ska
Archery, fishing and sand volleyball are just a few attractions at this beloved 401-acre lake, the largest in Minneapolis. Three-mile pedestrian and bike trails are worth visiting when the water is too cold to take a dip.
3000 Bde Maka Ska Pkwy., Minneapolis, MN; minneapolisparks.org
Lake of the Isles
Both pier and shore fishing are options at this gorgeous lake that welcomes more than five million visitors annually. A dog park, exercise path, canoe launch, ice rink and hockey rink offer additional diversions.
2500 Lake of the Isles Pkwy. East, Minneapolis, MN; minneapolisparks.org
Free concerts and movies are reason enough to flock to the Lake Harriet band shell on summer evenings, but while the sun is still up, lovers of the outdoors can enjoy two beaches plus canoe, kayak, bike, boat and paddleboard rentals. A quiet walking path also offers space to relax onshore.
4135 W. Lake Harriet Pkwy., Minneapolis, MN; minneapolisparks.org