Photo courtesy Wai Nani Surf & Paddle
I went stand up paddle boarding for the first time a couple summers ago at my aunt’s house on Lake Waverly. I had my reservations at first. Me? Balancing? On water? No, thank you. But my aunt reassured me that even her young kids could do it and that it was her new favorite water sport—nothing was better than grabbing a board and going for an early morning paddle, she told us.
With that picturesque view in mind, my sister and I took two paddle boards and set off for the middle of the lake. At first, I was pretty wobbly—especially as I tried to paddle away from the dock and into a less weedy area. There was definitely no standing up for me, either. Instead, I chose to alternate between sitting and staying on my knees. My sister did the same. The lake was cool, calm, and peaceful. It wasn’t quite sunset, but it was getting later in the day and a muted sun peaked through a few clouds to the west. My sister and I talked and laughed at ourselves as we tested our balance and tried our best to paddle in a relatively straight line. My aunt was right—if you want to get out on the water, try paddle boarding.
Since then, I’ve only gone paddle boarding a few times. This summer, however, I’ve made a goal to paddle board as often as I can. Stand up paddle boards (SUPs) can get pretty expensive, but the good news is you don’t need to buy a paddle board to participate in the hobby. Paddle board rentals all over the state help make paddle boarding affordable, flexible, and easy. Check out these six paddle board rental and water destinations around Minnesota.
Bde Maka Ska
A favorite lake destination for those in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, Bde Maka Ska (also known as Lake Calhoun) is an excellent paddle boarding location. Wheel Fun Rentals, right on the shore of Bde Maka Ska, rents SUPs hourly, starting at $20 (this includes a paddle and a life jacket, of course). Other watercrafts rentals include canoes, kayaks, and pedal boats.
The Wayzata and Lake Minnetonka area is probably one of the most popular west metro destination for watercraft sports (and also waterfront dining—Lord Fletcher’s is a Lake Minnetonka favorite). Wai Nani Surf & Paddle, just across from Wayzata Beach and Shaver Park rents SUPs starting at $20 an hour which are available Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starting June 15. Besides rentals, Wai Nani also offers classes, private events, paddleboard yoga, and tours.
Minnesota Mermaid in Prior Lake, just south of the Twin Cities, has three locations around the lake: Watzl Beach, Sand Point Beach, and Charlies on Prior. Rentals are $20 for one hour, $40 for two hours or $60 for a half day. With classes, delivery options, and the frequent paddler card (every five rentals gets one hour free, or a friend can come for free), Minnesota Mermaid is a great place to start paddle boarding.
Just 30 miles west of the Twin Cities, Spokes on the shore of Lake Waconia rents paddle boards hourly, $16 for one hour and $28 for two hours. If you’re in the mood to bike, Spokes rents those, too. Make a day out of it and check out our Day Trip to Waconia for food, drink, and activity suggestions.
The widest section of the Mississippi River, Lake Pepin is located approximately 60 miles south of St. Paul and Broken Paddle Guiding is right on its shore in Wabasha. Broken Paddle Guiding is best known for their paddling tours including the Flooded Forest Tour that explores the backwaters of the Mississippi River and the Sunset Beach Tour that includes a brewery stop along the way.
Home of the Mississippi River Headwaters, Lake Itasca and Itasca State Park are a nature lover’s dream vacation spot. Rent a SUP (or bike, canoe, or kayak) at Itasca Sports on North Arm Lake Itasca starting at $15 per hour (or $60 for the whole day).
For more good stand up paddle boarding locations in Minnesota and surrounding states, check out Paddle North‘s recommendations.