Five Favorite Twin Cities Beaches

Canoe rentals, lakeside eats, and more await at these five beaches


With the official start of summer just around the corner on June 21, beaches throughout the Twin Cities are beginning to open for the season, offering locals some of the best spots to soak up the sun and cool off in the water. Living in the land of 10,000 lakes, however, draws an overwhelming number of possibilities on which beaches to explore. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with five can’t-miss beaches to visit over the next few months!

Shady Oak Beach

Located just west of the Twin Cities, Shady Oak Beach is a hidden gem for Minnetonka and Hopkins locals as a clean, spring-fed lake with amenities including a high-dive, play areas for kids of all ages, and a shaded patio. Shady Oak offers free life jackets and paddle jumpers as well as canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals. The summer season kicks off June 8 with daily passes available at $6 or season passes available for $13.

Bde Maka Ska Park

Formerly known as Lake Calhoun, Bde Maka Ska is Minneapolis’ largest lake and undoubtedly a favorite among locals in the area. Go for a stroll around the paved pathways, grab a bite to eat at lakeside restaurant Lola’s on the Lake, or lounge around at any of the three sandy beaches as sailboats drift by. The park offers canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, and pedal boats rentals, and on land, you can rent bikes for the paved trails that make a 3.1-mile lap around the lake. Runners and pedestrians frequent the area, too, and a couple of beach volleyball courts, uninterrupted green space, and shady trees provide more spots for recreation. Bde Maka Ska is open to the public from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Square Lake Park

Just north of Stillwater, Square Lake Park is known for having some of the clearest waters in the state, making it a favorite spot for swimming and scuba diving. Those who enjoy fishing can spend their day on the pier as the lake is home to a wide variety of fish including Rainbow Trout, Northern Pike, and Largemouth Bass. The park is open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and offers daily vehicle permits for $7 or annual permits starting at $30.

Afton State Park

Nestled in Hastings’ scenic bluffs overlooking the St. Croix River, Afton State Park offers a tranquil beach setting that nature-lovers are sure to enjoy. Winding trails great for hiking or biking, overlook points of the valley, and several fishing spots make this prairie landscape the perfect spot for a camping trip. Afton State Park is open every day from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., offering daily parking permits for $7 or annual parking permits for $35.

Weaver Lake Beach and Park

Located northwest of Minneapolis, Maple Grove’s Weaver Lake Beach is known for its vast grassy areas, large lakeside patio, and fun atmosphere. The park offers many family-friendly amenities including tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, yard games, and two playground areas. Weaver Lake is open to the public from noon to 7 p.m. daily and will have lifeguards on duty beginning in early June through August.

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