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12 Best Beaches in Minnesota to Visit

Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes. If you’re someone who has a fondness for being around the water, you’ll love it there. Many hobbyists flock to the lakes throughout the state to partake in fishing, kayaking, and some much-needed relaxation.

Apart from the Twin Cities, Minnesota is also known for its beautiful sandy beaches along the scenic North Shore. Minnesota may not be the first place you think of when talking about the best beaches, but there are some waterside locales there that are well worth visiting.

In this article, we’ve highlighted some of the top beaches in Minnesota because that’s the best way to enjoy the summer like a true Minnesotan.

We’ve also included some important details about each beach so you know what to expect once you’re there. Read on and find out more about the best beaches in Minnesota!

Best Minnesota Beaches to Visit

1. Afton State Park Beach

lone ion the left side, with foliage all around and blue sky with big white clouds in the back

To get things started, let’s take a closer look at Afton State Park. It’s found along the eastern side of Minnesota in Washington County and it’s a pretty fun location to explore.

Before you even get to the beach, you can check out the visitor center. Many visitors head there if they want to have a meal before heading out to visit the rest of the park.

Sprawling trails crisscross this wonderful park beach. Bridges are in place to connect the trails so feel free to check out the locations that catch your eye. You can also hike to the overlook and take in the majesty of your surroundings.

Upon finally arriving at the beach, jump in and go for a swim! The water is typically shallow and calm. It’s a safe spot for your kids and there’s a picnic area close by so you can keep an eye on them.

You can also rent a boat to explore the waters better, but that’s all you’re getting in terms of rental options. There are also campgrounds in Afton State Park. Go ahead and stay over for the night if you want to make the most out of your vacation.

See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota

2. Bear Head Lake State Park

Boundary Waters Canoe in Minnesota

Bear Head Lake State Park can be found in Saint Louis County and it’s also pretty close to the Boundary Waters region. Simply put, Bear Head Lake State Park features one of the most breathtaking beaches in the entire country.

This beautiful state park beach offers stunning views of the sunset or sunrise and the verdant trees in the park. The beauty of the surrounding area will keep you coming back.

Bear Head Lake State Park offers more than just beautiful scenery though. Rent a canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard there so you can explore the area better. When it comes to campsites, you have a few options to choose from. You can set up a tent and use one of the campsites in the park.

Alternatively, you can rent out the camper cabin and enjoy a somewhat more luxurious vacation there. It’s kind of like your own personal hotel located deep in the wilderness of Minnesota.

See Related: Best Things to do in Minnetonka, Minnesota

3. Big Bog State Recreation Area

part of the mile-long boardwalk inside the park with the boardwalk in the foreground and foliage in the background

Big Bog State Recreation Area is another of the nicer beaches in Minnesota. This area found just to the north of Waskish Minnesota boasts a varied collection of attractions that are well worth seeing and experiencing in person.

Let’s start with the beaches in the area. What we like so much about them is that they cater to visitors of all ages and skill levels. There are safe and shallow spots that are ideal for kids. For the more advanced swimmers, there are deeper areas that allow you to walk into the water.

Ride the water after renting a canoe, kayak, or paddleboard. That should allow you to experience the beach in a whole new way.

Big Bog State Recreation Area also offers different kinds of accommodations to guests. You and your family can make use of the available campgrounds or stay in one of the camper cabins.

The camper cabins provide electricity, fire pits, and vault toilets. If this is your first time going camping with your family, you may want to rent one of the camper cabins.

See Related: Best & Fun Things to Do in Minneapolis, MN

4. Black Beach

scenic view of the beach, with rock formation at the back with foliage and water in the front of the beach

Are you looking for black sand beaches in Minnesota? You won’t have a wide selection to choose from, but you can head over to the Black Beach on Minnesota’s North Shore which on its own is one of the best things to do in Minnesota by far.

There are some pictures online that showcase the Black Beach but there’s nothing like seeing it in person. The black grains of sand on the shore create a scene that looks like it was ripped out of a sci-fi movie. And yet, there you are, experiencing it in person.

The rocky terrain surrounding the Black Beach only adds to its unique charm. Stay safe if you decide to climb those rocky formations though.

Although there are picnic tables on the beach, you won’t find much else in terms of amenities. Parking can also be a bit troublesome because of how small the area is. Consider those factors before paying a visit to this black sandy beach.

See Related: Tettegouche State Park Travel Guide

5. Camden State Park

front view of a stream in the park with some foliage at the back, stream water at the front

Camden State Park is one of the must-visit beaches in southern Minnesota. It all starts with the accommodations. You won’t have to contend with other guests over lodgings if you decide to stay for a while in Camden State Park, as there are numerous options available.

Stay in the group campgrounds if you’re traveling with a large party. Have fun relaxing there and enjoy a meal using the picnic tables provided.

The upper campgrounds in Camden State Park are suitable for those bringing the RV if you own one.

Park your RV there then head out to enjoy all that the beach has to offer.

You and your family can also stay in the enclosed shelter if you want to stay somewhere more comfortable.

The beach itself is accessible to all guests. You may find it a bit lacking if you’re an avid swimmer, but it’s a great swimming beach for kids.

Head over to the spring-fed pool in the park if you want to swim around more. Canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals are also available for those looking to have fun along the water.

See Related: Best Parks in Minneapolis

6. Fort Snelling State Park

semi aerial view of the curve of the lake, with lake water at front and foliage at both sides

Located along the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers, Fort Snelling State Park features one of the top beaches in Minnesota. Get all your preparations out of the way as you prepare for a fun weekend in Fort Snelling State Park.

The beach that spans Snelling Lake is truly one of the most stunning you’ll find anywhere in the state. You also won’t have to wait for a spot on the shore to open up because this is an especially wide beach.

Also, note that Snelling Lake Beach is handicap-accessible. Lifeguards are also on standby to keep watch over the folks having fun under the sun.

Fort Snelling State Park’s Picnic Island is where you and your family can go once you’ve had your fill of fun for the day. The shelters there are handicap-accessible and they also feature electricity.

See Related: Best Parks in St. Paul, Minnesota

7. Glacial Lakes State Park

scenic view of the park with grass at the forefront and back, a partial view of the lakewater at  the middle

This list of the top beaches in Minnesota continues with Glacial Lakes State Park. You can find this place close to Starbuck; one of the best beach towns in Minnesota! We can discuss Starbuck some other time though. For now, let’s focus on Glacial Lakes State Park.

The beach found inside the park is not for beginners. It gets very deep in certain spots and the drop-off is not always obvious. Keep your kids close to the coastline if you’re letting them swim. Consider renting a kayak or canoe instead if you and your kids want to traverse the waters in Glacial Lakes State Park.

Stand-up paddleboards are also available but don’t use them unless you have prior experience. Secure protection for yourself and your kids beforehand so you’re prepared no matter what happens.

The campgrounds in the park are well-maintained and handicap-accessible. You can also park your RV there if you brought it along for the trip. When it gets chilly at night, buy some firewood from the attendants and cozy up next to the fire.

See Related: Cascade River State Park Travel Guide

8. Hayes Lake State Park

a small boat and sign at the forefront with green and even land with the blue lakewater the ate back

You can find numerous lake beaches in Minnesota. Among the best you can find in the North Star State is undoubtedly Hayes Lake State Park.

Situated in the northwestern portion of Minnesota, Hayes Lake State Park is one of the best-maintained natural locales anywhere in the state. That becomes evident right away as you check out the fishing pier and boat access in the area.

The beach is also perfect for families paying a visit. There’s more than enough space on the sand for kids to play around in and there are plenty of shallows too.

You can also rent a kayak or canoe and row together with your children. That’s a great way to spend the day in Hayes Lake State Park.

See Related: Frontenac State Park Travel Guide

9. Itasca State Park

Lake at Itasca State Park

It’s time to take a trip to Itasca State Park next. Head to the park in your RV and get ready to have one of the most enjoyable outdoor weekends ever. There are so many reasons why this beach located to the north of Park Rapids, Minnesota is worth visiting.

Let’s start with the beach. Get into the water and relax as you absorb the beautiful scenery around you. A beach is also a great place for any kids who are looking to let some energy loose.

If you want to go exploring, hop on a bike and ride through the trail that goes through the park. You can also explore this place by hitching a ride on the tour boat.

Upscale accommodations are also available in Itasca State Park. Staying in the Douglas Lodge is an incredible experience in itself. Itasca State Park presents visitors with one of the top beaches in Minnesota and so much more. Plan a vacation there and you certainly won’t regret it!

See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota

10. Lake Shetek State Park

panoramic view of a small road leading to another island at the back with lake water at  both sides

It’s time to take a trip back to the southwestern region of Minnesota. This time around, we’re doing so to learn more about Lake Shetek State Park.

After visiting there, you may come to know Lake Shetek State Park as one of the best lake beaches in Minnesota. Lake Shetek State Park features multiple beaches. If you cannot find a good spot along the sandy shore, take a trip around the area. There will likely be a less populated beach close by.

The aforementioned locale also presents visitors with multiple accommodation options. Splurge for a camping cabin or a private campsite if you so choose. You can also check out the spacious group campsites if you’re looking to save some money.

See Related: Best Van Camping Equipment

11. McCarthy Beach State Park

McCarthy Beach State Park has a special place in the hearts of many Minnesotans. It’s been considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Minnesota for decades. You’ll have a tough time finding people who grew up in Saint Louis County and who haven’t been to McCarthy Beach.

The beach is an ideal hangout spot for families. The water is not too deep so your kids can safely swim around in it. Boats are also available to rent if you’re interested. You can also rent a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard if you so choose.

The campgrounds in McCarthy Beach State Park are quite large.

It’s easy to find a suitable camping spot for your family and you don’t even have to pay a premium for it.

See Related: Best Things to do in Nisswa, Minnesota

12. Scenic State Park

view of a lake

Our last entry into this article detailing the must-visit beaches in Minnesota can be found in none other than Scenic State Park.

Scenic State Park is not just a place where you can hang out during the summer. It’s also a location steeped in history. Pay a visit there and marvel at the ingenuity of the people who came before us, both native and European pioneer.

It’s also tough to come up with a better name for Scenic State Park. Regardless of where you are in the park, you will be treated to some stunning views.

Stay in one of the available cabins or set up your tent in one of Scenic State Park’s many camping areas. Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards are also made available to those who want to see more of the park.

Hop in your rental car now because you don’t want to miss out on that tourist hotspot. Now that you know more about the beaches in Minnesota, you should be able to pick out the right vacation spot for your family. Truth be told though, there is no wrong option there for you to choose.

See Related: Best Things to do in Victoria, Minnesota

13. Carlos State Park Beach

If you’re looking for a beautiful beach to relax on while in Carlos State Park, look no further than Carlos State Park Beach. This secluded beach is located just a short walk from the main parking area and offers stunning views of the ocean.

The sand at Lake Carlos state park is clean and white, and the water is crystal clear. There are plenty of beach chairs and umbrellas available for rent, and there are also several restaurants and bars located nearby. If you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach, Carlos State Park Beach is the perfect spot.

See Related: Best Beaches in St. Thomas for Snorkeling

14. Flandrau State Park Beach

If you’re looking for a beautiful and secluded beach to relax on, Flandrau State Park Beach is the perfect spot. Nestled in a quiet corner of the state park, the beach offers stunning views of the coastline.

Flandrau is also a great place to enjoy a variety of water sports, including stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing. And if you’re looking for a challenge, the hiking trails through the nearby woods are worth exploring.

So whether you’re looking to relax on the beach or get your heart racing, Flandrau State Park Beach is a great destination for any traveler.

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