If you love going to clean, sandy beaches, and haven’t been to Minneapolis for some reason, this post is a must-read. Minneapolis makes up one-half of the twin cities, and it’s the largest city in Minnesota.
The city spreads on a relatively leveled plain with the Mississippi River flowing through downtown. The 22+ lakes, lagoons, and some of the best Minneapolis beaches make it one of the most exciting places to visit in Minnesota.
Living in the City of Lakes means almost unlimited beach options and several ways to explore each one. Take a dip in the tranquil waters or enjoy the beauty from the shore and feel free to explore the beautiful waterways the way you like.
Best Beaches in Minneapolis
Minnesota, known chiefly for its fierce winters, is best explored during the spring when the weather is mild and breezy and the summer, which can get extremely hot.
During these months, parks and beaches are the best places to be in. These beaches offer numerous activities to visitors, including kayaking, fishing, canoeing, and paddle boating.
There are so many ways to enjoy the rivers and lakes in Minneapolis! But don’t worry, we’ve narrowed down a list of the best beaches in Minneapolis, so you don’t have to do too much research!
1. East Cedar Lake Beach
Away from the crowds, tucked between lush green trees, lies Cedar Lake East Beach, one of the best beaches in Minnesota. This small sandy beach is located in the lush, peaceful Cedar Lake Park, which connects with several trails extending to the western suburbs.
Also known as the “Hidden Beach” due to its secluded location and winding pathways, it was once a getaway for people who wanted a quieter alternative to the city’s more popular beach destinations.
The gorgeous Cedar Lake swimming beach offers good fishing locations, so you can always plan a fishing trip with your family or friends. If East Beach feels too crowded at any hour, you can walk to Cedar Lake South Beach, which is one of the best places to swim in Minneapolis, to relax and watch the sunset.
Although Cedar Lake East Beach has gone through many changes in the past years, it continues to be among the best lake beaches in Minneapolis and welcomes canny visitors looking for a discrete beach experience. This beach is perfect for kids and also has a dog park.
See Related: Best Things to do in Excelsior, Minnesota
2. White Sands Beach
White Sands Beach lies along the West River Parkway. It is one of the best river beaches in the Twin Cities, known for its perfectly white sands. The sand is so brilliantly white, that it looks like a streak of white paint along the riverbanks from afar. The sands look even whiter just after dawn, so it’s best to go there in the morning to get a glimpse of this.
White Sands Beach is another secluded beach, so you don’t have to worry so much about the crowds. Plus, it has a steep incline, so the trail leading down to it makes for a nice hike.
You can have a bonfire on the beach or admire the water from the shore. You can also take a five-mile hike on the nearby Winchell Trail that runs between Franklin Avenue South and East 44th Street. It’s an easy hike with a few climbs and slopes and a fence on the riverside to keep the trail safe.
See Related: Minneapolis is safe for travelers.
3. Cedar Lake South Beach
Next on our list of the best beaches to swim in Minneapolis is Cedar Lake South Beach. It is a small and secluded area, ideal for biking, jogging, and walking your pets. It is also another one of the quietest Minneapolis beaches, and that’s why it’s one of the best places to relax in the city.
During spring or summer, you can easily find a spot under the sun and admire the gorgeous lake or rent a paddleboat to explore the waters. The beach is family and pet-friendly and far enough away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but close enough to be easily accessible. The best time to visit the place is in the evening when the sun is about to set, and the sky changes colors.
See Related: Best Walking Tours in Minneapolis, Minnesota
4. Cedar Lake Point Beach
As you can see, Cedar Lake gets a lot of love from us! Point Beach is one of the three beaches along Cedar Lake and one of the twelve beaches in the Minneapolis park system. It’s situated on the west shore and allows you to experience the lake on a paddle boat or a kayak.
It’s refreshing to take a stroll along the walking path of the beach and you can always take breaks on the lakeside benches while enjoying the scenic views. You will often find fishermen reeling in bass and crappie from this stretch of Cedar Lake.
If you feel energetic, take a hike on the North Cedar Lake Regional Trail; a 4.3-mile paved path connecting with other trails around Cedar Lake.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Minneapolis
5. Lake Harriet South Beach
Lake Harriet South beach is one of the two beaches along Lake Harriet. The beach has soft, fine sand and a shallow, child-friendly coastline which makes it perfect for young ones.
The waters are also calm and not too deep, which puts the beach among the best beaches in Minneapolis for swimming. In addition to that, the beach is family-friendly and perfect for enjoying water sports, such as kayaking, canoeing, and paddle boating with your family.
Since this beach is famous throughout the city, it fills up fast on weekends. Therefore, if you are not a fan of crowds, it is better to visit on weekdays or early in the morning.
See Related: Best Things to do in Saint Paul, Minnesota
6. Lake Nokomis Main Beach
Lake Nokomis Beach is one of the best lake beaches in Minneapolis due to its location. It is counted among the most accessible swimming lakes in Minneapolis, with clean blue water and exciting activities for your whole family.
Spending a day at Nokomis Beach is always great fun. The beach offers plenty of amenities, such as a paid parking area, a picnic area, and restrooms. You can enjoy swimming in the clean and fresh water while your kids play in the nearby playgrounds with slides and swings along the coastline.
After a long day at the beach, you can head to the nearby Sandcastle restaurant for delicious food, a great view of Lake Nokomis, and of course, shade from the hot summer sun.
See Related: Things to Do in Wayzata, Minnesota
8. Bde Maka Ska
Bde Maka Ska (formerly known as Lake Calhoun) is one of the largest lakes in Minneapolis and a part of the city’s Chain of Lakes. The lake has three swimming beaches, the Bde Maka Ska 32nd Street Beach, North Beach, and Thomas Beach.
The unique Dakota name translates to White Earth Lake, referring to the light sands of the three beaches around the lake. All three beaches are open for taking a dip, and they guarantee instant refreshment. The coastline also offers numerous fun activities for families, including canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, and paddle boating.
The lake is circled by a park and several trails for walking tours and biking. You can rent beach bikes to enjoy a ride on the nearby biking path. There are multiple beach volleyball courts for you to enjoy a quick game with your friends or family.
You can also reel in various kinds of fish if you are into fishing, including black crappie, bluegill, hybrid sunfish, and largemouth bass.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Two Harbors, Minnesota
9. Lake Nokomis Park
Lake Nokomis Park, (sometimes known as the “Unknown Calhoun” among older folk) attracts smaller crowds, but it offers a wide range of amenities and activities. The park has plenty of green space to hold picnics and barbecues. There are also separate paths for walking, biking, and roller skating around the Lake.
Specific areas in the park are designated for sports. If you are a sporty person, bring a racket, football, or baseball and mitt with you to the Lake Nokomis’ sports areas.
If you are a water sports enthusiast, head to Lake Nokomis to rent canoes, kayaks, and boats. There’s great fishing too at any one of the fishing piers around the lake. While you are at it, the playground will keep your young ones busy all day long and there are conveniently located restrooms too.
You can also plan a trip with your family to the Nokomis Naturescape Garden, home to beautiful flowers and other plants native to Minnesota. Plus, the park hosts the enchanting Minneapolis Monarch Butterfly Festival every year in September.
See Related: Best Hotels in Minneapolis, Minnesota
10. Theodore Wirth Regional Park – Volleyball Courts
Theodore Wirth Regional Park is home to Wirth Lake Beach, located just off Glenwood Avenue. The beach offers walking paths and seating around the swimming area.
Wirth Lake Beach is among the best places to go swimming in Minneapolis because it has many sand volleyball courts and it hosts sand volleyball league games every year!
You will find a fishing pier just north of the beach. If you’re out fishing in the lake, expect to catch some Black Bullhead, Largemouth Bass, Walleye, White Crappie, and a variety of other species.
The Theodore Wirth Regional Park boasts a full-size playground, two golf courses, and a disc golf area. The Luce Line trail runs near Wirth Lake, along with other biking trails. You can enjoy hiking in all four seasons on these trails.
One of the best locations in the park is the Quaking Bog. Take a stroll along the floating boardwalk to explore the bog and admire the wildlife in the area. The bog is a great place to take memorable pictures of Minneapolis.
Best Beaches Near Minneapolis
If you live in Minneapolis or are staying nearby, check out these neighboring beaches that are some of my personal favorites to visit.
11. East Bush Lake Beach
Bush Lake is a clear and shallow lake famous for fishing and picnicking. East Bush Lake Beach is located about a mile away from West Bush Lake Park across the lake.
East Bush Lake offers several recreational activities for families and is a pleasant place for family picnics and swimming. You can also reel in various fish, including black bullhead, black crappie, bluegill, largemouth bass, and that toothy northern pike.
Every year, the nearby city of Bloomington hosts a sandcastle-building contest at the beach, along with many other fun activities for visitors.
See Related: Best Things to do in Hastings, Minnesota
12. Silver Lake Beach Park
Silver Lake Beach Park is spread over 260 acres of land, offering numerous attractions for visitors. The natural trails in the park stretch across the rolling landscape and give some of the most splendid looks of Silver Lake and the countryside.
Plan a picnic at the park and enjoy it under the open-air picnic tables. Go kayaking in the blue waters and admire the views and calm surroundings.
The park features a large playground, sand volleyball court, and tennis court. To cool off the heat, it offers outdoor showers, foot wash areas, and restrooms. To end your day in the perfect way, light up a charcoal grill or grab a bite at nearby restaurants.
See Related: Day Trips from Minneapolis & St. Paul (Twin Cities)
13. Hidden Falls Regional Park
Hidden alongside the Mississippi River and lined with trees is the beautiful Hidden Falls Regional Park. The park features a spring-fed waterfall, trails, a sandy beach area, and scenic picnic spots.
The place is great for spending a summer day bird watching, fishing, walking, or biking. There’s an easy hiking trail to the charming waterfall, and the walk is child-friendly, so your young ones won’t struggle if they tag along with you.
Don’t forget to take some food with you as the park features several green spaces and barbeque grills to enjoy family picnics by the river and a quiet sandy beach.
See Related: Best Things to do in Edina, Minnesota
Tips to enjoy your beach day
- Sunscreen and hats are a must! The sun can be intense in Minnesota, so make sure to protect yourself.
- Bring a picnic lunch or dinner and enjoy a meal on the beach. There are plenty of great restaurants and cafes nearby if you don’t feel like cooking.
- If you want to stay cool, bring a beach umbrella or rent a cabana.
- Many of the beaches have volleyball courts, so bring a ball and some friends and have a game.
- Don’t forget your swimsuit, towel, and flip-flops!
This list of the best beaches in Minneapolis offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a place to enjoy nature, take a walk, go swimming, or have a picnic, these parks, and lakeside areas have you covered. Each beach offers its own unique charm and attractions, so be sure to check them all out!
If you feel like visiting other close beaches in Minnesota, we suggest Lake Elmo Park Reserve where you will find a man-made swimming pond and Schulze Lake Beach in Lebanon Hills Regional Park.
How do you have a good beach day?
There are a few things you can do to make sure your beach day is enjoyable. First, be sure to pack sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. You’ll also want to bring snacks, drinks, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Don’t forget a towel and swimsuit for swimming and playing in the water. Finally, it’s always a good idea to have a plan for what you want to do at the beach so you can make the most of your time there!
What are the best beaches in Minnesota?
There are many great beaches in Minnesota, but some of our favorites include Lake Calhoun, Minnehaha Regional Park, Cedar Point Park, and Itasca State Park.
What is the best time of year to visit the beach in Minneapolis?
The best time of year to visit the beach in Minneapolis depends on what you’re looking for. If you want to swim, the summer months are the best time to go. However, if you’re just looking to enjoy the scenery and take a walk, the spring and fall months are also great times to visit.
What should I bring to the beach?
Be sure to pack sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. You’ll also want to bring snacks, drinks, and plenty of water to stay hydrated. Don’t forget a towel and swimsuit for swimming and playing in the water. Finally, it’s always a good idea to have a plan for what you want to do at the beach so you can make the most of your time there!
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