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9 Best Things to do in Lake City, Minnesota

9 Best Things to do in Lake City, Minnesota

When you think about Lake City, activities like boating, fishing, and water skiing probably come to mind. But, there are many other interesting things to do in Lake City. Check out this list to find out. 

Did you know that Lake City is the place where Ralph Samuelson invented water skiing back in 1922?

Besides the thrilling water sport, Lake City has evolved into a paradise destination for sports lovers. From boating, hunting, hiking, and even golfing, you can try out any activity you like while visiting Lake City.  

Apart from offering adventurous sports and outdoor excursions, the city also has serene natural attributes and luxurious dining areas for those looking for a relaxing getaway.

With so many options to choose from, you don’t want to visit Lake City without a proper itinerary. 

Things to do in Lake City

To help you out, I have compiled this list of the best things to do in Lake City. So let’s begin. 

Why Visit Lake City 

Lake City lies right in the middle of Wisconsin and the Twin Cities. This is the reason why tourists heading towards Minnesota often ignore the place.

However, standing at the bank of Lake Pepin, the city features a beautiful landscape, rich cultural heritage, and fun attractions. 

Personally, I would list Lake City as one of the best places to visit in Minnesota. Simply because it emits lively vibes all year long.

You can visit its serene orchards to witness the autumn colors come fall. Similarly, you can indulge in winter sports if you visit during the holiday season. 

Not to mention the hustle of the street markets during late summer, and the exquisite spring festivals in March and April. 

Most importantly, you can find all kinds of accommodation from luxurious hotels to condos and even comfy village-style cottages, whatever fits your mood.

Furthermore, the city has numerous parks, museums, camping grounds, and restaurants. Additionally, the scenic riverbank keeps you entertained throughout your trip. 

This means, regardless of who you travel with, Lake City has a versatile range of activities for all. There are also several more attractive cities like Lindstrom or Taylors Falls within one to two hours drive if you want to explore more into the neighboring city. 

If you’re already getting started on your personalized itinerary, wait.

Check out this list of top things to do in Lake City to book your favorite activities beforehand. 

9 Best Things to do in Lake City

With its prime location alongside the broadest end of the Mississippi River combined with its rich cultural heritage, there are many fun things to do in Lake City.

Note: If you can make a three hour journey from Lake City, we also suggest visiting Brainerd or Fergus Falls.

Whether you seek adventure, an educational experience, or a relaxing weekend reclining in the sun, here are the nine best things to do in Lake City, Minnesota. 

See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota

Visit Lake Pepin

Lake Pepin Evening View

Lake City, Minnesota, is located near the beautiful shores of Lake Pepin. It is one of the most mesmerizing natural sites in the country. Currently, it is also being considered as a natural heritage site by UNESCO. 

Other cities around the lake include Maiden Rock, Stockholm, and Reads Landing. However, Lake City remains the largest urban settlement along with a 2-mile-wide natural broadening of the Mississippi. 

Most importantly, the lake is widely known as the ‘Birthplace of Waterskiing.’ Since the 1920s, the site has become a significant attraction for water sports lovers.

This means if you’re planning to conduct some water sports with your family, Lake Pepin will easily comprise a day or two from your Lake City itinerary

Even if you don’t want to indulge in water skiing yourself, don’t worry. You can watch the water ski competitions during the Water Ski Days in June.

Besides that, you can enjoy the beautiful view of the serene waters while relaxing on the shore or take a romantic drive across it with your loved one. 

The driveway across the Lake Pepin shore is dotted with bakeries, wineries, and local souvenir shops.

Here, you can create unforgettable memories to cherish for a lifetime. 

See Related: Scott’s Cheap Flights Review

Sightseeing at the Pearl of the Lake

The Pearl of the Lake is a picturesque boat created in memory of the Mississippi cruisers in the 1800s.

Mississippi River Cruise Flooding Casino Boat

So, if you’re in the mood for a relaxing day, you can head towards the Pearl of the Lake. Here, you can spend the day learning about its history and enjoying the view. 

The view of the sunset aboard the Pearl of the Lake is one of the best things to see in Lake City, Minnesota. The grandeur of the sunset against the sublime waters is the perfect view to enjoy with your significant other. 

Similarly, the site offers other activities like fishing and paddlewheel boating rides as well.

You can enjoy Mediterranean and American cuisine at the cozy restaurants located on the shore. 

See Related: Best Things to Do in Forest Lake, Minnesota

Go Camping

Camping is one of the best things to do in Lake City if you’re traveling with friends or kids. The city offers a wide range of nature parks which you can choose from. Make your choice based on the proximity of your lodgings, activity options, and other preferences. 

Most of these campgrounds are open all year round, every day for families to use as they please.

Moreover, they are well-managed with numerous well-marked trails. Also, they have efficient security assistance. Meaning, you can be concern-free when taking young children along. 

Hok-Si-La Municipal Park, MN

One of the ideal locations for camping in Lake City, according to my experience, is the Hok-Si-La Municipal Park.

Located only a mile away from the city, the park offers a plethora of amenities. These are bound to make your camping session fun and safe at the same time. 

According to your plan for the day, you can find tent camping areas, sleeping cabins, picnic areas, and screened shelters in the park. Similarly, the park has carefully mapped nature trails, playgrounds, and basketball courts to keep you entertained throughout the day. 

Looking to explore more in Minnesota? Check out our posts on Rochester, Red Wing, and St. Paul.  

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in St. Paul, Minnesota

Hike Through the Beautiful Nature Parks

If you’re planning to visit Lake City during a day trip from Minneapolis, then hiking is one of the best things to do in the city.

It has numerous parks with well-marked trails to choose from. 

Frontenac State Park Hiking Trail

The best part is, you can easily find a beautiful trail that fits your needs regardless of your expertise and stamina. When it comes to hiking, the Frontenac State Park is a go-to destination for most tourists in Lake City. 

The park has around 13 miles of accessible hiking trails. What’s more, you will find a mile-long handicapped-accessible path in the park as well. That’s a great perk if you’re traveling with a child or friend with special needs. 

Along with the mesmerizing views of the natural landscape, hiking through Frontenac State Park lets you experience rare wildflowers and warblers.

Frontenac Minnesota view of Lake Pepin

Similarly, make sure to take your camera along to capture the exotic birds migrating from one park to another. 

Remember, the landscape at the Frontenac State Park varies from lush forests on the western end to bluffs and hills towards the east.

Make sure you carry the right gear, such as sturdy hiking boots, trekking poles, and garters, before going for the trip. 

In case you’re looking for a beginner-friendly hiking trail, you should check out the Riverwalk.

Located adjacent to the shoreline, this hiking trail is also open for bikers and roller skaters. 

You can indulge in the multiple activities at Lake Pepin while enjoying the magnificent view of the Mississippi River.

Or, just relax and stroll comfortably on the smooth trail. 

See Related: Reasons to Visit Franconia Sculpture Park

Discover the City’s Historical Heritage

Laura Ingalls Log Cabin Sign

If you’re wondering what to see in Lake City besides its breathtaking natural views, you can discover the city’s rich historical heritage.

Most significantly, the city is the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, a famous American writer from the 17th century. 

Widely known for penning down the Little House on the Prairie series, the writer is immortalized in Lake City through an exquisite recreation of her log house. Similarly, significant landscapes and monuments that inspired her work can still be seen in Pepin, such as the Little House Wayside. 

Furthermore, you can take your children to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Historical Museum, which is open throughout the year. Apart from her personal belongings, the museum shows some rare pictures of the writer and offers guided tours describing her life and work. 


If you’re in awe of the influential writer or have children who are avid readers, this trip down memory lane is one of the ideal things to do in Lake City. 

Take a Fishing Trip at Lake Pepin

For those who want to stay away from thrilling adventure sports and physical activities, taking a fishing trip is one of the best things to do in Lake City. 

The city covers approximately seven miles of the shoreline of Lake Pepin. This means it has multiple opportunities for both amateur and professional fishermen to spend a fun day out. 

Believe it or not, the shoreline houses more than 85 species of game fish throughout the year. You can enjoy the calm waters while discovering unique fish species. Many boating guides are available for hire across the shore who can help you identify the species to make for an educational experience. 

Most importantly, you can choose from two options, shore fishing, and boat fishing. You can simply rent the essential gear from nearby fishing shacks and spend the day reclining on the river bank for shore fishing. 

Lake Peppin Boats

Want to go through the water?

Hire a boat to take you through the two major designated trout streams in the area. 

You can try out multiple fishing techniques like bobber fishing, trolling, casting, and jigging in both cases. Try teaching them to your kids if they’re interested in making the trip memorable for them. 

What’s more, the Lake Pepin shoreside frequently hosts fun fishing competitions where fishing enthusiasts from all over the country can participate. 

You can either try out your luck in one of the competitions or watch the participants bring in astounding game fish.

Either way, fishing in Lake City quickly makes for a day well-spent. 

See Related: Best Things to do in Hastings, Minnesota

Try Your Hand at Hunting

Apart from fishing, you can also go hunting for other animals in Lake City, Minnesota.

If you’re interested, find your way towards the Hiawatha Valley or the Mississippi River Valley for professional hunting services to spend your day. 

Most hunting sites in Lake City have comfortable accommodation and guided-hunt opportunities for you to choose from.

Some of the most popular hunting seasons in Lake City include the Whitetail Deer, Duck, and Turkey opportunities. 

Whitetale Deer

Similarly, the fall hunt season also includes exciting activities like small game hunting, waterfowl, and even archery. If you’re traveling towards the end of the year, you can catch the muzzleloader season in December or the firearm season in November. 

However, if you’re planning a hunting trip, make sure to book your accommodation for the right season beforehand. That’s because these places quickly get filled up or pre-booked by hunting enthusiasts. 

See Related: Best Things to do in Fergus Falls

Go Birdwatching

If activities like fishing or hunting are not your piece of cake, don’t worry.

The Lake City hosts more than a hundred bird species migrating towards the area in spring so that you can go for fun birdwatching sessions with your family. 

Most of the nature parks in Minnesota are teeming with exotic bird species at this time of the year, including thrushes, warblers, and flycatchers. One of the most popular locations for birdwatching in Lake City is the Sand Point Trail. 

It is mainly a hiking trail that leads to a sandy plain on the Lake Pepin shore. Here, you can spot all kinds of birds migrating from one spot to another. These include trumpeter swans and even bald eagles. 

Furthermore, Ohuta Park is also a famous birdwatching destination. It is ideal for a family getaway as it offers multiple accommodation options such as mobile homes so you can store your belongings and rest after a long walking session. 

The park is famous for watching Mergansers, Yellow-billed Loons, and the rare Pacific Red-Throated Loons. 

Merganser Duck

Even if you’re not traveling during the spring, you can spot Eiders and Surf Scoters during November and December as well.

If you intend to go birdwatching, make sure to take your binoculars and cameras along to record the exciting moments. 

See Related: Best Places to Eat in Duluth, MN

Indulge in Fine Dining and Nightlife

Whether you’re an adventure lover or a calm traveler, you will love to indulge in the exquisite dining and fun-filled nightlife of Lake City.

You can explore the shoreline dotted with lovely bistros, bakeries, and breweries. 

One of the most popular cafes in town is the Harbor View Cafe. However, you will have to get there early to avoid waiting in long lines. The place serves comfort food and caters to fine dining experiences set against the scenic views of the lake. 

Similarly, you can find many places to enjoy live music and art performances across Lake City. You can even meet famous folk musicians from the area if you are an avid music enthusiast.

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