So, you’re heading out to Prior Lake for some fun things? This popular tourist destination is located on the southern edge of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul. Established in 1891, Prior Lake is one of the oldest cities in Minnesota. Long before that, it was home to the Dakota people, including the local Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community.
Now, the city is home to 55 different parks, a Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux reservation, top bars, restaurants, hotels, and shops, and two casinos among its best attractions to discover and explore.
Prior Lake offers all kinds of things to do every season. From prime fishing to cultural landmarks and art to good food, you’ll find it here. Keep reading for more information on the top things to do in Prior Lake!
Things to Do in Prior Lake, Minnesota
1. Spend a day boating on Prior Lake
One of the best things to do in Prior Lake is to enjoy the namesake lake! Prior Lake includes the Upper and Lower lakes that meet at the city center. The total lake is almost 20 miles in length, giving you plenty of space to enjoy the water and beach areas.
If you have a boat, you can dock your boat on Upper Prior Lake at the Knotty Oar Marina. If you don’t own your own vessel, stop by to rent a pontoon. At the other end of Lower Prior Lake, you can rent or dock at Your Boat Club.
When you’re ready to set off, there are several public boat launches all around the lake. Some favorite locations include Sand Point Boat Launch on Lower Prior Lake and Dewitte Public Access on Upper Prior Lake. Others have drive-up water access, but these are the nicest with cement ramps.
Besides boating, you can try any of the numerous other water activities. You can take your kids swimming at Sand Point Beach or Waztl’s Beach. Or perhaps you want to relax with your partner on the beach while enjoying the view. There are also several places in town to rent water toys like SUPs, kneeboards, jet skis, and more!
See Related: Things to Do in Minneapolis
2. Go Fishing on Prior Lake
Another way to enjoy Prior Lake and the surrounding smaller lakes within the city limits is to go fishing. The area is known for the quality fishing conditions and variety of fish that are always stocked.
Ask around for specific spots to find a variety of fish, including largemouth bass, northern pike, and walleyes. You can also choose from six designated public fishing sites around the city. Grainwood Crossing Park and Sand Point Beach offers great fishing on Lower Prior Lake.
These two spots – and the Raymond Avenue Park site on Spring Lake – are an easy walk from a parking lot. Other options like Crystal Lake, Little Prior Lake, and Jeffers Fish Pond locations are great, but they are a short hike from parking areas.
See Related: Best Things to do in Eden Prairie, Minnesota
3. Hit the Links at The Wilds Golf Club or The Meadows at Mystic Lake
Of course, not all activities must occur on the water! Another favorite pastime in Prior Lake, Minnesota, is golfing. Two excellent golf courses include The Wilds Golf Club or The Meadows at Mystic Lake.
The Wilds is a private golf club designed by famed golfer Tom Weiskopf. You can choose membership packages, or you can simply book a tee time at the practice facility in advance. They have a special indoor simulator that you can book as well!
The Meadows at Mystic Lake is part of the grounds run by the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community. This stunning, pristine property includes a sprawling casino hotel and event center. Select from a series of daily rates and book your reservations in advance. Don’t forget to stop by the Pro Shop for all your golfers’ needs and enjoy a meal at the Meadows Bar and Grille.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Forest Lake, Minnesota
4. Hit the Snowmobile Trails
With over 22,000 snowmobile trails across the state, Prior Lake is one of the safest places you can ride. The Prior Lake Snowmobile Association has received The American Council of Snowmobile Association’s “Snowmobile Friendly Community” award, so you can rest assured that you and your family will have a fun and safe ride around Prior Lake!
The local branch keeps the trails clean, but you can always check their websites for trail updates. There aren’t any snowmobile rental companies in Prior Lake, so bring your own.
Be sure to plan in advance before you participate. Consider first becoming a club member and perhaps taking a safety training course online or in the classroom.
Once you have checked those things off your list, you can go on fun rides and trips. Enjoy family-friendly outings and meet others who enjoy snowmobiling in the area.
See Related: Best Skiing Resorts in Minnesota
5. Strap on Your Ice Skates
Another favorite winter activity at Prior Lake, Minnesota, is ice skating! You can choose from the outdoor ice rinks around the city or head to Dakotah! Sports and Fitness Center. They have an Ice Center that’s open all year round.
The Ice Center houses the local high school hockey teams and youth hockey associations. The online calendar lists designated open skate times and adult open hockey times. You can even sit in on a team game if you like! Both figure skates and hockey skates are available at the Ice Center.
In Dec the Lakefront outdoor ice rinks and warming house open as soon as it’s cold enough. Check it out, or keep an eye out for more rinks to be set up at parks around the lake.
See Related: Things to do in Lake City, Minnesota
6. Head to the Casinos in Prior Lake
If you enjoy gambling, check out Prior Lake’s two casinos. Both the Little Six Casino and the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel are on the northern side of the city.
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community runs both casinos. Indian gaming is an important way for the Dakota people to provide independence and economic stability in their community. You can play blackjack at Little Six, have fun at bingo, or try your luck at a variety of slot games. When you’re hungry, head to the Little Six Restaurant.
They offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as a full bar. If you’re local, take a free shuttle to the casino. Little Six and Mystic Lake offer several different pick-up locations, including Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and outside the Mall of America in Bloomington.
Over at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, you can choose from blackjack, slots, bingo, and pull tabs. As Minnesota’s largest casino, and about the most popular place in town for adults, there are more than games to entertain you here!
You may head to the spa for a full range of treatments, golf at the Meadows, or check out a show with headliners like Marie Osmond or Penn & Teller! And don’t forget to book your stay in a luxury hotel room.
7. Enjoy Prior Lakes’ Many Parks
Check out the city’s 55 beautiful parks for some of the best things to do in Prior Lake, Minnesota! While the major ones are Sand Point Beach Park, Spring Lake Regional Park, and Lakefront Park, you’ll find parks of all sizes across the city limits.
For a kid-friendly fun destination, head to Eagle Brook Park or Summit Ridge Park, which has playgrounds and ziplines! Over half of the parks have walking or hiking trails. You can also fish on the docks at Grainwood Crossing Park and Crystal Lake Park, and then grill up some lunch near the picnic tables.
Lakefront Park has all the amenities you can think of. In the winter, you and your folks can go sledding or ice skating. You can visit the skate park or go kayaking and canoeing in warmer weather. Plus, there are a variety of courts for ball sports and tons of walking trails.
Sand Point Beach has all the beachy, summery fun you can think of. You can play volleyball or lawn games, use the boat launch, jump in a kayak, or fire up a grill on the beach!
8. Enjoy Lakefront Park Events
We mentioned some of Lakefront Park’s events before, but we can’t emphasize them enough. This large park is the epicenter for many Prior Lake events throughout the year.
Go to the community events page, and you will start to see Lakefront Park popping up all over. In the spring, take the family to Lakefront Park for the Muddy Buddy Run.
This is a fun, kid-friendly obstacle course event with a mud pit! In the summer, there are all kinds of events. Enjoy an outdoor concert one Friday each in May, June, and July.
The kids will love the coin carnival, where they can use any coin for a game! The Lakefront Music Fest is a huge 2-day event in July with a lineup of entertainment. In August, Lakefront Days offers a fun carnival and rides.
In the winter, the park has the DecemBRRR Dazzle! where you can meet Santa and his reindeer, admire ice sculpting presentations, and watch fireworks.
Other winter activities include toasty bonfires, ice skating, or enjoying a hot seasonal meal or beverage. For even more fun, sign up for the Polar Plunge at Sand Point Beach!
See Related: Best Minnesota State Parks
9. Go Shopping on Main Avenue
If you need some retail therapy, shop at the boutiques on Main Avenue. One great option is Blond T’s Boutique close to Dakota St. They offer affordable women’s apparel in cute designs, unique home goods, and all kinds of accessories and gifts. It is a great shopping spot to stop by.
You can also stop by Leuer on the corner of Main Avenue and Erie Avenue. This high-end boutique has an extensive selection of clothing for adults and children. You might even find some home goods and holiday gifts here as well.
If you’re on Main Avenue on Saturday morning, look for the Prior Lake Farmers Market. They’re outdoors on Main Avenue from May through November, and they move indoors during the winter.
You can buy from local vendors while you listen to live music. Find everything from Minnesota maple syrup and handmade candy to fresh produce and hot coffee.
10. Visit a Brewery
Make sure you make time to stop by Boathouse Brothers Brewing Co. on Main Avenue. You can’t miss them with their blue sign across the front of the building. Inside, the ambiance makes you want to come back! It’s a lot of fun, there’s frequently live music, and the staff is welcoming to visitors.
One of the most memorable decorations is the booths made from boat seats! If you look around, you’ll see more boat themes with nautical pictures, propellers, floats, rope, and boats hanging from the ceiling.
The brewery is among the best in Minnesota and is always active, and the taproom is open seven days a week. A local favorite is their IPA on tap, paired with the delicious pizza. Even though their food menu is small, coming here is an experience you won’t soon forget!
11. Grab a Bite to Eat
For more great places in town to gather for a good drink or meal, consider Edelweiss Bakery! This family-owned bakery located on Main Avenue and Dakota St offers sweet and savory baked goods and sandwiches. The quiche and chocolate croissants are local favorites.
Another delicious location is PLate on Main, right on the corner of Pleasant Street. They serve American fare, including steak and seafood, with top-notch presentation and strong cocktails!
You can’t visit Prior Lake without enjoying a meal with a lakeside view at Charlie’s on Prior! Choose from any of their American classics, like the deep-fried avocado appetizer and fish tacos, while taking in the floor-to-ceiling window views of the water. In the summer, you can enjoy live music, dancing, and balcony dining.
12. Take the Kids to Playworks
If you are traveling with young kids, visit Playworks for indoor fun. This childcare center for children six weeks to 12 years old provides all types of care right in Dakotah! Sports and Fitness Center. Drop the kids off to play while you work out, hit the slots, or go ice skating.
If you want to spend some quality time doing something the kids will love, join them in the Atrium for Family Play. Watch the kids tumble around in soft gym equipment and ball pits or play arcade-style games, then grab a meal at the Playworks Cafe.
13. Take in Local Theater
To wind down after a busy day, check out The Prior Lake Players. This fun group of volunteers put on a local theater for the community.
Their repertoire includes shows like Annie, Charlotte’s Web, and The Importance of Being Earnest. You can find them near Markley Lake on Credit River Road on the south side of Prior Lake.
See Related: Best Minneapolis Murals to Visit
14. Attend a Pow Wow
The Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community Grounds is home to many of the businesses in Prior Lake, providing a large portion of employment in the city. The culture and history of the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux are an important part of Prior Lake.
Every year in August, the community hosts a Wacipi, or Pow Wow, which is one of the best things to do in Prior Lake, Minnesota. Join the celebration of Dakotah’s history and culture by attending the 3-day event.
This opportunity is a fantastic way to learn about the area’s history, teach your children about American history and various cultures, or perhaps celebrate your own ancestry. You can find the Wacipi grounds just north of the Mystic Lake Casino Hotel.
See Related: Best Things to do in Cottage Grove, Minnesota
15. Attend a Local Event in Prior Lake
If you’re looking for last-minute things to do or planning a trip to Minnesota, check the city calendar for recent updates. Some of the best things to do in Prior Lake are the community events throughout the year!
The community celebrates dozens of occasions, but one of the most notable events is the 4th of July celebration. It starts with a boat parade and ends with a fireworks display. There’s nothing like seeing fireworks reflected across the length of the lake at night!
Another unforgettable city event is Chalk Fest in the fall! Anyone can join in on the fun, creating works of art on the streets of Main Avenue in Prior Lake. The 2-day event draws families and professional artists alike. There are contests, live art demonstrations, music, and food trucks.
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