1. Lake of the Isles, 2. Lake Vermilion, 3. Lake Harriet, 4. Lake Pepin, 5. Bde Maka Ska, 6. Mille Lacs Lake, 7. Lake Superior, 8. Rainy Lake, 9. Gull Lake, 10. Leech Lake, 11. Lake Minnetonka, 12. Deer Lake, 13. Lake Nokomis, 14. Lake Itasca. It should come as no surprise that one of Minnesota's most notable features is its abundance of lakes given that the state is known as the "Land of 10,000 Lakes." In fact, the state has over 6,500 natural rivers and an astounding 11,842 lakes. In Minnesota, there are countless lakes to choose from. Furthermore, it can be challenging to identify the ones that stick out among the rest. Here is a list of the best lakes to visit in Minnesota.
- Lake of the Isles
- Lake Vermilion
- Lake Harriet
- Lake Pepin
- Bde Maka Ska
- Mille Lacs Lake
- Lake Superior
- Rainy Lake
- Gull Lake
- Leech Lake
- Lake Minnetonka
- Deer Lake
- Lake Nokomis
- Lake Itasca
Lake of the Isles
A city lake, Lake of the Isles is undoubtedly the calmest and most serene lake in Minneapolis (and probably the coolest lake in the entire state of Minnesota). You should incorporate a visit to the lake as part of your tours. The lake’s 0.4 km2 (109 acres) surface size, 2.86 miles of shoreline, and maximum depth of 31 ft provide enough beauty for admiration.
The lake also has almost three miles of paved walking and bike trails, which expands the adventures that may be had here. Additionally, if you go there in the winter, you may enjoy the ice hockey and skating competitions that take place on the lake’s surface. There are many fishing spots, a boat launch, a dog park, and other amenities in the park that encircles Lake of the Isles. Even better, you may enjoy the stunning scenery by taking a leisurely drive around the lakeside road. The New Year’s Eve festival will also take place in Lake of Isles. Roasted marshmallows and hot chocolate are served during the celebration.
Two islands in the lake’s middle have also been declared as protected wildlife refuges. Although you cannot enter them, you can view the sanctuaries from the coast, where you might be able to see some of the amazing wildlife the state is home to. For these reason, this is one of the best lakes to visit in Minnesota.
Location: 2500 Lake Isles Pkwy E, Minneapolis, MN 55405
You can discover Lake Vermilion, one of Minnesota’s biggest and most picturesque lakes, in Saint Louis County in the state’s northwest. This 15,000-acre lake, which bears the name of a French fur trader, offers some of the best fishing. The National Geographic Society named it one of the nation’s most picturesque lakes in the 1940s.
“The evening sun coloring the lake a reddish tone” is the meaning of this previous name. The French fur traders translated the lake’s Latin-based original name into its current English name, “Vermilion.”
It is worthwhile to get up so early to visit the lake at sunrise since you will see a stunning display of hues and a memorable panorama. Both locals and foreign tourists visit the lake to soak in the natural beauty since the water is pristine and the sky above it is large and stunning.
To make the most of a trip in northern Minnesota, there are many lodges and resorts in the area around Lake Vermilion. Visitors can engage in golf, berry picking, geocaching, or swimming after a day spent boating, swimming, or fishing. In the adjacent towns, there are also many shops and restaurants that can be reached by boat, so you may pick up some keepsakes to remember your memorable vacation.
Location: Tower, MN
Lake Harriet was named for Harriet Lovejoy, a resident of Fort Snelling who moved there in 1819, is a fantastic spot for both locals and tourists. In the southwest corner of Minneapolis, the lake is situated between Minnehaha Creek and Bde Maka Ska.
The lake’s surface area is about 335 acres, and its maximum depth is 85 feet. Due to its close proximity to the city, the lake is a very well-liked leisure area. In addition, people use the lake for sailing in addition to the surrounding walking and cycling trails. This lake is even more well-known because to its two beaches, especially among tourists who come during the hot summer months.
There is a bandshell with food and live entertainment on the northern side of this magnificent lake. Living beside this lake would be amazing. Live music and free movie showings are offered at the historic bandshell near Lake Harriet’s shoreline, and a pavilion with a view of the water is the ideal place to unwind.
Location: West 42nd St and West Lake Harriet Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55409
At Lake Pepin, there are three marinas where you may launch a boat for a day on the water or go fishing for walleye, pike, catfish, and other varieties of fish. The sole operational lighthouse along the Mississippi River is located at the entrance of Lake City Marina, overlooking the lake.
Frontenac State Park, located on the beaches of Lake Pepin, provides wonderful camping, hiking, and bird viewing if you’d like to stay on dry land. One of the nicest lakes in Minnesota thanks to the surrounding area and its sparkling waters. As you go around the lake, you’ll come across various villages that provide a range of food and shopping options, including bakeries, bistros, and even wine bars.
Location: Lake City, MN
Bde Maka Ska
The largest lake in Minneapolis, Bde Maka Ska (formerly known as Lake Calhoun), is easily visible from the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. Bde Maka Ska is surrounded by stunning parkland and has a looping walkway for bikers and walkers, just like the other urban waterways on this list.
Bde Maka Ska features three beaches and is more than 400 acres in size. You can try your hand at windsurfing, canoeing, and kayaking if you don’t feel like swimming or spending the day lounging on the beach. Visitors to the park are welcome to have a picnic along the water’s edge, play volleyball, or engage in physical activity on one of the fields. The 3.2-mile track that circles the lake can be used for biking or walking. Learn to sail at the lake’s sailing school, or simply enjoy the breathtaking vistas of the cityscape of Minneapolis as the sun sets over the water.
You’ll feel rejuvenated by the splendor of nature. The lake connects to Lake of the Isles to the northeast and Lake Harriet and a number of other charming city lakes to the south through the scenic byway.
Location: 3000 Calhoun Parkway Minneapolis, MN 55408
Mille Lacs Lake
Head to Mille Lacs, Minnesota’s second-largest lake, if you’re searching for a city vacation from the Minneapolis-St. Paul region. The Mille Lacs National Wildlife Refuge is located on one of the lake’s two tiny islands. As you look for local wildlife, including several bird species, you’ll forget you’re less than 100 miles from the city. Approximately 132,000 acres in size and spanning three counties (Mille Lacs, Crow Wing, and Aitkin), Mille Lacs is rather shallow, with a maximum depth of of around 40 feet.
In the summer, when Mille Lacs Lake is ideal for swimming, water skiing, and boating, multitudes converge there. One of the top fishing locations in the state due to the abundance of fish. Walleye, Muskie, Northern Pike, Bass, and Jumbo Perch are frequently caught by anglers. Ice fishing is a common pastime in this area in the winter.
Whatever the case, Mille Lacs offers a tranquil retreat into the Minnesota wilderness. Enjoy some time off the lake by going on a hike, a bike ride, or an ATV ride.
Location: Brainerd, MN
Despite spanning many states (and two nations! ), Lake Superior is one of the best lakes to visit in Minnesota, the largest freshwater lake in the world, and a popular tourist and local destination (national and international). The region around Lake Superior, which is referred to as the state’s “north coast,” is well known for its high, steep cliffs, stony beaches, and forested hillsides.
Though it’s very cold, Superior is open for swimming, sailing, fishing, and kayaking like other lakes in Minnesota. Visitors can go ice skating and ice fishing in approved places when the lake freezes over in the winter. The entire family can enjoy a ton of activities all year long. Drive along North Shore Scenic Drive for unforgettably beautiful views of the woodland and unending lake.
Weekend camping trip in the Superior National Forest, which is located just across the border from Canada. There is undoubtedly stunning scenery along the Lake Superior shoreline wherever you go.
Voyageurs National Park, a vast freshwater lake with excellent fishing, is located in northern Minnesota at the border with Canada. Although a large portion of the lake’s water is within Canadian territory and the lake borders Ontario, Rainy Lake is easily accessible from Minnesota.
In actuality, a sizable chunk of the lake is located within Canadian territory. If you enjoy fishing, you should check out this enormous, stunning freshwater lake, which is well-known for its excellent recreational fishing. At Rainy Lake, non-fishers will also have a great day. From sailing to kayaking, businesses by the water offer a variety of watercraft activities. On land, guests can hike to lovely waterfalls and other surrounding lakes in the summer and snowshoe, ski, and snowmobile in the winter.
Fish of many different species, including northern pike, crappie, muskellunge, bass, and walleye, can be found in Rainy Lake. The 221,000-acre lake is divided into more than 1,600 islands, and many of them as well as the shoreline provide a variety of vacation properties. Additionally, Rainy Lake is the ideal lake for cabins if you’re looking for one. To facilitate fishing operations, it has numerous boat-in camping areas, fishing resorts, and fishing cottages.
Location: International Falls, MN
Gull Lake, one of the state’s deepest lakes, is a nearly 10,000-acre body of water in central Minnesota. Gull Lake is a fantasy hideaway known for its resort getaways and sandy shorelines. Enjoy water sports like water skiing, canoeing and kayaking, and fishing while on the lake, or keep dry on dry land by playing golf at one of the 20 surrounding courses, playing tennis, riding horses, or even mountain biking on adjacent trails.
Gull Lake has developed into a vacation spot for devoted golfers and their families as a result of its strong golfing presence. Ice fishing is a well-liked wintertime activity on the frozen lakes. Whether you’re staying at one of the lake’s opulent resorts, renting a cabin or cottage, or both, make sure to take in a stunning sunset over the water while you’re there.
The hues of the sky are reflected in the crystal-clear waters, producing a stunning, ambient light show. It’s a great place for a leisurely and enjoyable vacation because of the surrounding natural beauty and variety of family-friendly activities.
One of Minnesota’s cleanest lakes and a county reservoir, Leech Lake is surrounded by the Chippewa National Forest. Leech Lake is an excellent area for fishermen to capture some walleye and perch because it has 11 islands and multiple bays. Leech Lake is a convenient weekend getaway location because it is only three hours from the Twin Cities and situated between Bemidji and Brainerd.
Leech Lake offers a lot of activities even if you don’t like to fish. All interests will be satisfied by the variety of activities, which range from swimming and water skiing in the summer to snowmobiling in the winter. Additionally, there are countless miles of trails for equestrian riding, biking, and hiking. There are several boating activities, including sailing, if water sports are your thing. Around the lake, there are chances for hiking, camping, shopping, and dining.
Annual events at the lake include live music, art exhibits, farmers’ markets, and many other things. In addition, one of the resorts on the lake offers a variety of bargains for an all-inclusive trip package.
Location: Walker, MN
It’s one among Minnesota’s top lakes for fishing, and a lot of sailors and boaters hang out here as well. There are numerous waterfront eateries and stores to explore while enjoying breathtaking views.
The lake also contains a number of islets that provide their own experiences. There are many things for the whole family to enjoy at the regional park by Lake Minnetonka. You’ll enjoy a jam-packed weekend with disc golf courses and bathing ponds.
Location: Minnetonka, MN
Another amazing lake to be seen in Minnesota is this one. Deer Lake must be included in your list of stunning lakes in Minnesota. This lake, which covers 4,156 acres, is also one of the state’s cleanest lakes. The pristine water, which has a visibility of up to 11 feet deep, is an amazing sight to behold. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this is one of the best lakes to visit in Minnesota.
And that’s not all; on a sunny summer day, it becomes even more stunning. It’s a wonderful sight as the crystal-clear water appears to turn brilliant blue-green. Visitors will have the opportunity to explore the 4,000-acre lake’s 25 islands while they are there. The lake is also known for having excellent fishing and is the habitat of perch, walleye, smallmouth bass, and muskies.
The lake is the ideal destination thanks to its picturesque locations, vast bicycle routes, and camping. There are just over 20 miles of shoreline at Deer Lake, which is about 12 miles north of Grand Rapids. Along the lake, there are a lot of houses and cottages, including accommodations that may be rented out for a trip.
Location: Itasca County, MN
There are plenty of urban lakes in Minnesota that you can check off your water travel bucket list. Lake Nokomis, an oval-shaped body of water with two beaches, concessions and a restaurant, and a walking trail, is situated in the southern portion of Minneapolis. You will quickly forget that the lake is close to a city because to the lush surroundings.
The lake also contains a bike path, sports courts, a fishing pier, and a boat dock. The annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships are held at Lake Nokomis, where the body of water is transformed into numerous ice rinks in the winter.
For a quick break from the city, explore the accessible shorelines or neighboring trails. Visit the Nokomis Naturescape Garden while you’re there; it’s a lovely spot on the lake’s northeast edge. The four-acre garden hosts the yearly Minneapolis Monarch Festival in addition to housing beautiful plant and flower species.
Location: Minneapolis, MN
The main source of the Mississippi River is Lake Itasca, which is situated in Itasca State Park in north-central Minnesota. The lake makes up for its small size with stunningly pure waters and a stunning natural setting.
Lake Itasca, like many lakes in Minnesota, is an excellent place for fishing and is a hotspot for ice fishing in the winter. On the lake, you may also go boating, kayaking, and canoeing. In the state park, tourists can enjoy horseback riding, biking, and hiking while they are not on the water.
The region is a prime research location since it connects the plains, deciduous forest, and coniferous forest habitats of North America. The Itasca Biological State of the University of Minnesota is located near Lake Itasca and provides outdoor research opportunities for students interested in exploring the lake’s headwaters and surrounding forest.
Location: Clearwater County, MN