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Just because we’re 1,000 miles from either coast doesn’t mean there are not beaches. Each lake and riverfront beach has its own amenities, local culture, secret highlights and diehards.
Lake Phalen Beach
St. Paul’s largest lake, Phalen’s a nice mix of swimmers, picnickers, BBQers, fishers, joggers, and families, it’s also a favorite destination for beach volleyball enthusiasts.
Cedar Lake East Beach
Formerly the local nude beach, “Hidden Beach” has cleaned up its act and isn’t as “hidden” as it once was, but still attracts families, weirdoes, guitar players, hipsters and other city folks.
Minnehaha Off-Leash Dog Park
Your dog loves beaches, too. That’s why there are six-and-a-half acres right by the Mississippi River at the Minnehaha Regional Park.
Located in a charming former resort town (and site of the Rolling Stones’ first appearance in Minnesota), Excelsior’s Commons Beach has been a swimming and recreation destination for a century. The water’s even filtered and chlorinated.
Lake Calhoun Park Beach
You know those photos of the Minneapolis skyline on a body of water with a sailboat in it? They were all taken here. When it freezes in the winter, thousands come out for the Luminary Loppet: a few miles of candle-lit snowshoe and ski trails.
South Minneapolis’ best beach for families. It also has the best concessions: Sandcastle serves up popcorn, BLTs, horchatas, monkey bars, and more locally sourced goodies. Also site of the US Pond Hockey Championships.
White Sands Beach
Walk down some stone stairs, through a forested stretch of the Mississippi River Gorge Regional Park, and emerge onto — as the unofficial name suggests — a pristine white beach on the river. Great for people-watching, seeing boats go by, fishing, and picnics.