Nestled in the picturesque state of Minnesota, Minneapolis boasts an incredible urban landscape surrounded by a network of beautiful lakes. It is easy to find an escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, the city’s numerous lakes provide the perfect opportunity for paddle sport enthusiasts. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a beginner looking for a new experience on the water, Minneapolis and its surrounding areas offer an array of options. In this blog post, we’ll explore the top lakes within a 30-minute drive of Minneapolis, where you can indulge in the joy of paddling amidst breathtaking natural scenery.

We’ve had the pleasure of paddleboarding on Lake Minnetonka at Wayzata Beach with our partner Wai Nani Surf & Paddle and we are excited to explore the rest of the lakes. 

paddleboarding lake minnetonka

Lake Minnetonka 

Lake Minnetonka, a sprawling lake west of Minneapolis, allows motorized boats but has designated certain areas as “low wake.” Paddling on this vast expanse of water offers an adventure in nature’s splendor. Spanning approximately 14,528 acres, the lake is one of Minnesota’s largest and most cherished bodies of water, offering a wide range of recreational opportunities and stunning natural beauty.

Location: Wayzata and Excelsior are great places to access and paddle Lake Minnetonka

Rent a Kayak or SUP in Wayzata or Excelsior or take an SUP Yoga or Fitness Class.

Kayaking Tours in Minneapolis on The Mississippi River

Explore the Mighty Mississippi with Paddle Bridge Collective and embark on an epic kayaking adventure! Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a beginner looking to get into paddling the river, their expert guides will give you up with the beta on the river’s rich history, stunning wildlife, and hidden gems. From paddling through the heart of Minneapolis and enjoying beautiful sunsets to venturing into serene, wildlife-rich areas or spending a full day exploring the river’s secrets, there’s a tour for everyone. Get stoked for a memorable adventure as you send it down one of America’s most iconic waterways!

Chain of lakes | Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, and Bde Maka Ska (Lake Calhoun) 

Located just minutes from downtown Minneapolis, Cedar Lake and Lake of Isles are tranquil oasis for paddleboarders and kayakers. With a complete ban on motorized boats, these lakes provide a peaceful environment for exploring its clear waters and enjoying the surrounding natural beauty, right in the city.

Location: Minneapolis, Open in Google Maps

kayaking minneapolis

Bde Maka Ska 

Bde Maka Ska, previously called Lake Calhoun, is one of the most popular lakes in Minneapolis. It’s the largest link in the Chain of Lakes and has three beaches and a variety of water recreation activities. There are canals that connect the chain of lakes and create a unique paddling experience!

Location: Minneapolis, Open in Google Maps

Lake Harriet 

Situated southwest of Minneapolis, Lake Harriet offers a serene paddling experience with its low wake policy. This sparkling lake surrounded by lush parkland provides the ideal setting for a relaxing day on the water.

Location: Minneapolis, Open in Google Maps

Nokomis Lake

Lake Nokomis, known for its family-friendly atmosphere, permits motorized boats but designates certain areas as “low-wake” zones. Paddleboarders and kayakers can explore these tranquil areas and connect with nature.

Location: Minneapolis, Open in Google Maps

Image courtesy of Minneapolisparks.org

Wirth Lake

Nestled within Theodore Wirth Regional Park, Wirth Lake is a peaceful retreat for paddling enthusiasts. With its low wake policy, you can glide across the calm waters and savor the beauty of the natural surroundings. This is a great lake to visit if you want to go for a hike, trail run, or a mountain bike ride in Theodore Wirth Regional Park and then go cool off and play in the water. A multi-adventure day anyone?

Location: Minneapolis, Open in Google Maps

Lake Independence (Motorized Boats Allowed, but Some No-Wake Zones)

Located on the outskirts of Minneapolis, Lake Independence invites both motorized boats and paddlers. Several no-wake zones provide a tranquil paddling atmosphere, making it an excellent choice for outdoor enthusiasts. With 945 acres of water, Baker Park has many different lakes for paddling like Independence, Half Moon and Spurzem lakes. You can rent a canoe, kayak, paddleboat, rowboat, or stand-up paddleboard at Baker Campground. 

Location: Maple Plain, MN, Open in Google Maps

Image courtesy of Threeriversparks.org

Long Lake

Long Lake is a haven for water-based activities. Boating, fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding are popular activities on the lake’s calm waters. The lake’s relatively quiet atmosphere creates an ideal environment for relaxation and outdoor enjoyment.

Image courtesy of Wainani SUP

Location: Long Lake, Minnesota Open In Google Maps

Minneapolis and its surroundings are a haven for paddleboarding and kayaking enthusiasts. Whether you seek the calm waters of no-motorized lakes or the serenity of low-wake zones, the lakes near Minneapolis offer an incredible range of opportunities to explore nature’s beauty. So, grab your paddle, head to one of these lakes, and embark on a memorable adventure amid the splendor of Minnesota’s scenic landscape. Happy paddling!

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