23 Places for Swimming in Minnesota: Best Beaches for Summer Fun (2023)

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Are you looking for somewhere to go swimming in Minnesota to beat the summer heat? You’re in luck!

Minnesota, also known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, is a paradise for those who love water activities, especially swimming!

With so many lakes and rivers spread across the state, Minnesota offers some fantastic places to get in the water and enjoy it.

Whether you’re looking for a more secluded beach with no crowds or somewhere right in the Twin Cities to cool off, there are options for everyone.

I’ve lived in Minnesota for my entire life and love exploring all of our beaches and lakes, so I’ve got plenty of experience in the water department!

In this post, we’ll explore some of the best places to go, what to expect, and how to cool off on those hot summer days.

Planning Your Trip to Minnesota? Use My Favorite Resources!

🛌 Accommodations: I love using Booking.com for any hotels or short-term rentals.
🏡Vacation Rentals: If you want your own house, VRBO is the best platform.
✈️ Flights: For flights to get here, check out Expedia to save some money!
🚘 Car Rentals: To get around, I use Discover Cars!
📍Tours: I recommend Viator for fun experiences.

Best Places for Swimming in Minnesota

If you’re looking for some great places to hit the beach in the state of Minnesota, here are some of the best options!

1. Thomas Beach – Minneapolis

Found on the popular Bde Maka Ska in Minneapolis, this is one of the most popular places for swimming in the Twin Cities.

You’ll find Thomas Beach on the southern shores of the lake, near a large grassy patch that makes it easy to lounge in the sun.

There also is a nice sandy area for kids to play and build sandcastles.

There will likely be a lot of people here on warm days during the summer months, so it’s right in Minneapolis and you don’t have to drive far from the Twin Cities to reach it!

If you’re interested in trying things like kayaking or paddleboarding, you can also grab a rental from Wheel Fun Rentals on the north shores of the lake.

2. Park Point Beach – Duluth

Stretching out along Park Point in Duluth, this swimming beach is perfect for lounging, taking a dip in Lake Superior, and spending a summer day.

It’s the very best place for swimming in Duluth and features a long sandy beach to relax on.

It’s also one of the few designated beaches along Lake Superior that actually has sand and isn’t just covered in rocks.

My brother and I splashing on the shore of Lake Superior when we were kids.

Watch the Aerial Lift Bridge rise and drop as ships pass underneath, and enjoy the chilly waters of Lake Superior!

Nearby is Canal Park, so when you’re ready for some lunch or ice cream, check out the many shops and restaurants to eat at.

3. Lake Harriet – Minneapolis

Just south of Bde Maka Ska is Lake Harriet, which is another of the most popular beaches in Minneapolis.

There are two designated beaches on the lake, one on the northern side of the lake, and the other on the southern side.

Lake Harriet North Beach features a large, sandy area and also has an area surrounded by buoys, so you know where to swim.

A view of a calm lake with clouds reflecting into the water.
Image by beate bachmann from Pixabay

On the other side, Lake Harriet South Beach also features a sandy area, although it’s much smaller.

Both are nice places to swim and have easy access to the walking trails that surround the lake, as well as Wheel Fun Rentals, which has rentals for kayaking and paddleboarding.

4. St. Cloud Quarry Park – St. Cloud

These unique swimming holes are located near St. Cloud and are within Quarry Park and Nature Preserve in Waite Park.

People love this park for its cliff jumping and options for swimming within the old granite mining quarries.

There are 20 different quarries within the park, but only two of them are open for swimming- Quarry #2 and Quarry #11.

Quarry #2 is surrounded by towering rock formations and is a popular place for cliff jumping.

Quarry #11 is one of the largest and has a nice sandy beach to enjoy and is a popular place for floating and relaxing.

5. Cedar Lake – Minneapolis

As part of Minneapolis’s Chain of Lakes, Cedar Lake is among one of the most popular places for swimming in Minneapolis.

It’s found in the southeast corner of Minneapolis and is connected to Lake of the Isles and Lake Harriet via canals and channels.

Five chairs sitting on the shore of a lake for swimming in Minnesota at sunset.
Photo by Basil Thomas on Unsplash

There are three beaches on the lake, one on the south side, one on the east side, and one on the west side.

Cedar Lake East Beach is smaller but features a sandy area and walking paths.

Cedar Lake Point Beach is found on a peninsula on the western side of the lake and features a larger sandy area and plenty of space for people to relax and swim.

Lastly, Cedar Lake South Beach is found on the southern shores of the lake and also has a nice sandy beach area to enjoy.

6. Lake Minnetonka – Minnetonka

Lake Minnetonka is a very large lake, in fact, one of the largest in the Twin Cities metro, and features a few different beaches to go swimming in Minnesota.

Deephaven Beach is found in the Saint Louis Bay of Lake Minnetonka and can be reached from Wayzata.

It has a nice sandy beach to relax on and there are many docks nearby where people park and store their boats.

Right along the shores of Lake Minnetonka is Crescent Beach, which has a small sandy area next to a public parking lot.

One of the last popular public beaches on the lake is Wynchwood Beach, which is found on Cooks Bay, and can be reached from the city of Mound.

7. Square Lake – Stillwater

Stillwater is a popular location for date nights, wandering around the adorable city, and spending time on the water.

While the most popular waterway in Stillwater is the St. Croix River, you can definitely get in some lake time at Square Lake.

A sandcastle that has been built on a beach.
Photo by Aaron on Unsplash

This one gets its name because part of the lake looks unnaturally square!

You can swim off of the shore of Square Lake Park, where there is a sandy beach and a designated swimming area.

8. Tioga Beach – Grand Rapids

If you’re spending time in Northern Minnesota, then you’ll know that there is no shortage of lakes, beaches, and water!

And in Grand Rapids, you can visit Tioga Beach for some of the best swimming, especially for little ones, in town!

Tioga Beach has a large sandy area to lay out on or play with sand toys. It also has a playground nearby for kids to play at!

A view of Tioga Pit, a nice Minnesota beach.

If you want something a bit more unique and secluded, Tioga Pit is across the street and is a teal blue mine pit filled with cold water, but it’s beautiful!

The beach is found along the shores of Pokegama Lake, which is Grand Rapids’ largest lake and is home to many great resorts and activities.

10. Camden State Park – Lynd

In Camden State Park, you’ll find a nice Minnesota beach along the Redwood River that is great for little ones to wade in.

There’s a sandy beach, but there is also a shallow spring-fed swimming pond near the beach which is great for young children.

Swimming in a river is different than a lake, and you can even bring a tube or kayak and float down part of the river.

There are also several fishing piers, spacious campgrounds, and picnic areas within the park to use.

11. Lake Nokomis – Minneapolis

If you’ve ever visited Minneapolis, you may have come across or heard of Lake Nokomis, as it’s one of the most popular in the city.

It’s found in southern Minneapolis and has one main designated swimming area to check out for some summer fun.

The beach is located on the western shores of the lake and is called Lake Nokomis Main Beach.

A dock sticking out into a lake surrounded by trees.
Photo by Lee Vue on Unsplash

It features a large sandy area, as well as a large grassy area for laying out your towels and soaking up that warm summer sun.

You can also grab rentals for kayaks and paddleboards at Wheel Fun Rentals nearby if you’re interested in taking out a boat!

Many people also bring their dog swimming in non-designated swimming areas along the beach!

12. Zippel Bay State Park – Williams

Way up north, nearly crossing the Canadian border, you’ll find Zippel Bay State Park along the shores of Lake of the Woods.

Zippel Bay State Park is surrounded by dense forests and is a great place to escape from the busyness of some of the more southern Minnesota beaches.

There are sandbars that stretch for hundreds of feet off of the beach, so you’re able to walk along and explore the water.

Whether you’re from far Northern Minnesota or you’re visiting, this is a great spot to take a dip in the water!

13. Pelican Lake – Crosby

Pelican Lake is located just a short distance from all of the great activities in Crosby, an adorable small town known for its mountain biking.

You’ll find Pelican Lake Public Beach along the south side of the lake.

Here there is a nice sandy stretch of land to enjoy, and a perfect little swimming spot for yourself or for little ones.

Many people enjoy fishing in this lake, whether it be winter or summer, and people also love one of the resorts on the lake, Breezy Point Resort.

14. Lake Itasca – Park Rapids

For more swimming in Minnesota, check out Lake Itasca, found within Itasca State Park in Park Rapids.

The headwaters of the Mississippi River are located within this park, but you can also find a nice swimming beach to enjoy here!

Myself and Tyler laying on a towel near Lake Itasca while people swim in Minnesota.

Enjoy the sandy beach, a playground for the kiddos to play at, and beach volleyball nets to play a game with friends.

When you’re at the park, also be sure to check out their miles of paved and unpaved trails, rental bikes and boats, and of course, the Headwaters.

Park Rapids is also just a short distance away and offers plenty of activities including walking along Main Street and eating at great restaurants.

15. Afton State Park – Afton

Afton State Park is a beautiful park located just a short distance from Minneapolis but gives you seclusion from the crowded beaches in the large city.

Enjoy a sandy beach that is perfect for laying out or watching the kids build sandcastles in.

You can also pack a picnic and eat it at the picnic area, which is just a short distance from the beach.

There’s also a nice sand bar in the St. Croix River that can be found by walking along the river trail, so you can explore the water.

16. 12th Street Beach – Duluth

Another great beach to take a dip into Lake Superior is 12th Street Beach, found just a short distance up the street from Park Point Beach.

It’s found within Franklin Square, which has a playground where younger kids can play before or after swimming.

A view of Lake Superior from the shoreline of a Minnesota beach,

Being just a short distance from Duluth makes this beach popular, but it certainly won’t be as busy as Park Point Beach will be!

So if you want fewer crowds but still want to swim in Superior, then check out 12th Street Beach.

17. Lake Hiawatha – Minneapolis

Another place for swimming in Minneapolis, Lake Hiawatha is another great swimming beach in Minnesota to check out this summer season!

The public beach is found on the eastern side of the lake and has a large sandy area. There also is a large grassy area with trees for shade.

It’s a great lake to go swimming in and is surrounded by nice walking trails and towering trees.

Just a short distance up the road is Lake Hiawatha Park, which has a children’s playground, basketball courts, a pool, a large golf course, and more.

18. Father Hennepin State Park – Onamia

While Lake Mille Lacs is giant and stretches across Minnesota’s land for over 200 square miles, there aren’t many sandy beaches on it.

The swimming beach at Father Hennepin State Park is the best place to go swimming in the lake.

It features a nice sandy area with a large grass patch, as well as picnic tables, a volleyball court, and a playground.

Pack up a lunch for the day and enjoy your time spend on Lake Mille Lacs!

19. Long Lake – New Brighton

There are dozens of Long Lakes in the state of Minnesota, but this particular Long Lake is located in New Brighton.

It’s just a short 15-minute drive north of Minneapolis, making for a nice place to escape some of the busy Twin Cities’ beaches.

A lake as seen from the shoreline with trees around it.
Image by Yinan Chen from Pixabay

Here you’ll find a large, long public beach with a sandy edge and plenty of grass to lay out your stuff and relax on.

There’s also a concession stand that is open seasonally, two playgrounds, volleyball courts, and plenty of places to go fishing on Long Lake.

20. Iona’s Beach – Two Harbors

This unique beach is found along the North Shore, and is a hidden gem that you won’t find to be as busy as other places!

Iona’s Beach is covered in pale red rocks that seem to sing when it’s quiet and the waves of Lake Superior crash into the shore.

Here you can wade or walk in the water of the chilly lake. It is a nice place to take a dip in the water, although the rocks can be pretty sharp.

I would recommend wearing some sort of water shoes when in Lake Superior!

21. Black Beach – Silver Bay

Another of the North Shore’s best beaches is found in Silver Bay, and is known as Black Beach.

This beautiful, unique beach has a bunch of small rocks that are different shades of black, which make the entire beach look black – hence the name.

This is a popular destination, and you’ll likely see lots of other people relaxing on the beach, sunbathing, or wading in the water.

Again, be careful in Lake Superior, as this beach isn’t sandy and the rocks can be pretty sharp. The waves and currents can also be strong.

Next door, you’ll also find the Black Beach Municipal Campground, which is a great campground to stay in for your visit.

22. Brighton Beach – Duluth

Brighton Beach is found in Duluth, just past the Glensheen Mansion in Kitchi Gammi Park.

This park has a variety of rocky edges along it and allows you to get up close and personal with Lake Superior.

A dock sticking into the water with ripples in the lake at sunset.

It’s only about a 30-minute drive from Canal Park and Duluth, putting you within a short distance of heading up the beautiful North Shore!

Picnic tables and grills are available within the park to use during your visit!

23. Sand Point Beach – Prior Lake

Sand Point Beach in Prior Lake is a very large and popular place to go swimming in Minnesota and features a great beach!

A large sandy area is available to lay out your towel and soak up the sun, as well as several other great amenities.

A children’s playground, canoe and kayak rentals, a fishing dock, walking trails, and volleyball courts add to the fun of the beach.

The park does get pretty busy on hot days, so be prepared to share the beach with others!

Best Time for Visiting Beaches in Minnesota

The best time to visit beaches in Minnesota is during the summer months, from June to August.

During this time, temperatures are warm, and the water is usually at its most comfortable temperature for swimming.

However, keep in mind that the water may still be chilly during these times. It isn’t temperature controlled, so don’t expect a hot tub!

Popular beaches can definitely get crowded during this time too, so visiting on weekdays or during the morning is your best bet for encountering fewer people.

Can You Swim in Minnesota Lakes?

Yes, you can most definitely swim in Minnesota lakes, and most locals have done it at least once or twice (or maybe a hundred times!) in their life.

From smaller lakes scattered around the northern part of the state to large lakes found right in Minneapolis, there are beaches all over.

You can enjoy cooling off in these lakes all summer long! But, follow a few tips to stay safe and have fun.

  • Swim at a designated beach
  • Keep an eye out for warnings for things like swimmer’s itch or other bacteria in the water
  • Always swim with someone else and watch kids closely
  • Wear water shoes to protect your feet from rocks and debris
  • Never swim in a lake when its lightning
  • Watch for motorized and non-motorized vehicles in the water
  • Be aware of currents and waves (they don’t only happen in the ocean!)
  • Remember your vehicle permit if you’re swimming in a state park


When Can You Start Swimming in Minnesota?

Typically, people start swimming in late June until the end of August. This is the warmest time to swim. Some people do brave the chillier waters at the beginning of August and into September, but this is usually too cold for most.

Is it Safe to Swim in Minnesota Lakes?

Yes, it usually is safe to swim in Minnesota lakes. There can sometimes be bacteria or pathogens in the water that can make you sick, so it’s important to watch out for any unusual algae or warnings near the water. Swimmers Itch is a common one. Swimming at designated beaches can help avoid this.

Can I Swim in Minneapolis Lakes?

Yes! There are many beaches to swim in Minneapolis lakes that are perfect for swimming!

Do People Swim in Minnesota?

Yes, people in Minnesota do swim, and since we have thousands of lakes, it makes it easy to find somewhere to go.

Is Lake Superior Too Cold for Swimming?

Lake Superior is cold year-round, but people do go swimming in it! I would recommend waiting until July or August to swim, as this is when it will be the warmest.

What is the Cleanest Lake to Swim in in Minnesota?

There are a lot of really clean lakes in Minnesota, but some of the top ones are Trout Lake in Coleraine, Lake Siseebakwet in Grand Rapids, Caribou Lake in Deer Lake, and mine pits. Mine pits are cleaner since they are man-made.

Does Minnesota Have Any Beaches?

Yes, there are lots of beaches in Minnesota to go swimming at! In fact, most of the places on this list are swimming beaches!

Are Minnesota Lakes Warm Enough to Swim In?

Yes, Minnesota lakes are typically warm enough to swim in by late June or early July. They may still be chilly and certainly aren’t bathtub warm, but they’re warm enough to take a dip in on hot days.

Is it Sanitary to Swim in a Lake?

No, lakes are not sanitary since they are natural and don’t have any sort of cleansers like chlorine in them. But, there are many beaches that are clean and are safe to swim in. It’s best to take a shower after swimming to rinse off anything that may have been in the water!

Wrap-Up: Swimming in Minnesota

With over 10,000 lakes in the state, Minnesota is home to some really great and refreshing swimming spots to check out.

From the sparkling waters of Lake Superior to the hidden, tranquil lakes, there is no shortage of places to cool off and soak up the sun.

So if you’re looking to go swimming in Minnesota this summer, I’d really recommend checking out any of these great locations!