The 10 Best Beaches in Minneapolis & St. Paul

twin cities best beaches - bde maka ska

While we may not have the white sands of the Caribbean or the Hawaiian surf scene to offer, Minnesota can still hold its own when it comes to summer beach destinations. 

When facing these record-breaking summer temperatures, a trip to an awesome Twin Cities beach is the best way to beat the heat!

Map of the Best Beaches in the Twin Cities

How To Pick The Best Beach 

We narrowed our list down to the 10 best choices for beaches in the Twin Cities, all offering something slightly different in location and amenities.  When assembling this list, we checked out key features like: 

  • Size
  • Space for Picnics/BBQ
  • Lifeguard hours
  • Amenities for kids, including sand and nearby playground equipment 

This list also includes some considerations for water quality, although there are always changes, closures, and adjustments.  Beaches in Minneapolis frequently close during the height of summer heat due to high concentrations of bacteria and algae. Always check the park website before you head out (or choose one of the chlorinated beach options below)

The Best Beaches In Minneapolis

Lake Nokomis Main Beach

One of my closest friends spends most of his summer in the lake training for triathlons.  His choice for the best beach in Minneapolis?  The main beach at Lake Nokomis.  The accessible parking, extra-large swimming area with plenty of space to spread out, Sandcastle Restaurant, and the clean water here is tough to beat anywhere else in the Metro.  

  • Hours: Daily, 6 AM – 10 PM
  • Lifeguard Hours: 1–7 PM daily
  • Address:  5001 Lake Nokomis Parkway W, Minneapolis, MN 55417
  • Website:  Lake Nokomis Main Beach

Lake Harriet Southeast Beach

Even though Lake Harriet is better known for the bandshell and sailboats, this tiny neighborhood beach is one of our favorites in Minneapolis.  Nestled in between the trail and houses, you may have walked past this spot without even realizing it’s one of the best beaches.  

  • Hours: Daily, 6 AM – 10 PM
  • Lifeguard Hours:  No summer hours
  • Address:  4740 Lake Harriet Parkway E, Minneapolis, MN 55417
  • Website:  Lake Harriet Southeast Beach

Bde Maka Ska 32nd Street Beach 

Arguably, Bde Maka Ska is the most well-known lake in Minneapolis.  Of the three different beaches on the lake, the 32nd Street Beach located in the northeast area of the lake is our favorite.  It’s just south of the Wheel of Fun Rentals location and the large boat harbor. You may struggle to find parking here, but the nearby playground equipment and fishing pier can add together for a more extended afternoon of fun.  

  • Hours: Daily, 6 AM – 10 PM
  • Lifeguard Hours:  No summer hours
  • Address:  3200 E Bde Maka Ska Parkway, Minneapolis, MN 55408
  • Website:  Bde Maka Ska 32nd Street Beach

Wirth Lake Beach

Tucked in the center of the largest park in Minneapolis, Wirth Lake Beach has a giant sand beach by Minneapolis standards.  The historic Wirth Beach House, sand volleyball courts, and chance to spot wildlife while we swim keep us coming back here all summer long. 

  • Hours: Daily, 6 AM – 10 PM
  • Lifeguard Hours:  1pm-7pm, daily
  • Address:  3200 Glenwood Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405
  • Website:  Wirth Lake Beach

The Best Beaches In St. Paul

Phalen Park Beach

Unlike Minneapolis, with 12 public beaches, St. Paul has only a handful of options for lake swimming.  The most popular, the Phalen Park Beach on Lake Phalen, is the spot we visit most often in the summer.  The beach is set well off the road and parking area and includes a snack counter and splash pad. 

  • Hours: Daily, 6 AM – 10 PM / Splash Pad 9 AM-9 PM
  • Lifeguard Hours:  12pm-8pm, daily
  • Address:  3200 Glenwood Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55405
  • Website:  Phalen Park Beach

Snelling Lake

St. Paul may not have a ton of city-owned beach options, but the city is home to Snelling Lake Beach in the heart of Fort Snelling State Park.  The wide sandy swimming beach runs down the east shore of the lake, with daily lifeguard hours. In addition, the giant picnic grounds here make this a great spot to host a swimming get-together with a large group of family and friends.  Daily or annual park permit required.

  • Hours: Daily, 8 AM – 10 PM
  • Lifeguard Hours:  1pm-7pm, daily
  • Address:  101 Snelling Lake Road, St. Paul, MN 55111
  • Website:  Fort Snelling State Park

Other Must-Try Twin Cities Beaches 

Elm Creek Park Reserve Swim Pond (Maple Grove, MN)

For the perfect balance between lake and pool, check out the swimming pond at Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove. The water here is filtered and chlorinated, but the banks of the lake feature the extra soft sand that makes summer beach days so perfect. 

  • Hours: Daily, 9 AM – 8 PM
  • Lifeguard Hours:  No lifeguard on duty
  • Address:  12420 James Deane Parkway, Maple Grove MN 55369
  • Website:  Elm Creek Park Reserve Swim Pond

Lake Elmo Park Reserve Swim Pond (Lake Elmo, MN)

The west metro isn’t the only spot to swim in a hybrid, chlorinated lake.  The swimming pond at Lake Elmo Park Reserve is a favorite for Washington County residents.  The lake here goes out to 6 feet and is a good fit for families with a broader age range of kids. Just be prepped to pay the $7 daily vehicle permit to enter the park.

  • Hours: 9 AM – 8 PM, Thursday-Monday.  Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Lifeguard Hours: 12–8 PM, Thursday-Monday
  • Address:  1515 Keats Avenue N, Lake Elmo, MN 55042
  • Website:  Lake Elmo Park Reserve

Schulze Lake Beach, Lebanon Hills Regional Park (Eagan, MN)

Lebanon Hills Regional Park in Eagan was built for long summer days of fun.  Start with a swim at the large sand beach Schulze Lake, then opt for a canoe, kayak, or SUP rental.  Round out the afternoon with a hike on the trail that surrounds the entire lake. 

  • Hours: Daily, Sunrise – 8 PM
  • Lifeguard Hours:  No lifeguard.
  • Address:  860 Cliff Road, Eagan, MN
  • Website:  Schulze Lake Beach

Square Lake Park (Stillwater, MN)

Can you keep a secret? Square Lake Park is the best beach for swimming if you want REALLY clear, clean water. It’s one of the best-kept summer secrets in the Twin Cities, and even though we put it on this list, but we’d like it to stay just between us. Okay?

  • Hours: Daily, 8 AM – 10 PM
  • Lifeguard Hours: 9 AM – 8 PM, daily
  • Address:  15450 Square Lake Trail N., Stillwater MN 55082
  • Website:  Square Lake Park

When are beaches open in Minneapolis & St Paul? 

Both the Minneapolis and St. Paul Parks and Recreation departments post hours for all parks and beaches.  Developed beaches are open daily from 6 AM to Midnight.   The parks department also publishes lifeguard hours online, generally with afternoon hours on weekdays and weekends. 

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