Minneapolis Beaches: The Complete List of Where to Swim

Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, and at least a couple dozen are located within the Twin Cities area. A few even have beaches. Mostly small, most man-made. With little roped-off areas where you can stand in the water.

There are 12 official Minneapolis beaches on six different lakes. It’s a different experience going to the beach area of a Twin Cities lake beach as opposed to say, a San Diego beach.

The first time I went to a beach here, I admit I felt silly laying out my towel and kicking back in swim trunks along the shore. The beaches were so small!

sandy beaches lake

But I’ve since learned to appreciate these lake beaches. Believe me, I’ll take a beach that isn’t crowded any day over one where it’s hard to find a spot to put your towel.

Keep reading for a description of each of the 12 Minneapolis beaches, followed by photos from many of these beaches.

Here’s what you can expect from this article:
-List of all of the lake beaches in Minneapolis
-Rules, hours, and amenities for the beaches
-A photo gallery of pics from various beaches

stand up paddleboarding

All 12 Public Lake Beaches in the City

Here’s a rundown of the 12 public beaches in the city of Minneapolis. You can see that many of them have similar names, which is confusing. There are two North Beaches, for instance. 

The city would be smart to change these basic directional names to something easier to remember.

BDE MKA SKA PARK (formerly Lake Calhoun)
•32nd Street Beach
•North Beach
•Thomas Beach

•East Beach
•Point Beach
•South Beach

•North Beach
•Southeast Beach

•50th Street Beach
•Main Beach

•Lake Hiawatha Beach

•Wirth Lake Beach

skyline-dog-walker minneapolis beaches
Some of these beaches have awesome views of the skyline!

Beach By Beach: Amenities, Descriptions

Here’s a list of amenities and features of each of the beaches in the city. Some are small, quiet beaches, while others are inside large city parks with golf courses, great bike paths, kayak rentals, water sports, and other fun activities.

Keep in mind that hours and offerings are subject to change, so check the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board website for the most current information.

list of minneapolis beaches

Bde Mka Ska Park Beaches

Bde Mka Ska (formerly Lake Calhoun) is the largest lake in Minneapolis. The lake is home to Thomas, 32nd Street, and North Beach. These three beaches have parking lot areas with street and metered parking options. 

32nd Street Beach: This beach is highly recommended for families and kids. It’s got a playground, shoreline with sandy beaches, and a walking and biking path. No lifeguards are on duty here and there are no equipment rentals. Website

North Beach: Many of the pics in this article were from North Beach. This is a great place for rentals — you can rent bikes, kayaks, paddleboards, and even pedal boats. The beach also has volleyball courts, and running paths. There’s a pay parking lot. With bike trails and walking trails nearby, North Beach is a popular spot for all kinds of outdoor recreation. Website

Thomas Beach: This one is very popular with beach volleyball players. It features three sand courts for summer bumping, setting, and spiking. It has a small swimming area as well with lifeguards. Website

kayak rentals north beach
Kayaks available at North Beach.

Cedar Lake Park Beaches

Cedar Lake doesn’t have as many bells and whistles, but it does have a great bicycle path and picnic areas with grills. The shores are surrounded by trees, and the three sandy beaches are good spots for summer swimming.

East Beach: Formerly known as Hidden Beach, Cedar Lake East Beach used to be known for its counterculture atmosphere. It was once a nude beach with a fair amount of drinking and partying. But the beach has been transformed into a family-friendly destination by neighbors in the affluent community. Website

Point Beach: This modest beach has a sandy beach and small swimming area. There’s a pay parking lot nearby. Website

South Beach: There’s a small sandy patch of shore here, with lots of trees in the surrounding area, plus a walking path. This part of the lake has plenty of room for kayakers. Website

Lake Harriet Beaches

Lake Harriet is a popular spot with summer concerts at the band shell, a picnic area, a boat dock, and the Bread & Pickle restaurant. It’s a beautiful lake and one of the more scenic ones in the Twin Cities, especially with the sailboats parked in the water.

North Beach: A solid swimming and sunbathing beach area. You can rent bikes, kayaks, and paddle boards from a retailer near the Lake Harriet Band Shell. Website

Southeast Beach: There’s a small area of sand here next to the bike path. Lake Harriet has no lifeguards on duty. Website

lake harriet band shell
The performance area makes Lake Harriet one of the best Minneapolis beaches.

Lake Nokomis Beaches

50th Street Beach: This is a smaller beach with no lifeguards, so it’s good to avoid the crowds. For most of the amenities on Lake Nokomis, you’ll have to go to Main Beach. Website

Main Beach: Here’s a very large beach area with one of the largest swimming sections of any Minneapolis beach, so you can really get a good workout if you like to swim as exercise. Lifeguards are on duty during summer, and you can rent bikes and boats. The Painted Turtle concession stand sells salads, burgers, chicken, and ice cream. Website

Lake Hiawatha Beach

Lake Hiawatha Beach: A smaller beach with no lifeguards on duty. The full park is 241 acres, with a fishing dock, golf course, picnic area, driving range, and hockey rink. Regular park hours are 6 am to midnight in developed areas, and the beach is open from 6 am to 10 pm. Website

Wirth Lake Beach

Wirth Lake Beach: Part of Theodore Wirth Regional Park, Wirth Lake Beach is another of the most popular beaches in Minneapolis. It has a volleyball court, fishing pier, dressing rooms, bathroom, and picnic tables. You’ll find lifeguards here during the summer from 4 to 7 pm on weekdays and 1 to 7 pm on weekends. Website

Questions and Rules for Minneapolis Beaches

What are the best beaches in Minneapolis?

That depends on what you’re looking for. Based on my own experiences and online reviews, Bde Maka Ska North Beach and Wirth Lake Beach are two of the best beaches in the city for hanging out and participating in outdoor recreation.

Lake Harriet is cool because of the scenery and sailboats, the large swimming area, and the band performance stage.

sailboats lake beach

Which Minneapolis beaches have lifeguards?

Three beaches have lifeguards on duty during the summer, usually until the last week in August:
-Lake Nokomis Main Beach
-Bde Maka Ska Thomas Beach
-Wirth Lake Beach

At the other lake beaches, lifeguards are not on duty, so swimmers visit at their own risk. 

What are the hours for the beaches in Minneapolis?

All city beaches are open from 6 am to 10 am. Some areas of these parks may be open until midnight, if they are considered “developed areas.” Areas are considered developed if they have both lights and established pathways.

Is there a cost to visit these beaches?

Admission to Minneapolis beaches is free, though you may have to pay a couple bucks for parking, depending where you go. 

What is the water quality of these lakes?

Occasionally, beaches have to be closed due to health reasons such as e coli outbreaks. The water is tested weekly between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Here’s a map of Minneapolis beaches showing the latest results of the quality tests.

What additional rules are there for beaches in the city?

Swim only within marked areas. No smoking in beach areas. Do not bring glass containers. Keep dogs off the beaches and lake (walking trails are fine.)

Are there wading pools and splash pads for kids in the city? 

Yes, the Minneapolis park system operates more than 50 wading pools, including Loring Park, Bryant Square Park, and Holmes Wading Pool. See the full list here.

Are there nude beaches in Minneapolis?

No, not currently. Hidden Beach (now Cedar Lake East Beach) used to have a nude beach culture, but that was years ago. There are a few private resorts around Minnesota that do permit nudity.

Scenes From Minneapolis Beaches

The beaches of Minneapolis have a few things going for them. Like playground equipment. I wish all beaches had jungle gyms I could swing around on!


Some of the public beaches of Minneapolis have a play area with kids’ playground equipment.

Taking in the sunset.

lake-bench - public beaches in minneapolis swimming

The nearby lakeside houses probably cost a fortune. Perhaps we’ll see a spinoff reality show, Million Dollar Listing: Minneapolis.


This beach I found in St. Paul was rocking. I mean, there were two whole families enjoying the sand and sun on this particular day. Not just one, but two!


This site did have a cool environmental thing going on: A shoreline restoration project.

shoeline habitat restoration

The sign informed readers to be on the look out for butterflies. Just as I read that, I looked over right next to the board and saw this:


Consider that project a success!

The little Minneapolis beaches may be modest, but the lakes are amazing. With boating, paddling, kayaking, canoeing and great views of the skyline, the lakes are a place I’d spent a lot of time in the summer if I lived in the Twin Cities.

When you’re in Minneapolis, you might also check out the Sculpture Garden, or Mill City Museum, the Mall of America, the St. Paul Indian Mounds, or even the Skyway.

And then do a road trip for some camping in Voyageurs National Park!

What are your favorite Minneapolis lake beaches?