10 MORE Twin Cities Beaches, Playgrounds & Attractions to Try This Summer


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tm big marine beach

There are so many options for splash-happy fun in our urban lakes that we couldn’t stop after posting our original 10 Twin Cities Beaches & Playgrounds to try this summer. Culled from reader suggestions, our own summer jaunts to the beach, and other fun attractions we’ve been visiting over the past month, we’ve assembled a second round of 10 swimming spots we think are worth checking out. But hurry; as we know all too well here in Minnesota, beach season won’t stick around much longer.

tm elm creek park reserve

elm creek park reserve playground

Elm Creek Park Reserve Beach
12400 James Deane Pkwy, Maple Grove 55369

Open: Daily 9am-8pm, lifeguards on duty noon-8pm
Cost: 4/pp daily or $15/pp season pass, other listed activities are free.
Highlights: The man-made swimming pond features a lovely sand beach and filtered, chlorinated water. Work up the desire for a cool dip while tackling the colorful, kinetic playground (“The biggest park I’ve ever seen!” according to my 3-year-old), and exploring the exhibits at Eastman Nature Center. Also onsite is the historic Bottineau House, which offers Saturday open houses from 1-4pm and occasional family programming.

Big Marine Park Reserve Beach
17495 Manning Trail N, Marine on St. Croix 55047

Open: Daily 9am-9pm through July 31, 9am-8pm Aug. 1 – Labor Day. Lifeguards on duty 12-8pm.
Cost: $5/daily vehicle permit, FREE the first Tuesday of the month (upcoming: Aug. 4)
Highlights: Big Marine fronts on a wide, clean sandy beach and has a relatively large swimming area compared to many urban sites. The adjacent playground is not close enough to let younger ones run back and forth, but is a fun option for burning off excess energy. The 2015 season has ended, but next year, consider making a day of it and stopping by The Berry Patch or Natura Farms (literally, blocks down the road) for fresh raspberries and blueberries.

PicMonkey Collage big marine park

Coon Lake County Park Beach
5450 197th Ave NE, Wyoming 55092

Open: Daily during park hours
Cost: Free
Highlights: Reader Melinda suggested this site as one of her favorites for its great beach, picnic area and playground in the East Bethel/Wyoming/Columbus area.

Fort Snelling State Park Beach
101 Snelling Lake Rd, St. Paul 55111

Open: Daily during park hours, 8am-10pm
Cost: $5/vehicle day permit for Fort Snelling State Park
Highlights: Thanks to reader Michelle for reminding us there’s lots in store for the visitor to the Fort Snelling State Park area – swim at Snelling Lake, check out a geocache unit, or get hands-on with the exhibits in the Savage Visitor Center. Straight up the bluff is Historic Fort Snelling itself, a re-constructed vestige of the earliest days of the Twin Cities. Operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, admission costs between $6-$11/pp.

PicMonkey Collage fort snelling

Shady Oak Beach Community Play Area
5200 Shady Oak Rd, Minnetonka 55343

Open: Daily 10am-9pm through Aug. 1, 10am-8pm Aug. 2-23
Cost: $6/pp, age 2 & under admitted free, $3/pp after 6pm
Highlights: The 85-acre recreational area includes a spring-fed lake, diving dock with low & high dives, and a play area with a fossil dig and water mister.

Family Fun Twin Cities

lake nokomis main beach

Lake Nokomis Main Beach
5001 Lake Nokomis Parkway W, Minneapolis 55417

Open: Daily during park hours, 6am-10pm, lifeguards on duty 11am-7pm
Cost: Free, main parking lot $0.75/hr. or free street parking
Highlights: Gianna and her family recently spent the afternoon at Lake Nokomis Main enjoying the “massive” beach, playground, and special visit from some of the resident wildlife. You can read more about her beach day here.

Square Lake Park Beach
15450 Square Lake Trail N, Stillwater, 55082

Open: Daily 9am-9pm through July 31, 9am-8pm Aug. 1 – Labor Day. Lifeguards on duty 12-8pm.
Cost: $5/daily vehicle permit, FREE the first Tuesday of the month (upcoming: Aug. 4)
Highlights: The lake water is exceptionally clean and clear for swimming. The park doesn’t feature playground equipment, but a 15-minute side trip into downtown Stillwater is worth it to discover Teddy Bear Park (207 Nelson St E, Stillwater). My kids were particularly fond of the “cliff jumping” opportunities and cuddling up on the lap of a giant granite teddy.

PicMonkey Collage teddy bear park 2

teddy bear park, stillwater

 

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oakdale discovery center

Silver Lake Park Beach
19th Ave & Margaret St. N, North St. Paul, 55109

Open: Daily through August 9, lifeguards on duty 11am-7pm.
Cost: Free
Highlights: A small beach with a neighborhood feel to it. Play equipment is limited to a swingset and a slide, but the beach is adequate for swimming and sand play. A 5-minute drive away, try a visit to the Oakdale Discovery Center where kids can get their hands on exhibits in the touch-and-feel room, check out discovery backpacks, and (unusually) dissect owl pellets.

Lakeside Commons Beach
3020 Lake Pkwy, Blaine 55449

Open: Daily 10am-8pm, splash pad open 10am-6pm
Cost: $5/day pass per non-resident (paid when parking), free for Blaine residents
Highlights: A few things to keep in mind – it is a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the beach, and there is little shade to speak of in the park. The beach is large and clearly roped off into shallow and deeper swimming areas, and for those not ready to take the plunge, there’s a simple sprinkler splash pad. A playground rounds out the activities.

tm mn largest candy storeCleary Lake Regional Park Beach
18106 Texas Ave, Prior Lake, 55372

Open: Daily 9am-8pm
Cost: Free
Highlights: In addition to the swimming beach, this regional park has a playground and a spic-and-span campground that would make a nice base for fall day trips to attractions like the Minnesota Renaissance Festival (12364 Chestnut Blvd, Shakopee) and Minnesota’s Largest Candy Store (20430 Johnson Memorial Dr, Jordan).


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About the author

Anne Kingston

If we left it up to Anne to write her own bio, it would never get posted. She doesn't enjoy talking about herself, but Anne does love exploring the Twin Cities with her family and sharing her finds here. She, her husband and their four kids are lifelong residents of St. Paul.

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