10 Twin Cities Beaches & Playgrounds to Try This Summer

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Tired of heading out to the same old swimming spot? We’ve combed the Metro in search of new places to try with our own families and came up with ten we think are worth checking out for their beaches, playground, and other recreational opps nearby:

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Lake Elmo Park Reserve Swim Pond  | Lake Elmo

Open: May 27, 2017 – daily 9am-9pm, lifeguards on duty 12-8pm.
Cost: $5/daily vehicle permit
Highlights: If you’re leery of your lake water, this man-made swimming pond has filtered, chlorinated water that maxes out at 6 ft. and is rimmed with a lovely sand beach. Go early to grab a spot under one of the large, colorful umbrellas. The play equipment is terrific, but requires a walk across two parking lots to reach it.

Lake Johanna Beach | Tony Schmidt Regional Park, Arden Hills

Open: Daily during regular park hours – half-hour before sunrise to half-hour before sunset
Cost: Free
Highlights: We love this beach for its clean, soft sand and playground so close to the shoreline that I have no problem letting my older children play while I keep an eye on the younger ones in the water. That is, if you can grab a spot of sand near the equipment; this is a pretty popular beach with families. There is space to picnic nearby in the large pavilion.

Lake Calhoun 32nd Street Beach | Minneapolis

Open: Daily, June 10-Aug 20, during park hours, 6am-10pm, lifeguards on duty 11am-7pm Sun-Thurs.
Cost: Free
Highlights: Little ones will enjoy wading, digging in the sand, and the quick walk to the shady tot lot. Make a day of it by hopping over to sister Lake Harriet for lunch at Bread and Pickle, a ride on the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, or, if visiting in the evening, a movie at the Lake Harriet Bandshell.

Long Lake Public Beach | New Brighton

Open: Daily during regular park hours – half-hour before sunrise to half-hour before sunset
Cost: Free
Highlights: Gianna’s family loves this beach for its huge, grassy picnic area because, as she puts it, “that means there’s less sand on your towels and blankets!” (And probably less ends up in your food, too.)

Big Marine Park Reserve Beach | Marine on St Croix

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
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. 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

Round Lake Park Beach | Eden Prairie

Open: Daily during regular park hours, lifeguards on duty starting mid-June, 11am-7om
Cost: Free
Highlights: Nothing about the beach itself stands out (except that perhaps a little cleanup was in order the day we were there), but my kids loved the marine-themed splash pad and treehouse-like play equipment at the Round Lake Play Area. Older kids might find it fun to rent youth kayaks ($5/hr.) or stand-up paddleboards ($8/hr.) or bike ride the one-mile path around the lake. Nearby is plenty of shaded picnic space and the new Round Lake Skate Plaza.

PicMonkey Collage round lake

Excelsior Commons Beach | Excelsior

Open: Daily during regular park hours, lifeguards on duty noon-6pm
Cost: Free
Highlights: Reader Laura suggests a trip out to this beach for its calming view of the lake, a great playground close to the water, and the proximity to the fun of downtown Excelsior. Thanks for the tip, Laura!

Lake Minnetonka Regional Park Swim Pond | Minnetrista

Open: Daily 9am-8pm starting Memorial Day weekend
Cost: $5/pp daily or $18/pp season pass
Highlights: Akin to the popular pond at Lake Elmo Park Reserve, the swimming at Lake Minnetonka Regional Park is also in a man-made, chlorinated facility with well-marked areas of varying depth.

lake minnetonka regional park beach

Bush Lake Beach | Bloomington

Open: Daily during park hours, lifeguards on duty 11am-7pm
Cost: $7/daily vehicle permit starting June 1, 2017
Highlights: The sandy beach is great, and if the kids are looking for something a little more adventuresome than the available tot lot, the fabled “Chutes and Ladders” playground (officially the Hyland Play Area if you look it up) is just across the road – and is free to enter.

PicMonkey Collage hyland lake park

hyland play area

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snail lake regional park beach

Snail Lake Regional Park Beach | Shoreview

Open: Daily during regular park hours – half-hour before sunrise to half-hour before sunset
Cost: Free
Highlights: The beach is tucked away in a pocket of the north Metro, less populated, grassy, shaded and shallow with a sand-and-water play structure right at the shoreline. We only wish the unique playground equipment was closer to the water.

Have a favorite swimming spot you’d like to see added to the list? Drop us a line and let us know in the comments!

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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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