Lake Nokomis Main Beach–Sandy Fun for Everyone

Two girls wading near ducks at Lake Nokomis Beach in Minneapolis, Minnesota

For the past five summers, I have made it a priority to get to the beach each week with my kids–to really take advantage of the Minnesota summer days, Minnesota lakes and city beaches. This year, much to my kids’ chagrin, is the first year in the past five that hasn’t been successful in this endeavor.  It wasn’t until July 11 that we made it to the beach. So we made an excursion of it, heading down to South Minneapolis to explore Lake Nokomis’ Main Beach. (There are two Lake Nokomis beaches; this one is the bigger of the two.)

Our family has been to Lake Nokomis plenty of times because it’s been host to many different types of walks and runs. We, however, have never been there to play in the water or on the beach. We decided it was about time.

Four kids packed into a mini van ready for a roadtrip
“It’s FINALLY beach day!”

Getting There Was Half The Fun

Lake Nokomis is a little bit of a drive for us (unlike Long Lake Beach which is just five minutes away), and the kids were getting anxious to be at the lake. When we arrived, the road was blocked due to the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon! So we made a sharp right turn where the safety patrol officer was sending us and ended up driving around the lake to the tune of understandable whining: “When are we going to get there? Why can’t we just park? Mmmmmoooooommmmmm!”

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We drove all the way around the lake until we came to another triathlon road closure. I made the decision to leave and go to Heartfelt in the Linden Hills neighborhood (which was also on our agenda).

I am starting to get familiar with the roads in Minneapolis and what connects to what and which streets are north/south and which are east/west.

The key word in this sentence is “starting.”

I made another quick right and thought I was going north, but because I had been going around the lake, I had lost all sense of my inner compass. I took a left and then another right on streets that I thought I recognized. Suddenly, I realized I was right back where I had started. I saw a free parking spot and grabbed it. Though the main beach was a small hike, my kids were so thrilled to be out of the car they didn’t complain.

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Lake Nokomis Park, Minneapolis

By now, dark clouds were rolling in and I wasn’t sure how long our sunny day would last, so we grabbed our beach gear quickly and marched across the park. “We will stay until it rains,” I promised.

Once we got to the beach, we unloaded our things and ran into the water. Kyla was convinced the lake water would be freezing, but we were all pleasantly surprised to find it warm and inviting. After playing together for a while, we all chose our different modes of fun. Dash and Jack ran over to the playground on the beach. Tori started digging in the sand and building, while Kyla enjoyed the water.

Momma duck and her ducklings strolling on beach
Local Lake Nokomis Residents Out for a Stroll

Meeting the ducks

That’s when the ducks started their venture through the beach.

Back and forth, the baby ducklings and mama explored, searching over our blankets, discovering our feet and nibbling our toes. The waterfowl delighted our entire family, and since it never started raining, it was very tricky to pull my kids away from Lake Nokomis.

We loved it and can’t wait to go back.

Beach Day with Family Fun Twin Cities at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis, Minnesota
Finally at the beach!

Lake Nokomis Main Beach highlights

  • The beach is massive.
  • The playground is ON the beach, right next to the lake.
  • While there are a lots of choices for activities, including sand play, the playground, the beach itself and rentals.
  • The ducklings
  • Lifeguards are on duty from noon to 7pm daily during beach season.
  • MPRB works with Wheel Fun Rentals to provide watercraft, like canoes, kayaks & paddle-boards, for visitors to rent.

Lake Nokomis Main Beach lowlights

  • You have to pay to park in the main parking lot. $0.75/hour. There is free parking on the street and at hidden lots around the park, but it is a bit of a hike especially if you have little ones.
  • I imagine it gets busy most days, but since we were there at the end of the triathlon and dark clouds were rolling in, it was very empty.

Find more beachy fun ideas on our summer Pinterest board.

FFTC did not receive any compensation for this review. Gianna  Kordatzky first published this article July 22, 2015.

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