Lake Minnetonka offers its paddlers 16 miles of mostly calm waters along its shoreline. During a warm and sunny day there is nothing better than taking a refreshing dip into the cool water. If 16 miles seems like too much paddling for a day, there are 30 different bays to paddle through and each bay has it’s own personality. Overall, this lake is perfect for a days break from the Twin Cities.
What Makes It Great
On most weekends, the lake is bustling with activity. On a windy day, the lake is filled with sailboats of many different sizes and colors. People of all ages take to the wind and work on their sailing techniques, and if you are lucky, there may even be a race to watch. It is a treat to see the rainbow of sails gliding on top of the water. On a calm summer day, the lake will be populated with kayaks, SUPS, and families on motorboats, basking in the warm Minnesota sun.
Who is Going to Love It
Either it be Excelsior, Wayzata, Mound, or any of the other adorable lakeside towns, you will not be disappointed by the beautiful lake views and recreational paddling opportunities offered at Lake Minnetonka.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
There is parking in all the towns bordering the lake, such as Wayzata, Excelsior, and Minnetrista. Most have metered-parking, but there are nearby neighborhoods that offer free on street parking as well.
If you have your own watercraft, a common start-off point is in the posh lake town of Wayzata. Only 11 miles away from the Twin Cities, Wayzata is known for its eclectic restaurant scene and high-quality boutique shops. Not to mention that there are two ice creams shops only a couple blocks away. If you do not have a watercraft, the town of Excelsior is only a few miles south and has Tommy’s Tonka Trolley: Excelsior Kayak and Standup Paddleboard Rental. A sleepy lakeside town, Excelsior has more antique shops than restaurants. If you have time, walk the main street and get lost in the adorably decorated shops and cozy cafes.
There is less boat traffic and more of a non-motorized paddling scene from Exelsior's boat dock. From the dock, you start in Excelsior Bay, but head northwest to Gideon Bay. Enjoy the quiet, peaceful waters and paddle beside some of Lake Minnetonka’s oldest lakeside homes. If you’re feeling adventurous, head north towards the large island in the distance. First you will see a small island to your right, Gale Island, where only the richest of the rich own property. Don’t feel embarrassed if you catch your mouth agape while paddling beside the luxurious high-end homes.
The larger island is Big Island, which features 65 acres of regional park reserve. Open to the public, this island is a great place to picnic and refuel after paddling all morning. If you want some exercise for your legs, there are informal hiking trails that lead to beautiful vistas of Lake Minnetonka. Though not open to the public, the Arthur Allen Wildlife Sanctuary is the reason why kingfishers, ospreys, and eagles still live on the island. On the north side, there is the infamous Cruiser Cove’s, which is a popular partying destination for all types of watercraft.