7 Paddling Experts in the Twin Cities

Mackenzie Lobby Havey
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Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes—actually 11,842 lakes to be exact—are a big part of the state’s charm. To be sure, when you combine the shoreline of Minnesota’s lakes and rivers, it surpasses that of California, Florida, and Hawaii combined. It’s no wonder lake culture is alive and well here.

If you’re looking to get out on the water this summer, there’s no shortage of options in and around the Twin Cities metro area. What's more, there are plenty of resources that offer canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals to make that happen.

Here are a few of our favorites in the city or a short drive away.

1. City Lakes, Minneapolis and St. Paul

Eriks Ranch

With locations at Lake Harriet, Lake Calhoun, Lake Nokomis, Minnehaha Falls, Lake Como, and Lake Phalen, Wheel Fun Rentals has the market cornered in terms of urban lake exploration. They provide rentals for canoes and kayaks at $21 per hour and stand up paddleboards for $20 per hour. If you’re searching for something the whole family can do together, they also have pedal boats that seat four.

2. Midwest Mountaineering

One of the Twin Cities oldest outdoor specialty retailers, Midwest Mountaineering 's staff can credibly say, “been there, done that.” The store offers a full selection of canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards. Plan to spend some time there so the staff can answer all of your questions and offer advice on all the gear, apparel and accessories you need to have a pleasant experience on the water. Canoes, kayaks and stand-up paddleboards are available for rent and check out the store's event calendar. These events are a great way to try out different brands of boats in a fun environment.

3. Three Rivers Park District, multiple locations

Many of the most popular Three Rivers Parks , including Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain, Bryant Lake Regional Park in Eden Prairie, Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington, and Lake Rebecca Park Reserve in Rockford, offer a variety of watercraft rentals. Among the options are canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, rowboats, and stand-up paddleboards. These parks also all have great lakes on-site to explore. Be sure to call ahead to find out what is available at any particular park.

4. Minnesota Outdoor Center, Minneapolis

U of M Outdoor Center

You don’t have to be a student to rent outdoors equipment from the University of Minnesota's Outdoor Center . They offer rentals of both Royalex and Kevlar canoes and stand up paddleboards to the general public in the spring and summer. If you’re planning on making a weekend of it, you can also take advantage of their bike, climbing, and camping gear rentals.

5. State Parks, multiple locations

Mackenzie Lobby Havey

For those who don’t want to have to haul around their paddling equipment, many of the  state parks offer one-stop shops for rentals and recreation. Since rentals vary depending on the park, be sure to check the list before hitting the road. All parks charge $15 for a half day and $25 for a full-day canoe or kayak and $10 per hour for stand-up paddleboards.

6. Hard Water Sports, St. Paul

Hard Water Sports has everything from canoe and kayak rentals to complete Boundary Waters Canoe Area outfitting. Canoes and kayaks cost $45 for single-day rentals and $20 for each additional day. For thrill seekers, the St. Paul-based outfitter also offers whitewater canoeing classes and whitewater rafting trips.

7. Lebanon Hills Park, Eagan

Holland Lake at Lebanon Hills Regional Park is a great place to fish or simply paddle around. Among their rentals are Old Town and Wenonah Canoes,single and double kayaks, and two different stand-up paddleboard models. They also have life jackets, fishing equipment, and live bait available on site.

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