The Best Minnesota Beaches to Escape the Summer Heat


While I’m glad we’re no longer buried under ten feet of snow, this summer has been, in a word, beastly hot. We’ve been hit with heat wave after heat wave with temps consistently hitting 90s degrees or higher.

I’ve taken to cuddling a small fan when I sleep, and decided it was futile to put on any makeup as it would immediately melt off my face the moment I stepped out the door. But even with the heat, it’s hard to want to stay cooped up inside during the summertime. So instead of heading to the movies or to the mall simply for the air-conditioning, throw on your swimsuit and dip your toes into some cool water at these great beaches all around the cities.

Cedar Lake Beach

The beaches around Cedar Lake are perfect if you don’t like the large crowds. The main beach, officially called Cedar Lake East Beach, is a sandy beach tucked between trees and plenty of greenery. This way you can stay in the shade or lay out and work on your tan. The beach is open seven days a week with official hours from 6am to 10pm though a lifeguard will only by on duty from the peak hours of 12pm to 7pm. And if even the East Beach feels too crowded, you can walk on the paved path around to the other side of the lake to Cedar Lake Point Beach or Cedar Lake South Beach and stake out your spot on the sand. Though be aware, neither Point Beach or South Beach have lifeguards on duty.

Shady Oak Beach

A local favorite, this 85 acre beach provides all the activities you want for a fun-filled summer day. Shady Oak boasts a long sandy shoreline with clear spring-fed waters. And along with swimming, the beach also offers a high dive, playground area, canoe, kayak, and stand-up paddle board rentals, sand volleyball, fishing, and a convenient changing area. New this year, on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, you will be able to try out their inflatable obstacle course. Definitely something for everyone. You can also take a break from all the excitement to refuel with some concessions or relax by lounging on the sand. Shady Oak charges $6 per person for a daily entrance fee or if you wait until after peak hours at 6pm, the admission cost is only $3 a person.

Lake Nokomis Beach

It’s easy to understand why Lake Nokomis is one of Minneapolis’ more popular beaches. A convenient location and a great swimming beach, Lake Nokomis also offers plenty of amenities including a picnic area, playground, and the Sandcastle restaurant that serves up tasty dishes and provides covered tables to escape the blazing sun. Throughout the summer on Tuesdays from 5:30-7:30pm, Lake Nokomis also offers free Open Swim to the public. Open Swim allows you to hone your swim skills by training on a 600 yard course outside the designated buoyed swim areas. Lifeguards are present during Open Swim and guard the main beach from 11am-7pm.

Black Beach on Silver Bay

You don’t have to travel all the way to Hawaii to experience black sand beaches. Simply travel up to Minnesota’s North Shore to explore this hidden gem on Silver Bay. The Black Beach, also called Onyx Beach, is covered with soft, black sand that got its color from years of dumping taconite tailings. Black Beach is considered a great spot for swimming when the weather is nice and if you can handle the cool Lake Superior waters. Tucked away in a cove and surrounded by enormous rock formations, this beach is stunning and perfect for photographers and for making those summer memories.

Webber Natural Swimming Pool

While not technically a beach, this is not your ordinary pool. Webber Natural Swimming Pool is the first public pool in North America that uses a natural filtration system instead of harsh chemicals to clean and filter the pool. By foregoing the chemicals the pool is better for both the environment and better for you. Don’t be alarmed by the greenish tint of the water, as the pool is frequently tested for bacteria and will close if the water becomes unsafe for swimming. Pool hours are from 1pm-7pm Tuesday through Sunday and admission is completely free.

Bonus Beach Tips:

  • Avoid swimming in lakes immediately after it rains as high bacteria levels usually occur right after a rainfall.
  • Dry yourself off as soon as you leave the water to help prevent swimmer’s itch. And at the first opportunity, shower with soap and fresh water.
  • Avoid lake bacteria by not stirring or digging up sediment and try not to swallow or get lake water in your mouth.
  • Stay hydrated and apply lots of sunscreen.

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