Minnesota has some pretty epic beaches, and we want to share 10 of our favorites. Between the scenic North Shore, the dozens of rivers, and the thousands of lakes, you’re bound to find some peace a quiet, a place to swim, or just a stretch of sand to work on your tan. Find Minnesota vacation rentals.
1. Zippel Bay State Park Beach
Zippel Bay has 2 miles of beautiful, white sand beach on Lake of the Woods, one of the world’s largest lakes, on the Northern border of Minnesota. The views are stunning in every direction, and the sunsets are a sight you’ll remember forever. During the summer, the 3,000-acre park offers a swimming beach and picnic area on the big lake, drive-in campsites and a group camp, a marina on Zippel Bay and a stone jetty providing protected access to Lake of the Woods. Birding is excellent, with chances to spot sandhill cranes and piping plovers, and of course, there’s plenty of room for your to spread out in the sand.
2. Iona’s Beach
This small, 10-acre beach on the North Shore is actually one of three Scientific & Natural Areas on Lake Superior. It’s best for just walking through and enjoying the scenery, and remember to treat the area gently and don’t take the rocks. There’s a short path that brings you to the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior, and the shores are covered with flattened pieces of smooth pink rhyolite. When waves hit the beach, they fall back into place with the sound of a million bells.
3. Lake Carlos State Park Beach
Sculpted by ancient glaciers, Lake Carlos State Park contains a tamarack bog, marshes, woodland ponds, and lakes. This secluded beach is the perfect place for families to unwind, take a dip, play volleyball, and enjoy the sunshine. The clear and deep water offers a perfect setting for swimming, fishing, and boating, and the surrounding area is also great for camping, hiking, and horseback riding.
4. Black Beach
Black Beach, located by Silver Bay seems like a secret place. There are actually three beaches in the area, but this one is a true hidden gem. There is gorgeous, soft black sand as a result of taconite mining in Minnesota’s past. It’s a great spot for swimming, or you can simply the enjoy the uniqueness of this view. At the Southernmost end of the beach, there is a large rock formation that just begs to be climbed and explored. Climbing to the top of this little island is steep, so be safe if you choose to climb to the top!
5. Afton State Park Beach
This beautiful state park beach on the St. Croix River offers a calm place to swim and recline on sunny days. Trails wind down deep ravines and up grassy ridge tops, taking you to scenic bluffs overlooking the river. These trails are perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and even cross-country skiing in the winter. This park also offers a swimming beach and campsites.
6. Flandrau State Park Beach
The beach at Flandrau State Park is soft and welcome and even has a chlorinated pool with a sandy bottom making it the perfect place to bring children. It’s conveniently located near the wonderful, small town of New Ulm, along with the gentle flowing Big Cottonwood River. Here, you’ll find views of wooded river bottoms, oxbow marshes, and open grasslands. Hike the flat trails on the bottom of the valley or challenge yourself on the oak-shaded bluffs. You can also visit the historic stone buildings crafted by Works Progress Administration crews.
7. Hayes Lake State Park Beach
Fed by the north fork of the Roseau River, Hayes Lake offers a wonderful park beach with sandy shores in Northwestern Minnesota. It’s perfect for families to relax and enjoy, fishermen looking for crappie, sunfish, large mouth bass, and northern, and birdwatchers wanting to spot over 200 species of birds. You can also enjoy swimming and canoeing in the lake, along with camping and hiking trails. Keep an eye out for wild blueberries. You can pick the berries, but not the flowers.
8. Camden State Park Beach
Camden State Park Beach is beautiful, but it’s the water that’s truly unique. The park is located on a spring fed pond with stunning, clear waters. It’s definitely one of the most refreshing places to take a dip in Minnesota. There’s also great fishing for brown trout in the Redwood River or bass and bluegill in Brawner Lake, or you can walk along the wooded river valley, and climb the Dakota Valley Trail to the lookout for great fall colors. Go canoeing on Brawner Lake, then take a break at the picnic areas, or stay overnight at the campgrounds.
9. Father Hennepin State Park
Father Hennepin State Park is located on the southeast shore of Mille Lacs Lake and offers a large sandy beach for swimming, two boat accesses, fishing piers and picnic sites with a panoramic view of the lake. The park’s 320 acres include two campgrounds and hiking trails that wind through a hardwood forest and along the rocky shoreline of Mille Lacs.
10. Fort Snelling State Park
Fort Snelling State Park is located in the heart of the Twin Cities and offers extensive hiking, bike and ski trails that link to Minnehaha Park and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. Trails also lead to the historic Fort Snelling which gives you a peek into the military life of the 1820’s. Go canoeing on Gun Club Lake, play golf, swim in Snelling Lake, or hike on Pike Island where the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers meet.