Nicknamed “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” it’s no surprise Minnesota boasts an abundance of breathtaking lakes to visit. Whether you want to go fishing, canoeing, kayaking, or swimming, there are plenty of lakes near most Minnesota vacation rentals situated in small towns and even the Twin Cities. Without further ado, here are the state’s best lakes.

1. Lake Superior

a lighthouse at lake superior

The greatest of the Great Lakes, and the largest freshwater lake by surface volume in the world, Lake Superior features ocean-like vistas, rocky cliffs, scenic lighthouses and countless activities. Stay at a vacation rental in Duluth to enjoy the amenities of a city, or opt for a smaller town up the lakes coast such as Two Harbors, Grand Marais, or Grand Portage, which lies at the Canadian border. In Duluth explore the lake in style with a dinner cruise from Vista Fleet, or a sailing adventure with Moon Shadow Sailing. You can also experience the lake’s beauty from above with Beaver Air Tours, or venture out on a kayak from Grand Marais Kayaking Tours or Stone Harbor Wilderness Supplies in Grand Marais.

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2. Lake Mille Lacs

lake mille lacs

Located in central Minnesota, Lake Mille Lacs is a large but shallow lake known for prime bass and walleye fishing opportunities. In addition to summer fishing, the frozen lake is also a great place to try your hand at ice fishing. Bring your own fishing gear or schedule a boat fishing trip from McQuiod’s Inn located in Isle. Father Hennepin State Park on the southeast end of the lake has a large swimming area, as well as fishing piers, boat launches, and picnic sites. When you want some fun away from the lake, check out Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf in Brainerd or the Paul Bunyan Nisswa Family Fun Center in Nisswa, which is a small outdoor water park.

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3. Rainy Lake

rainy lake

Located in Voyageurs National Park on the Canadian border, Rainy Lake is a exceptional place to reconnect with nature. Stroll along the lake’s rocky shores, hike one of the many trails, or explore the boundary waters by canoe or kayak with Voyageurs Outfitters in International Falls. While in town grab some delicious local food at the Chocolate Moose Restaurant or Lenards Restaurant and Lounge. Don’t forget to pack your passport as your vacation rental in International Falls is just across the river from Fort Frances, Ontario.

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4. Burntside Lake

burntside lake
Source: Flickr/Steve Moses

A vacation rental in Ely provides easy access to numerous lakes in and near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. One of the closest, and largest, is Burntside Lake, which is a haven for numerous fish species, including northern pike, rock bass, walleye, and lake trout. Pick up fishing gear at Babes Bait & Tackle, and then head out on the lake with a pontoon or power boat rental from Lady Bug Lodge. You can get canoes and kayaks from numerous businesses in town, such as Boundary Waters Outfitters.

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5. Pike Lake

pike lake
Source: Flickr/auntjojo

A handful of lakes lie about 20 minutes northwest of Duluth, including Rice Lake, Caribou Lake, and Grand Lake. The closest to town is Pike Lake, which is a picturesque waterway with a public swimming beach and plenty of pike, bass, and other fish to catch both summer and winter. Stay in a vacation rental in Duluth to enjoy the city’s nightlife, or closer to the lake in Hermantown or Twig to get away from it all. Located just minutes from the shores of Pike Lake, La’s Family Restaurant is a great place to stop for traditional American fare on the way back to your rental.

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6. Lake Minnewaska

lake minnewaska
Source: Flickr/Doug Kerr

Lake Minnewaska is located in the southern portion of Minnesota, about two hours from the Twin Cities. The towns of Glennwood and Long Beach sit on the east side of the lake, with Glenwood City Beach providing easy access to the water. On the east end, Starbuck also has a swimming beach and dock. A prime walleye fishing spot, the lake also has largemouth bass, bluegill, and norther pike. Golfers in your party can enjoy a round just off the lake at Pezhekee National Golf Course, while Lakeside Steak & Chop House offers diners a lake view while they eat.

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7. Pelican Lake

pelican lake at dusk
Source: Flickr/S.J. & Jessie Quinney Library

Near the small towns of Dunvilla and Cormorant, Pelican Lake is primarily a fishing lake. A complex bottom, which includes sunken islands and deep drops, can make the fishing challenging, so it is a favorite for expert fishers. The lake contains large numbers of walleye, northern pike, and largemouth bass, as well as numerous other fish. If you don’t catch enough to eat, steer your boat to Zorbaz on the Lake for pizza, Mexican food, and a beer.

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8. Pickerel Lake

pickerel lake
Source: Flickr/Bailiwick Studios

A vacation rental in Saint Paul puts you close to a variety of activities, restaurants, and attractions, such as the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory and the Minnesota Centennial Showboat. A hidden gem in the city is Pickerel Lake, which is next to the Mississippi River in Lilydale Regional Park. Hiking and biking trails circle the lake, which is home to numerous bird species to view. Fish the lake from the shore or from a non-motorized boat launched from the carry-in access point.

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9. Tenmile Lake

sailboat race at ten mile lake
Source: Flickr/Ron Cogswell

The deepest natural lake fully within Minnesota’s borders, Tenmile Lake is fed by fresh springs that keep it clean and clear. Part of a popular canoe route that includes the Boy River, Boy Lake, Woman Lake, and Leech Lake, Tenmile Lake is close to the towns of Hackensack and Walker. Several state forests, including Paul Bunyan State Forest, provide hiking opportunities nearby. With a large part of the shoreline owned by private individuals, there are numerous vacation rentals located right on the lake, perfect for a peaceful getaway. Get out on the water with a boat rental from Jim’s Trailers Plus Marine & Recreational Rentals in Hackensack.

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10. Lake Nokomis

lake nokomis marina
Source: Flickr/Joe Passe

Located just west of the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Lake Nokomis is an oasis for city residents. Rent a paddle or sail boat to explore the small lake, wander the trails, play at the playground, or enjoy a snack from the concession stand. A large sandy beach makes the perfect sunbathing or swimming spot in the summer. The world famous Mall of America is just four miles south of the lake, making the calm waters a welcome place to take a break from a day of shopping.

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