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Visit Lake Minnetonka

Updated on July 23, 2016

Minnesota's Most Beautiful Lake

Lake Minnetonka is simply the best lake in Minnesota! Not only is it stunning, but there's so much to do. Attend one of the cool festivals. Enjoy a plethora of outdoor activities, like paddle board, boating, and biking. Visit historical sites, sample local brews, and find Lake Minnetonka's off-the-beaten-path treasures.

Lake Minnetonka formed about 11,000 years ago. But its short lifespan has been nothing short of a wild ride. Each of its 24 bays and 12 towns offers a different experience for the visitor. And history buffs will appreciate the many opportunities to learn more about the lake and its people.

Begin your adventure today!

View from Arcola Bridge on the Dakota Trail
View from Arcola Bridge on the Dakota Trail

Fun in the Sun!

Here's a small sampling of the many things to do on Lake Minnetonka. You can make each trip a unique experience. The possibilities are endless! The adventure awaits!

Rent a Pontoon

  • Bay to Bay Boat Club, Excelsior (952-401-3880)
  • Howard's Point Marina, Shorewood (952-474-4464)
  • Rockvam Boat Yard, Spring Park (952-471-9515)
  • Minnetonka Boat Club and Rental, Mound (952-472-1220)

Take a Cruise

  • Al and Alma's, Mound (952-472-3098)
  • Bayview Event Center, Excelsior (952-470-8439)
  • Lady of the Lake Paddlewheel, Excelsior (952-929-1209
  • Paradise Charter Cruises, Excelsior (952-474-8058)
  • Steamboat Minnehaha, Excelsior (952-474-2115)
  • Wayzata Bay Charters, Wayzata (952-451-9001

Reservations are strongly suggested with both rentals and charter cruises.

Tanager Lake

Lake Minnetonka Area

Learn More About Lake Minnetonka

Your Reason to Love Lake Minnetonka

What's Your Favorite Thing to Do on Lake Minnetonka?

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The Minnehaha

The Historic Minnehaha

No, Minnehaha isn't a short joke. It's the historic streetcar boat of Lake Minnetonka! Experience a once-in-a-lifetime chance to ride one on Lake Minnetonka.

The streetcar boats ran from 1906 to 1926. They shuttled around passengers to 27 different stops on the lake, including the famous Big Island Amusement Park (1906-1911). If you know Minnesota, you might recognize the names of some of the other boats on the lake: Como, Hopkins, Stillwater, and White Bear.

Sadly, when the boats stopped running, they were scuttled and sunk. The era of steamboats drew to a close. But not everything was lost.

The Minnehaha was recovered in 1980 and back on Lake Minnetonka in 1996. Experience what it was like to be a tourist in the Golden Era of Steamboats! Cruises start running on Memorial Day weekend, weather permitting.

What does Minnehaha mean? The name comes from a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Song of Hiawatha.

Picturing Lake Minnetonka: A Postcard History
Picturing Lake Minnetonka: A Postcard History

The postcards depicting Lake Minnetonka are works of art. See for yourself!

 

Let's Go to a Festival!

Event
City
Month
Chilly Open
Wayzata
January
Dog Days Westonka
Mound
August
Spirit of the Lakes
Mound
July
Apple Day
Excelsior
September

It's a Great Time for a Regatta!

Regatta on Lake Minnetonka
Regatta on Lake Minnetonka

Lake Minnetonka Trivia

What famous female singing group summered on Lake Minnetonka?

  • The Andrew Sisters. The sisters spent part of their childhood in Mound, returning for summer vacations.

What was/is a blind pig?

  • In their early days, many villages on Lake Minnetonka went back and forth on the question of allowing the sale of liquor. One way some got around these laws was to open a blind pig. They would advertise a blind pig as an attraction with a small admission fee. While you marveled at the existence of such a hog, the proprietor would provide you with a beverage.

What happened to the steamboat, the Excelsior?

  • It's hard to believe today, but when the steamboats, or steamers as they were often called, served their time, they were often scuttled and sunk. The Excelsior was different. On August 12, 1909, she was set ablaze as a tourist stunt. Thousands witnessed the inferno.

Sunset on Lake Minnetonka
Sunset on Lake Minnetonka

The Numbers Game

  • Number of bays: 24
  • Miles of shoreline: ca 125 miles
  • Maximum depth (Crystal Bay): 113 feet
  • Average number of boat launches during the summer: 420

Hotel History

When James J. Hill brought the railroad to Lake Minnetonka, things would never be the same. The lake has a rich history of grand hotels. The largest was Hill's Hotel Lafayette. He built the five-story hotel for $815,000 or about $19 million in today's money.

The Hotel Lafayette was grand in every sense of the word. It had 300 rooms with all the modern amenities of the day. It was the largest hotel too. Passengers came to the hotel by train or by the 2,500-passenger steamboat, the Belle of Minnetonka.

The hotel flourished until tourism to the grand hotels on the lake began to languish. In 1897, the hotel known as the "finest hotel west of New York City" burned to the ground.

Excelsior, Minnesota

Excelsior
Excelsior

Ideas for Things to Do

Need some ideas about what to plan for your Lake Minnetonka trip? Here are some suggestions for the armchair traveler in you.

  • Fishing trip. With 24 bays, there's plenty of water to explore.
  • Have a picnic! Visit the Excelsior Commons to have a picnic on the lake shore.
  • Canoe the Minnehaha Creek. Follow the journey that early settlers took when they found the lake
  • Go biking! The Dakota Trail winds through the Lake Minnetonka area with fabulous views all along the way
  • Go shopping! Fun boutiques and antique stores have plenty of treasures for a souvenir of your trip
  • Look at the houses from the water. Take a leisurely boat ride along the lake and admire the houses and the gardens from the water

Because Winter Is Just as Fun on Lake Minnetonka

Winter on Lake Minnetonka
Winter on Lake Minnetonka

What to learn more about Lake Minnetonka?

By the Waters of Minnetonka
By the Waters of Minnetonka

Great stories about the lake! One of the best ways to learn its secret history.

 

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