Less crowded than other parks in the Twin Cities, Lake Nokomis Park still has all the fun and amenities you could want

By Claire Noack

Perhaps best known for hosting the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships each year, Lake Nokomis Park also has a wide array of offerings during the warmer months. Referred to by locals as the “unknown Calhoun,” this lake draws smaller crowds than its popular sister, but has all of the fun and amenities you could want.

Lake Nokomis Water Activities

Lake Nokomis is one of three sailing lakes (along with Lake Harriet and Lake Calhoun) in the Minneapolis park system. Water sport enthusiasts can rent canoes, kayaks, boats and paddle boards at Wheel Fun Rentals. For those looking for a bit more adventure, nearby community gym Paddlesculpt offers stand up paddle board (SUP) yoga classes on the lake.

Both the park’s main beach and the smaller 50th Street beach tout sandy shores and swimming areas with select lifeguard hours throughout the summer. Fishing piers are located on the north side of the lake at East Minnehaha Parkway and Lake Nokomis Parkway, and on the southeast side of lake at East Lake Nokomis Parkway between East 54th and 55th Streets. There’s also a canoe and boat launch area south of the main beach on the west side.

Lake Nokomis Park Recreation

After a long day on the lake, visitors can also take advantage of the park’s many amenities on land. The perfect place for a family picnic, Lake Nokomis Park has plenty of green space to set up a blanket in the shade and throw some grub on the coal grills around the park. Separate biking, walking and rollerblading paths make for a nice (and safe) stroll around the lake. A playground and restroom facilities also ensure that kids will have fun playing at the park all day long.

The 4-acre Lake Nokomis Naturescape Garden is home to many native flowers and plants. The garden is kept up by volunteers from the community and is a certified monarch butterfly waystation. The park hosts the annual Minneapolis Monarch Festival here every September.

The park is a sports lovers’ haven with a variety of spaces designated to specific games. Grab your racket or your soccer ball and head to Lake Nokomis’ sports areas that are open to the public, including baseball, football, soccer and softball fields, tennis court and pickleball court, as well as a pond hockey rink during the winter.

Photo from Sandcastle

 Neighborhood Eats

Combining good food, community and sustainability, Sandcastle serves up grub right on the shore of Lake Nokomis. Their dog friendly patio makes a great place to enjoy your American eats, beer and wine, and ice cream treats.

There are also several neighborhood joints within walking distance of the park that feature some local favorites. In the northwest corner of the lake, you’ll find Italian fare at two restaurants. Italian Eatery dishes up modern Italian food and pergola bar with a seasonal patio. Cabone’s Pizza & Pub is a local pizza chain with tons of pizza toppings.

On the south side of the lake, Fat Lorenzo’s offers casual Italian eats, including pizza, pasta, hoagies and gelato, and features colorful murals as decor. A short walk away from Lake Nokomis’ southern shore, there’s also 5-8 Club, home to the original cheese-stuffed Juicy Lucy burger, along with pub staples like cheese curds and fried pickles.

If you get to the park early and are looking for some hot food and coffee to wake you up, head to Hot Plate on the west side of the lake for a family-friendly breakfast spot. On the east side, stop by Nokomis Beach Coffee for your morning cup-o-joe, or check out Mel-O-Glaze Bakery for donuts and other sweet treats.


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