Explore the Twin Cities’ greatest accolade: our water.

Here in the Twin Cities, it’s important to spend some time on the water. And with 20-some lakes and many more rivers, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a way to do that. Enjoy a relaxing waterfront weekend as you explore some of our best shores.

A styrofoam cup filled with ice cream sitting on a table with a black and white Licks Unlimited logo painted on it.

Image by jpellgen/flickr




Start your weekend on one of the area’s best lakes: Lake Minnetonka. Enjoy fine dining and beachfront views at The Wharf at Lord Fletcher’s. Belly up to one of three outdoor bars and try the famous walleye or a Fast Eddie’s Burger, then take in some live music performed on the football field-sized deck.


Save room for dessert, because after dinner you’re heading to downtown Excelsior for sweet, refreshing ice cream at Licks Unlimited. The bustling shop is located on Lake Street, downtown’s main drag, just a few steps from the lake. Grab a cone with two scoops and watch the sun set over a pristine view of the lake.

Two tiki-inspired mugs are sitting on a table on Psycho Suzi's patio. Easter Island-inspired heads are sitting in the background.

Image by Todd Buchanan/Minnesota Monthly





Today you’ll actually get out on the water. Head to Uptown’s Chain of Lakes for all sorts of water adventures. Make a stop at Wheel Fun Rentals, located on the northeast corner of the lake, for paddleboard, kayak, canoe and paddleboat rentals. Enjoy exploring the lakes and the channels that connect them for competitive, hourly prices.



When paddling, swimming and splashing around leave you famished, head back to land for lunch at Tin Fish. Teeming with happy guests on warm summer days, this laid back seafood spot rests on the shores of Lake Calhoun. Whether you prefer your fish grilled, fried, on a sandwich, in a salad or a taco, they have you covered. Make it a Tin Fish Combo for fish, shrimp, scallops and calamari.



Spend more time on the water as you enjoy a meal fit for a king at Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge. This riverfront tiki bar and restaurant is weird in all the right ways. A dash of kitsch and a healthy helping of rum make for one unforgettable evening at our favorite Mississippi River Shangri-La. Once you’ve sipped down your Fu Manchu or the Leilani’s Fire Bowl (we suggest you recruit several friends for this one), order some Polynesian wings or The Barracuda pizza and your night is made.




Top off the weekend with a visit to the Mighty Mississippi. Drop a canoe into the stretch between the Twin Cities, part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which is surprisingly bucolic. No barges. Slow current. It’s our amphibious Central Park. Many urban waterways are cleaner now than their rural counterparts. The Rice Creek Chain of Lakes Preserve, just 10 miles from St. Paul, can seem like wilderness, with ospreys and eagles. But paddling the Mississippi River is also geographically soothing. Fort Snelling, which can seem so isolated in a tangle of highways and airport, is a straight shot from either downtown on the river. Minnehaha Creek comes to a tidy, sandy conclusion. Even locking through the Ford Dam—holding a rope as you sink into a concrete cavern—is a breeze compared to rush-hour traffic.



Before you close the seal on your waterfront weekend in the Twin Cities, have lunch at Vic’s, located along the cobblestone streets of St. Anthony Main. This riverside restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows, so you still get a seat with a view if you stay inside. Otherwise there is an open-air deck where you can order anything from Minnesota Egg Rolls to Pork Osso Bucco and dozens of things in between. They also have an extensive, well-priced wine menu.


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