Best of Summer Guide 2012

One hundred and five ways to do summer with a splash in the Twin Cities.

Best of Summer Guide 2012
Photographs by Stephanie Colgan and Katherine Harris
Illustrations by Randall Nelson

WE'RE LUCKY. Living in the land of 10,000 lakes and dozens of gorgeous rivers, we have a major asset other cities would die for: easy access to water and plenty of it. With water, water everywhere—and lots of places to drink, eat, shop, and play—summer in the Twin Cities is all about being on, in, or at least near our lakes and rivers, whether you’re going to get wet or just enjoy the cool breeze.

Slideshow: The Best of Summer in Photos

More than fifty beautiful photos of our favorite places to eat, drink, shop, and enjoy summer in the Twin Cities.

Taste of Summer

Grab a spot on the patio for the finest slice of summer.

Chain of Lakes

Just minutes from downtown Minneapolis, you can walk, run, bike, skate, swim, canoe, sail, sunbathe, and do everything else there is to do on a lake, and in a lake. Plus, there's great shopping and dining nearby. And with five million visitors a year, the people-watching is pretty good, too.

St. Croix River

Take a day trip to any of the towns along the lovely St. Croix, and it will be a day to remember. You truly can't go wrong.

White Bear Lake

For an all-day escape, head 20 minutes out of the Twin Cities to one of the biggest lakes around. Boats and beach await, and so does a remarkably walkable city with a charming downtown.

Lake Como

Spend an hour or a day at St. Paul's little urban gem. Circled by 1.67 miles of trails, the lake is great for quick walks, impromptu picnics, kid-friendly bike rides, and spur-of-the-moment canoe trips. And there's much more to explore at the surrounding Como Regional Park.

Mississippi River

We know how to spell it, and we definitely know when we're driving over it, but our relationship with our little slice of the Might Mississippi can feel remote and impersonal. This summer, make it your mission to get to know both sides of the river that divides and—more important—connects our cities.

Lake Minnetonka

Sure, you could spend hours on I-94, bumper to bumper between boats, trucks, and minivans, but it's so much easier to head out to Lake Minnetonka. There you'll find all the pleasures of Up North plus a see-and-be-seen social scene.

More (Great) Lakes

Every lake is a great lake in our book. But since we can't include all 10,000, here are a few more of our fave places to sunbathe, picnic, dive, fish, canoe, and relax.