Cedar Lake, Minneapolis
For those who consider dreadlocks a flotation device
Hidden Beach may no longer be hidden, but it is no less entertaining. How far? 8-minute drive (or 15-minute bike ride) from downtown Minneapolis. What to know: Mud, however well styled, is not a bathing suit.
Centennial Lakes, Edina
The mall fountain court that escaped into the wild
It's cute, highly manicured, and loves shopping—it might be the most huggable lake in the Twin Cities. How far? 15-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis. What to know: Rare public croquet and the change to see the Edina Model Yacht Club in action are worth a trip.
Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis
"On your left!"
For those in search of the Cities' best abs—or the Cities' best lakeside dining. How far? 10-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis. What to know: Grab your food from the far shorter drink and snack line at Tin Fish—it's enough.
Lake Harriet, Minneapolis
The Prius playdate
Where to see the Carleton class of 2035 (in BabyBjörns). How far? 12-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis. What to know: The sight of kids eating ice cream on their way to Wild Rumpus may result in pregnancy.
Lake Minnetonka, Excelsior
Vegas with water
The Kim Kardashian–approved alley of tied-off boats at Cruiser's Cove is a rite of passage. How far? 30-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis. What to know: Do not touch anyone's companion/throttle/sunburn.
Lake of the Isles, Minneapolis
The apex of aspirational dog walking
When all you want to ogle are homes. How far? 5-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis. What to know: Yes, Josh Hartnett still lives here. No, Scarlett does not. Yes, he should have locked that down.
Twin Lake, Golden Valley
Bohemia among the reeds
Subathe with your fellow man as God intended. How far? 10-minute drive from downtown Minneapolis. What to know: Don't swim far from your suit. This was once known as a nude beach, but Twin Lake's neighbors now demand fig leaves.
St. Paul/East Side
Como Lake, St. Paul
The westernmost East Coast park
Teeming with history and humanity—it's all happening near the zoo. How far? 12-minute drive from downtown St. Paul. What to know: Your Frisbee is gonna land in someone's grill (yes, we mean that both ways).
Lake Elmo, Lake Elmo
If backyard camping were a lake
Okay, so it's really two lakes: one natural and pristine, the other a manmade pond for swimming (which is also the metro's most mobbed beach.) How far? 15-minute drive from downtown St. Paul. What to know: Bring big bait—the state-record tiger muskie was caught here.
Lake Phalen, St. Paul
The quintessential urban park
Think: Hot Cheetos and lily pads, though the reconstructed waterfall has restored a lot of charm. How far? 10-minute drive from downtown St. Paul. What to know: Check out the U of M rowing races and sepak takraw—Thai volleyball.
Snelling Lake, St. Paul
Delta Sky Lounge—with sand
You are now free to move about the beach. How far? 20-minute drive from downtown St. Paul. What to know: Surprisingly tranquil, considering you're across the road from a runway.
Square Lake, Stillwater
Where Warby Parker goes SCUBA diving
The ultra-hip Square Lake Festival (which is actually across the road from the lake) features movies, bikes, and indie rock. How far: 30-minute drive from downtown St. Paul. What to know: Bring a snorkel for some of the state's clearest water.
St. Croix River, Afton
A watery playground for living large
Big boats, big sandbars, big bashes. How far? 25-minute drive from downtown St. Paul. What to know: Enjoy the good life—just don't try to bribe the river po-po with your "amazing guac."
White Bear Lake, White Bear Lake
An inland Cape Cod
Sailing mecca. Once home to F. Scott and Zelda. Emptying like a bathtub. How far? 20-minute drive from downtown St. Paul. What to know: Boat into Tally's Dockside, a more Key West-esque Lord Fletcher's.