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Best Places to Paddleboard in Minnesota

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As the land of 10,000 Lakes (actually more!), Minnesota has so many great places to paddleboard! SUP (stand up paddleboarding) is one of my favorite activities and best ways to enjoy the water from Spring through Fall. Last year, we purchased inflatable boards and had a blast exploring spots around Minnesota. If you’re just starting out, I would recommend a calmer lake without boat traffic. As your abilities grow, so will your options. The list below notes which lakes have non-motor traffic and which spots are more challenging. I also note some rental options if you need boards. Read on and then make plans to visit one of the best places to paddleboard in Minnesota!

1. The Chain of Lakes

Minneapolis, MN

One of the most iconic places to paddleboard is around Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles and Bde Maka Ska. There’s no motor boat traffic allowed, so you can easily and enjoyably paddle around all three lakes which are connected. We like to start off from Cedar Lake’s South Beach but you could also start from Lake of the Isles or Bde Maka Ska. If you need a rental, check out Wheel Fun Rentals at Bde Maka Ska’s NE corner.

2. Lake Minnetonka

Wayzata/Minnetonka/Excelsior, MN (20 min west of Mpls)

Another iconic spot to paddle is Lake Minnetonka. You can start off from either Excelsior Bay or Wayzata Bay and both have great options for dining before/after. If you need rentals, head to Wai Nani SUP in Wayzata Bay. They also have SUP Yoga and Workout classes which I did last summer – they’re a great and fun workout! Note that boat traffic is allowed so stay close to the shoreline and be aware of surroundings.

3. Cuyuna Mine Lakes

Cuyuna Lakes Recreation Area, MN (2 hours from Mpls)

Hands down some of the most beautiful lakes in Minnesota are the old mining lakes in Cuyuna. They’re crystal clear, incredibly scenic and motor boats are only allowed to go a max of 10mph. We enjoyed paddling next to loons and watching fish because the water is that clear! Make a weekend of it and stay at the gorgeous Cuyuna Cove boutique cabins! Paddleboard rentals are available from Red Raven or from Cuyuna Cove if you stay there. The Cuyuna region is up and coming and in my opinion would be one of the best places to paddleboard in Minnesota, whether a novice or expert.

4. Christmas Lake

Shorewood/Chanhassen, MN (30 min Southwest of Mpls)

Christmas Lake is a spring-fed lake so it’s very clear and beautiful. It’s not too big and would be a good option if you only have a couple hours to get out on the water. While motor boats are allowed and you should use caution, it’s generally a quieter lake (from our experience).

5. St. Croix River – Taylor’s Falls

Taylor’s Falls, MN (1 hour North of Mpls)

Incredibly scenic with cliffs lining the St. Croix River, Taylor’s Falls is the ideal paddling day trip. It can be challenging to paddle on a river so only consider this option if you’re comfortable paddling against stream. We started off from the launch at Taylor’s Falls Canoe and Kayak Rentals shop in Interstate Park (state park pass required) and paddled upstream. That way, we could more leisurely enjoy the second half of the paddle. If you don’t have a paddleboard, you can rent a kayak (no paddleboards available) from Taylor’s Falls Canoe and Kayak. They will also pick you up if you only want to paddle downstream and drive you back to your car (see their website for this option).

6. Lake Superior

Black Beach, MN (3.5 hours North of Mpls)

Lake Superior, depending on the day, can be a great option for paddling but I’d only suggest this lake for advanced paddlers because conditions can change quickly. We started off early on super calm waters from Black Beach and paddled north to Tettegouche State Park. By the time we turned back, the water was choppy as wind conditions had picked up. Some people paddle through caves in the cliffs at Tettegouche, which was what I had hoped to do, but the conditions were not safe. For more details on our paddle here, check out my article here. If you can wait for a calm day, that would be best for this gorgeous but unpredictable lake! It looks like Duluth SUP offers rentals at great rates!

7. St. Croix River – Stillwater

Stillwater, MN (45 min East of Mpls)

Stillwater is one of the best towns to visit in Minnesota because there’s so much to do, including paddling on the river! We launched from St. Croix Boom Site just north of the main downtown area and enjoyed paddling south. We went on a calmer day so it was easy when we had to turn around and paddle upstream, but use your best judgment depending on weather the day you want to go! For rentals, check out St. Croix SUP Co.

8. Root River

Lanesboro, MN (2 hours South of Mpls)

While we were in Lanesboro to bike on a day trip from Rochester, we saw people paddling on the Root River. It’s an incredibly scenic area and looked so peaceful! We plan to go back to stay overnight with our paddleboards (plus enjoy the great bike trails again!).

9. Medicine Lake

Plymouth (15 min West of Mpls)

Medicine Lake is a very popular paddling lake. While we’ve only biked around it, we always see paddlers and can’t wait to bring our boards out soon!

10. Lake Winona

Winona, MN (2 hours South of Mpls)

We hiked last fall in Winona and spotted the scenic Lake Winona, set in between the Mississippi River and the beautiful bluffs. This would be a scenic, calm and relaxing spot to paddle! It’s not too big either so could be an ideal spot to learn. Rentals are available from Lake Lodge Recreation Center (just call ahead to confirm).

Other spots on our list to explore in Minnesota include: Lake Pepin, Bear Head Lake and Lake Vermillion. After visiting new spots, I’ll update this list of Best Places to Paddleboard in Minnesota.

If you’re looking for a change of scenery, check out great Paddleboarding spots in Wisconsin on Ash in the Wild’s beautiful blog!

As always, please wear a life jacket, check weather conditions, tell someone before you go paddling if you’re by yourself and use your best judgment! Check out the Minnesota DNR site for all paddleboarding regulations and tips!

Looking to stay on land? Check out some of my favorite bike paths in the Twin Cities!

Happy Paddling!

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  1. Cristina on May 19, 2021 at 00:50

    I was looking for places to paddle around the Twin Cities and found your article and website. Thank you for publishing it! Not on your list but on the West side, I like going to the lake at Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain and Lake Rebecca in Rockford. I’ll look forward to more updates on SUPing around MN and excited to check out the rest of your blog. I used to live abroad and love to travel as well. Cheers!

    • Planet with Sara on June 8, 2021 at 14:45

      So glad my article found its way to you! Iโ€™ll add those spots to my wish list for this summer – Iโ€™m always looking for new places to paddleboard so thanks for sharing! Where did you live abroad? Glad to connect!

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