July 13, 2012 by Gina
It’s Friday the 13th today but that doesn’t slow us down or spook us here at “More than Mamas”! In fact, we’re on another adventure.
It’s been so hot here in Minnesota (and the Midwest) the last few weeks that we decided to hit the beach! We’ve had several record-setting days of heat and several days in triple-digits. According to weather data, it’s rare to have two 100 degrees or more in Minnesota a year and we had several in one week. But…I digress from our adventure. Minnesota is known for the many lakes in the state and in fact, Minnesota’s lakes cover over 2.5 million acres! That’s ALOT of water so that means a lot of beaches and opportunities for time on the water.
While it would have been nice to take a lake vacation, we opted for a morning outing at Medicine Lake in the western suburbs of Minneapolis. Medicine Lake has three public beaches – Clifton E. French Regional Park, West Medicine Lake Park and East Medicine Lake Park. We decided to play at West Medicine Lake Park because of it’s covered pavilions, fun playground, ample parking and lifeguard on duty. I was expecting the beach to be packed, even in the morning, because of the heat. But there weren’t that many people at the beach, even when we left after our picnic lunch. It was nice to have most of the beach and park to ourselves!
We did all of the typical beach activities – swam, built sand castles and dug in the sand, played on the playground and had a picnic lunch. All of the kids were terrific and even Lucy and Finn (who are a bit tentative in water) enjoyed the lake. With all of the kids and a large area, we thought it might be difficult to manage everyone, but it was actually easier than taking them to the pool. All of the kids just stayed in one area, transitioning from the water to the sand to the snacks.
There are so many great lakes and beaches in the Twin Cities that you could spend weeks exploring them all. Most of them, like all of the beaches on Medicine Lake, are free. Here’s a short list of some of the lakes that are family friendly (in no particular order):
- Lake Calhoun – we love to walk and run around this lake and then grab fish tacos at Tin Fish. This lake and beach get really crowded since in is well-known and has a great view of the Minneapolis skyline
- Three Rivers Park District – The park offers free, unguarded swimming beaches at seven of their parks, with scenery, bathrooms, and often concessions. There is a beach at Baker Park Reserve, Bryant Lake Regional Park, Lake Rebecca Park Reserve, Fish Lake Regional Park, Cleary Lake Regional Park, French Regional Park, and Cedar Lake Farm Regional Park. Three Rivers also operates two swimming ponds with lifeguards, filtered water and man-made beaches at Lake Minnetonka Swimming Pool, and Elm Creek Swimming Pond. Admission charges apply to swimming ponds. I’ve heard that the Bryant Lake beach is terrific!
- Hidden Falls Regional Park has a sand beach made from dredging the Mississippi River. Access is free. Although swimming here isn’t recommended since it’s on the Mississippi, this park dates to 1887.
- Ft. Snelling State Park has many facilities including a beach, trails and picnic areas. I had to include this one since Brian is stationed at Ft. Snelling (not the park, but the military post). You will need a state park pass to enter the park and beach area.
- For those of you in St. Paul or the eastern suburbs, check out the Washington County Parks which have a couple of swimming beaches. Square Lake Park, near Stillwater, has one of the clearest lakes in the metro area. Point Douglas Park has a beach on the St. Croix, Lake Elmo has a swimming pond, Big Marine Park reserve has a large beach with modern bathrooms and changing rooms.
So, if this heat continues, check out the lakes to cool off. Just be sure to take safety precautions, bring personal floatation devices if you are going to go farther into the lake and check on the bacteria level of the lake prior to swimming. The heat has increased the bacterial levels in the lakes and can make it unsafe to swim. Most beaches/lakes will have this posted on-site and you can check the websites prior to going. And, don’t forget sunscreen, sunscreen and more sunscreen!
What are your favorite beaches in the Twin Cities or Minnesota at large or in your area? We’d love to hear from you!