With 125 miles of lakeshore, dozens of bays, countless multimillion-dollar estates, and a handful of dockside restaurants for sunning, sipping mojitos and beautiful-people watching, Lake Minnetonka is always a good idea. To boat like you own it, join the Bay to Bay Boat Club (baytobayboatclub.com), where members can show up and drive off in a speedboat, runabout or deck boat. For all the fun without the commitment, half-day and full-day pontoon rentals and guided fishing tours are available. If your clients are the sporty type, head over to Tommy’s Tonka Trolley (tonkatrolley.com) at the picturesque Port of Excelsior. Tommy’s is command central, with kayaks and stand-up paddleboards for rent. Once you come off the lake, join the crowd for beer and burgers on the patio at Haskell’s (haskellsport.com) on aptly named Water Street in downtown Excelsior.
Clients who live in cities where lakes aren’t part of the collective urban birthright will be charmed by very accessible Lake Nokomis, named after Hiawatha’s grandmother in the Longfellow poem. Park at West Beach and head over to Wheel Fun Rentals (wheelfunrentals.com) where you can channel the spirit of Hiawatha in a canoe. For a more modern experience, get out on the water in a kayak, pedal-boat or a stand-up paddleboard. If the water’s too choppy for boating, take a spin around the lake on a bike or a newfangled surrey and then head over to Sandcastle (sandcastlempls.com) for well-deserved Pabst Blue Ribbon tall boys and Nokomis hot dogs with coleslaw and peppers.
Clients who sail will be delighted by the historic Calhoun Yacht Club (lakecalhoun.org), established in 1901 to promote the very civilized pursuits of yacht and canoe racing, iceboating, tennis and other pleasures. Clients used to grand, colonial-style yacht clubs may be charmed by the unassuming clubhouse on the northeastern edge of Lake Calhoun. On Wednesday evenings throughout the summer, rent cruiser bikes from Wheel Fun Rentals (wheelfunrentals.com) and watch C Fleet and Laser races as you circle the lake on its three-mile bike path. Afterwards, repair to the patio at The Tin Fish (tinfishmn.com) for a cool glass of wine, grilled mahi mahi, and stellar onion rings.
If your clients ascribe to the belief that a bad day fishing is better than a good day at the office, take them out to Lake Waconia. Park at the In Towne Marina (intownemarina.com), where you can fill your cooler with live bait and rent a fishing boat or pontoon. Spend a day fishing for muskie, largemouth bass, etc., and then head over to Lola’s Lakehouse (lolaslakehouse.com) for dinner. Dock your boat, take a table on the patio overlooking the water, and enjoy a pint of locally brewed beer, walleye cakes, Lola’s signature Asian-spiced chicken wings and a spectacular summer sunset.
St. Croix River
For a dynamic day on the water, take your clients out to “the river,” otherwise known as the St. Croix. At the colorful Beanie’s at Maui’s Landing (boatingatbeanies.com) in Lakeland on the Minnesota side, rent Jet-Skis by the hour, or fishing boats, pontoon boats and even houseboats for long weekends or a week. After cruising past views of the Minnesota and Wisconsin shores, cross over to Hudson on the Wisconsin side. Take a table on the patio at Pier 500 (pierfivehundred.com) and order a round of martinis and the signature “steak and lake” platter of grilled top sirloin and parmesan-crusted walleye before heading back to Minnesota.