Planning to entertain out-of-town clients this summer? There’s no better way to showcase the Twin Cities lifestyle than a day on our sky blue waters. With an abundance of lakes and rivers within driving distance of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, it’s easy to customize an experience to suit your clients’ energy level and athleticism. We’ve got ideas for first-time visitors, dedicated fishermen, a small group gathering on our urban lakes and even the penultimate summer experience—waterskiing, wakeboarding and wake surfing behind a high-test ski boat.
Pontoon-ing on Lake Waconia | Meet at In Towne Marina (intownemarina.com) on the shores of Lake Waconia, about 30 miles west of Minneapolis. Stow your coolers and settle your team onto a luxurious 24-foot, 50-horsepower Grand Island pontoon. As you navigate the lake, the second largest in the metro area, watch for blue herons, bald eagles and egrets. After returning to shore, walk two blocks west to Lola’s Lakehouse (lolaslakehouse.com). Grab a table on the deck and feast on Lola’s wings, lobster deviled eggs, peel-and-eat shrimp and other specialties.
Canoeing on Lake Calhoun | Convene at Wheel Fun Rentals (wheelfunrentals.com) adjacent to the pavilion on the east side of Lake Calhoun—the largest lake in Minneapolis and part of the Grand Rounds National Scenic Byway. Launch your canoes and paddle around the lake, known to the Dakota people as Bde Maka Ska, and then navigate under the bridge and explore quietly elegant Lake of the Isles. Return your canoes and rehydrate with ice cold beer and fish tacos on the deck behind Tin Fish (thetinfishrestaurants.com) in the pavilion.
Kayaking on Lake Nokomis | Gather at the Lake Nokomis Main Beach in south Minneapolis and rent single or double kayaks at Wheel Fun Rentals (wheelfunrentals.com). Cruise around the lake, named in honor of Nokomis, grandmother of Hiawatha in Longfellow’s epic poem, and admire the nature-scaped gardens on the northeast shore. Return your kayaks and refuel with local beer, Nokomis dogs and French fries at Sandcastle (sandcastlempls.com), a SoCal-style beach café.
Water Skiing on Lake Minnetonka | Meet your captain at Bay to Bay Boat Club (baytobayboatclub.com) in Tonka Bay, just west of Excelsior. Hand your cooler to the well-mannered dockhands and step aboard a high-performance 2017 Gekko REVO ski boat, fully outfitted with slalom skis, a wake board and knee board. Enjoy views of expansive, million-dollar lake estates and spend the afternoon carving perfect water in secluded bays. Join the locals for margaritas and excellent burgers on the waterfront patio at Maynards (maynards-excelsior.com) in Excelsior. —Melinda Nelson
Take your team out to Stillwater, where Your Boat Club (yourboatclub.com) is headquartered at Wolf Marine. Rent a fishing boat and head into the Lower St. Croix, a prime, 25-mile fishery between Stillwater and Prescott where walleye summer in the deep main channel, eddies and sandbars. After you’ve caught your fill, score a table on the patio at the Dock Café (dockcafe.com) and enjoy ahi tuna, catfish fingers and shrimp cocktails with postcard-worthy views of the Stillwater Lift Bridge and the St. Croix Crossing Bridge.