Minnesota is a fantastic place for outdoorsy families, with plenty of opportunities for scenic hiking, biking, and watersports. In the Chanhassen area, you have access to some of the state’s most beautiful regional parks and waterways where you can go fishing, canoeing, kayaking, or swimming. If your family is an outdoorsy group or you love to be out near the open water, you have to check out these five waterways in and around Chanhassen.
Lake Minnewashta Regional Park
“Kayaking with the kid” licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Flickr by jjeff
Head about 15 minutes west of Chanhassen to Lake Minnewashta Regional Park, a small but mighty waterway packed with just enough water-filled fun. The whole park is 340 acres along the coast of Lake Minnewashta and has a swimming beach, paved boat access, and plenty of room for fishing. Go for a stroll along the lakeshore, splash around in the cool Minnesota freshwater, or get out on the water in a canoe or kayak for up-close views of the fish under the water.
If you’re there for fishing, go west of the beach to the fishing pier, which offers a picturesque view of the whole lake, the perfect backdrop when catching largemouth bass, bullhead, bluegill, sunfish, pike, and walleye. During the winter, you can even come to Lake Minnewashta to go ice fishing, a fun excursion for young new anglers.
In addition to water activities, everyone will also enjoy running around the off-leash dog park with the family pooch, kids can climb on the playground, and bookworms can donate to and take from the Free Little Library right near the beach. The park is open every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and during the fishing season, it opens bright and early at 5 a.m. for serious anglers.
Lake Waconia Regional Park
You can find Lake Waconia Regional Park, one of the area’s most fun-packed waterways, just about 20 minutes west of Chanhassen. This park boasts a sunny, sandy beach with shady umbrellas, a boat launch, and the “Coney Island of the West.” This island is part of a years-long construction effort to revamp the area, and now you can take advantage of fantastic views of the lake, picnic areas, hiking trails, observation decks, fishing piers, and more areas to launch canoes, boats, and kayaks.
The swimming beach has a lifeguard every day from noon to 6 p.m., so you and the kids have extra safety when enjoying the water. You can also enjoy sailing, whether you’re on the boat or watching them from shore, water-tubing, jet-skiing, paddling, pontooning, kiteboarding (because the winds on the lake offer nearly perfect conditions for this and other similar activities!) and pretty much any other watersport you can think of.
Wayzata Beach at Lake Minnetonka
Less than 30 minutes from Chanhassen is Wayzata Beach at Lake Minnetonka. This area has a stellar swimming beach that’s open from mid-June to mid-August and has a lifeguard on duty every day from noon to 6 p.m. Head out onto the water in a canoe or kayak, which you can rent, or bring your own and store in an on-site rack. You can also cast your line and fish for a variety of species at the designated fishing spots.
If you’re staying for the whole day, why not head to the grassy area just above the beach to have a picnic at the tables or in the soft grass? Bring your own food and drinks, or order some snacks from the concession stand. Then, relax with an amazing view of the lake and your family splashing around in the water when you sit out on the beach in one of the Adirondack chairs. And if you’re not there for water activities, hit the trails, volleyball court, or playground instead.
Baylor Regional Park
For more than 200 acres of water activities and land-based amenities, drive about 30 miles west of Chanhassen, past Dahlgren and Cologne to Norwood Young America where you’ll find Baylor Regional Park on Eagle Lake. This park features a large campground where you can have a staycation for a few nights to really enjoy everything the area has to offer. Or, you can stay for the day and enjoy water activities like swimming, hiking in the bog, or fishing on a boat, canoe, or off the shore.
There’s no need to head to the Atlantic or Pacific coasts for sandy beaches — Baylor Regional Park has an exquisite sandy beach perfect for sunning, playing volleyball or soccer, or making sandcastles with the lake’s freshwater. You get a good view of the lake, so it’s easy to watch the kids splashing around, and you can cook on a nearby grill for a fresh picnic. The canoe and kayak racks are just nearby, so grabbing your fishing pole and heading out onto the water is convenient.
The trail in this park goes on a boardwalk through the area’s bog, which is an environment where the ground is soggy and sponge-like. During the summer, this hike is a great educational experience to learn about this environment and the plants and wildlife that call the area home. In addition to these activities, you can also enjoy disc golf, horseshoes, volleyball, baseball, and the on-site observatory. The park is open every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Coon Lake County Park
Consider going for a day trip out to Coon Lake County Park, which is about an hour’s drive through Minneapolis and north to Columbus, Minnesota. If you plan to spend some time at the beach in addition to enjoying time out on the water, you can even bring your motorized boat and launch from the beach. Or, you can use the separate boat launch and get out on the water sooner. Plus, the lake is pretty big, so you’re likely to find a spot for you and your family to spread out and enjoy the water.
In addition to boating, canoeing, or kayaking, you can go swimming from the beach, fish from the pier, shore, or from your watercraft, play volleyball, go on a hike, or have a ball on the playground.So there you have it, Crème de la Crème of Chanhassen’s top five local waterways for splashing and relaxing. Did we miss any of your favorite waterways around the area? Contact us to let us know, and we’ll be sure to add it to our list.