Scenic Minnesota Towns Near Lakes

Minnesota is fondly known as the land of 10,000 lakes, and it lives up to that promise with countless sparklingly blue bodies of water spread across the state. Minnesota exceeds its name’s promise with nearly 12,000 lakes across its beautiful landscape.

Even with such an abundant natural setting, Minnesota still has a large and thriving population. Many of the towns and cities in Minnesota are lucky enough to be on or near some of the state’s famed bodies of water. Let’s look at some of the towns and cities in Minnesota with incredible lake settings.


Cook is a tiny city in Minnesota home to around 500. It is a popular summer tourism destination due to its proximity to  Lake Vermillion. Minnesotans come in droves to enjoy the top-notch boating, fishing, and hiking around the lake.


Glenwood is a scenic, peaceful town along the waters of Lake Minnewaska. It is a typical small town where everyone knows everyone. It is surrounded by many campgrounds and popular for canoeing and kayaking.

Forest Lake

Forest Lake is a town of 20,000 roughly a 25-minute drive from St. Paul. Within the town are both Forest Lake and Clear Lake, two scenic bodies of water ripe for year-round exploration. Ice fishing is common in the winter, and boating is popular in the summer.


Excelsior is a community that is only a short drive from Minneapolis that maintains a small-town feel. Excelsior sits along the shores of Lake Minnetonka, one of the bigger lakes in the state. It also has great breweries and beaches by the water.


Crosslake is another small town with a population of around 2,300 with a quaint feel and lakefront access. Crosslake is near many lakes, including Rush Lake, Cross Lake, and Dagget Lake. Its scenic setting offers access to Minnesota’s pristine nature.


Isle is a tiny city with a permanent population of fewer than 1,000 people, so if you’re looking for a busy city, look elsewhere. However, with a setting on a bay opening into Millie Lacs Lake, Isle is located on one of the state’s largest and most beautiful lakes.


Plymouth is a busy suburb of Minneapolis home to around 80,000 people. It is dotted with small lakes such as Medicine Lake, Bass Lake, and Pike Lake. It is a thriving city with excellent shopping, food, and scenic venues.

Golden Valley

Golden Valley is a picturesque Minneapolis suburb. More than 15% of the city is composed of nature and parks, which include the many bodies of water in the town like Sweeney Lake, Wirth Lake, and Twin Lake.

Maple Lake

Maple Lake is a small town home to 2,000, named for the lake it resides on. The town has scenic properties along the water, making it popular for summer homes. There are also excellent hiking trails overlooking the lake.


Waconia is a mid-sized city of 13,000. It is an suburb of Minneapolis that sees an influx of tourists in the summer. Waconia is nearby the beautiful Lake Waconia, a popular spot for summer homes, boating, and outdoor recreation.


Garrison is a tiny community with about 200 residents. It is perfect for those that prefer nature and solidarity, as it is set on the shores of Millie Lacs Lake. It is a popular spot for anglers and boaters.


Erhard is another tiny town that is perfect for those that are seeking a quiet place to live. This peaceful community is home to roughly 165 residents and is located along the Pelican River. Just a short drive out of town are several lakes, such as Knobel Lake.


Nisswa is a small city of 2,000 surrounded by water. Nisswa has many lakes that dot the landscape, including Gull Lake, Nisswa Lake, and Lake Huber. Many of the homes in this city have excellent waterfront views.


Aitkin is a scenic community that is the launching point to several picturesque Minnesota lakes. It is a town surrounded by nature and water, with excellent hiking and boating outside the city. Some of the lakes in Aitkin include Cedar Lake, Nord Lake, and Ripple Lake.


Alexandria is a Minnesota city of around 13,000 that is a popular vacation destination. More than ten lakes surround the city, such as Lake Homme Dieu and Lake Darling.

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