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THE BEST SWIMMING HOLES NEAR MSP

7 PLACES

UPDATED JUL 14, 2020

It’s tough to pick the best swimming spots near Minneapolis, considering there are well over 11,000 lakes in MN! But some of the state’s best places to suit up are actually rivers, waterfalls, and quarries. So, opt for a different kind of adventure and splash around in one of these hidden gems.

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GINA VAN THOMME

FITT TWIN-CITIES CONTRIBUTOR

An hour outside of the Twin Cities, the Quarry Park and Nature Preserve allows swimmers to choose their adventure. Those looking to get their blood pumping (or recreate scenes from Twilight) can head to Quarry 2, a cliff-diving destination with both 10- and 20-foot plunges into 100-foot depths. If swimming (or showing off that trendy new floaty!) is more your scene, you can also do that here, or venture over to the shallower waters and sandy shoreline of Quarry 11.

Not only does the St. Croix Boom Site have clear swimming water (which can be surprisingly hard to find in the Land of 11,000 Lakes) but it also provides enough natural attractions to make it more than worth the 40-minute drive from The Cities. Within hiking distance, visitors can find caves, a waterfall, and sandy beaches. Plus, you can also brush up on bit of good ol’ Minnesota history: in the late 1800s, this section of the St. Croix River was a log boom used to sort timber before it floated off to sawmills down steam. We wood definitely recommend checking this spot out. (Sorry, we had to.)

There are tons of notable swim spots in the Duluth area, but the Gooseberry Falls in Gooseberry Falls State Park stands out among the rest thanks to its #nofilter gorgeous scenery and calming waters. With an Upper, Middle, and Lower falls, there are plenty of options for those looking to take a dip (at least up to your knees). And okay, admittedly, this place isn’t exactly Minnesota’s best-kept secret, but it’s pretty clear why. Not only are there plenty of hiking trails and spots to wallow in the shallow, but it also looks like a computer screensaver come to life! You could say we’re totally fallin’ for Gooseberry.

The Deeps in Lester Park is the official swim spot of Duluth-dwellers looking for a spot to swim that’s superior to the crowded beaches of Superior. Away from the crowds, cliff-divers plunge into The Deeps from rocky cliffs, while those who prefer making less of a splash can swim or spectate from a walking bridge overlooking the water. Now excuse us as we enter Mom Mode for just a moment: with cliffs as high as 70 feet, jump at your own risk. Okay, Mom Mode over. Now get out there and show us your best cannonball!

Okay, we know. Trying to pick just one swimming hole in the Boundary Waters is comparable to trying to pick your favorite cheat day meal… basically impossible. While we recommend checking out as much of BWCA as your heart desires, we do need to shout out Johnson Falls for its excellent swimming hole at the base of the third (and lowest) falls. Accessible by canoe through Pine Lake, this swimming hole is equal parts beautiful and useful for washing off the sweat after a long day of canoeing.

Not near the North Shore? Not a problem. An hour and a half south of the Twin Cities, Hiniker Pond is a favorite swim spot among southern Minnesotans. A sand and gravel pit turned spring-fed, sandy beach, Hiniker Pond is the perfect place for wading, picnicking, and just generally beating the heat and humidity of a Minnesota summer.

For a swim that doesn’t require leaving city limits, check out Hidden Falls Regional Park. Best known for its waterfalls (obviously), this park also has a gravel beach area that is a great place for those looking to get their feet wet. Thanks to a lock and dam, swimmers can enjoy a calm swimming area in the midst of the mighty Mississippi. Bonus: this secluded spot allows for swimming without the risk of running into everyone you’ve ever met in your entire life. (*Cough cough* Lake Minnetonka…)

A final word of caution: Rocks are hard and can hurt you. Please follow all posted laws and safety precautions and be extra careful out there!

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