By Trent Jonas
Sometimes the best way to enjoy Minnesota’s thousands of lakes is zipping across them on a personal watercraft, bouncing off the waves, getting wet, and becoming one with the water. When you’re on a jet ski, though, you’ll need plenty of room to play and explore—and ideally in a spot that isn’t too crowded all the time. Here are a handful of our favorite spots to hop on the jet ski and let loose.
Lake Minnetonka is the biggest lake in the Twin Cities Metro Area and one of the largest in the state. Its 14,000 acres are carved into dozens of interconnected bays, with islands, points, and peninsulas to explore. A place to see and be seen, Lake Minnetonka can get crowded on sunny summer weekends, but there are also plenty of spots with a lot of room for your jet ski—and plenty of wake to play in. Wayzata Bay and the Lower Lake, including Big Island, are awesome places to explore, with lots of lake to ride across. Stop in Wayzata, or zoom over to Maynard’s in Excelsior or Lord Fletcher’s on the West Arm for lunch or other refreshments. Public access at Spring Park is a good put-in spot. Don’t have your own PWC? You can arrange to rent a jet ski from companies like Rent PWC in Mound.
The Whitefish Chain of Lakes is a popular summer destination in Central Minnesota. Part of the Brainerd Lakes vacation region, the Whitefish Chain is made from more than a dozen interconnected bodies of water, including 7,370-acre Whitefish Lake. Bays, islands, and peninsulas offer plenty of shoreline to explore. Meanwhile, a lot of open water and recreational boaters means that there’s much lake and much wake for your jet skiing enjoyment. Several communities are located along the Whitefish Chain of Lakes, such as Crosslake or Manhattan Beach, where you can find access to the water and any gas, supplies, or other amenities that you may need. Crosslake Rental & Leasing offers jet ski rentals.
The Detroit Lakes area—commonly known as simply “DL”—is the premier lake destination in Northwest Minnesota. The area is comprised of more than 150 lakes, many of which are connected. The best open water lakes are Detroit Lake, itself, as well as the Cormorant Lakes area, which is also very popular with recreational boaters. If you don’t have your own PWC, J & K Marine, as well as Detroit Lake Marina, which are both in Detroit Lakes, offer rentals. With dozens of communities and more than 400 resorts in the area, access to the lakes is plentiful. The city of Detroit Lakes, itself, offers the best combination of amenities and access.
Folks in the East Metro flock to White Bear Lake to satisfy their jet ski joneses. Three large bays and a lot of open water, along with shoreline amenities in the town of White Bear Lake, make this an awesome spot for a spin on your personal watercraft. If you don’t have your own, there are a few businesses in the area that rent jet-skis. The public access at Ramsey County Beach is free. Access in Matoska Park requires an annual permit, and White Bear Docking charges a launch fee. A supermarket and Tally’s Dockside near White Bear Docking are convenient places for last-minute ice and supplies, or to take a quick break from your ride.
Lake Vermilion is a big, glacial lake in North Central Minnesota, located between Virginia and Ely. Best known for its nationally-recognized golf resorts and popular casino, Lake Vermilion is also an awesome destination for jet skiers. Surrounded by Minnesota’s gorgeous North Woods and dotted with bays and islands, Vermilion is a nature lover’s paradise. Because of its location, the population around Lake Vermilion is fairly sparse, with just a couple small communities in the area. There are, however, several resorts that may sell fuel, if you need it. Public access is available at Soudan Underground Mine State Park, as well as in a few other locations around the lake.