Activities & Resources
Lake Harriet451in Minneapolis, MN 55410
about Lake Harriet:
At the north end is the showpiece Lake Harriet Bandshell, with its flag-waving turrets, glassed back wall, and matching outbuildings housing restrooms and concessions. (Don't be confused if it looks different than photos: a privately-funded restoration changed its serene blue to a sandy brown a few years back.) The lovely castle-like building is only the latest in a series of pavilions on that site, dating back to 1888. The current stage was built in the 1980s, but in period-style, so on summer evenings, when the rows of benches and surrounding grassy picnic areas fill with adults and kids there to hear one of the free daily concerts, it's like stepping back 100 years to a simpler time - ubiquitous t-shirts and cell phones notwithstanding.
Back then, this peaceful area was a vacation getaway for city residents, rather than a backyard. Each summer, they boarded streetcars and flocked to the bungalows here from the then-far off city. Cross the parkway south of the bandshell and you'll find a re-creation of the station that greeted them in 1900. Now that a section of the long-defunct Como-Harriet Streetcar Line has also been rebuilt, visitors can take the short but fun ride over to Lake Calhoun in refurbished cars. The Minnesota Streetcar Museum runs the service from May to November. Lines are longest for the special spooky rides around Halloween.
The lake also boasts swimming beaches north and south, two fishing docks, a marina, and plenty of space to fly kites and picnic. Watercraft can be rented from Wheel Fun Rentals in season.
The playground on the hill north of the Bandshell gets a lot of use - and shade - but the metal equipment is outdated and a little rusty. Parents can keep an eye on kids from one of the picnic tables beside it. Another playground, up a hill on the west side of the lake at Beard's Plaisance, has similar old metal equipment, but no shade and far fewer kids. The large, open pavilion there can be reserved for parties at $150/half-day and $300/full-day. It's got electricity hook-ups, but no restrooms. Sledding is popular here, and hair-raising, given all the trees on the hill. There are two tennis courts at the bottom.
The lake is circled by three miles of divided paths where residents exercise and socialize. The inner lane is reserved for walkers; those on wheels - be they skates or bikes - cruise the outer lane clockwise.
Lyndale Park Gardens at the northeast corner of the lake includes a Japanese-style rock Peace Garden, a formal Rose Garden, and perennial and annual gardens. These offer more places to explore, picnic, and relax. Summer entertainment is offered here too, usually once a week.
Lake Harriet is maintained by the Park Board, which oversees its bandshell concerts, beaches, and facilities.
Sailing lessons: Offered in season for ages eight and up, alone or with parents, at the boat dock beside the bandshell. Register online, or in person at any Minneapolis Parks recreation center, beginning in May.