Lake Minnetonka made headlines last summer when Kim Kardashian and her then fiancé, Minnesota-raised Kris Humphries, spent the 4th of July with friends there. However, Lake Minnetonka is more than just a passing celebrity fancy; it’s been a popular tourist destination for more than one-hundred years.
Located just west of Minneapolis, the Lake Minnetonka area is brimming with history, culture, and of course, summer fun. Two of the most popular cities on the lake are Excelsior and Wayzata. Both offer superb views of the lake and opportunities for dining, shopping, and aquatic activities.
Excelsior was established in the 1850’s and for many years served as a destination for vacationers or cabin-owners from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. Eventually, it became the residential community it is today. Excelsior’s main street, Water Street, is home to a variety of boutiques, art galleries, bakeries and restaurants. Excelsior has a modest farmer’s market each Thursday in the spring and summer months.
The Minnehaha Steamboat (http://www.steamboatminnehaha.org/) was used for passenger travel at the turn of the 20th century. When other forms of aquatic transportation became more prevalent, the steamboat was sunk to the bottom of the lake. It was eventually raised and fully restored. It is now docked at Excelsior Port and tourists enjoy riding it all summer long. Visitors may also ride the Minnehaha Steamboat from Excelsior across the lake to Wayzata and back again.
Wayzata is a far western suburb of Minneapolis, located on the northeast side of Lake Minnetonka. The name Waziyata (which eventually morphed into Wayzata) is a hybrid of two Sioux words—Waziya is their god of the north and by adding the suffix ta, the name means “North Shore”.
Wayzata’s main street, Lake Street, runs parallel to the lake and is home to a variety of upscale boutiques and fine dining establishments, many of which have decks and patios from which diners can enjoy beautiful views of the lake. Boat rentals and rides are available from http://wayzatabaycharters.com/.
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