Lake Minnetonka Bays

Browns Bay

Black Lake

Carman Bay

Carsons Bay

Coffee Cove

Cook's Bay

Crystal Bay

East Upper Lake

Echo Bay

Emerald Lake

Excelsior Bay

Forest Lake

Gideon's Bay

Gray's Bay

Halsted's Bay

Harrison's Bay

Jenning's Bay

Lafayette Bay

Libb's Lake

Lost Lake

Lower Lake North

Lower Lake South

Maxwell Bay

North Arm

Old Channel Bay

Peavy Lake

Phelp's Bay

Priest's Bay

Robinson's Bay

Seton Lake

Smith's Bay

Smithtown Bay

South Upper Lake

Spring Park Bay

St. Alban's Bay

St. Louis Bay

Stubb's Bay

Tanager Lake

Wayzata Bay

West Arm

West Upper Lake

An introduction to Lake Minnetonka

Lake Minnetonka is situated in the western part of the Twin Cities metropolitan area in Minnesota. Covering approximately 14,528 acres, it is one of the largest and most famous lakes in the state. The lake has a highly irregular shape, with numerous bays and peninsulas that give it a distinctive character.

The name "Minnetonka" is derived from the Dakota Sioux language and roughly translates to "great water." Native American tribes have a long history with the lake. It became a popular resort destination in the late 19th century when steamboats ferried visitors to grand hotels and amusement parks around the lake. Today, it's a vital recreational and residential area.

Bays are inlets or recesses along the shoreline of a lake. They are often sheltered from the open water, providing calm and tranquil areas for various activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming. Bays can vary in size and shape, creating unique experiences for visitors.

Lake Minnetonka has several types of bays:

  • Main Bays: These are large, well-known bays that often have bustling communities around them.
  • Quiet Coves: Smaller, secluded bays are perfect for those seeking a peaceful escape.
  • Channels and passageways: Some bays are simply a connecting body of water to another 

Popular Lake Minnetonka Bays

Excelsior Bay

  • Located in the charming town of Excelsior, this bay offers shopping, dining, and a beach.
  • Ideal for paddleboarding and kayaking.
  • Access to the Lake Minnetonka Regional Trail.

Wayzata Bay

  • Known for its upscale dining and shopping options.
  • The Wayzata Yacht Club hosts various regattas and events.
  • Ideal for sailing and leisurely cruises.

Smiths Bay

  • A quieter bay perfect for fishing and picnicking.
  • Home to Smithtown Beach, a popular swimming spot.
  • Great for wildlife enthusiasts; you may spot eagles and ospreys.

West Arm

  • Offers excellent fishing opportunities, especially for bass and northern pike.
  • The town of Mound is nearby and provides access to amenities.
  • Wonderful for wildlife watching and birding.

St. Albans Bay

  • Known for its calm waters, ideal for water skiing and wakeboarding.
  • Home to Bayside Grille, a popular lakeside restaurant.
  • Beautiful sunsets and views of Big Island.

Boating and Water Sports

Lake Minnetonka is a haven for boating enthusiasts. You can rent various types of watercraft, including pontoons, speedboats, and sailboats. Waterskiing, wakeboarding, and tubing are popular activities.


The lake offers diverse fishing opportunities, with sp ecies like bass, walleye, northern pike, and muskie. You can fish from shore, hire a guide, or join a fishing charter.

Dining and Entertainment

The bays around Lake Minnetonka boast a wide range of dining options, from casual lakeside cafes to upscale restaurants. Live music and cultural events often take place in lakeside towns.

Beaches and Swimming

Several beaches offer swimming and sunbathing opportunities. Be sure to check for water quality advisories before swimming.

Lake Minnetonka's bays offer a diverse range of activities and natural beauty. Whether you're seeking relaxation, outdoor adventures, or vibrant entertainment, there's something for everyone along the shores of this remarkable lake. Enjoy your visit to the bays of Lake Minnetonka, and savor the beauty and tranquility of this Minnesota gem.

We asked people in a recent survey, "What is their favorite bay on Lake Minnetonka and why?" Here is what our user group had to say:

Lake Minnetonka Bays:

FR: St Louis Bay. Quiet bay plus GREAT Deephaven Beach

RM: Carmans Bay, was a hang out for me about 30 years back in the 80's

SW: Harrison is my "home Bay" on 'tonka. Good fishing (at least it was....), good water for skiing (maybe not as good as Halsted's....), good swimming beach at "The Point", and most important - great family and friends in the area. Largemouth bass, sunfish and crappies mostly. There are Northern pike that cruise the shallows as well. It is a different lake in some ways...much busier water traffic, and then there is the Eurasian milfoil invasion..... but Lake Minnetonka is, in my view, one of the very best recreational and fishing lakes in the country.....

LP: Halstead. Since it is an end Bay, tends to be quieter than some of the others. Also, lotus beds!! I grew up on this Bay. My dad built our house and it was one of the first ones on the Bay.

DW: When we lived in Orono, 54-64 next to Maxwell Bay was the bay we went to the most. We did spend a lot of time on Stubbs bay and Smiths Bay.

CG: Priest bay when I was growing up! Now Jennings

NM: Crystal Bay. I grew up there.

CG: Used to slide down Farley’s hill onto priest bay when I was growing up

ST: We used to slide down the hill onto "the channel" next to Dave Nelson's (Biggie) house and just up from Mike Riley's house. :) We did bash an occasional tree, but avoided the dock posts left in the water over winter!

SSH: Robinson’s Bay. It was generally quiet all year.

CM: Yes, Robinsons bay beach is awesome. So many fond memories.

RB: Lafayette Bay... clean and central to the rest of the lake. Great fishing in the right spots... and straight shot to the cities with no traffic lights stop signs!!!

JK: Crystal Bay. Born and raised.

CM: Grays Bay! I grew up there. The Minnehaha creek starts there. It was an awesome neighbor to grow up in.

PG: I second Robinson's bay. Many happy memories of early childhood there.

JG: Hallsteds at sunset can not beet it!!! Otherwise like like the bays around Boy Scout island !!!

GB: Harrison bay

CL: I have to say Spring Park Bay, it took me 50 years to get out here, but I'm here!

CM: I lived on that bay too Cindy. Its gorgeous but always so choppy.

CL:  Big waters... we normally don't boat it, go float somewhere else.

RN: Carsons

JA: The Upper Lake looking across from where I grew up on Douglas Beach, beautiful!!

PK: Gideon's, the bay I grew up on, then probably Excelsior bay would be 2nd. Third would be entire rest of lake.

TJM: Grays bay used to tube down from there to near where we lived.

BL: Priest's Bay where I grew up 40's and 50's.

BA:  I like West Arm. We lived there when I was a kid. (1970s) Drove a boat to my job at Lord Fletchers in summer and skate sailed across the bay with a friend in the winter!

DN: West Arm, it's not too big or too small of a bay and that's where I grew up!

KM: Wayzata Bay and Crystal Bay-grew up there, fished them. Walleye, smallies and bigmouth bass, northern pike, no muskies (yet) in my case.

FB: Forest Lake Bay

GM: North Arm - I grew up there and spent my summers in it and my winters on it!

CGO: North Arm lived there growing up.

LP: Had relatives with summer cottages on North Arm. Spent MANY holidays there, arriving by boat or car. One of the cottages was torn down, but rebuilt on same site years ago and is still “in the family” and lived in.

DG: North Arm is a slice of heaven, quiet, not too weedy, close to Fletchers.

More info on Lake Minnetonka Bays

TP: Crystal Bay and Lafayette Bay. Grew up on both. Better swimming on Lafayette than on Crystal.

GFK: My family grew up near Crystal Bay also.......had tons of fun at Arcola Bridge!!!

SB: Stubs bay..usually quiet with just a few skiers.

CB: St Louis Bay. Quiet bay plus GREAT Deephaven Beach. We anchor there all the time.

PT: Upper lake, between Crescent Beach and Clay Cliff. Lived there for 40 years and was great for tubing, water skiing and swimming, especially with a dock that had a high dive on it and a natural sandy beach with virtually no weeds! Awesomeness.

JW: Crescent Beach in the mid to late 80s and very early 90s was interesting lol. I used to bike there.

ML: Stubbs from age zero to eighteen. Quiet dead end bay. Great for skiing. Caught fish off the dock. Was terrorized for years by a giant snapping turtle. Best place in the world to grow up...well at 56 I guess I'm still working on growing up.

AC: We used to ski on a course in Stubbs.

BE:  Carson's Bay. Grew up and caught a lot of fish there.

MS: East Upper Lake just north of Crescent Beach - the Gold Coast. Lived on the lake there off Wildhurst,Old Orchard which is in Tonka Bay. Great expansive west facing views and sandy beaches.

SH: Robinson’s Bay. Great swimming and water skiing. Easy access to Wayzata and Excelsior by boat. Between the Wayzata Yacht Club and Minnetonka Yacht Club. Quiet bay.

MRC: North Arm as a kid for water skiing. Usually calm and not much traffic.

LSS: Smithtown Bay Grew up there. One of the cleanest bays and always calm for water skiing!

DG: Love waterskiing, my brother and I were nuts. Slalom, barefoot, shoe skis, anything that would go behind a boat!!!!

JJM: Jennings Bay because it means I'm home and off the lake for the night! LOL. BTW, TowBoatUS! Not that I don't love you folks but Damb! Ya'll can really wear me out after a long weekend day! LOL!

JB: Jennings Bay- grew up pretty much in it.

JK: Crystal Bay. My home. Born and raised! Nice. Beautiful blue water.

BL: I never realized Lake Woebegone had so many bays. Where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average. Garrison Kiellor knew exactly what he was talking about. I know because I grew up there.

BL: Where the women are strong, the men are good looking and all the children are above average.

KS: Libbs Lake.

JS: Jennings bay - three points mound.

SZ: St Alban's, always some calm water for skiing.

SM: St. Louis bay- home to Deephaven Beach!! I loved lifeguarding there. Best office view ever!

LS: Carmens Bay.

SZ:  Upper lake for cruising in the boat, and random pic of a flintlock we found on Shady Island

KR: Harrison's Bay, good for skiing and tubing, peaceful and home.

NH:  Upper Lake!

TJS: North Arm!! My husband grew up on it and we have lots of great memories there!! Great bay for water skiing too!!

DMH: I don't think anyone has said it so far....West Arm Bay! Grew up on the main point of Three Points in Mound....the best way to spend a childhood, in or on the lake all year long!!

CRB: Crystal! My family had a house on that bay for many generations! Great memories!!

AST: Stubbs.

KR: Lived on Libbs Lake from birth to college and then lived nearby for 3 to 4 years after marriage. Quiet, shallow little lake with a nice swimming beach and great neighbors. Now almost all the homes that I grew up near are gone and replaced with mega homes, including my childhood home.

DR: Mine is still on the corner of Park Lane. Libb's Lake Beach is where I learned how to swim.

KR: When did you live there? I lived at 3115 Lakeshore just south of you by 2 houses. I lived there from 1944 to 1962 and then farther down at a rental at 3150 from 69-72. Lots of family there for me. I learned to swim at the beach before it was a beach. It was just where everyone swam (is that a word?) We called it the point.

DR: I will get the correct address, Mrs Petron babysat us and they lived across the street. The fireman and his wife lived west of us, Mel Jass visited them frequently.

KR: I remember the name Petron. I went to school with David Jass--really nice kid. You must be quite a bit younger than me.

DR: Born in 1961.

KR: I was 17, I could have been your babysitter. So if your house was on the corner of Park Lane, did you mean closest to the beach or Lakeshore? So what kids did you play with?

DR: The Whites, Petrons, McGarry (sp). Home was one up from lakeshore home behind all the lilacs.

KR: Hmmm! I'm really confused. BTW that's not my picture, it's my husband in honor of Veteran's Day. I'm going to attach a picture of mom's house and see if you remember it.

DR: We played baseball in the street on Cottage Grove. The park was just a field of weeds back when I was your age when you lived there.. Other than Petron, I do not remember any of those names. Mother might know them, but she's been gone for many years now.

DR: Hmmm, my memory says up on the hill. Our home was up from Libbs beach. Walk up Park Ln, pass the garages on the left, then the big lake home, then the next home on the left was ours.

KR: That's right next door to Mom's. I didn't realize that was a Park Lane address. I thought it would be a Lakeshore Blvd address. My brother Jon was friends with one of the McGarry's and there's quite a story with the Petron's and the Mortenson's but can't be revealed on a public forum. We must have crossed paths at one time or another but since I was a teen and you were only 8, I'm sure neither of us took an interest in each other. It really is a small world. It's been fun reminiscing with you.

CH: Robinson's. Deep, clean, now wavy like the ocean. Best for swimming from the boat.

CM: Robinson's. Lived there my HS years.

MDS: I have to go with Robinson's too-- it was the closest to home when I was growing up. So many great memories. The beach is great for families.

JSS: Crystal bay is where I grew up.

GH: Smithtown Bay , that’s where our family , the Mann’s started out in 1864.

MF: Miss all of them & the whole lake are. How lucky we were to grow up on the lake. We Were not rich but sure felt rich in the moment.

CL: Rich in the beauty.

BL: Rich in memories. It was a true year round wonderland.

LP: Does anyone remember ice boats? Basically, sailboats on skates? They were SO MUCH FUN in the winter, on the ice before it got snow covered. Masts were usually too tall for most channel bridges, but even so, you could really fly on your own Bay!

SSH: Wow, you actually went ice boating! There are usually a few ice boats on the city lakes, and I’d imagine on Lake Minnetonka also. They go super fast!

KR: We couldn't afford an ice boat, but when the weather was right (much like this year) the ice would form before snowfall and we'd put our skates on and with a sheet, make our own sail and fly across the ice on our skates. The hard part was skating back upwind. I was only good for maybe two rounds. Good memories.

LP: There were two neighbors that had them, so I got to do it a lot!!

KR: My nephew has one now, but I'm too old and disabled to give it a try. However, his 86-year-old father tried last year and flipped bruising his hip, but thinks it was well worth it.

JF: You also see them in late winter as the ice is warming and has a bit of water on the surface. The Knapp boys gave us a ride one day in their parent's Hudson River boat back in the early 60's. It was something!

AYG: I just remember watching them ~ you can see them flying across the lakes in Minneapolis, for sure!

JEK: Crystal Bay, it's where I grew up!

DG: Anybody ever hang on Smithtown Bay?

GC: My favorite bay is Harrison Bay because that's where I grew up! (Three Pts)

JS: Yes Harrison and Jennings bay - three points - Mound mn

DR: My favorite bays in this case is a tie between Libb's Lake and Harrison's Bay. This would be a very long post to share why...

NW: Carman Bay......quiet and lived on it for 14 years.

MM: Carson's Bay where our sailboat was my whole life.

CC: Basically anywhere on Upper Lake - not as many idiot toowners!

JW: Carson's bay, clean water.

LP: Gideons Bay! Quiet bay- great skiing, swimming& fishing

JC: Robinson's Bay. Home sweet Home!

SZ: The best part was having the whole lake! I didn't get my drivers license till almost 18 cause I had a boat and everything and everyone was on the lake.

CC: Oh do I miss the days when the Lake wasn't overcrowded.

SLJ: Loved Cooks Bay beach when I was very young Then we moved and got to experience Harrison's Bay.....and "The Point" Just loved having a lake not far from wherever you were, especially on those hot summer days.

CB: Cooks Bay, Chester Park, Docked Al and Almas boats till the bigger kids got there. Makes me sad to go back smells totally like gas from those tech big boats. Was to scarred to go swimming with grandkids. Would love to live in the little house next to Al and Almas.

SCE:  I grew up on Cooks bay and I have so many great memories of swimming, skiing, boating. Great times and one of the quieter bays.

JDK: I also have memories at your dock!!

KR: My husband and I used to take our boat from Libbs Lake all the way up to Cook's Bay where we would ski with our nephews and niece. That was back in the late 60's early 70's. One of us would ski all the way up there and the other all the way back. We'd get dragged through the Narrows.

BL: I lived on Priest's Bay, but spent a lot of time on Cook's Bay.

JW: I grew up on Halsted Bay. It was too small for water skiing so it was quiet for swimming. Loved waking up to the speed boat noise. That meant it was already nice out to go hang with friends.

KWL: I grew up on Halsteads Bay. It was a quiet bay so people loved to knee board and water ski in that bay. I know I did my fair share of it.

CT: North Arm Bay. Grew up on this bay! Still here. It's a great bay for tubing, water skiing, swimming, fishing, floating, cruising!

JW: Cooks bay was great!

LE: Harrison bay. The point and ice fishing. Skating the lake in no snow years.

LO: I noticed a couple of trees that appear to have been "skirted" by what I'm assuming are beavers; one on County Road 15, at the north shore marina, & the other, just east a couple blocks, right along the shore.

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