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Featured Photo by Visit Lake City

How To Spend A Perfect Weekend On Lake Pepin in Lake City, MN

Lake City, MN

Nestled along the banks of Lake Pepin and the Mississippi River on the Great River Road, Lake City, Minnesota is a great travel location all year round. Rivaling northern Minnesota with beautiful landscapes and recreation, Lake City can be a better choice for some due to warmer water, a longer season, a slower pace, and fewer crowds. Many Great River Road travelers hit the road to Lake City for all kinds of occasions including romantic getaways, outdoor adventures, celebrations, and family fun. But the river city is also great for a simple weekend getaway.

Boating, golfing, snowmobiling, shopping, and just relaxing are a few of the most common activities, but there is so much more to do every season in Lake City with its dramatic landscapes and cultural and recreational activities. Here are a few recommendations to get you started planning your next adventure to Lake City.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Beautiful Lake Pepin is the largest lake on the Mississippi River, making it a popular spot all year round for outdoor recreation. Lake City is located right on the shoreline of Lake Pepin, offering visitors prime access to the lake via boat launches and marinas, such as Lake City Marina or Hansen’s Harbor. The area is known for some of the best boating in the Midwest given the size of the lake and the surrounding beauty of the Mississippi River Valley.

Being a popular destination for getting out on the water, there are plenty of opportunities for river recreation in Lake City. During the spring, summer, and fall you can enjoy a scenic cruise on the Pearl of the Lake Paddleboat or the S.V. Quintessent Sailboat, for a relaxing ride full of spectacular Mississippi River Valley views. If you’d rather take on the lake on your own, you can launch your boat at one of the town marinas and head out for a day of play. Boaters enjoy fishing, swimming, tubing, cruising, and, of course, water-skiing, a water sport that originated in Lake City.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Being in the Mississippi River Valley, Lake City also offers great opportunities for outdoor recreation off the water. Whether you want to hike, bike, bird watch, discover spectacular views of the area, or golf, there is an activity for everyone in this beautiful area of the state. A great place to start to ease into a day of outdoor fun is the Heritage Tree Trail. You can explore the various Heritage Trees along the walking trail and learn about their historical significance while getting a closer look at the city.

On the northern end of Lake Pepin, you’ll find Frontenac State Park complete with spectacular overlooks of the water, hiking and biking trails along the bluffs, camping, and more. The park is a great place to go birding, as the Lake City area is known as one of Minnesota’s best bird watching locations. If you’re up for something a little more adventurous, Eagle Hang Gliding guides you on an exhilarating hang gliding experience high above the river, riding tandem with one of their certified instructors.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

Along with plenty to do outdoors, Lake City has some great local eateries and restaurants where you can stop in for a bite to eat or a drink. You can stop for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and get a taste of the local flavor, as well as the friendly community of Lake City. With many of the eateries right on the lakeshore or nearby, you are never too far from your next adventure or destination, and can easily walk or bike from one place to another around town if you wish to.

A local favorite for lunch or dinner is Port 104. You can expect options for entertainment including live music, bowling, pool tables, and dartboards, and great food options from burgers and sandwiches to pasta, full dinners, and fun nightly specials. Heidi’s Huggamug Cafe is great for breakfast, and baked goods, pastries, lunch specials, and specialty coffees. The Rustic Cafe for all things sweets, TJ’s Lakeshore Pub, and Big Bear Pizzeria & Deli are also great places to check out.

5 Ways to Get Outside on the Turtle River

If you can’t get enough of Lake Pepin and the beautiful views of the Mississippi River Valley, you can spend a day exploring the nearby river towns for more outdoor recreation and unique locally owned businesses and restaurants. Each town along the Minnesota Great River Road brings its own charm and local favorite spots and places, so be sure to look into their websites to learn more.

Red Wing, Reads Landing, and Wabasha are just a few great recommendations for places near Lake City to visit on your trip. Being so close together, you could explore them all in one day for a day of road tripping, new experiences, and making memories and new friends.

Content Writer and Social Media Coordinator. I paint, listen to music, and play with my dogs a lot. When I’m not doing all that, I love to read and try new things. 

Maeve Miller

Writer , River Travel Magazine

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