The Essential Guide to Minneapolis' Lake Harris

Lake Harriet, Minnesota
••• Jonathan P. Ellgan / Getty Images

Lake Harriet is a very pretty and popular lake in southwest Minneapolis. The lake is surrounded by rolling hills, woods, parkland, and gardens and contains three miles of cycle and skater trails, and a 2.75-mile trail for walkers and runners.

Entertainment at the Bandshell

On many summer weekends and evenings, there is a concert, performance, or other form of entertainment at the Lake Harriet Bandshell, on the north shore of the lake (where East Lake Harriet Parkway and West Lake Harriet Parkway meet).

The bandshell has a glass wall so boaters and sailors can also watch the entertainment from the lake.

Lake Harriet Bandshell is an unlucky structure. The first bandshell, built in 1888, burned down, as did its replacement. A third bandshell was destroyed by a storm in 1925. The fourth bandshell, supposed to be a temporary replacement, stood for almost sixty years, until it was torn down in 1985 and the castle-shaped bandshell that stands today was built.

Additional Activities and Events

Lake Harriet is a popular place for boating and sailing. The Lake Harriet Yacht Club sails at Lake Harriet, and paddle boats, kayaks, and canoes can be rented

The yacht club also ponsors weekly races, plus regattas and other events at the lake.

During April and May, migratory birds make a stopover at the Thomas Sadler Roberts Bird Sanctuary which has a shelter to observe the visiting birds.

Beaches

Lake Harriet has two beaches, both of which have lifeguards present during the summer.

North Beach is a short walk from the bandshell and has ropes to keep the swimmers and the boaters apart. The second beach, Southeast Beach, is a little quieter and just a short walk from North Beach.

Sights

On the southeast shore of Lake Harriet, on both sides of Roseway Road, is Lyndale Park Gardens, with several garden areas.

The formal Rose Garden has many varieties of roses. There is also a Peace Garden, a rock garden, an Annual/Perennial Garden, and the Perennial Trial Garden.

Look for an Elf House in the base of a slim tree with a small garden planted around it between the bike and walking trails, just past South Oliver Avenue. Local legend says that notes left in the tree for the elf are always answered with a message.

The Como-Harriet Streetcar Line is a small surviving section of the trolley lines that once ran around Minneapolis and St. Paul. Trolleys run between the west shore of Lake Harriet (at Queen Avenue South and West 42nd Street) to Lake Calhoun (Richfield Road just south of West 36th Street) in the summer months.

Parking

There is a parking lot at the bandshell, on-street parking nearby the bandshell, and all around the lake.