Best Lake - 2011
When Minneapolis was creating its first parks in the 1880s, one of its earliest acquisitions was the land around Lake Harriet, which was already prized as the finest jewel in the city's lovely tiara of lakes. Today Lake Harriet is still the best Twin Cities lake, primarily because it offers the greatest sense of seclusion from modern life. The lush canopy of trees that lines the lake path seems to wall off the city's traffic and commerce, leaving lakegoers in their own world of relaxation and recreation. The second-largest lake in the chain, it has something for everyone: nearly three miles of walking or biking around the shore, fishing, sailing, two beaches, and Lyndale Park on the northern shore, with its bird sanctuary, peace garden, and a rose garden dating back to 1908 that is said to be the second-oldest public rose garden in the U.S. The working streetcar, hand-pumped water wells, and lovely gingerbread bandshell for concerts in summer lend an old-fashioned romance unmatched by other lakes. On a warm summer day, with a light breeze blowing across the water, there is no finer place to be in the Twin Cities.