Enjoy Southeast Minnesota water activities this summer
7/11/2022 by Brian A. Lynch, M.D. and Talor Gray, M.P.H.
Minnesota is known for its more than 10,000 lakes and various water adventures. Southeast Minnesota is no exception.
Whether you're cooling off by the local pool or fishing at a state park, you can rest assured that your time outdoors is benefiting your physical and mental health. Read more about the benefits of time in nature and upcoming outdoor activities on the Southeast Minnesota Park Rx Facebook page.
Be sure to keep safety in mind around water, such as following pool rules, buddying up when swimming along beaches with no lifeguards, using sunscreen, wearing your life jacket, refreshing your knowledge on watercraft safety, preparing for changing weather, and checking local water and bacteria levels before visiting beaches.
To make the most of your summer water adventures, check out a few of these Southeast Minnesota offerings to get you started:
The Rochester Swim Club Orcas and the city of Rochester's Parks and Recreation Department are partnering again this year to provide daily summer fun at two outdoor pools:
- Soldiers Field Pool
This pool at 244 Soldiers Field Drive SW in Rochester will be open from June 4 to Aug. 28, weather-permitting. This pool features a splash pad, adult lap lane times and two waterslides that are sure to keep the whole family entertained.
- Silver Lake Pool
This pool at 840 Seventh Street NE in Rochester will be open from early July to Aug. 14, weather-permitting. This pool offers adult lap lane times, a baby pool and "Tot Time" on Saturdays for toddler-friendly summer fun.
Kasson Aquatic Center
Between tiny tot lessons, family nights and Red Cross lessons, the Kasson Aquatic Center at 201 Seventh Street NW in Kasson has a lot to offer. Be sure to check out the registration process online before visiting, as the center is going cashless for 2022.
For more information and the latest updates on Kasson pool rules, rates and hours, visit the Kasson Aquatic Center website.
Other surrounding communities
Also, check out community pools in surrounding areas. Consider Austin, Byron, Dodge Center, Pine Island, Plainview, Red Wing, St. Charles, Stewartville, West Concord and Zumbrota when planning your water activities.
Pools aren't the only places to swim in Rochester. Check out these beaches for water activities a little closer to nature from May 28 to Sept.:
- Cascade Lake Beach
This beach at 88 23rd Ave. SW in Rochester offers a swimming area, a natural playground for the kids, paved walking paths and tables to play checkers.
- Foster Arend Beach
This beach at 4051 E. River Road NE in Rochester offers lakeside swimming, an inflatable water park, fishing, walking trails, playground space, horseshoes, picnic shelters and rentable spaces.
Keep in mind that these locations do not have lifeguards, so the buddy system is recommended.
Check the city of Rochester's Outdoor Pools and Beaches webpage for the latest water bacteria levels before visiting.
Olmsted County Parks
Do you love being outdoors? Do you love being on the water? Olmsted County Parks are the place for you.
Olmsted County has four parks that offer a wide array of recreational aquatic activities for the whole family:
- Oxbow Park
This park is often known for its scenic hiking paths and the Zollman Zoo and Nature Center. But did you know about the water activities, too? The Zumbro River runs through the heart of Oxbow Park, offering shoreline and bridges to swim and fish from.
- Root River Park
This park is bordered by the beautiful banks of the Root River, offering shoreline for recreational fishing. Bass, panfish and carp are the most frequently caught in Oxbow and Root River parks.
- Lake Zumbro Park
This park is a favorite for the fishermen of the family. Lake Zumbro offers a large boat launch and a large dock for fishing that complies with the Americans With Disabilities Act. Unlike the rivers, Lake Zumbro is full of panfish, bass, pike, catfish and walleye.
- Chester Woods Park
This 1,300-acre park is Olmsted County's prime spot for water recreation. The park offers many aquatic rentals, including canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and paddleboats, ranging from $10 per hour to $30 per day. This park also hosts a large, sandy swimming beach and several fishing piers used for catching panfish, bass and pike. A boat launch welcomes users to bring their own aquatic vessels, but only trolling motors that are not gas-powered are allowed.
Regardless of your destination, every Olmsted County park is free to explore, play and make memories.
Southeast Minnesota region
Looking to adventure further across Southeast Minnesota? Check out water recreation opportunities at Minnesota state parks and water trails.
A great place to start on your summer State Park adventure is swimming along the beach or paddling the Upper Iowa River at Lake Louise State Park. Enjoy the wildlife and wildflowers along this quiet and relaxed lake.
To the West of Lake Louise is Myre-Big Island State Park, where you can rent a kayak or canoe for the day. With great picnicking and birdwatching spots, this park is enjoyable year-round.
Whitewater State Park offers a swimming beach and accessible fishing piers. Are you interested in learning a new skill outdoors? Intro to Trout Fishing programs are offered each Sunday throughout the summer. I Can! programs are designed for families and offer hands-on instruction from experienced and friendly crews.
Last but not least, the Root River State Water Trail offers opportunities to float down the Root River and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Driftless Area. Numerous outfitters along the trail rent equipment, including canoes, kayaks and inner tubes.
Continue exploring with the state water trail map. You can use this map to find more places to canoe and kayak. Don't forge your state park vehicle permit. Also, if you're looking to rent equipment to enjoy these locations, check out the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' list of canoe, kayak and stand-up paddleboard rentals before visiting.
Brian A. Lynch, M.D., is a primary care pediatrician at Mayo Family Clinic Northwest in Rochester. He co-chairs the Primary Care Work Group of the Mayo Clinic Obesity Council and chairs the Primary Care Obesity Task Force. Dr. Lynch works closely with the Southeast Minnesota Park Rx Team to promote the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature with his patients and colleagues.
Talor Gray, M.P.H., is a community health specialist with Olmsted County Public Health Services. She works on health promotion initiatives, including Southeast Minnesota Park Rx.