Looking for something fun to do this summer in the Lake Minnetonka area?

With 16 cities surrounding the lake, there are thousands of ways to spend your time. Here are five hidden treasures in and around Lake Minnetonka.

BIG ISLAND

If you are looking to connect with nature on Lake Minnetonka, you might want to find yourself at Big Island Nature Park in Orono. While today the island is a natural retreat, it has a rich history, in the early 1900s the island hosted Big Island Park, according to the city of Orono’s website.

The amusement park was only open for six seasons, but visitors to the island can still find the grand portal stairway and old foundation remnants on the island.

In 1923, the island became the Big Island Veterans Camp, where it offered camping and recreational opportunities to Minnesota’s veterans. The camp was disbanded in 2003.

Whether you are looking to find a little nature or take a walk through history, Big Island is a Lake Minnetonka gem.

CENTER FOR ARTS

Sitting in Crystal Bay is one of the biggest assets to the Lake Minnetonka area, the Minnetonka Center for the Arts. The Center for the Arts mission is to provide “teaching excellence, quality exhibitions and cultural enrichment for people all ages, interests and abilities.”

If you are looking for something to for yourself or your child to do over summer days, take an art class with Minnetonka Center for the Arts. This spring the Minnetonka Center for the Arts has hundreds of classes including classes in calligraphy, ceramics, drawing, fiber arts, glass, jewelry and painting.

The center also has lectures this spring including a lecture exploring artistic ideas around books and an abstract curators’ talk and tour. This summer the venter has its exhibit, Art of the Garden, from June 28 through Aug. 8.

EXCELSIOR DOCK

Wondering what to do around the lake when the skies are gray? Check out Excelsior Dock Cinema for a classic cinema experience. The small theater has three screens decorated with nautical themes to keep you in the lake mindset while you enjoy a movie.

The theater has a rich history, opening as Tonka Theater in 1940, according to Cinema Treasures. The original theater was a 500-seat auditorium that was later gutted by a fire and rebuilt to have two auditoriums. A third auditorium was added in the 1980s, Cinema Treasures says.

The theater has original charm as it sits on Excelsior’s Water Street, the small town-esque downtown stretch of Excelsior that points like an arrow to Lake Minnetonka.

FARMERS MARKET

If you’re spending some time in downtown Wayzata this summer on a Thursday, the Wayzata Farmers Market is worth checking out to pick up some fresh food or wander around this hotspot of cheerful Lake Minnetonka residents, human and canine alike.

The Wayzata Farmers Market includes produce, meat, dairy, bakery, pantry items, personal products, arts and more. Whether you are looking to shop or just go for a walk, the Wayzata Farmers Market is a great use of a Thursday afternoon.

DRIVE IN

Go back to the 1950s at Minnetonka Drive In in Spring Park. This restaurant was opened by the Bennyhoff family in 1961, and they still own the place, according to the drive-in’s website.

If you are looking for a classic burger, fries and milkshake, the drive-in is the place for you. Your food will be delivered to you by carhop like the drive-ins of the past. Thursday evenings are auto memorabilia nights for classic car enthusiasts.

Spring hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day (but subject to change based on weather). According to co-owner Deb Bennyhoff, the Drive-In is famous for its fried chicken and homemade root beer.

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