3 Must-Visit Islands in Minnesota

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Updated: October 9, 2023
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Nestled amidst the enchanting waters of the Land of 10,000 Lakes, lies a collection of hidden treasures. Minnesota, renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty and abundant waterways, plays host to a remarkable array of must-visit Islands that beckon adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts.

3 Must-Visit Islands in Minnesota
These lovely little islands are located in three of Minnesota’s most popular lakes.

In this article, we invite you to discover three must-visit islands in Minnesota, each with its own allure. It is important to note these are just a few examples of the islands you can visit in Minnesota. Many more islands are scattered throughout the state’s lakes, each offering its own unique charm and recreational opportunities.

Learn about these three island retreats and uncover the opportunities they hold, as we delve into the wonders that await on Minnesota’s picturesque shores!

1. Pike Island

fort snelling state park

Pike Island is located in Fort Snelling State Park.

©Kestrel Hath/Shutterstock.com

Pike Island is located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers in the southwesternmost part of Saint Paul, Minnesota. It is in Fort Snelling State Park, which offers a range of outdoor recreational activities. Pike Island is a popular destination for hiking, picnicking, and enjoying the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

Location and Access:

Pike Island is located within Fort Snelling State Park, which is easily accessible from the Twin Cities metropolitan area. The island connects to the mainland vis bridge. Visitors to the island can explore its trails, enjoy scenic views, and immerse themselves in the natural environment.

Scenic Beauty and Wildlife:

Pike Island offers breathtaking views of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. The island features lush greenery, with wooded areas and open spaces. It has diverse wildlife, including various bird species, deer, and other small animals. Visitors may spot bald eagles soaring overhead or catch a glimpse of river otters playing in the water.

Hiking and Trails:

The island features a 3.9-mile loop trail known as the Pike Island Loop. This trail is relatively easy and takes visitors on a scenic journey around the island. Along the way, hikers can enjoy views of the rivers, wooded areas, and open prairies. There are also benches along the trail where visitors can rest and take in the surroundings. The trail is well-maintained and suitable for all skill levels.

History and Importance:

Pike Island holds historical significance, particularly for the Dakota people. Due to its location at the convergence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, it is a site of spiritual and cultural importance for the Dakota people.

Park Facilities and Permits:

Fort Snelling State Park, which encompasses Pike Island, offers various amenities such as picnic areas, restrooms, and visitor centers. A state park pass or permit is required to access the park, including Pike Island. Daily permits cost a small fee.

Planning Your Visit:

When planning a visit to Pike Island, it is advisable to check the park’s website or contact the park office for the most up-to-date information on park hours, permits, and any specific guidelines or regulations. Wear appropriate footwear and bring water, insect repellent, and sunscreen when exploring the island.

2. Oak Island

Lake of the Woods Minnesota

Oak Island is located in Lake of the Woods – a popular fishing destination.


Oak Island is an island and unincorporated community located in Lake of the Woods County, Minnesota, United States. It is in Lake of the Woods, the “Walleye Capital of the World.” Oak Island is a popular destination for fishing, outdoor activities, and enjoying the natural beauty of the area.

Location and Access:

Oak Island is on the Minnesota/Ontario border, providing easy access to both Ontario and Minnesota waters. It is located on Lake of the Woods, approximately 40 miles north of Baudette, Minnesota. Visitors can reach Oak Island by boat or seaplane. There are various resorts and lodges on the island that offer accommodations and amenities for visitors.

Fishing and Outdoor Activities:

Oak Island is renowned for its excellent fishing opportunities. Lake of the Woods has an abundance of walleye, as well as other fish species such as northern pike, muskellunge, and smallmouth bass. Visitors can enjoy fishing excursions, either through guided trips or by renting boats and equipment. The island’s resorts and lodges often provide fishing packages and guides to help visitors make the most of their fishing experience.

Apart from fishing, Oak Island and the surrounding area offer opportunities for boating, kayaking, canoeing, and exploring scenic landscapes. The island is home to abundant wildlife, providing opportunities for birdwatching and wildlife spotting.

Resorts and Accommodations:

There are several resorts and lodges on Oak Island that cater to visitors looking for a fishing vacation or outdoor getaway. These establishments offer a range of amenities, including comfortable accommodations, dining options, boat rentals, and fishing guides. Some resorts also provide additional activities such as hiking, nature walks, and evening entertainment.

Red Lake Indian Reservation:

A portion of Oak Island’s interior is part of the Red Lake Indian Reservation. It is important to respect the land and any guidelines or regulations set by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians when visiting this area.

Planning Your Visit:

If you are interested in visiting Oak Island, research and contact the resorts or lodges on the island for information on availability, accommodations, and fishing packages. It is also a good idea to check the fishing regulations and licensing requirements for the area.

3. Nicollet Island

Minneapolis Minnesota skyline with Nicollet Island. Fall city skyline with yellow leaves in the foreground.

Nicollet Island is located in the heart of Minneapolis.

Image: BlueGreen, Shutterstock


Nicollet Island is a small island located in the Mississippi River, just north of Saint Anthony Falls in central Minneapolis, Minnesota. It is a historic and picturesque area that offers a variety of attractions and activities for visitors.

Location and Access:

Nicollet Island is in the heart of Minneapolis, making it easily accessible to both residents and tourists. It is connected to the mainland by the Hennepin Avenue Bridge and the Central Avenue Bridge. The island is part of the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, which provides opportunities for outdoor recreation and exploration.

Attractions and Activities:

Nicollet Island offers a range of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Some of the highlights include:

Nicollet Island Park: The park on Nicollet Island is a beautiful green space that offers walking paths, scenic views of the river and downtown Minneapolis, and picnic areas. It’s a great place for a leisurely stroll or a picnic with family and friends.

Nicollet Island Inn: The Nicollet Island Inn is a historic hotel, restaurant, and bar located on the island. It offers luxurious accommodations, fine dining experiences, and a charming atmosphere. The inn features elegant architecture and scenic views of the river.

Nicollet Island Pavilion: The Nicollet Island Pavilion is a premier event venue in Minneapolis. It is a historic building that provides a unique and charming setting for weddings, parties, and other special events. The pavilion offers beautiful views of the river and the city skyline.

Music and Events:

Nicollet Island also has a vibrant music and event scene. The island hosts various concerts, performances, and festivals throughout the year, showcasing local musicians and artists. The Nicollet Island Inn’s Cabaret Series is particularly popular, featuring unique and exciting musical events.

Historic Significance:

Nicollet Island has a rich history, dating back to the early settlement of Minneapolis. The island was named after Joseph Nicollet, a French geographer, and mathematician who explored the area in the mid-19th century. Many of the buildings on the island have historical significance and add to its unique charm.

Planning Your Visit:

If you plan to visit Nicollet Island, you can explore the park, enjoy a meal or stay at the Nicollet Island Inn, or attend one of the various events hosted on the island. Check the local event calendar and make reservations in advance if needed.

In Conclusion

Minnesota’s islands offer a unique and enchanting experience for those seeking to immerse themselves in nature’s beauty and tranquility. These three must-visit islands provide a diverse range of adventures and relaxation opportunities. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, an avid angler, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, these islands have something to offer every traveler.

So, as you plan your next getaway, consider venturing off the beaten path and discovering the hidden treasures that await in Minnesota’s remarkable islands.

Summary of 3 Must-Visit Islands in Minnesota

1Pike IslandFort Snelling State Park, St. PaulScenery, wildlife, hiking
2Oak IslandLake of the Woods CountyFishing excursions, canoeing, kayaking, boating, wildlife
3Nicollet IslandMinneapolisNicollet Island Park, Nicollet Island Inn, Nicollet Island Pavillion, Music events

The photo featured at the top of this post is © zimmytws/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

Jennifer Gaeng is a writer at A-Z-Animals focused on animals, lakes, and fishing. With over 15 years of collective experience in writing and researching, Jennifer has honed her skills in various niches, including nature, animals, family care, and self-care. Hailing from Missouri, Jennifer finds inspiration in spending quality time with her loved ones. Her creative spirit extends beyond her writing endeavors, as she finds joy in the art of drawing and immersing herself in the beauty of nature.

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