The Most Expensive Lakes in Minnesota to Buy a Second Home

Lakefront home with moored speedboat on Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota, USA.
© iStock.com/Tony Cane-Honeysett

Written by Chanel Coetzee

Updated: July 3, 2023

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Bde Maka Ska was formerly known as Lake Calhoun, but the DNR commissioner and the residents of Minneapolis decided to change its name.

Minnesota ranks as the third state in the US with the most lakes. In addition, Minnesota boasts many homes over 7,000 square feet with some of the most spectacular lake views in the country. So, if you are looking for the perfect holiday house or an investment property, there is plenty to offer. While some properties are on the most expensive lakes in Minnesota, buying a second home doesn’t have to cost millions of dollars. Plenty of cottages, bungalows, and chalets offer the same views but cost a fraction of the price. So, below is a list of the most expensive lakes in Minnesota to buy a second home.

1. Lake of the Isles

The average selling price of a home in Lake of the Isles is $2.23 million, which has increased by 183% from 2022. This makes Lake of the Isles one of the most expensive lakes in Minnesota to buy a home. Some of Minneapolis’s largest and most luxurious homes frame this man-made lake, and it attracts anglers from all over the country each year because of the abundance of panfish beneath its surface. In addition, this lake received an Excellent ranking in habitat quality and aesthetics. Aquatic plants thrive thanks to Lake of the Isles’ shallow waters and good water clarity. However, this lake has no swimming beaches, so swimming is not advised. But the setting is perfect for picnics, sunbathing, or reading a book.

Furthermore, designated skating areas and warming houses are erected during the colder months. But the breathtaking views of the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods draw in potential home buyers, not to mention the lake itself. The southern portion of Lake of the Isles flows into a quiet channel, which connects to Lake Calhoun, also known as Bde Maka Ska, the largest lake in the state.

Hammocking at Lake of the Isles

Aquatic plants thrive thanks to Lake of the Isles’ shallow waters and good water clarity.


Image: Roger Siljander, Shutterstock

©Roger Siljander/Shutterstock.com

2. Lake Vermilion

The average price for a home on Lake Vermilion is $492,641, making it one of the most expensive lakes in Minnesota to buy a home. Lake Vermillion is a freshwater lake in Saint Louis County. Its first occupants were the Ojhibwe people, who named it Lake Nee-Man-Nee for its red glow during sunset. Furthermore, this lake sits on 15,000 hectares of land, making it the 5th largest lake in the state. Fishermen from all over the world visit Lake Vermillion because of its abundance of Walleyes and Muskies. In addition, Lakke Vermilion was ranked one of the most beautiful lakes in the US in the 1940s.

Lake Vermillion is a freshwater lake in Saint Louis County.

Lake Vermillion is a freshwater lake in Saint Louis County.

©Marguerite / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 – Original / License

3. Lake Minnetonka

The houses listed on Lake Minnetonka in 2023 averaged around  $572 000, adding up to $234 per square foot. However, the average selling price for homes on this lake is $412 000. Lake Minnetonka sits on an area of approximately 14 528 acres, making it the ninth-largest lake in the state. Investing in a property on Lake Minnetonka is a great idea for people working in Minneapolis, as it’s only a 38-minute drive from the city, traffic permitting. In addition, this lake is popular due to the large amounts of fish beneath its surface, like largemouth bass, yellow perch, and Northern pike. Lastly, it is also popular among boaters and sailors.

Amazing Lake house in Wayzata, Minnesota

Minnetonka sits on an area of approximately 14 528 acres, making it the ninth-largest lake in the state.


Image: Deyan G. Georgiev, Shutterstock

©Deyan G. Georgiev/Shutterstock.com

4. Lake Harriet

The average price for a home on Lake Harriet is $372 000, more than the average listing price of $335 000. Lake Harriet is situated in the southwest region of Minneapolis. It is a 353-acre lake with a maximum depth of 25 feet. Lake Harriet is a very popular destination for recreational activities. For example, it has two beaches, walking and biking trails, sailing, and paths that connect to Lake Calhoun. In addition, the lake is surrounded by scenic roads and parklands, providing breathtaking views. Therefore, it is one of the most expensive lakes in Minnesota to buy a home.

While it is typically safe to swim in Lake Harriet, there are times when high bacteria levels cause the beaches to close. However, this lake is home to many fish species, including the following:

  • Bluegill
  • Green sunfish
  • Black crappie
  • Golden shiner
  • Largemouth bass
  • Hybrid sunfish
  • Northern pike
  • Muskellunge
  • Pumpkinseed
  • White sucker
  • Walleye
  • Yellow perch
  • Yellow bullhead

Unfortunately, there are restrictions in place for consuming carp, bluegill, largemouth bass, walleye, crappie, yellow perch, and white sucker from Lake Harriet due to possible contamination of PFOS and mercury.

Lake Harriet Minnesota

Lake Harriet Minnesota is situated in the southwest region of Minneapolis.

©Thomson200, CC0 – Original / License

5. Bde Maka Ska

The average listing for a home on Bde Maka Ska is around $389 000. However, the average selling price for a home is approximately $365 000, and the price per square foot is about $261. Bde Maka Ska was formerly known as Lake Calhoun, but the DNR commissioner and the residents of Minneapolis decided to change its name. The lake was originally named after pro-slavery former Vice President John Calhoun. Therefore, they felt it best to honor the original occupants of the lake. This lake covers around 400 acres and has a depth of 87 feet. In addition, parkland, hiking trails, and cycling trails surround this lake, making it an ideal location to relax. But the cherry on the cake is this lake boasts some of the best beaches in Minneapolis.

The neighborhood of East Bde Maka Ska is in the Calhoun-Isles community.

Bde Maka Ska was formerly known as Lake Calhoun, but the DNR commissioner and the residents of Minneapolis decided to change its name.

©Fibonacci Blue / CC BY 2.0 – Original / License

6. Big Lake

The average price for a home on Big Lake is $349 811, and the community is growing rapidly. Big Lake is only 45 miles from Minneapolis Airport, so getting to the city is easy. This lake is 3,591 acres located in Chippewa National Forest. The lake has great water clarity and is popular for boating due to the numerous resorts bordering its shores. In addition, the lake is the perfect spot for fishing because it contains many species, including bluegills and muskies. Over the past few years, Big Lake’s population has grown because of redevelopment and business projects.

Lakeside Park in Big Lake

Big Lake is only 45 miles from Minneapolis Airport, so getting to the city is easy.

©KAM32296 / CC BY-SA 4.0 – Original / License

7. Lake Superior

The average listing price for homes in Duluth is around $314 000. So, homeowners pay about $184 per square foot. However, the average selling price for a home in Duluth is $320 000. With all the natural surroundings, trendy lakeside neighborhoods, and architecturally pleasing downtown, there is a lot to see and many adventures to experience. Duluth is a port city on Lake Superior surrounded by a rugged landscape, including rocky hills, creeks, rivers, and waterfalls. The city also offers scenic drives, parks, and rock climbing. Furthermore, tourists visit this city throughout the year because the summers provide numerous outdoor activities. And the winters offer cross-country skiing and many opportunities for amazing photos.

Duluth is a popular Tourist Destination in the Upper Midwest on the Shores of Lake Superior in Far North Minnesota

Duluth is a port city on Lake Superior surrounded by a rugged landscape, including rocky hills, creeks, rivers, and waterfalls.


Image: Jacob Boomsma, Shutterstock

©Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com

8. Mille Lacs Lake

The average price for a house on Mille Lacs Lake is around $258 000. Mille Lacs Lake sits approximately 90 miles away from the Twin Cities. In addition, this lake is an awesome place to fish. In fact, it is the best fishing spot in Minnesota. Species you can expect to catch in Mille Lacs Lake include Northern Pike, walleye, Large & smallmouth bass, muskie, and jumbo perch.

Mille Lacs Lake southwest side below dramatic clouds in north central Minnesota on a sunny summer afternoon

The average price for a house on Mille Lacs Lake is around $258 000.


Image: Dan Thornberg, Shutterstock

©Dan Thornberg/Shutterstock.com

Summary of Most Expensive Lakes in Minnesota to Buy a Second Home

RankLakeLocationAverage Property Price
1Lake of the IslesMinneapolis$2.23 million
2Lake VermilionSaint Louis County$492,641
3Lake Minnetonka Minneapolis$412 000
4Lake HarrietMinneapolis$372 000
5Bde Maka SkaMinneapolis$365 000
6Big LakeChippewa National Forest$349 811
7Lake SuperiorDuluth$320 000
8Mille Lacs LakeMinneapolis$258 000


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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

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