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Bde Maka Ska is the largest lake in Minneapolis. It joins the Lake of the Isles through a long channel and is the biggest lake of five that make up the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes. Surrounded by city park land and circled by bike and walking trails, it is popular for many outdoor activities like canoeing, fishing, wind surging, swimming, sailing, and of course, biking.

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Rentable Outdoor Experiences in the Twin Cities this Summer

Borrow — rather than buy — the pedaling, paddling equipment to power an idyllic summer outing.  It can sometimes seem like summer is made for the cabin-owners, the kayak-havers, the pontoon-possessors.

But the Twin Cities offers many opportunities to rent — rather than buy — an afternoon of summer fun.

We have gathered a range of rentable summertime experiences, from swan boats to riverside kayaks that you check out of a locker. No surprise: Most involve water.


Swan boats on Lake Como in St. Paul.

Swan song

When it comes to pedal boats, Wheel Fun Rentals on Lake Como in St. Paul ups the Instagram-worthy ante with swan boats that pay tribute to the aquatic bird — long white necks, orange wedge beaks and all.

The swans launch from Como Lakeside Pavilion, where you start in a bustling area and then make your way — at a leisurely pace — to quieter nooks of the 1.7-mile lake. Spot landmarks on and off the water, such as the Duck Point scenic overlook, the fishing pier and the historic streetcar station.

For sunny days, retractable tops provide shade. In addition to day outings, there are also night excursions, when the boats are strung with LED lights. The boats fit up to two adults and two children and rent for $30 an hour.

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Kristina Scherber and Patrick Reinhart rode around Lake Nokomis on a surrey from Wheel Fun Rentals.

Pedal power
On a recent Saturday in Minnehaha Regional Park in Minneapolis, a pedal-powered surrey — those canopy-topped, four-wheeled contraptions — inched its way up an incline.

“This is brutal,” said the driver, who, despite his superhero-esque physique, strained to haul two riders up the hill with minimal help from his 7-year-old co-pedaler.

The great thing about these surrey bikes, which hold up to six adults, plus two small children in the basket, is that you can chat while you ride. The not-so-great thing about surreys is that going uphill can require getting out to push. And the downhills can be a bit too much of a thrill (the handbrake helps). Fortunately, Minnehaha’s paths are mostly flat.

A single surrey (one bench seat, two pedalers) costs $29 an hour. A double (two bench seats, four pedalers) costs $39 hour. Kids’ helmets included. At Wheel Fun Rentals locations in Minnehaha Regional Park and Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis; Veterans Memorial Park in Richfield; and Canal Park in Duluth., 805-650-7770.

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