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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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Swan boats light up the night at Como Lake

The canoe and kayak rentals on Como Lake in St. Paul were joined this season by a romantic and well-lit addition — pedal boats fashioned to resemble swans. Outfitted with LEDs, the swan boats, which fit up to two adults and two children, light up at sunset for a sparkling ride across the water.

Wheel Fun Rentals, which also rents stand-up paddleboards, introduced the swan boats in late May and sizable lines by the Como Lakeside Pavilion formed instantly, especially toward dusk. A retractable open canvas top provides shade, and food and drinks (no alcohol) are welcome.

Swan boats have a long history in America, dating to 1877 when pontoon rides were introduced to the garden pond in the Boston Commons, where they’re still offered today. A St. Paul Parks and Recreation Facebook post about the Como Lake swan rides has been shared more than 3,000 times as of late August, drawing more than 960 comments — many of them passenger selfies on boat rides.

“It seems the swan boats are helping us reach an audience that may otherwise not have been introduced to all that Como Regional Park and the rest of our park system has to offer,” said Liz McDonald, a spokeswoman for Parks and Rec. “The goal is always to get residents and visitors active in our parks, and if the swan boats help with that, then I would say it’s a win.”

Rides end at 10 p.m. through Sept. 5, and then wrap up at 7 p.m. through Sept. 12, the end of the season. They’ll be back May 20, 2023.

Hourly rentals are $30. For an additional $12, an annual pass offers 50 percent off all rides for a year after the first day. Wheel Fun also introduced somewhat larger swan boats that fit up to five riders at Lake Nokomis in Minneapolis. More information is available on the Wheel Fun Rentals website at


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