Wayzata has a small but decent beach, right next to a playground, for catching some rays or taking the wee ones for a paddle. It's only open from about mid June to mid August (playground open all year) from noon - 6:00 PM, and lifeguards are usually on duty unless it's a chilly day - then you're on your own. There is a changing house with showers and restrooms, and a little cart was selling snacks the day I was there. There is some free parking but the rest of the spots require a permit - see the website for details on that. You might be able to snag a free spot out on Lake Street as well.
Starting right around Sunsets restaurant on main street (Lake Street) a walkway runs beside the bay west to the old depot, past marinas and the beach, to a park at the end. It's not a long or difficult walk, and a nice stroll with a cuppa Joe from Caribou or a cone from Ben and Jerry's downtown. Grab a bench along the way and watch the boats, or let the kids burn off some energy at the Wayzata Beach playground.
Way back in the early 1900's, a fleet of steamboats were to Lake Minnetonka what streetcars were to greater Minneapolis. These seven remarkably efficient craft ferried residents to work and provided visitors with pleasure cruises around the lake and to the amusement park on Big Island. Time marched on and the advent of the automobile provided better access roads. The amusement park was demolished, lack of ridership forced the steamers out of business, and all were dismantled and/or scuttled.
Over 50 years later, an enterprising diver located one of the scuttled boats and was amazed to find it in pretty good shape! He convinced a dredging company to raise it and a marine architect and team of volunteers to restore it. Six years later, the Minnehaha was again afloat and provides visitors and locals alike with cruises around the lake. She runs only on weekends and for special events during the warmer months, most cruises last about an hour, and you can also do a round-trip from Excelsior to Wayzata with a 1.5 hour layover - just enough time for lunch or a little shopping. Tickets are very reasonable - the most economical way to get out on the water! See the website for schedule, ticket prices and location of Excelsior and Wayzata docking. Alas, no food or beverages allowed on board.
Wayzata is about 12 miles/20 minutes (depending on traffic) from downtown Minneapolis:
Take I-394 west, which becomes US-12 as you near Wayzata. Take the Central Ave/MN-101 exit and go left at the top of the ramp. At the second traffic light, go right on Wayzata Boulevard. At the first traffic light, go slightly left onto Superior Boulevard. It will come to a "T" at Lake Street. and you'll make a right into the main part of town. There is some free parking in the lot close to the "T"
From the south (Bloomington/airport):
Take I-494 west and then north to US-12 west. From there, take the Central Ave/MN-101 exit and go left at the top of the ramp. At the second traffic light, go right on Wayzata Boulevard. At the first traffic light, go slightly left onto Superior Boulevard. It will come to a "T" at Lake Street and you'll make a right. There is some free parking in the lot close to the "T"
Parking on Lake St. and side streets is always free although look for signs that restrict hours or are only for patrons of specific shops. Lake many Minneapolis suburbs, the best and most efficient way to get here is by car.
Closest hotels are east/northest of town on the 394 or 494 corridors in the suburb of Plymouth: 2-5 miles away.
This oldest of Twin Cities bookstores is what makes Wayzata a destination for me. The Bookcase is a great little indy shop attached to Caribou Coffee: my favorite local cuppa-joe chain. On a rainy or winter's day, I'll cruise the stacks, collect a couple of interesting titles and give them a browse by the fireplace over a large, dark chocolate, nonfat latte (my version of hot cocoa.) With the big booksellers grabbing most of the attention around the malls and major shopping areas, it's important to keep these tenacious little guys alive and well! Nice folks, nice selection, and damn good coffee. Open 7 days a week.
If you don't mind gently-used, you can find a few consignment and vintage shops here. As the folks at this end of the lake have to pull in serious figures to be able to afford to live on it, this stuff tends to be several notches above what you'd find in used clothing and furniture outlets in most other parts of Minneapolis. They are:
Circa Vintage on Minnetonka Ave.
Rags from Riches on Lake St.
& Again on Minnetonka Ave.
Kathie's Finds on Lake St.
Fashion Avenue 2 on Lake Street
Wayzata shopping is geared towards the better-heeled than I am so I don't do much more than the occasional browse for a sale. Clothing stores are mostly independent boutiques with a couple of national chains (Chico's and Talbots) thrown in for good measure. Five Swans carries upper-end kitchen and dining ware, and there are a few jewelry, antique, children's and gift shops as well. Almost all of them range along or just slightly off main street (Lake Street) so they're easy to find. See the full listings on the PDF link below. Many of them have their own websites so google any that look interesting for more info.