Cooling Off in the Willmar Lakes Area

By Bailey Hovland

Living in the Midwest, it can be easy to forget the heat of a Minnesotan summer in the middle of a blizzard. And summer in Minnesota certainly feels nothing like the cold months of November, December, and January, especially when the temperature hits 90 and the humidity soars over 50 percent. Even so, there are a few surefire ways to cool down in Willmar Lakes Area during the hot summer months. And the first way—you guessed it—is to make your way to one of the over 100 lakes in our community.

This family knows how to cool off by using our beautiful lakes! Photo by Sarah Zimmerman.

Saulsbury Beach is a local favorite, sandwiched between downtown Spicer and Zorbaz on Green Lake. With a spacious sandy beach, shaded picnic tables, and sand volleyball courts, Saulsbury Beach is a hot spot, ironic pun intended, for people looking to escape the summer heat. Within walking distance from the Spicer Dairy Queen, a great stop on the way to the beach for the only kind of blizzard you want to see in the summer, Saulsbury is a public beach, open to you and all your friends and family. And as a bonus, the beach is staffed with local lifeguards to make sure everyone has a safe but fun time as they swim in the lake.

Another perfect beach spot in Kandiyohi County is at the Games Lake County Park. It’s a sandy stretch with plenty of places to roll out your beach towels or to open up your picnic basket for a nice lunch. Games Lake is a part of the “Norway chain of lakes,” which is made up of four lakes that span across about 2,800 acres. Whether you’re looking to find a cool fishing spot in the shade of the trees (the lake does have a prime fish population) or for a place to slather on some sunscreen and jump into the cool water, Games Lake is a wonderful place to spend a hot day. And although we’ve only mentioned two beaches out of innumerable ones across the 100 lakes in the area, any lake would be a welcome solution to the heat of the summer.

The Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center is the perfect place for all ages to have a splash-tastic time! Photo courtesy of the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center Facebook page.

If you’re not a fan of seaweed or our fishy friends, you could always buy a few tickets to the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center! Located by Baker Field and Roosevelt Elementary School in Willmar, this is a premier destination for waterpark lovers of all ages. With two diving boards, two wild waterslides, and a kiddie pool with interactive play features and a mini slide, the Dorothy Olson Aquatic Center is an ideal water getaway for your teenagers, your preschoolers, and any other waterpark fanatic you know. There are lawn chairs surrounding the park, perfect to get your suntan on while keeping an eye on your kids playing in the water. Plus, the snack bar has nachos and ice cream treats, a perk that really can’t be beat.

And if you’re looking to save some cash and possibly grab a Little Caesar’s pizza, you should check out the Rice Park Splash Pad! You can watch your kids splash their way through an afternoon of fun under a

The Rice Park Splash Pad is a favorite of many local kids.

shade structure connected to a three-season shelter with combination restroom / changing rooms. Close to several local restaurants, the Rice Park Splash Pad is an ideal location to take the kids for a cool afternoon in the Willmar Lakes Area.

And last but certainly not least, if you would prefer an option that doesn’t require you to change into a bathing suit, you could drive on over to New London and treat yourself to a nice, cold treat at the Deep Freeze. Locally owned and operated, the Deep Freeze has plenty of unique options that are different from any other ice cream spots in the area. Turtle bars, monster cookie snowstorms, and classic banana splits are just a few of the ice cream delicacies you can try at this local ice creamery.

So when the thermometer hits 90 degrees and the kids are begging to get out of the house, take them to one of these Willmar Lakes Area gems to cool down! Whether you’re looking for the best swimming spot, a creamy ice cream cone, or maybe even both, the WLA has you covered. Just make sure to mix in a few layers of sunscreen for best results.

Fish our lakes

The possibilities are endless on our 30 recreational lakes…boating, swimming, fishing, water skiing, tubing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boating, hydro biking, paddle boarding and so much more!

Fishing Report

Explore our Trails

Surrounded by beautiful lakes and scenery…who wouldn’t take a hike or a leisurely bike ride to enjoy the view? With miles of trials to choose from, you can always find new places to explore.

Trail Report