When you think of sandy shores and sun-kissed waters, Eden Prairie might not be the first place that comes to mind.
But the city’s 17 lakes are used by many of its residents during the summer months, Parks and Recreation Director Jay Lotthammer said — which is probably one reason why Eden Prairie has been ranked the second-best lake beach town in the country, according to a just-released study by the personal finance website WalletHub.
Researchers compared 205 cities nationwide, across 58 metrics that broke down into six categories — affordability, weather, safety, economy, education and health, and quality of life. Listings were compiled for both lake and ocean towns.
“You think of San Diego or Florida when you hear the word ‘beach,’ but you really don’t have to own a cabin Up North or a condo by the ocean to enjoy some of those beachside water experiences,” Lotthammer said. “They’re right here in your hometown.”
Last year, Eden Prairie snagged the No. 3 spot on WalletHub’s list. Most of its lakes, such as Staring Lake and Round Lake, are completely public areas. Others with some lakeside private properties, such as Riley Lake and Bryant Lake, still boast large public beaches and recreation facilities.
“In a lot of cases, I think that’s what makes people that don’t live on the lake feel really welcome to use it,” Lotthammer said.
Eden Prairie was topped only by Traverse City, Mich., a popular tourist destination on the shore of Lake Michigan in the northern part of the state.
Duluth was the only other Minnesota city to make the list, placing 14th out of the 44 lake communities.
“That water’s cold,” Lotthammer said.