Celebrating Life on the Lake

by | May 2023

Wooden boat on the water of Lake Minnetonka.

Photos: Chris Emeott

Couple enjoys the dock and dine experience served around Lake Minnetonka.

“She’s turning a lot of heads on the lake,” Molly Golden says. Do tell. Who is she? Gatsby, as she’s known, joined the nautical lineup of Lake Minnetonka in 2021. Golden and her boyfriend, Robin Alton, purchased the StanCraft watercraft—a stunner—while traveling out West.

Gatsby (28 feet) sports a Viper V-10 engine (500 horsepower) and can seat six passengers with two sets of foldout rumble seats located at the bow and stern. “We purchased the boat during the summer of 2021 after visiting Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho,” Golden says. “As first-time visitors, my boyfriend and I were amazed at all the wood boats we were seeing out on the lake, many of which were built by the local wood boat company, [StanCraft Boat Company]. After doing some inquiring, we ended up at the StanCraft manufacturing center and got a tour of where and how these gorgeous boats were made. There just happened to be a new boat on the show floor that we fell in love with. We had casually been in the market for a wood boat for several years, but nothing had ever sparked our interest—until then.”

The following spring, the StanCraft team helped arrange for the boat to be transported via a boat trailer to Lake Minnetonka. “Quite the road trip for our new boat,” Golden says. Thanks to a new lift and canopy added to Golden and Alton’s dock, Gatsby lives her best life on Lake Minnetonka’s Crystal Bay during open water season.

Lake Looks

Going from “ship to shore” doesn’t always have to include beach coverups and nonslip footwear. While cocktail attire doesn’t read lake life, one can certainly level up boat wear with locally available togs that are functional and speak to the Lake Minnetonka vibe.

Lake Minnetonka Clothing

Golden enjoys representing the lake with a line of Lake Minnetonka sweaters by Ellsworth+Ivey. Available in ivory and navy on Golden’s website and at Northern Drift. $120

Elements also from Northern Drift include:

  • Vintage Boat Pullover
    Available in mauve. $59
  • Mackinac 1/4 Zip
    Available in navy/white stripe and solid navy. $80
  • Vintage Boating Pullover
    Available in sea foam. $59
  • Recycled PVC Woven Tote
    Available in navy/white stripe and a variety of other colors. $95
  • Minnetonka Baseball Hat
    Available in royal and navy. $35

Vintage Blue Sweater

Golden Girl Travel
Facebook: Golden Girl Travel
Instagram: @goldengirltravel
Twitter: @goldengirl_blog

Northern Drift
260 Water St., Excelsior
Facebook: Northern Drift
Instagram: @northern_drift

Pictured: Molly Golden, Robin Alton, Beau Alton and Alexa Heller

Dock Service

One of the beauties of this area is the way in which residents and visitors alike utilize Lake Minnetonka for recreation, relaxation and access to some of the area’s beloved dining haunts.

Wooden boat at a dock.

Locals are well-versed when it comes to packing the perfect cooler for beachside or on-the-water picnicking and the like. “I love packing up my cooler with some beverages and snacks for a long sunset cruise,” Golden says. “We enjoy puttering around the smaller bays in the western half of [Lake Minnetonka] where there is less traffic and beautiful sunset views.”

And when the occasion calls for cutting the engine, docking and heading to a local dining spot, Golden is on board. “We love taking Gatsby to coffee in the morning,” she says. “That’s probably our favorite. The lake is like glass, and we cut right through it like butter. We dock at Wayzata Public Docks and walk over to The Grocer’s Table for breakfast. The Wayzata Public Docks are in a great location, and we enjoy heading there in the evening for dinner on CōV’s patio, Gianni’s [Steakhouse] or one of the other great restaurants we have in Wayzata. We also enjoy taking her to Lord Fletcher’s for a local favorite, burger night (Mondays during the summer).”

Easy-Access Dining Spots

  • 318 Café, Excelsior
  • 6Smith, Wayzata
  • Al and Almas Supper Club and Charter Cruises, Mound
  • Baja House, Wayzata
  • Benedict’s, Wayzata
  • Birch’s on the Lake Brewhouse & Supperclub, Long Lake
  • Bull and Wren, Excelsior
  • Carbone’s Pizzeria, Mound
  • Casa Amigos, Mound
  • Coalition Restaurant, Excelsior
  • CōV, Wayzata
  • Crisp & Green, Wayzata
  • Dakota Junction, Mound
  • Gianni’s, Wayzata
  • Jade Fountain, Wayzata
  • Josefina, Wayzata
  • Haskell’s Port of Excelsior, Excelsior
  • Lago Tacos, Excelsior
  • Lord Fletchers Old Lake Lodge, Spring Park
  • Macanda, Wayzata
  • Maggie’s Family Restaurant, Wayzata
  • Maynards, Excelsior
  • McCormick’s Beachside, Wayzata
  • McCormicks Pub and Restaurant, Wayzata
  • Miyabi Sushi & Asian Bistro, Excelsior
  • ninetwentyfive, Wayzata
  • Olives Fresh Pizza Bar, Excelsior
  • Primo Plates & Pours, Long Lake
  • Red Sauce Rebellion, Excelsior
  • Sakana Sushi and Asian Bistro, Wayzata
  • Stalk & Spade, Wayzata
  • Surfside Bar and Grill, Mound
  • Sushi Fix, Wayzata
  • The Caribbean, Tonka Bay
  • The Grocer’s Table, Wayzata
  • The Suburban, Excelsior
  • Vann, Spring Park
  • Wayzata Bar and Grill, Wayzata
  • Yumi Japanese Restaurant and Bar, Excelsior
Boating at Sunset
Parking Spots

Metered docking is available in the Port of Excelsior just off of Water Street in Excelsior Bay.

Free boat docking is offered off of Cooks Bay (Lost Lake).

Boat docking is available at the Depot Docks (left side of town, looking from the lake to the shoreline) and Broadway Docks (right side of town, looking from the lake to the shoreline). These docks are not metered, and the Broadway Docks are typically staffed during summer weekends. Note: Be mindful of potential construction coming this summer that will impact dock accessibility. Pending City Council decisions this spring, the Panoway Project could move forward with the construction of the boardwalk. The city’s goal is to keep the docks open as much as possible during this project, but visitors should visit wayzata.org regularly to stay up to date on its availability.

I’ve traveled to many other lake communities around the country and have found an appreciation for the charming, close-knit feel that Lake Minnetonka has.
Molly Golden, travel and lifestyle blogger at goldengirltravel.com

People in a wooden boat.

Sip to Shore

Why does anything taste just a little better when it’s served near or on the water? While sipping spirits can be enjoyable before dining, safety is a priority when it comes to boating. Enjoy these lovely mocktails while motoring beneath the land of sky blue water. Prep work can be done at home.

Honeydew, Cucumber and Mint Soda

  • 2 1/2 lbs. honeydew melon, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 6 cups)
  • 2 medium cucumbers, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup packed mint leaves, extra for garnishes
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • club soda or sparkling water

In a blender, puree honeydew, cucumbers, mint and salt until smooth. Strain the pulp through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl. To keep the juice clear (instead of cloudy), avoid pressing on the solids as you strain. Stir in the lime juice, and let the mixture chill. When you’re ready to serve, pour the honeydew mixture over ice in four glasses, and top each with sparkling water or club soda. Garnish with mint sprigs, and serve. —farmersalmanac.com

Virgin White Peach Sangria

  • 1 qt. white grape juice
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 12 oz. peach nectar
  • 1 cup sliced fresh peaches
  • 12 oz. sparkling water, mineral water or club soda

Virgin White Peach Sangria

Put the peaches in a large pitcher, and add juices and nectar. Chill for several hours. When ready to serve, add the water of choice. Pour over ice, and garnish with a sprig of rosemary. —farmersalmanac.com

Take Note: A sudden wave can easily knock beverages out of cup holders or boaters’ hands and onto the deck or seats. For cleanup purposes, be mindful of drink ingredients that lean heavily toward a stain factor. Consider inviting a bottle or two of club soda, which can serve as a mixer and stain buster.


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