Waconia a cute little but growing town located in central Carver County on the south shore of Lake Waconia. Located about 30 minutes west of the 494 loop Waconia has the benefits of a larger metropolitan are nearby however it is very self sustaining.
Originally home to local Dakota natives, they refered to the lake as Meday Wa Ko Ni Ya which can be translated several different ways including Lake of the Fountain. Like many other towns in the area early settlers arrived around 1850 as a result of the Treaty of Mendota which forced the native people out. The town experienced economic growth during the late 1800's with primary industries being lumber, grain mills, and ice harvesting. The lake and convenience of being located on a railway brought in tourism as well. Economic growth tapered off in the early 1900's.
More recently as urban sprawl has continued outward from the Twin Cities Waconia has experienced some new found growth. Ridgeview Medical Center is the largest employer in Waconia and a highly regarded medical facility.
The lake defines the city and is a beautiful sight. With a fairly large surface area of over 3,000 acres it's a fully recreational lake. Although a fairly large lake the max depth is only 37 feet deep however this does not impact the fish species as there is an abundance of Walleye, Crappie, Sunfish, Northern Pike, Muskie, Large mouth Bass, and several other species.
There is one designated public boat launch which is located on the east side of the lake. During the summer this launch is very busy as the fishing is good and the recreation is great. One of the unique things about Lake Waconia is it see's consistently higher wind speeds than surrounding lakes which creates the perfect conditions to windsurf and kite board.
Coney island is the only island on the lake and is located on the south side just off the city's shoreline. During the late 1800's and early 1900's it was refereed to as Coney Island of the West and was developed including a hotel, cabins, parks, and streets. It remained a hot destination for tourists until the early 1900's when it transferred ownership several time ultimately shutting down in 1960. There have been many talks of redeveloping the island but the current owner plans to turn it into a public park.
In recent years Waconia has seen the emergance of vineyards, breweries, & distilleries. Throughout the country there's a movement of craft beer and local vino's and Waconia is the perfect example. With fertile soil and an abundance of space it's the perfect location for these businesses.
These establishments include Sovereign Estate Wine on the north side of the lake, Parley Lake Winery to the north east, Schram Vineyards Winery & Brewery to the east, J. Carver Distillery on the west edge of town, & Waconia Brewing Company just off Main Street.
Whether you're a sommelier or just interested in the new craft movement make sure to check out some of Waconia's vineyards and breweries.