Am I the only Central Minnesotan that hasn't been swimming at Stearns County's Quarry Park? Don't get me wrong, I love Quarry Park. I have the 2021 annual permit in the bottom left corner of my windshield.

Most of my time at Quarry Park comes in the form of cross-country skiing or hiking with my dog in the winter -- and hiking with my dog and fishing (not to be confused with catching) for stocked trout in the summer.

I've stumbled across some bountiful wild strawberry patches that will cause me to pause and graze for a while in the summer too. I've also climbed on top of some high granite rock outcroppings to watch a super-moon or two rise above the horizon.

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I'm always amazed that such a cool, little natural getaway exists right in the middle of our Saint Cloud metro area.

By far and away, the biggest draw to Quarry Park comes in the summer months when quarry #2 and quarry #11 officially open for swimming. One's got a nice, gradual beach, and the other is known for cliff jumping. I've dipped my toes in neither.

There are NO LIFEGUARDS.  Swim at your own risk.

Most that know me would be shocked that I've never taken the big jump. I want to, have been tempted on many hikes watching others do the same -- but for whatever reason I never have.

For 2021: I will if you will. I mean, let's go. Enough sitting inside, wearing masks, washing our hands. It's time to go jump in a big granite hole filled with water. Let's do this!

LOOK: Here are the 50 best beach towns in America

Every beach town has its share of pluses and minuses, which got us thinking about what makes a beach town the best one to live in. To find out, Stacker consulted data from WalletHub, released June 17, 2020, that compares U.S. beach towns. Ratings are based on six categories: affordability, weather, safety, economy, education and health, and quality of life. The cities ranged in population from 10,000 to 150,000, but they had to have at least one local beach listed on TripAdvisor. Read the full methodology here. From those rankings, we selected the top 50. Readers who live in California and Florida will be unsurprised to learn that many of towns featured here are in one of those two states.

Keep reading to see if your favorite beach town made the cut.


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