Summers are jam packed with family gatherings, BBQs with friends, time spent on the water and everything in between. All that socializing can be a little overwhelming at times. To help balance out your schedule, we’re rounding up our favorite weekend getaways up north for you and your partner, friends or even a solo trip.
Nested in the harbor, Duluth is a lovely city with a slow pace perfect for a weekend trip. Just two hours north of the Twin Cities, you can head up on a Friday afternoon and be back just in time for work on Monday. Enjoy the waters of Lake Superior with a walk along the waters - while you’re there take a stroll in Canal Park, an iconic spot (albeit touristy at times!) in the Twin Port town. There’s tons of shopping to be had - you must hit up our favorite store, Duluth Pack, home to all sort of outdoor gear, clothing and Duluth garb. Dine at some of fav places like Northwaters Smoke Haus, Amazing Grace Bakery & Cafe and Canal Park Brewing. Just 5-10 minutes from Canal Park are other restaurants definitely worth checking out including At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe and OMC Smoke House. Duluth also boasts a great brewery scene with establishments like Hoops Brewing Co (serves liquor too if you’re not a beer person), Bent Paddle Brewing, Canal Park Brewing and the historic Fitgers Brewing.
After a little bit of grub, head south on 35 to beautiful Jay Cooke State Park and hike one of many trails Or, equally as nice, the Superior Hiking Trail, with paths all over the Duluth and surrounding area.
2) Taylors Falls
Only an hour north of the cities, Taylors Fall is a great getaway for a family or friends. First item on the agenda? A hike in Taylors Falls Interstate Park! There are trails options for all sorts of hiking levels so everyone can join in - walk on a flat scenic path (no hiking shoes necessary) or go as extreme as rock climbing and free solo bouldering! After a bit of exercise, make a stop at one of two lovely local wineries right off the St. Croix River - Wild Mountain Winery or the Chateau St. Croix. With a beautiful backdrop and crisp cold vino in hand, you won’t want to leave!
3) Grand Marais
A road trip to Grand Marais is definitely a longer trek but well worth it with a couple fun stops along the way to break up the drive. Make sure to take off bright and early so you make the most of your weekend. Make your first pit stop in Duluth, the the halfway point. See above for our best recs. Our founder Laura loves the Portland Malt Shop. But don’t eat too much - if drive another 20 minutes north you can stop off at the New Scenic Cafe for a healthy but seriously tasty meal with a view. Keep driving for another hour and a half and make your final pit stop in Lutsen at the Lockport Marketplace. Enjoy the friendly staff, stock up on snacks for your cabin and split a ‘pastie.’ You are on the final leg! Drive another hour and a half to arrive at The Hungry Jack Lodge. There are a ton of beautiful places to stay in Grand Marais but this is where we stayed and absolutely loved it. Situated on the legendary Gunflight trail, these cabins are the perfect escape and there is almost no wifi - which is in our books, is a big plus. 100% unplugged which means no work and no distractions! For those of you who like the idea of camping but still enjoy an actual bed and running water this is the spot for you. It certainly was the perfect compromise for our founder Laura and her hardcore nature loving husband Mark.
Start off with a beautiful hike on the Gunflint, truly a few steps from your cabin and grab a beer and dinner at the Logger Lodge at Hungry Jack the first night to settle in. Don’t miss exploring the charming Grand Marais downtown with lunch at The Crooked Spoon Cafe or the iconic Sven and Ole’s and beers on the Gunflint Tavern rooftop. Of course, it wouldn't be a trip to Grand Marais if you didn’t’ get out on the water. The Hungry Jack has everything you need to canoe, fish or kayak - pack a lunch and park your boat across the lake and enjoy a peaceful lunch and a hike.
4) Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
This kind of trip may not be suited for the faint of heart but if you’re in need of some serious serene solitude, this trip may be perfect for you. Located in the Superior National Forest, the BWCAW is a preserve of lakes and woods that stretches for hundreds of miles along the Minnesota and Canadian border. Campers from all over the country have been traveling here for years to hike, fish, camp, canoe, portage and enjoy the great outdoors. Even with 200,000 visitors each year, you can still portage for multiple days without seeing any other travelers. After you cross the border, you won’t see any roads or cars, only true wilderness and other BWCAW visitors. More than humans, expect to see a myriad of wildlife from birds to bears, moose and foxes and bobcats.
If you haven’t been before, we recommend traveling with someone who’s either been before or who has some serious experience camping, canoeing and handling the ups and downs untamed wilderness. Note: BWCAW only allows group of 9 or less at a time to preserve the lands.
What are your favorite summer getaways? We want to know!