Where to stay and what to do in 2 days on the North Shore in Minnesota?
August 20, 2014 12:32 PM   Subscribe

We have just 2 1/2 days to visit the North Shore of Minnesota in mid-September (Thursday - Saturday). It's my my wonderful mother-in-law, husband and me. Likes: nature walks/easy hikes, great food, tours/museums, boat rides, beautiful views, bookstores. Needs: lodging with good beds (injured back healing); two bedrooms. Any suggestions for (a) where to stay, and (b) things to do? We'll be driving up from Minneapolis, so the shorter the drive the better (due to injured-back situation).
posted by apennington to Travel & Transportation around Duluth, MN (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Blufin bay is nice, though I'm not sure of availability. They've got lakeside rooms with big picture windows.

You could drive up the Pallisades for the view. If you make it all the way to Grand Marais, you can eat at the Angry Trout for dinner, and drive out and back on the Gunflint at dusk to look for Moose.
posted by Think_Long at 1:50 PM on August 20, 2014

Grand Marais has a number of lodges and hotels in town and in surrounding areas.

Gunflint lodge is awesome and I've always enjoyed my stays there. It is a long haul from Mpls however. You could maybe do a night in Duluth or Two Harbors and then meander up there - there are a ton of spots to get out of the car and sightsee : Gooseberry falls, Temperence River, Split Rock, and Cascade parks just off the top of my head.

Highly recommended - take the Scenic Hwy 26 out of Duluth to Two Harbors.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:22 PM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

We actually just stayed at Gunflint Lodge although we did the outfitters for most of it but it was awesome. You could eat dinner and watch the baby ducks on the beach, it was super cute. I would highly recommend the drive, even as Pogo_Fuzzybutt says, it is quite a drive but the sites are worth it. The Gunflint Trail is a scenic highway with lots of stops and Grand Marais is quite a tourist town.

Seriously within an hour drive of either direction, you have more then enough to do in 2.5 days. I know people that stay up there for 2 weeks and claim there isn't enough to do.
posted by lpcxa0 at 2:54 PM on August 20, 2014

Seconding Bluefin Bay, which is lovely, but not terribly cheap. In Grand Marais there are a number of options, Eastbay Suites was very nice when friends were there.

As for attractions: Don't miss out on Split Rock Lighthouse, Angry Trout Cafe in Grand Marais, Schooner Hjordis, if sailing is your/her thing , there are a ton of small crafty places between Duluth and the Canadian Border, the Grand Portage Fur Trading Post near the Canadian border, and the Scenic Train from Duluth which might be a nice way to see more scenery without the confines of the car.

There is a book on available on Gentle Hikes of The North Shore which might be worth a look. A friend uses it to guide walks with their young children, so I know it has some very short/easy walks in it too.

One last piece of advice; Be VERY careful driving on the road, especially at dawn/dusk. There are a TON of deer along the way, and while they are lovely to see, they can really do a number on your car! And oh yeah, have fun!
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 4:40 PM on August 20, 2014

One interesting trip up the Shore could be:

Day One
Duluth and environs
-- Plenty of lodging options
-- Floating museum!
-- Train museum!!!
-- Shopping district (varying quality)
-- Fancy house museum (seriously, one of the most interesting I've seen)
-- Honestly, there is no truly good food in Duluth; sustain yourselves, sure, but definitely hit the New Scenic Cafe, a bit farther north

Day Two
-- Super-massive mine pit museum and tours (climb on a giant dumptruck)
-- Some folk singer was from around here, or something...
-- Greyhound bus museum (possibly the oddest museum ever)
Back to Duluth

Another interesting trip might include:
Both Days
Duluth* to Grand Marais
-- Several decent lodging options, including various multi-room cabin rentals, 20s wonderland Naniboujou, the Harbor Inn (reduced price breakfast at the attached restaurant), and the Mangy Moose (clean, well-run, fairly inexpensive motel with decent beds)
-- Charming town with a cool little bay/lighthouse
-- Some mild hiking in the area
-- Decent shopping options, including a few pleasant "galleries" and one particularly well-stocked "outfitter" type place; not cheap, but a great opportunity to handle brands like Woolrich, Hudson Bay, etc. that you'd normally not find at the mall or whatever

* Grand Marais is a bit of a haul from the cities. We often stop off in Duluth the first night, and do the drive home in one longer day.
posted by credible hulk at 11:15 PM on August 20, 2014

My wife and I have always enjoyed visits to Cove Point Lodge

I don't know what the current room rate is but it does include a breakfast. It is far enough up north to seem to be truly remote but close enough to reach in a day without pushing hard. The lodge is close to to Split Rock lighthouse and Gooseberry Falls .
posted by The Violet Cypher at 1:42 PM on August 21, 2014

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