2008 Midwest Vacation Guide
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SPECIAL ADVERTISING SECTION
You’ve waited all winter for a hard-earned vacation, now go ahead and take some time off!
Vacation season is right around the corner! After spending all winter waiting for the spring thaw (didn’t this winter seem to go on forever?), you definitely deserve a break. Get out of town and relax. Order out, sleep in, explore a part of the state you haven’t explored before. Don’t think about the pressures of work, don’t think about the usual stresses of everyday life, don’t think about those never-ending “to-do” lists. Just go with the flow and have fun. >>
Afton House Inn
If you have a day: Experience the beauty of the St. Croix River aboard an Afton-Hudson Cruise Line riverboat. After the cruise stop for beer, burgers or pizza in the casual Catfish Saloon and Cafe.
If you have a weekend: Stay at the charming Historic Afton House Inn bed & breakfast, where rooms are reminiscent of the past. Select rooms feature double Jacuzzis, gas fireplaces, and balconies overlooking the river. Hike or mountain bike along the rugged, rolling landscape of nearby Afton State Park (located five miles south of Afton). Later in the evening, treat yourself to fine dining in the Historic Afton House Inn’s Wheel Room. Spend a lazy Sunday shopping in the unique boutiques and galleries in downtown Afton, followed by ice cream at Selma’s Ice Cream Parlor.
If you have a week: Learn about the rural character of the city on the Historic Afton Walking Tour. Spend a day hiking in Birkmose Park, where you’ll want your camera to capture views of the St. Croix River Valley from the bluffs. Cool off with a dip in the lake at Steamboat Park, take a hot air balloon ride over the valley, or—depending on the season—pick strawberries, apples, or raspberries at the Afton Apple Orchard.
Directions: The Afton House Inn is 30 minutes southeast of the Twin Cities metro along the St. Croix River. For more information, visit www.aftonhouseinn.com.
Arrowwood Resort/Alexandria Area
If you have a day: Bring the kids to the Big Splash Indoor Waterpark while you rejuvenate at Arrowwood’s Darling Reflections Spa.
If you have a weekend: Stay at Arrowwood Resort and play a round on Arrowwood’s scenic 18-hole course, unleash your inner cowgirl/boy on a horseback riding adventure, warm up and roast marshmallows by an evening bonfire. Bike past “Big Ole,” a giant Viking at the north end of downtown, on the Central Lakes State Trail, running 55 miles from Osakis to Fergus Falls.
If you have a week: The prairie meets the forest in the Alexandria area, where the glaciers carved their way through Minnesota thousands of years ago creating a perfect blend of lakes, wooded hills, and open prairie. This scenic backdrop of year-round beauty provides unlimited opportunities for recreation, tourism, business, industry, shopping, and culture.
Directions: Alexandria is two hours west of the Twin Cities. For more information about the city, visit www.alexandriamn.org. For more information about the resort, visit www.arrowwoodresort.com.
If you have a day: You can’t go to Bemidj—the birthplace of Paul Bunyan—without getting a little dose of the big lumberjack. Visit the giant statues of Paul Bunyan and his blue ox, Babe, on the Lake Bemidji shoreline before seeing a performance at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse. Hike, bike, or explore a unique bog area, accessible via boardwalk, at Lake Bemidji State Park. If the weather outside is frightful, the Headwaters Science Center and History Museum are excellent indoor attractions.
If you have a weekend: Spend a day in Itasca State Park, the headwaters of the Mighty Mississippi River. Take the wilderness drive through towering pines, hike through the area (stop to cross the stones at the headwaters area) or rent a canoe or pontoon and explore Lake Itasca. If you visit Bemidji August 1-2, you can be part of the excitement and fun of the Third Annual Lake Bemidji Dragon Boat Festival.
If you have a week: Depending on the season, check out a bonspiel at the Bemidji Curling Club. (Both men’s and women’s rinks from the Bemidji Curling Club won the right to represent the United States in the 2006 Winter Olympics.) Spend a day watching eagles at Chippewa National Forest, home of the largest nesting population of bald eagles in the lower 48 states, and be sure to pencil in time for the Bemidji Sculpture Walk, with over 20 unique sculptures dotting the downtown shopping and dining district.
Directions: Bemidji is a four-hour drive from the Twin Cities metro. For more information, visit www.bemidji.org.
Photo by John gregor/coldsnap photography
Photo by John gregor/coldsnap photography
If you have a day: Indulge in local specialties, such as cinnamon raisin bread with blackberry cream cheese or turkey with wild rice at the Bluefin Grille, located at Bluefin Bay, a premier Minnesota resort celebrating its 25th birthday this year. Walk along the shoreline and appreciate stunning views of the 31,800-square-mile expanse of Lake Superior.
If you have a weekend: Stay in style at Bluefin Bay, winner of the Minnesota Lodging Association’s “2007 Best Resort of the Year” title, and enjoy access to a year-round outdoor pool and spa, indoor pool and spa, saunas, tennis court, and free shuttle service to and from area trailheads as well as nearby Lutsen Mountains. Borrow a complimentary bike and pedal down the Gitchi-Gami Trail, or cruise down logging roads or backcountry trails. Top off the evening with a romantic dinner at Bluefin Grille. The following day, pamper yourself at the Superior Waters Wellness Center.
If you have a week: Explore Bluefin’s “other” backyard, Superior National Forest, 2.1 million acres of wilderness crisscrossed with hiking and mountain biking trails. Head over to Lutsen Mountains ski area for a trip down the Alpine Slide. Rent a kayak, canoe, or sailboat and head out on Lake Superior. Hike through nearby Temperance River State Park where the sheer rock walls, gorges, canyons and waterfalls offer surprises around every bend.
Directions: Bluefin Bay is approximately 80 miles north of Duluth in the city of Tofte (near Lutsen). For more information, visit www.bluefinbay.com.
Cove Point Lodge
If you have a day: Put on your hiking shoes and explore boreal forests, Sawtooth Mountains, babbling brooks, rushing waterfalls, and abundant wildlife along the Superior Hiking Trail.
If you have a weekend: Stay at the Cove Point Lodge, a cozy lodge set 100 feet from the Lake Superior shoreline, and hike, bike, kayak, or fish in the area. Have a glass of wine and the walleye, steak, or pasta at the Lodge restaurant, followed by a walk along the rocky beach. If it’s chilly, relax by the lobby’s enormous stone fireplace or unwind in the hot tub and sauna.
If you have a week: Explore Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls, and Tettegouche State Park. Golf at Silver Bay, a naturally beautiful course surrounded by heavily forested hills near the east branch of the Beaver River. Spend an afternoon shopping in Beaver Bay.
Directions: Cove Point Lodge is approximately 80 miles north of Duluth in the city of Beaver Bay. For more information, visit www.covepointlodge.com.