North Shore Getaways
Whether it’s a family vacation, a getaway with girlfriends, or a romantic weekend, we provide an itinerary of where to go and what to do along the North Shore depending on the type of getaway you have planned.
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FAMILY BONDING: NORTH SHORE
If you have a day:
Duluth, just two and a half hours north of the Twin Cities metro, is a quick and easy drive for families itching to get out of town for the day. While in Duluth, check out the The Great Lakes Aquarium and their new saltwater exhibit, “Masters of Disguise,” opening May 31. This intriguing attraction will explore camouflage, coloring, mimicry and other visual tricks and behaviors that help sea creatures and land animals hide in plain sight. Shape-shifting fish, plant-like insects and color-changing reptiles are among the many new creatures that will be featured.
“Although originally envisioned solely as a freshwater facility with a focus on the Great Lakes Basin, the Aquarium’s scope has broadened over the past few years, reinforcing that all aquatic and marine ecosystems on earth are interrelated in a larger context,” explains Jack LaVoy, executive director of Great Lakes Aquarium. Located on the Duluth waterfront, The Great Lakes Aquarium is showing 11 exhibits and is open daily from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. glaquarium.org
While in Duluth, be sure to also visit the Duluth Art Institute, with interesting exhibits ranging from “In Focus: National Geographic Greatest Portraits” (May 20-July 18) and “Port-Traits: Duluth Superior Shows its Face: A Twin Ports Public Art Project” (May 20-September 16). This public art exhibit will be free and open to the public with added venues for viewing as the number of photos spill beyond the Great Hall of the Depot. duluthartinstitute.org
If you have a weekend:
Travel further up the North Shore and take the family on a kayaking adventure through Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center’s Split Rock Sea Kayak Tour. Kayak past towering cliffs, over shipwrecks, and under Split Rock Lighthouse, a great introduction to kayaking in a unique setting.
A morning tour is available June 29, 8:30 a.m. to noon, and an evening tour is available June 23, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Tours begin and end at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and include a picnic stop at a secluded pebble beach.
After the kayak tour, be sure to visit Split Rock Lighthouse, celebrating its centennial this year. The Minnesota Historical Society has planned a year-long birthday party with special activities and events, available at mnhs.org/splitrock. More than 120,000 visitors a year tour the lighthouse and keeper’s home, climb the lighthouse tower to see the original, still operational French bivalve lens, and take their own shots of one of the most photographed sites in the country. “For many who visit Split Rock Lighthouse, this is their first view of Lake Superior,” says Lee Radzak, the historic site’s manager and modern-day keeper. “Seeing the endless horizon from the top of the lighthouse and the great ships far out on the sparkling water, just as the early keepers saw them, is an experience many people never forget.”
Stay at Cove Point Lodge, the closest lodge to the lighthouse. “From Cove Point Lodge you can bike, hike, drive or kayak [to Split Rock],” says Steven Hillestad, co-owner. In addition to the numerous concerts and events planned by Split Rock, Cove Point Lodge is coordinating charters for anywhere from one to six guests to see the lighthouse from Lake Superior.
Spend the remainder of the weekend hiking along the Superior Hiking Trail, biking on the Gitchi-Gami Bike Trail, using one of the resort’s canoes, shopping in nearby Beaver Bay, visiting Gooseberry Falls, having dinner in the lakeside dining room, or sitting next to a campfire once the sun goes down.
Hidden from the highway, with every room facing Lake Superior (and no conventions or big meeting facilities bringing in large groups), you’ll be able to focus on family. Stay two or more nights midweek in any room or cottage from May 2 - June 30, and get half-off the posted room rate for that Wednesday. covepointlodge.com
If you have a week:
Experience an unforgettable outdoor learning adventure in a relaxed and friendly environment during a Wolf Ridge Family Vacation Week July 25-30 or August 8-13, 2010. According to one family vacationer, “This experience was the best family vacation that my family has ever been on. My children still talk about how much fun they had at Wolf Ridge.” Wolf Ridge is the first environmental learning center in the nation to be accredited as a K-12 school and is recognized nationally and internationally as a leader in environmental education. The 2,000 acre campus overlooks Lake Superior. wolf-ridge.org
GIRLS’ GETAWAY: NORTH SHORE
If you have a weekend:
Call your closest girlfriends and schedule a scrapbooking, shopping, or “just need some time with my girls” weekend at Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior. Relax with a glass of wine in front of a fireplace in one of the luxurious three bedroom cottages while gazing at Lake Superior from the living room, dining room or well-equipped kitchen.
Go biking, kayaking, or swimming in the indoor pool, soak in the all-season outdoor whirlpool, or unwind in the Finnish sauna or in the special Massage Cottage (right on the water’s edge!) Enjoy a delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the Ledge Rock Grille.
“Girlfriends gather at Larsmont Cottages for many reasons,” says Barbara Swenson, marketing director. “Some come as groups to play cards and some to cook and share stories. They come for different reasons, but all leave with a new appreciation and new perspective of nature’s wonders.” larsmontcottages.com
Shopaholics, adventure seekers, and art lovers will find plenty to do in Grand Marais, a harbor village on the shore of Lake Superior.
“There’s a timeless quality here, similar to that of a fishing village on the coast of Maine,” says Diane Brostrom, director of the Grand Marais Area Tourism Association. A Grand Marais getaway with the girls can include fresh air and relaxation, shopping at dozens of boutiques and galleries, or outdoor adventure, including hiking and biking near the Sawtooth Mountains and along the Gunflint Trail, or kayaking and canoeing inland or out on Lake Superior. grandmarais.com