Complete Winter Traveler
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Spring, summer, and autumn are all wonderful in their own way—but despite getting a (sometimes) bad rap, winter is pretty amazing, too. Winter is peaceful, tranquil, restful. It is the calming snow-covered sounds of Mother Nature on a quiet morning, the smoky smell of wood-burning fireplaces, a mug of hot chocolate warming your hands, a vivid blue sky against a blanket of white, warm, buttery bread dipped in hearty stew. Winter is the thrill of the holidays, the excitement of ski vacations, the novelty of partying on ice. Just follow our suggestions on the following pages, and when the forecast calls for snow and cold, you’ll be ready to seize the deep freeze and make the most of your winter playground.
UP NORTH *
Experience some of the region’s best scenery and winter recreation in Duluth, on the shore of Lake Superior. Ski Spirit Mountain, explore miles of multi-use trails on foot, snowshoes, or cross-country skis, do a little ice fishing on Lake Superior, and—while visiting around the holidays—don’t miss the Bentleyville Tour of Lights at BayFront Festival Park.
“Bentleyville Tour of Lights is a nonprofit corporation that organizes a free, annual family holiday light show complete with Santa, holiday music, and fire pits for roasting marshmallows,” explains Nathan Bentley, event coordinator. “It’s all surrounded by a magical atmosphere geared toward young and old with a community mission of raising nonperishable food items and new unwrapped toys for families in need.”
Unlike traditional light displays typically enjoyed from a vehicle, Bentleyville is a four-acre, outdoor Christmas experience, Bentley says. Visitors stroll through the park and enjoy the sounds of the holiday season, visit with Santa Claus, and watch the faces of children light up with excitement!
Santa will visit children every day from Saturday, Nov. 28 - Wednesday Dec. 23.
Free hot beverages and cookies will be served from the Cookie House, free popcorn will be served from the Pop Corn Box, and marshmallows can be picked up at the Marshmallow Hut and roasted at one of 15 fire pits.
Bentleyville is completely handicapped accessible. The Tour of Lights will be open daily from 5 - 10 p.m. starting Nov. 27, 2009 and concluding on Jan. 2, 2010.
Cove Point Lodge
The Snow Gods tend to smile on the North Shore, and Cove Point Lodge in Beaver Bay, about a half hour’s drive from the Tofte/Lutsen area, is no exception. Located just outside the Superior Hiking Trail, near Gooseberry Falls, Tettegouche State Park, and the Gitchi-Gami Bike Trail, you’ll find plenty of snow for snowmobiling, skiing, or snowshoeing (complimentary snowshoes are available). If Old Man Winter is raging outside, stay inside the Scandinavian-style lodge and use the swimming pool, hot tub, or library. An intimate dining room has a great selection of seasonal meals and an extensive wine list. Cove Point is surrounded by 150 acres of woods and rocks, complete with a postcard-perfect view of Lake Superior. All rooms face Lake Superior and include fireplaces and/or Jacuzzis to combat the cold. covepointlodge.com
Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior
Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior is at the center of winter activities along the North Shore. There are over 250 km of groomed and tracked trails for cross-country skiers and over 100 miles of snowmobile paths throughout the Sawtooth Mountains, Superior National Forest, and along the North Shore. Guests can go ice skating on the Bluefin Bay Ice Rink, watch outdoor movies (complete with hot chocolate and goodies), or join a guided snowshoe tour.
For a unique experience, try a guided moonlight cross-country skiing tour. You can bring your own ski equipment or use complimentary gear, available at the Guest Services Center.
If carving down chutes is more your speed, Bluefin Bay is just down the road from Lutsen Mountains. Daily shuttle bus rides are available to Bluefin guests.
If your ideal winter getaway includes staying put rather than braving the elements, you can relax in a seaside vacation home (the views of Lake Superior are incredible), soak in the outdoor hot tub or indoor whirlpool, dine at one of the on-site restaurants, snuggle in front of a cozy wood fire, or book a massage at the Superior Waters Wellness Center.
Lutsen Mountains isn’t nicknamed the “Vail of the Midwest” for nothing. Offering the most ski acreage in the state—with 92 runs and 1,000 feet of vertical drop—it offers downhill terrain not typically found in the Midwest. Scenic runs wind through woods, the expert runs are steep, and the North Shore views from the top of the mountains are some of the best in the state.
Lutsen is such a popular spot that people came from 30 states last year (including Texas, Florida, and New York), but the majority of the 100,000 annual skiers are from the Twin Cities area. Excellent skiing and boarding is just part of the draw. Lutsen offers on-mountain dining and entertainment—providing an aprés-ski experience—along with groomed, tracked trails for Nordic skiing, dog sledding, backcountry snowshoeing, and sleigh rides.
A Lutsen getaway is less expensive than a Rocky Mountain vacation, too. Purchase lift tickets online (up to 72 hours in advance of arrival) and save both time and money. Lutsen also partners with the best lodging facilities to offer the lowest prices on ski and stay packages. lutsen.com
Under glistening snow, Ely becomes the perfect destination for every winter activity. With an average annual snowfall of 84 inches, the winter season starts in early December and lasts into April. Approximately 4 hours from the Twin Cities, Ely offers a unique blend of wilderness trails and groomed, tracked trails for everything from skiing to dog sledding to snowmobiling. Listen to the winter birds or head to a remote wilderness lake, where you can enjoy your catch of the day over an open fire.
In Ely, the “winter blues” don’t exist. Winter is a celebration with events like the Art Walk, Winter Festival, Fun Run Snowmobile Ride, and WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race. A trip to Ely won’t be complete unless you explore its restaurants, museums, galleries, and shops featuring out-of-the ordinary décor plus unique made-in-Ely gifts.
At the end of the day, relax in the warmth and comfort of your soon-to-be favorite lodging establishment-in town or at the edge of the lake. After dark, you may even be lucky enough to see the northern lights dancing across the sky or hear the spine-tingling call of a timber wolf.
A winter getaway in Ely is an experience you’ll never forget and will repeat year after year. Contact the Ely Travel Counselors at 1-800-777-7281 or ely.org to plan your Ely experience.