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2013 Midwest Vacation Guide

2013 Midwest Vacation Guide
Photo by Bluefin Bay

You need a vacation. A break from everyday responsibilities and worries can ease aches and pains, help you sleep better, improve your mood, inspire creativity, and prevent burnout.  And you don’t have to book a flight to reap the benefits. As long as you’re giving your brain a mental break, enjoying yourself, laughing, and building memories, a close-to-home getaway with your significant other, a family vacation, or a weekend trip with friends can be just what the doctor ordered.

« Northern

« Western / Central

« Northeast

« East Metro

« Northwest

« Iowa

« South Dakota

« Wisconsin


Northern

BEMIDJI

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

Approximately 230 miles

Describe your destination in five words:

The stars twinkle brighter here.

Our appeal:

Bemidji is a small town with big-city amenities, including an active visual and performing arts community. The air is cleaner, the red pines grow taller, and the wolves howl more loudly in Northern Minnesota—a place of wildlife, forests, and pristine lakes and rivers.

Inside tips:

Visit one of the most photographed statues in the state—Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox, Babe—right on the shore of beautiful Lake Bemidji. Check out other interesting sculptures, statues, and murals on the Bemidji Art Walk on display throughout downtown and around the city, or see a musical or drama performance at the nationally-recognized Paul Bunyan Playhouse.
 

BERT'S CABINS

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

220 miles, just one mile from the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Itasca State Park

Describe your destination in five words:

Peaceful, relaxing, cozy wood cabins

Our appeal:

Guests can easily enjoy everything Itasca State Park has to offer from our close location: biking, hiking, exploring, nature-watching, and fishing. Itasca State Park is the second-oldest state park in America, ranked one of the top five state parks in the U.S. by Outside magazine and one of the top eight state parks in the country by Take Me Fishing. The cabins are clean, quaint, comfortable, and well-maintained. The setting in the woods creates a quiet, rustic ambiance.

Inside tips:

When it’s chilly, warm up in front of your cabin’s wood-burning fireplace. When the temperature climbs, bring the kids to the playground before cooling off in the swimming pool.  
 

BLACK PINE BEACH RESORT

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

150 miles, in Pequot Lakes

Describe your destination in five words:

Fresh and gracious lake escape

Our appeal:

According to a past guest, we provided a place “where people can find what is more precious than anything else … time with people you love.” We also have a Secret Garden, where kids can leave a letter for an elf, and receive a rhymed answer, photo, or comment.

Inside tips:

Try guided bird watching, walleye stripping, or take a nature walk and look for fiddlehead ferns, then fry them in butter for a tasty treat. Climb to the top of the Fire Tower in Breezy Point and see for miles and miles. In this area of Minnesota, you’ll run out of time before you run out of things to do.
 

RUTTGER’S BIRCHMONT LODGE

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

235 miles, on the northwest shore of Lake Bemidji

Describe your destination in five words:

Beautiful Minnesota Northwoods; family tradition

Our appeal:

Our tradition of Ruttger family hospitality goes back four generations to 1898—more than 110 years. Stay in a lakefront room, townhome, romantic whirlpool suite with a fireplace, or cottage, all spread out along 1,700 feet of natural sand beach. Parents love the resort’s supervised children’s recreation program with activities like hiking, bonfires, and treasure hunts.

Inside tips:

There is phenomenal golfing on nearby championship courses, great biking along the Paul Bunyan Bike Trail, and bumper boats, mini golf, and go-karts at the Putt-N-Go Amusement Park.  

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Western / Central

ARROWWOOD RESORT

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

145 miles, in Alexandria

Describe your destination in five words:

Indoor waterpark, spa, golf, scenic

Our appeal:

We have a 38,000-square-foot indoor tropical waterpark, the Darling Reflections Spa, a full-service marina, 18-hole golf course (warm up by hitting a few balls at our driving range before playing a round), Camp Arrowwood childrens’ activities, wacky Olympics, horseback riding, and evening bonfires. Rendezvous with a group of friends or bring your family for a memorable close-to-home getaway.

Inside tips:

The spacious townhomes are perfect for larger groups/families, and offer gorgeous views of Lake Darling. If you have special dietary needs, the staff is helpful in accommodating gluten-free menu options.

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Northeast

BLUEFIN BAY ON LAKE SUPERIOR

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

240 miles, in the Lutsen-Tofte area

Describe your destination in five words:

Romantic, breathtaking, memorable, outdoor adventures

Our appeal:

We appeal to those looking for a romantic vacation (spend a lazy afternoon in the village of Grand Marais, then unwind with a massage at Waves of Superior Spa), those searching for exhilarating outdoor recreation (we’re close to the Superior Hiking Trail, Gitchi-Gami biking trail, and sailing, kayaking, and fishing adventures), and families wishing to build lifelong memories (we offer complimentary activities for all ages).

Inside tips:

Spring is perfect for waterfall viewing. Two of our favorite spots are Temperance River State Park and Cascade River State Park, both in our backyard. Grab a picnic lunch from our on-site Coho Café and Bakery and make a day of it. When you return, enjoy our outdoor heated pool and hot tub—open year-round. The views of Lake Superior are truly breathtaking.
 

GRANDMA’S SALOON & GRILL, DULUTH

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

150 miles northeast

Describe your destination in five words:

Historic location — world’s greatest lake

Our appeal:

Grandma’s Saloon & Grill is a Duluth icon; the cornerstone of the port city’s lively Canal Park scene. The ambiance is casual and fun, the menu features everything from juicy burgers to award-winning overstuffed walleye sandwiches; creamy wild rice soup to flavorful USDA Choice steak and ribs, and the Lake Superior views are second-to-none. When the weather warms up, dine inside, outside on the ground-level deck, or on the city’s first rooftop deck, where you can watch 1,000-foot ore boats pass under the Aerial Lift Bridge. Service is prompt, friendly, and personalized. As one reviewer commented, “The food was amazingly fresh, and I honestly have not had this kind of knowledgeable and attentive—yet not intrusive—service in a long time.”   

Local events:

Visit during Grandma’s Marathon, set this year on June 22, or from July 24-30 for Tall Ships Duluth 2013, featuring ship tours, day sails, and entertainment|
 

LUTSEN RESORT ON LAKE SUPERIOR

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

250 miles, in the Lutsen-Tofte area

Describe your destination in five words:

Welcoming, fun, relaxing, romantic, memorable

Our appeal:

Lutsen Resort has offered lodging and hospitality since the late 1800s. People love the rich sense of history and tradition, as well as our location on Lake Superior, upscale accommodations, contemporary amenities, and award-winning restaurant. Complimentary activities include guided sea-kayak tours and naturalist hikes, campfires on the beach, kids’ programs, stretching yoga on the beach, pitch and putt golf, Frisbee golf, and shuffleboard. Sit back and relax in Adirondack chairs along the expansive beach or book a massage at the WatersMeet Massage and Wellness Center. Hiking in nearby state parks attracts visitors from across the country.

Area Attractions:

Lutsen Mountains, only five minutes away, offers tram rides to the top of Moose Mountain as well as the Alpine Slide. Also worth checking out? The North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum in Tofte, and the Towering Pines Canopy Tour at Gunflint Lodge.

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East Metro

STILLWATER

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

30 miles

Describe your destination in five words:

Fun, scenic, historic river town    

Our appeal:

We’re within close proximity to the St. Croix River, which means cruises, pretty scenery, and an interesting logging past. We also have paved bike trails, beautiful Victorian architecture, art galleries, museums, trolley tours, fun events like our Girlfriend Getaway Weekend April 19-21 (see www.DiscoverStillwater.com/events for details), wineries and breweries, boutique shopping along Main Street, and great restaurants, B&Bs, and inns.  Stillwater has been voted “Top 10 Prettiest Small Towns in America” by Forbes magazine, and “Best Day Trip” and “Weekend Getaway” by Minnesota Monthly, Women’s Resource Guide, and the Minnetonka Times. Much of the city is on the National Register of Historic Places.
 

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Northwest

THE LODGE ON LAKE DETROIT  

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

200 miles northwest, in Detroit Lakes

Describe your destination in five words:

Eco-friendly lakefront hotel, affordable luxury.

Our appeal:

Our lovely secluded setting on Big Detroit Lake—and our 150-foot sandy beach—is a draw, but we also host fun events like the Murder Mystery event April 6 and the Mother’s Day Wine event May 12, and encourage relaxation and rejuvenation through our on-site spa, modern and comfortable accommodations, beautiful views, fireside lobby, and daily grand piano sunset serenades. Guests also love the fitness center, pool and hot tub, and complimentary paddleboats and kayaks.

Inside tips:

We’re just minutes from area restaurants, golf courses, and downtown Detroit Lakes.
 

SHOOTING STAR CASINO

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

240 miles in Mahnomen, 35 miles north of Detroit Lakes on Highway 59

Describe your destination in five words:

Slots, poker, spa, hotel, entertainment

Our appeal:

We are home to 1,100 slot machines, a bingo hall, 16 blackjack tables, the full-service Sereniitee Spa (great for a relaxing massage or facial), a beautiful and spacious event center, friendly employees, and big-name national entertainment. On-site restaurants offer a variety of dining options, from casual to fine dining. We also offer a large non-smoking section, a swimming pool, and an exercise facility.

Inside tips:

Book our “Couples Retreat” and enjoy a romantic stay in a King Jacuzzi Suite, a couples massage at Sereniitee Spa, a gift basket with Sereniitee Spa goodies, a bottle of bubbly, and $20 off at our fine dining restaurant, 2 ONE 8.

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Iowa

OKOBOJI, IOWA

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

205 miles south

Describe your destination in five words:

Iowa’s No. 1 Vacation Destination!

Our appeal:

The Iowa Great Lakes Area (collectively known as Okoboji) is a small resort town in Northwest Iowa centered around Lake Okoboji. The main appeal is Lake Okoboji and the water recreation that goes along with it, but there are many other attractions that bring visitors to the area, such as the Coney-Island like Arnolds Park Amusement Park, the Queen II Excursion Boat, the Saturday evening concert series on Preservation Plaza, the Dickinson County Trails system, one of the top art museums in the Midwest, Iowa Rock ‘n Roll Music Museum, golf courses, and antique shopping. The Abbie Gardner Sharp Cabin and Iowa Great Lakes Maritime Museum are two “musts” for history buffs. Okoboji is the perfect destination for any family on any budget.

You might not realize:

The Iowa Great Lakes are glacier-carved lakes, and West Lake Okoboji is said to be one of the only true blue lakes in the world. West Lake Okoboji is the deepest lake in the state of Iowa, and Big Spirit Lake is the largest lake in Iowa. Don’t miss the Fourth of July Fireworks spectacular over West Lake Okoboji (note: this is always held on the fourth, even if it’s a Monday), but make early reservations.
 

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South Dakota

RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

Approximately 600 miles southwest

Describe your destination in five words:

Black Hills scenery, fun adventures.

Our appeal:

We’re home to the Black Hills National Forest, five national parks and monuments (including the inspirational Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the visionary Crazy Horse Memorial), private wildlife attractions, family amusement parks, and historic gaming towns. This is where you’ll find Devils Tower, Spearfish Canyon, Reptile Gardens, Sylvan Lake, Storybook Island, Wall Drug, Bear Country USA, and so much more.

Inside tips:

Meet and greet past presidents of America on The City of Presidents walk, view the Norwegian Stavkirke Chapel, capture Rapid City from atop Skyline Drive at Dinosaur Park, learn some of the 2.5 billion years of Black Hills and Native American history at The Journey Museum, or visit the Dahl Arts Center, which houses Cyclorama, a 200-foot narrated mural of American History.
 

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Wisconsin

CANOE BAY 

 Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

120 miles near Chetek, Wis.

Describe your destination in five words:

Ideal prescription for relaxation, romance.

Our appeal:

Canoeing, hiking, and exploring the gardens on 280 acres of rolling, wooded countryside, phenomenal prix fixe dining, and the quality of the quiet (Canoe Bay was designed exclusively for couples). The secluded location is a big part of Canoe Bay’s personality.

Inside tips:

Book the romance package and enjoy wine, flowers, dinner-for-two (one evening), and a full breakfast in bed one morning. For an ultra-private dining experience, upgrade to the Wine Cellar Dinner. Foodies—try the Chef’s Table one evening, and eat right in the kitchen!
 

HAWKS VIEW COTTAGES  

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

105 miles downstream from St. Paul in Fountain City, Wis.

Describe your destination in five words:

Hideaway with river views; dreamers welcome.

Our appeal:

Great Mississippi river views (and hiking opportunities), historic river town ambiance, extremely scenic drive. Seven Hawks Vineyards, just one mile away, offers tastings. The Frontenac Reserve won a silver medal in the Minnesota Grape Growers Association International Cold Climate Wine Competition.

Inside tips:

Bird-watching hotspots are abundant in the area —especially bald eagles, pelicans, and arctic swans. Bike down the Great River State Trail, or check out Merrick Park along the Mississippi.
 

MADELINE ISLAND    

Distance from the Twin Cities metro:

240 miles to LaPointe, Wis. + a 20-minute ferry ride

Describe your destination in five words:

A break from mainland living

Our appeal:

Madeline Island, a short ferry ride from Bayfield to LaPointe, Wis., is one of 22 Apostle Islands and the only island not part of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, meaning it is the only developed island of the bunch. Visit the Madeline Island Historic Museum, play golf, go hiking, or explore miles of clear blue water, white sand, and interesting rocky shorelines in a sailboat, sea kayak, or canoe (check out the sea caves). There is a laidback vibe on the island—encouraging you to slow down and take it all in.

Inside tips:

The Madeline Island Ferry Line provides daily transportation to and from the island every 30 minutes during the summer.
 

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RESOURCE GUIDE:

Arrowwood Resort
www.arrowwoodresort.com
Bert’s Cabins
www.bertscabins.com
Black Pine Beach Resort
www.blackpinebeach.com
Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior
www.bluefinbay.com
Canoe Bay
www.canoebay.com
Grandma’s Saloon and Grill
www.grandmasrestaurants.com
Hawks View Cottages  
www.hawksview.net
The Lodge on Lake Detroit
www.thelodgeonlakedetroit.com
Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior
www.lutsenresort.com
Madeline Island
www.madelineisland.com
www.bayfield.org
Okoboji, Iowa
www.vacationokoboji.com
Rapid City, South Dakota
www.visitrapidcity.com
Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge
www.ruttger.com
Shooting Star Casino
www.starcasino.com
Stillwater
www.discoverstillwater.com
Visit Bemidji
www.visitbemidji.com

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