Midwest Vacation Guide


Minnesota North

Ely, Minnesota

SIP >Fitger’s Inn and Brewery Complex

, Fitger’s, Duluth’s only Four Diamond Hotel, offers a fabulous selection of dining, shopping and entertainment options within a historic building along the shoreline of beautiful Lake Superior. Stay in a suite featuring amenities including balconies, fireplaces, wet bars, skylights, double whirlpools, and spectacular views. Have dinner at Baja Billy’s or Bennett’s on the Lake before heading over to Fitger’s Brewhouse for entertainment and a wide variety of delicious beers on tap (brewed on premise). After enjoying a tasty brew (or two) stroll along the Lakewalk for amazing views of the world’s largest freshwater lake.  www.fitgers.com, 1-888-FITGERS

RECONNECT > Explore miles of untouched waterways and pristine shorelines in Ely, one of America’s last pure outdoor experiences. Find the perfect family-owned resort, motel, or peaceful campsite. The small town of Ely is a place to renew spirits, get in touch with nature, and spend quality time with friends and family. The great draw of Ely–for those in the region and around the country–is the close proximity to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and massive Superior National Forest. However, those who visit rarely leave without checking out Ely’s local shops, studios, galleries, charming restaurants and Northwoods eateries, and attractions such as the Dorothy Molter Museum, International Wolf Center, and Ely Winton History Museum.  www.ely.org, 1-800-777-7281

RELAX > Kick back and relax at a beautiful Bluefin Bay seaside vacation home, located on Lake Superior 80 miles north of Duluth in the city of Tofte.

It’s easy to see why Bluefin Bay is a popular destination, with gorgeous views of the always-changing Lake Superior, memorable dining at Bluefin Grille, spa services at Superior Waters Wellness Center, close proximity to the Gitchi-Gami Bike Trail, an outdoor pool and hot tub/spa, indoor pool and whirlpool, children’s play area, children’s program, volleyball and tennis courts, fire pits, grills, sea kayaking lessons, a naturalist program and complimentary mountain bikes. The Sawtooth Mountain Park at nearby Lutsen Mountains offers mountain biking, hiking, rides on the Alpine Slide, and horseback riding.  www.bluefinbay.com, 1-800-258-3346

PLAY > Families have been coming to Lutsen Resort and Sea Villas for generations, for the prime location on Lake Superior, campfires on the pebble beach, complimentary activity programs (night hikes, nature hikes, guided sea kayak instruction), shuffleboard, Par 3 golf, Kids Camp, and an Adventure Program for youth. Within minutes, you can be out your door paddling a canoe or sea kayak, hiking along the Superior Hiking Trail, mountain biking, cruising along paved biking trails, or viewing the area from spots on the Sawtooth Mountains (don’t forget your camera). Enjoy casual dine-dining in the lakeside dining room or Poplar River Pub, and stay in the lodge, a log cabin, or a luxurious unit with fireplace, Jacuzzi, and private deck.  www.lutsenresort.com,
1-800-2LUTSEN (258-8736)

EXPLORE > Located near Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse, the Superior Hiking Trail, and Tettegouche State Park, Grand Superior Lodge, in Two Harbors, is close to everything and still a world away. Tettegouche is a hiker’s paradise with spectacular overlooks, steep bluffs and cliffs, and miles of trails winding down to inland lakes.

In addition to spectacular scenery and the natural beauty of Lake Superior (stay in a lakeshore condo right at the water’s edge, a cozy private cabin, or a luxurious room or suite in the main lodge), guests can enjoy gourmet meals and refreshing drinks at Splashing Rock Restaurant and Lounge, a heated indoor pool and whirlpool, canoe rentals, lawn games, and cozy bonfires on the beach.  www.grandsuperior.com, 1-800-627-9565

FISH > Mille Lacs is synonymous with fabulous fishing. The lake is 16 miles across, 20 miles long, encompasses 139,000 acres of water, and has 80 miles of shoreline. It’s a premier walleye factory in both summer and winter, as well as a summer recreation haven for jet skiers, water skiers, swimmers, boaters, and those who simply enjoy the natural beauty of the lake. Spend some time away from the lake and discover two state parks in the Mille Lacs area (with hiking and biking trails), six golf courses, resorts, hotels, private lake homes, annual festivals and celebrations, local craft shops, an interpretive center, and a lively casino.  www.millelacs.com, 1-888-350-2692

PLAY > Fortune Bay Casino is more than a fabulous luxury hotel, action-packed casino, 18-hole world-class golf course, full-service marina, complete conference and banquet center, and award-winning heritage center–it’s an escape from life as you know it. Stay, play, relax, retreat or meet in a picturesque setting on the shores of lovely Lake Vermilion, surrounded by the wild, pristine beauty of Minnesota’s Northwoods. Stay in a hotel room (complete with indoor heated pool, whirlpool, and video arcade), an all-season cabin (sleeps up to eight), or rustic RV Park. Walk out the hotel door for excellent fishing on Lake Vermilion.  www.fortunebay.com, 1-800-992-PLAY (7529)

ADVENTURE >  When you visit Lake of the Woods you are about as far North as you can get without leaving the continental U.S. Located North of the 48th parallel and away from urban light and air pollution, Minnesota’s “True North†offers a panoramic view of the Northern lights. Watch a virtual light show of reds, blues, violets, and greens on practically any clear evening.

Enjoy water sports on the always-beautiful Rainy River, picnic at the Clementson Rapids, visit museums and state parks, find world-class fishing near the Northwest Angle, Islands, and South Shore, play a round at the Oak Harbor Golf Club, and enjoy annual community events throughout spring and summer. Stay at a quaint lodge or resort.  www.lakeofthewoodsmn.com, 1-800-382-FISH (3474)  


Minnesota South

Photo courtesy of St. James Hotel


The St. James Hotel in Red Wing offers a true retreat experience, ideal for couples seeking a weekend getaway or chance to reconnect. The historic ambiance and Victorian charm of the hotel exudes romance–each guestroom is decorated with antiques. Romance and B&B packages include meals in the hotel’s wonderful restaurants, drinks at Jimmy’s Pub, champagne, and his-and-hers massages. The town of Red Wing is just as quaint as the hotel, with bookstores, antique shops, and boutiques lining the sidewalks of the Historic Downtown District. Visit the popular Red Wing Pottery, Red Wing Stoneware, and Red Wing Shoes. Wineries, golf courses, and scenic picnic grounds are nearby. The hotel is located on the Mississippi River, with many guest rooms offering river views.  www.st-james-hotel.com, 1-800-252-1875

CRUISE > Peace, quiet and solitude can be found in Afton, a town located southeast of the Twin Cities along the St. Croix River.

The best views of the river are from one of three Afton-Hudson Cruise Line riverboats. Choose from a Sunday Champagne Brunch Cruise, Friday Dinner Cruise, Comedy Dinner Cruise, or Treasure Island Tuesdays. The cruises range from two hours to all day and promise unforgettable scenery, camaraderie, and fun.

While you’re in Afton, be sure to stay at the Historic Afton House Inn, on the National Register of Historic Places. The inn offers 25 suites, most with Jacuzzis and fireplaces, perfect for a romantic getaway. Enjoy a fine dining experience in the Wheel Room or burgers and pizza in the more casual Catfish Saloon and Cafe.

History buffs can go on the Historic Afton Walking Tour, and outdoor enthusiasts love the hiking and biking trails, mountain biking and golfing at nearby Afton Alps, and opportunities to pick-your-own strawberries at the Afton Apple Orchard in June and July. Cruises run from April through October; the inn is open year-round.  www.aftonhouseinn.com, 651-436-8883

PLAY > A premier golf resort, Jackpot Junction in Morton is the perfect vacation destination or business retreat. Minnesota’s first and only casino offering two floors of gaming excitement, Jackpot Junction features hot slots, fast-paced table games, live poker, live entertainment, and four superb restaurants. The Lower Sioux Lodge, adjacent to the casino, is an AAA Diamond Rated hotel with deluxe accommodations. Next to the hotel is Kids Quest Childcare, ideal for children six weeks to 12 years old. Golfing at Dacotah Ridge Golf Club, a certified Audobon Cooperative Sanctuary Golf Course, is part of the fun. Golf Digest rated the Rees Jones-designed course as one of Minnesota’s best. This 18 hole championship masterpiece is built on 240 acres of rolling countryside, featuring natural wetlands, a creek, a 14-acre lake, and 7,109 yards to test every club in your bag.  www.jackpotjunction.com, 1-800-WIN-CASH (946-2274)



Canoe Bay photo by Steve Niedorf


Get away from the chaos of your 9-to-5 lifestyle in Bayfield, Wisconsin, a quaint harbor town on the shore of Lake Superior. Bayfield is the gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, encompassing 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland. Hike, paddle, sail, take a narrated cruise, or stroll along miles of sandy beaches. In town, you’ll find excellent shopping at Bayfield’s many unique stores and galleries, along with great local dining. Try sautéed whitefish livers–unique to Bayfield–or the delicious fish boil. Explore the area on a guided walking tour (ranging from “Ghosts and Legends†to family-friendly trail walks), pick your own berries, or take in a show at the Big Top Chautauqua, the “Carnegie Hall of Tent Shows.† www.bayfield.org, 1-800-447-4094

STAY > During the spring, summer, and fall, Madeline Island is accessible by the only car-carrying ferry service on Lake Superior. Once on the island, spend your time swimming, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, charter fishing, or strolling along the clean, sandy beach. In addition to wonderful beaches, the Island is home to a museum (housing 300 years of Wisconsin history), a golf course, full-service marina, recreation center, two campgrounds, gift shops, restaurants (from casual to gourmet), beautiful hiking and biking trails, and wildlife such as deer, fox, raccoon, mink, and bald eagles. Lodging options range from camping under the stars to luxurious homes and condos right on the shoreline.  www.madelineisland.com, 1-888-475-3386

DINE > In addition to being a romantic destination–and the only Relais and Chateaux member in the Midwest–Canoe Bay is a diner’s paradise. Each evening (with the exception of Tuesday, when the dining room is closed), a prix fixe “chef’s menu†is offered in the elegant lakeside dining room, reflecting locally grown ingredients and the best of the Midwest’s bountiful harvests. Coupled with an award-winning collection of fine wines, dinner at Canoe Bay is truly an unforgettable experience (considered by many to be the best cuisine around). Guest rooms, cottages, and Edgewood, a two-bedroom villa, are scattered across the property–encompassing 280 acres of a forested country estate. Explore miles of hiking trails and discover two hidden lakes.  www.canoebay.com, 715-924-4594

ESCAPE > Once you’re at Stout’s Island Lodge, you won’t want to return to reality. Rustic yet refined, this 1903 lumber baron’s estate is located on a wooded island in the middle of Red Cedar Lake, Wisconsin–just a two hour drive from the Twin Cities. There are no cars on the island, allowing you to feel completely enveloped by Mother Nature. Relax on the lawn, play tennis, volleyball, or croquet, hike on nature trails, or take advantage of the lake and go swimming, canoeing, or sailing. When the sun goes down, sit by a campfire. Activities for rainy days include billiards, puzzles, foosball, and reading.  www.stoutslodge.com, 715-354-3646
EXPLORE > Tomah, Wisconsin’s “Cranberry Country,†is a vacation destination for several reasons. First, it’s cranberry country. The Tomah/Warrens area has over 2,500 acres of cranberry marshes, accounting for one-third of Wisconsin’s total cranberry harvest. Second, the area is home to over 200 Amish families, providing unique shopping opportunities. Take a self-guided driving tour through Amish Country, Cranberry Country, and the Bluff Coulee Region. There are 22 restaurants, 12 motels (two with indoor waterparks), and six campgrounds in Tomah. One of the city’s newest attractions is a 12,000-foot-long Recreation Trail for walking and biking. Take the trail to the 200-acre Lake Tomah for boating, swimming, fishing, or water skiing.  www.tomahwisconsin.com, 1-800-948-6624

VISIT > Located on the St. Croix River, Hudson, Wisconsin is a hotspot for boating, swimming, fishing, observing bald eagles and swans, hiking, biking, camping, and enjoying some of the finest views of the Valley from historic Birkmose Park. And while the river is Hudson’s treasure, it is–by no means–Hudson’s sole attraction. Stay at a charming B&B or hotel, dine in wonderful restaurants, shop at unique boutiques and book stores, tour the Historic Octagon House Museum, putt, chip, and swing away on a golf course, or enjoy a show at the Phipps Center for the Arts. Need another reason to visit? Free concerts are presented at Lakefront Park every Thursday night during the summer.  www.hudsonwi.org, 1-800-657-6775



Russell Country, Montana


Discover the wide-open spaces, gracious people, and picturesque landscapes that characterize Russell Country, Montana. Named for the cowboy artist who captured it all on canvas, Russell Country is a beautiful must-see destination. Situated between Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks, a trip in any direction is easy and always enjoyable. Cast your line in crystal-clear streams, hike up gorgeous mountains, go horseback riding, or just take in the incredible, untouched vistas. From relaxing bird watching to action-packed rodeos, Russell Country’s unique opportunities and extraordinary people will provide you and your family with happy memories for years to come.

The state-of-the-art Great Falls International Airport in Great Falls, Montana has excellent connections and amenities to begin your trip through Russell Country. For information on travel packages, visit www.gtfairport.com.

While visiting, make sure to spend time at the Charles M. Russell Museum, boasting an extensive collection of Western art. The landscapes featured in Russell’s works are part entertainment, part history lesson. In addition to Russell’s personal collection, there will be new exhibits this spring and summer: “Bob Scriver: Montana Renaissance Man†and “Masters in Miniature.†The interactive Discovery Gallery is a highlight for kids. For more information, visit www.cmrussel.org or call 406-727-8787.

If you need a little help planning your Montana vacation, visit www.montanadollar.com for helpful travel information and printable coupons. The Dollar Rent A Car is open seven days a week.

Those who live in Russell Country are inspired by the land and eager to share their home with visitors. For a free planner or to receive more information, visit www.russell.visitmt.com or call 1-800-527-5348.


Twin Cities

The Marsh


The mission at The Marsh, A Center for Balance and Fitness, located in Minnetonka, is to provide an environment and philosophy that inspires, challenges, educates, and supports a healthy approach and attitude toward life.

The peaceful, scenic environment attracts people seeking rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation–truly a full-service day and destination spa. Enjoy a fitness center (with personal training, Pilates, and group fitness classes available), lap and therapy pools, childcare, a conference center, a designer boutique, excellent catering, and an award-winning restaurant.

The Marsh has six cozy and comfortable overnight rooms to accommodate friends, family, and visitors. Situated in a peaceful wing of the building, guests will quietly succumb to the tranquil environment.

The Moon Terrace Dining Room, perfect for a business lunch or memorable dinner, overlooks the scenic wetlands surrounding The Marsh. The scenery is unique and the food is wonderful. The menu features fresh, organic ingredients and high-quality cuisine.  www.themarsh.com, 952-935-2202

ESCAPE > Who says you have to drive far from home to enjoy a weekend escape? Treat yourself to a mini vacation at the only French-style hotel in the Twin Cities, Sofitel Minneapolis. Located just ten minutes from the Mall of America in Bloomington, Sofitel Minneapolis is the epitome of modern beauty and contemporary elegance–truly a quiet refuge in the midst of the big city. In addition to falling in love with the ambiance, couples experience outstanding service, the amenities of a world-class hotel (spotless, spacious rooms, extra plush European feather bedding, flat screen TVs, refrigerators and mini bars, bathrooms with gorgeous tile and granite countertops), and not one but two award-winning restaurants offering delicious French cuisine, Chez Colette and La Fougasse. Executive Chef Serge Devesa creates authentic French gourmet dishes that keep people coming back time and time again. The luxury hotel’s rating speaks for itself–Sofitel Minneapolis has been rated AAA Four-Diamond for 24 consecutive years.  www.sofitel.com, 952-835-1900

RELAX > Consistently ranked among the country’s top hotels, the famous Saint Paul Hotel is the perfect place to relax and get away from it all.

Known for Old World charm, European-inspired elegance, generous amenities, and unmatched hospitality, The Saint Paul Hotel provides the right ingredients for a much-needed weekend retreat.

With sweeping views of Rice Park, Cathedral Hill, and the Capitol, and within walking distance of the Mighty Mississippi, The Saint Paul Hotel is truly a Minnesota landmark. The beautifully decorated rooms feature 300 thread-count sheets, down comforters and pillows, and premium Sealy mattresses. Each desktop provides high-speed Internet access, and the bathroom features premium bath products, plush bathrobes, and showers designed to invigorate and revitalize.

Located in downtown St. Paul, the hotel is just steps from area attractions such as the Xcel Energy Center, Saint Paul RiverCentre, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Science Museum of Minnesota, and Children’s Museum. Dine at the hotel’s own M Street Café, award-winning St. Paul Grill, or Pazzaluna, an urban Italian restaurant across the street. Unwind with a nightcap in the Lobby Bar, a new addition to the hotel.  www.stpaulhotel.com, 651-292-9292/1-800-292-9292