When the weather forecast calls for sunshine and gentle breezes, Midwesterners make the most of it by planning day trips, weekend excursions and extended vacations. Whether your perfect summer day includes a trip to the waterpark, relaxing at a lakeside lodge, touring a historic site, or staying active by walking, rolling, peddling or paddling, don’t leave home without our helpful summer guide.
Here are some ideas on how to have some summer fun.
Where to Stay
IRON COUNTY: MERCER AND HURLEY WISCONSIN
Iron County is an area where people can really relax amid nature, says Gene Cisewski, a spokesperson with the Hurley Area Chamber of Commerce.
“There are no waterparks and no crowds, just 377,900 acres of a vast, public forest filled with wildlife, waterfalls, Lake Superior and the ancient Penokee Mountains,” he says.
Vacationers can hike or bike deep into the unspoiled woods, or cruise on more than 200 miles of extensive wilderness all-terrain vehicle trails and routes.
Adults love the sparkling nightlife on Hurley’s notorious Silver Street, and the little ones will always remember seeing the 16-foot loon in Mercer (Mercer is, after all, Wisconsin’s “Loon Capital”), camping at Saxon Harbor, and swimming and building sand castles along the beach where Lake Superior’s waters warm up and provide a shallow swimming area.
History buffs will be happy to know that all of Iron County has been designated a Wisconsin Heritage Area—a “living” example of how Native Americans, fur traders, lumberjacks and iron ore miners helped settle the region. Waterfall watchers can enjoy several charming cascades along the way. Iron County boasts six of Wisconsin’s ten tallest waterfalls, not only a beautiful site to see, but also a challenge to experienced kayakers—such as U.S. Freestyle Team member Tao Berman—who has successfully paddled over them.
Iron County is also home to Eagle Bluff and Skye Golf in the Whitecap Mountains, two mountaintop courses offering dramatic views of Lake Superior.
BREEZY POINT RESORT
Breezy Point Resort, located east of Pequot Lakes along the peninsula of Pelican Lake, has been a family-favorite for more than 80 years. The large, sandy beaches (complete with volleyball nets and bonfire pits) and crystal clear waters are just a few of the many reasons vacationers return again and again to this charming resort.
“There’s so much going on in the summer,” says Dave Gravdahl, general manager. “We have an Elvis impersonator at the Dockside Lounge, this will be the 12th year he’s with us. We have two 18-hole golf courses, a complete boat marina, tennis courts, a swimming pool, a Children’s Recreation Program, excellent casual and fine dining, and entertainment in the Marina Lounge.”
Hikers, bikers and in-line skaters can utilize the nearby Paul Bunyan Trail, connecting Brainerd to Bemidji, and those who like to fish will love the variety in Pelican Lake.
There are more than 250 lodging units available at the resort, ranging from shore-side accommodations to golf chalets with hot tubs that look out on one of the championship courses.
STOUT’S ISLAND LODGE
Stout’s Island Lodge is a rustic yet elegant hideaway located on a wooded island in the middle of Red Cedar Lake—northeast of Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Built in 1903 as a summer retreat by Chicago millionaire Frank D. Stout, this 26-acre oasis of natural beauty is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Accessible only by ferry, the estate was modeled after the “Great Camps” of the Adirondacks, with a main lodge, cabins, a three-launch boathouse, servant and guest quarters, and recreation hall. Today, guests can stay in the Main Lodge, Shore Lodge or surrounding rustic cabins, many furnished with period antiques.
There’s a clay court for tennis, a sand pit for volleyball or badminton, and the front lawn is perfect for croquet, horseshoes or bocce ball. The Tagalong Golf Course is still available for play, and families can take full advantage of the lake.
Nicknamed by the Stout family as “The Island of Happy Days,” this remarkable island sanctuary lives up to its legacy.
LUTSEN LODGING COMPANY AND REAL ESTATE GROUP
The Lutsen Lodging Company and Real Estate Group is proud to sponsor several fun-filled summer events on the North Shore. The 15th annual Lutsen Invitational Golf Tournament is scheduled for June 3-4 on the beautiful Superior National Golf Course at Lutsen. The event is open to the public and accommodation options are available through the Lutsen Lodging Company. Another sponsored event is the 26th annual Jan Horak 10K Wilderness Trek scheduled for the morning of July 4. The course goes through the Superior National Forest, along snowmobile and hiking trails.
In addition to these sponsored events, the Lutsen Lodging Company and Real Estate Group offers families and groups a host of vacation properties from which to fit their travel and accommodation plans.
“I believe what makes our lodging company attractive is our ability to tailor-fit the activities and lodging requirements with that of the group,” says Mike Larson, managing partner at the Lutsen Lodging Company.
He adds, “It’s not uncommon for our guests to enjoy this unique and pristine area so much that they turn their dream vacation into a permanent experience through ownership.”
GRAND ELY LODGE
Bordered by two lakes on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Grand Ely Lodge is surrounded by wildlife, wilderness, and endless opportunities for outdoor activities. In other words, the location is prime for family summer fun.
The 61 lakefront rooms and suites are comfortably equipped with coffee makers, refrigerators, microwaves, and high-speed wireless access, and the Evergreen Restaurant and Antler’s Lodge provide excellent dining opportunities (kids under 10 eat free).
Families enjoy the complimentary use of canoes, kayaks and paddleboats, with the option of renting a fishing boat or pontoon at the full-service marina. Dock space is available for personal watercrafts.
The pristine setting is perfect for hiking or biking, catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights, or spotting wildlife, such as moose. The Bear Cub Club and Day Camp, offered Sunday through Thursday, are huge hits with little vacationers. According to Jordan, Day Camp includes everything from meeting Cubby Bear to exploring the outdoors on nature walks to learning how to fish. After a busy day of exploring, Cubby Bear will even personally tuck the kids into bed.
“Summertime, to me, is long, lazy days filled with the natural beauty that surrounds us,” says Mary Motiff, Bayfield Chamber of Commerce marketing manager.
Natural beauty is plentiful in Bayfield, Wisconsin, located 220 miles north of the Twin Cities at the furthermost tip of Wisconsin, along the shore of Lake Superior.
Known as the “Berry Capital of Wisconsin,” those visiting this quaint harbor town in the summer months can fill their pails with strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, juneberries, gooseberries, sweet cherries and currants. A list of berry-related activities can be found on the website.
Other popular Bayfield attractions include the Big Top Chautauqua center for performing arts, fascinating art studios and galleries, museums, historic walking tours, shops and restaurants. In addition to land recreation such as golf, horseback riding, hiking and biking, Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands create the perfect water playground for sea kayaking, sailing, fishing and scuba diving.
“When you’re in Bayfield, you make the switch to ‘Bayfield time,’” Motiff explains. “We have no chain restaurants, no billboards, and no stoplights. We’re a little cultural hub in the middle of the Northwoods. It really is a special place.”
KAVANAUGH’S SYLVAN LAKE RESORT
There’s never a dull moment at Kavanaugh’s Sylvan Lake Resort in Brainerd. Located on the shores of Sylvan Lake, families can boat, fish, swim or soak up the sun just a few feet from their cottage door. All of the new and recently remodeled deluxe vacation cottages feature a fireplace, lakeside deck and scenic views of the water.
“Kavanaugh’s is the perfect vacation spot to relax and enjoy each precious moment of a beautiful summer day,” says Kavanaugh’s co-owner and manager, John Kavanaugh. “Our guests can choose to take advantage of every abundant recreational amenity, or do absolutely nothing at all.”
When the sun is out, vacationers make use of the basketball
court, tennis courts, hiking and biking trails, and nearby Pillsbury State Forest. Two beautiful golf courses are less than two miles
away. When it’s rainy, a new indoor pool and recreation complex provides entertainment.
“Kavanaugh’s promises you and your family a vacation you’ll look forward to each year,” Kavanaugh comments. “That’s a promise from our family to yours.”
THE LODGE ON LAKE DETROIT
The Lodge on Lake Detroit is not your typical lodge, it is a lakefront lifestyle hotel. The focus is on positive energy, pampering and experiencing the beauty and charm of the Detroit Lakes area.
“When people do get away from home, I want them to have an experience, not just a place to sleep,” explains Chris Holland-Mehlhaff, who owns the lodge along with her husband, Scott.
Nestled in a lovely, tree-filled setting on the shores of Big Detroit Lake, each of the 55 large, smoke-free rooms and suites were designed to face the lake and the sunset, a unique aspect of the property.
The sunset will also be the focus during sunset serenades, when guests are encouraged to relax in the lakefront fireside lobby while a grand piano plays.
“During sunset serenades, LoLaDe’s lobby bar offers a menu of drinks and unique appetizers created by our Culinary Experience Director,” explains Holland-Mehlhaff. It’s extra details like this that add up to a truly memorable vacation experience.
Other unique features at the lodge include The Spa Within (a full-service spa), an indoor pool and hot tub, glass enclosed showers, custom artwork, a sandy beach, a dock, boat slips, an expansive meeting room and a fitness area.
The hotel is less than two miles from downtown Detroit Lakes and within driving distance of local restaurants, shops, businesses, and attractions.
BLUEFIN BAY ON LAKE SUPERIOR
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.
Summer is a great time to check out a number of exciting changes in the area, says Rob Buntz, Bluefin Bay owner and co-founder.
A portion of the paved Gitchi Gami Bike Trail, an exciting new addition to the North Shore, right next to Bluefin Bay, is now complete. When entirely finished, the trail will run all the way from Two Harbors to Grand Marais.
Other recent additions at Bluefin Bay include the new Bluefin Grille and the Superior Waters Wellness Center, both opening to rave reviews less than a year ago.
It’s easy to see why Bluefin Bay is a popular group destination, with a meeting room, 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.
The grand opening of the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum’s outdoor extension will be held July 8. The outdoor exhibits along the shore of Lake Superior will tell the story of “Life on the Lake.”
Bluefin Bay is a first-class retreat that has it all.
There’s a saying that “location is everything,” and those visiting Hudson, Wisconsin would have to agree. What could be better than a beautiful spot between the scenic St. Croix River and the bluffs of western Wisconsin—all just 20 minutes east of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area?
“I love this town,” says Kim Heinemann, president of the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau. “Hudson has it all, outdoor activities on the river, beaches and parks, boating, beauty, a vibrant, historic downtown and friendly people!”
Hudson offers some of the finest views of the St. Croix River Valley from historic Birkmose Park, and visitors will find recreational opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors at Willow River State Park, area lakes and streams, and top-notch golf courses.
A thriving downtown area features several blocks of one-of-a-kind dining and shopping, and culture can be experienced year round at The Phipps Center for the Arts. Just east of downtown, visitors can stroll through the historic neighborhoods that feature not only the landmark Octagon House Museum (built in 1855), but also numerous Victorian homes from the early 19th-century.
LUTSEN RESORT & SEA VILLAS
A favorite Minnesota vacation destination since 1895, Lutsen Resort and Sea Villas is a full-service, year-round resort about an hour from the Canadian border (90 miles north of Duluth). Not only are the rooms spectacular, there is never a shortage of things to do.
There are planned family activities, nature programs, and a kid’s camp. Guests can cool off in the swimming pool, relax in the whirlpool, or feel spoiled in the fine dining room.
The main attraction in the summer months, however, is the expansive pebble beach in front of the historic lodge.
Two new free programs will be available to Lutsen Resort guests this summer—canoeing and fly-fishing, says Nancy Burns, Lutsen Resort owner.
The lodge has acquired a 26-foot Voyageur North Canoe, which holds 10 to 12 people, and guests will have a chance to experience a little history as they join the activities staff paddling out on Lake Superior. Fly-fishing classes and complimentary sea kayaking instruction are also offered on the beach. After a long day, guests gather around evening beach campfires to roast marshmallows and look at the stars. The evening campfire is also the site of the naturalist programs.
LARSMONT COTTAGES ON LAKE SUPERIOR
The features of a vacation home combined with the amenities of a four-star resort can be yours when you stay at Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior.
Inspired by traditional Scandinavian fishing villages, these cottages are tucked away in 40 acres of private woods, south of Two Harbors, with 1,300 feet of Lake Superior beachfront shoreline. A spectacular lodge and restaurant, massage cottage, indoor pool and Finnish sauna round out the unique experience.
“This is a different vacation experience. Guests have fun in our relaxing ‘camp like’ outdoor atmosphere, yet are surrounded indoors by luxurious accommodations and amenities,” explains Melissa Dressely, marketing coordinator.
Guests will also have exclusive guaranteed reservations to The Ledge Rock Grille, the only exhibition kitchen on the North Shore with a reservable chef’s table incorporated into the cooking line.
Larsmont Cottages camp activities include kayak lessons, use of Trek bicycles, North Shore Scenic Railroad rides, and more. And unlike some other North Shore vacation homes, Larsmont Cottages is close to shopping, movies, art galleries, and numerous attractions in the Duluth area.
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO, CANADA
The “City by the Bay,” Thunder Bay, Ontario takes pride in being a place for all seasons. With an abundance of attractions, festivals, recreational opportunities, campgrounds, beautiful parks and stunning scenery, there’s no reason not to visit our friendly neighbor north of the border. Visitors can step back in time at Fort William Historical Park, attend the Thunder Bay Blues Festival July 7-9 at Marina Park, or visit the historical Founders’ Museum and Pioneer Village. Adults can walk along Thunder Bay’s 600-foot suspension bridge, 150 feet off the canyon floor at its lowest point, at Eagle Canyon Adventures, tour Thunder Oak Cheese Farm (the only farm in Canada to produce award-winning Gouda), have a unique pick-your-own-gemstone adventure at an amethyst mine, celebrate Thunder Bay Children’s Festival June 15-17, golf the serene Whitewater Golf Club, take in world-class entertainment at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, or enjoy the “Niagara of the North,” Kabeka Falls. Thunder Bay is Duluth’s sister city.
TEMPERANCE LANDING ON LAKE SUPERIOR
Authentic upscale log cabins in a secluded Lake Superior coastal setting can now be yours to own. Located in the heart of the Lutsen-Tofte area, the site consists of 580 feet of Lake Superior ledgerock and cobblestone shoreline situated on seven wooded acres.
Activities in this area are only limited by your imagination. The Boundary Waters entry point on Sawbill Lake is just a little over 30 minutes away, and the cabins are near the beautiful Superior Hiking Trail and just over a mile to Temperance River State Park.
This quaint site, consisting of 12 authentic log cabins, is what you would expect to find on the North Shore 50 years ago.
“It really is the most unique property,” says Chuck Anderson, a B.W.C.A. Land Co. partner. “You get an old North Shore feel in a contemporary log home.”
Right now the cabins are 50 percent sold out. Anderson says they are taking purchase agreements on the remaining six. Buyers acting now can customize their interior selections.
Anderson adds that his company will take care of the details if the owners choose to rent the cabins out.
ARROWWOOD RESORT & CONFERENCE CENTER
“Nature created a year-round playground and we built Arrowwood right in the middle of it,” says Amy Parod, Arrowwood Resort & Conference Center director of sales. “Arrowwood offers our guests an exclusive location with facilities, services and activities for relaxing getaways, family reunions or group retreats and conventions.”
The resort, located in Alexandria on the shores of Lake Darling, now offers Luxury Lakefront Townhomes—combining the best of both worlds, the comforts of a deluxe townhome with access to Arrowwood’s long list of resort amenities.
Kids staying at Arrowwood get excited about the Big Splash Indoor Waterpark, horseback riding, and Camp Arrowwood Kids Program, for children ages 4 to 12. Adults get excited about The Darling Reflections Spa, playing golf on Arrowwood’s 18-hole course, the full-service boat marina, and visiting nearby Carlos Creek Winery and downtown Alexandria.
You’ll run out of time before you’ll run out of things to do.
“We offer an environment that promotes family togetherness and new experiences that will be remembered for years to come,” Parod says.
BEACON POINT CONDOMINIUMS
Savor the calming, expansive Lake Superior vistas at Beacon Point Condominiums in Duluth. The new condos sit on the edge of Lake Superior, overlooking the big lake and the Aerial Lift Bridge.
“View the harbor lighthouses from the privacy of your patio,” says Chuck Anderson, owner/broker.
In addition to unobstructed views of Lake Superior, the condos have optional hot tubs, private garden patios and customized interiors. All of them have decks and patios and complete, secured underground parking.
The location couldn’t be more convenient. Simply walk into the heart of the city, Canal Park, on the celebrated Duluth Lake Walk, adjacent to Beacon Point.
COVE POINT LODGE
Surrounded by 150 acres of woods and rocks, and with a breathtaking view of Lake Superior, Cove Point Lodge is in the middle of an underdeveloped wilderness area—the perfect retreat for a city dweller with an itch to get in touch with Mother Nature.
The new Gitchi-Gami Trail is right at the entrance of the lodge.
“If you want, you can bike through Split Rock State Park or to Split Rock River,” explains Marcia Hillestad, owner of Cove Point Lodge.
After a long ride, return to the Scandinavian-style lodge for a soak in the hot tub, dip in the pool, and an excellent dinner before falling asleep to the sounds of Lake Superior. The lodge is close to Gooseberry Falls, golf courses, and stunning North Shore state parks. Additionally, guests staying at Cove Point Lodge have free use of canoes.
Cove Point Lodge is 50 miles north of Duluth, just past Split Rock Lighthouse.
BLACK HILLS & BADLANDS, SOUTH DAKOTA
In the legendary Black Hills and Badlands of western South Dakota, the question is not what to do, but where to start.
The Black Hills, an oasis of pine-clad mountains on the Great Plains, offer everything you could ever expect from an exciting vacation: five national parks, scenic drives, waterfalls, abundant wildlife, acclaimed recreational trails and trout fishing.
Make sure to visit Mount Rushmore, where visionary sculptors have preserved great American heroes on a mountainside, and the Crazy Horse Memorial, the world’s largest sculpture, currently in progress.
The Badlands National Park has the appearance of a supernatural world; barren, expansive and windswept, with erosion causing magnificent ridges and canyons on the surface. There are hiking trails, visitor centers, picnic areas and campgrounds in the Badlands, and inspiring sites around every corner.
GRAND SUPERIOR LODGE
Grand Superior Lodge in Two Harbors is the perfect place for a romantic getaway. Luxurious lakeside accommodations, from lake homes with up to four bedrooms to one or two bedroom logs cabins to cozy lodge rooms, Grand Superior Lodge is “peaceful serenity on the shore of Lake Superior,” says marketing coordinator Melissa Dressely.
“We’re right next door to Gooseberry Falls State Park and Split Rock Lighthouse, great places for nature walks, naturalist programs, history lessons, spotting wildlife, and beautiful North Shore scenery. The Superior Hiking Trail is close by, and the Castle Danger Trailhead is just two miles away. After ten minutes of hiking, you’ll be atop Wolf Rock, one of the most spectacular Lake Superior Northwoods overlooks!”
Afterwards, snuggle up on the heated patio at Splashing Rock Restaurant and take in dramatic Lake Superior views while feasting on “gourmet fare with North Shore flair.” The romance package, including champagne, smoked salmon, fresh fruit, and dinner for two, is a popular option.
WATERTOWN, SOUTH DAKOTA
Watertown, South Dakota’s fourth largest city, is the perfect place to make lasting memories. Vacationing families enjoy great hunting, camping, swimming and fishing. A popular spot to visit is the Terry Redlin Art Center, which houses over 150 talented wildlife artists, the Bramble Park Zoo and Discovery Center, and cultural and historical attractions such as The Mellette House, built in 1883 and restored as a memorial to South Dakota’s first governor, and the beautiful Goss Opera House. Watertown is also known for unique shopping opportunities and warm, friendly residents. Numerous festivals and fairs are planned throughout the summer months.
FARGO, NORTH DAKOTA AND MOORHEAD, MINNESOTA
Choices for family fun in Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota range from A to Z—art galleries to zoos. With so much to choose from, Fargo-Moorhead’s events and attractions satisfy everyone in the group. Diverse entertainment opportunities allow you to play like a child, experience sophisticated drama, enjoy a concert with world famous singers or attend a rodeo. Fargo-Moorhead is a lively, cultural community that boasts a pleasant variety of things to do and places to see.
ST. JAMES HOTEL, RED WING
Established in 1875, the St. James Hotel, just an hour’s drive from the Twin Cities in Red Wing, offers guests a choice of 61 enchanting Victorian guest rooms. The hotel has four distinct dining options and exciting lounge entertainment.
Within a short distance of the St. James Hotel, there is an assortment of unique shops, specialty stores, and antique dealers in this beautiful, historic river town. Outdoor enthusiasts enjoy golfing, fishing, boating or canoeing on the Mississippi River, hiking or rock-climbing on the scenic river bluffs, and biking, walking, or in-line skating along the Cannon Valley Trail.
CARIBOU HIGHLANDS LODGE
With nonstop activities for the whole family, Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen is all about summer fun. Guests can sign up for guided canoeing and hiking, treasure hunts, lawn games, bingo, Lake Superior rock hounding, bonfires, ice cream socials and much more.
“It’s a kid’s paradise!” says Melissa Dressely, marketing coordinator. The newest complimentary activity is an old-fashioned hayride along the legendary Gunflint Trail. Caribou is within walking distance of horseback riding, the Alpine Slide on Lutsen Mountains, mountain biking, gondola rides, and the Superior Hiking Trail. The Superior National Golf Course is adjacent to the resort, which features indoor and outdoor pools, a restaurant, tennis courts, a coffee shop and a variety of lodging styles and options.
Where to Play
Hoigaard’s, the Twin Cities’ leader in high-quality outdoor equipment, apparel, and furnishings for home and patio since 1895, now offers Hoigaard’s Outdoor Women (HOW), a fun, social environment in which women get involved in different outdoor activities and clinics each month. A HOW “Canoe, Kayak and Nordic Walking Pole Event” is planned for Saturday, June 10 from noon to 3 p.m. at French Regional Park in Plymouth. Interested women can sign up online by going to the homepage and clicking on the HOW icon.
Men and women can both sign up for “Bike Maintenance 101” seminars, scheduled multiple times throughout the summer, and try-before-you-buy canoe and kayak demos, held at French Regional Park (Medicine Lake) and Hyland Park Reserve (Hyland Lake), in the Three Rivers Park District. All demos are free and open to the public.
“Whether your definition of summer fun is relaxing and entertaining friends and family in the backyard, or hitting the trails and waterways, Hoigaard’s has everything you need to get there,” says Sara Entgelmeier of Hoigaard’s.
JACKPOT JUNCTION CASINO HOTEL/DACOTAH RIDGE GOLF CLUB
“All in” on a Golf and Poker Getaway held at Jackpot Junction Casino Hotel and Dacotah Ridge Golf Club? You’re missing out if you miss the ball on this one. Groups of 8, 12 or 16 are encouraged to enjoy a getaway retreat including two rounds of golf with cart, a room at the AAA three-diamond rated Lower Sioux Lodge, breakfast, and a private Texas Hold’em poker tournament with a $40/player prize pool. Weekend and weekday packages are available by calling 1-800-WIN-CASH ext. 4722 or sending an email to email@example.com Some very famous names will be performing at Jackpot Junction this summer, including Gretchen Wilson on July 7, REO Speedwagon, STYX, and Starship, featuring Mickey Thomas, on July 28, Jeff Foxworthy August 4, and “Backyard Barbeque and Bluesfest,” starring Midwestern blues phenomenon Jonny Lang and a host of other blues bands, on September 9.
FORT WILLIAM HISTORICAL PARK
Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay, Ontario offers a unique adventure for the whole family. The story of the fur trade is familiar to both Canadian and American visitors, but Fort William was so much more than your run-of-the-mill post. With over 42 reconstructed buildings, visitors can explore the Native Encampment, Great Hall, artisans’ square, and the farm. Visitors can canoe down the river, explore the spooky jail, play a game of lacrosse or hop aboard the wagon for a ride around the palisade.
The park also hosts a variety of heritage and contemporary festivals throughout the year, with the biggest three day classic rock festival in northwestern Ontario, Rock the Fort, back for a second year June 16-18. Over 31,000 people attended the concert last year, held in a beautiful outdoor ampitheatre, with views sloping toward the Kaministiquia River. Classic rock groups performing this year include Heart, Foreigner with Lou Gramm, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Quiet Riot and many others.
Whether touring the site or visiting for the concert, Fort William is an unforgettable vacation destination.
“It’s a world unto itself!” says Marty Mascarin, the park’s communications officer.
WILD MOUNTAIN/TAYLORS FALLS RECREATION
This summer marks the 100th anniversary of the family-owned Taylors Falls Scenic Boat Tours.
A boat tour allows visitors to “enjoy the natural setting, beauty and wonders of the St. Croix River Valley,” says Amy Frischmon, vice president of Wild Mountain/Taylors Falls Recreation (her great grandfather started the company).
Narrated trips provide fascinating details about the history of the river and background of the area. Public dinner cruises are held Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings. The boats can also be chartered for group outings, reunions and weddings.
If you want to view the beauty of the St. Croix close up, Taylors Falls Canoe & Kayak Rental specializes in one-way canoe trips from two to six hours of nature-filled paddling. “It’s a smooth section of the river with no rapids,” Frischmon explains. “Once you reach your destination, shuttles are provided to return you to your car.”
Another way to fully experience summer is at Wild Mountain Recreation Park, featuring waterslides, the Big Country water ride, Lazy River, an alpine slide (one of the few in the nation), and formula “K” go-karts.
GREAT RIVER SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
If your idea of a memorable summer vacation includes theater, music and art, look no further than Winona.
The Great River Shakespeare Festival, featuring “Romeo and Juliet” and “Twelfth Night” runs from June 30 through August 6.
There is a free juried art exhibit, acting and artistic company conversations with the public, teachers’ workshops, front porch conversations and Elderhostel.
For the theater enthusiast and outdoor adventure-seeker, Winona’s Red Tail Outfitters is offering the “Shakespeare and Schwinns” package, including guided bike tours, a Shakespeare ticket, two nights at a hotel and a meal; and the “William and Water” package featuring guided kayak tours with the same package benefits.
“Newcomers to the Great River Shakespeare Festival and/or Winona will be surprised,” says Public Relations Manager Julie Johnson. “Unexpected thrills await them in this historic river town.”
The riveting performances are in an air-conditioned theater, with live music on the plaza green.
MINNESOTA LANDSCAPE ARBORETUM
Summer is all about growing, learning, experiencing and enjoying, and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in Chaska offers hands-on programs to inspire and delight visitors of all ages. This summer, visitors can explore the Secret Gardens Exhibition from June 3 through September 10. The juried exhibition features 20 uniquely designed and interpreted secret places throughout the 1,047-acre Arboretum’s gardens, plant collections and natural areas.
Families are encouraged to explore the 32 display and specialty gardens, 48 plant collections and more than 5,000 plant species and varieties. Sign up for the New Harvest Gardening School or Heartland Cooking Series, get your hands dirty in the interactive learning spaces, and enjoy free family programs every Saturday and Sunday from noon to 3 p.m., all year long. Fresh air, fragrant smells, open spaces, a peaceful environment, and displays meant to teach and inspire are all part of the Arboretum experience.
EICHTEN’S Market & BISTRO
If you’ve never been to Eichten’s Bistro on Highway 8, between Center City and Taylors Falls, you’re missing out on a “world of taste.” This family-run business offers a quaint atmosphere and personalized European dining experience on a 150-acre bison and cheese ranch. In addition to hosting regular theme dinners, wine and beer-tastings (Eichten’s carries over 40 beer selections, many from Belgium), they offer nightly “World of Taste” entrees, prepared by talented chef Michael C. Selby. The retail store carries homemade, imported and domestic cheese, specialty foods, and organic bison meat raised on their ranch.
“We are a gem among the giants,” explains owner William Hoefler. “We’re on the way to scenic Taylors Falls and St. Croix Falls, making our shop an easy stop-over for families.”
TWIN CITY POLO CLUB
Contrary to popular belief, polo can be found in Minnesota in more places than on Ralph Lauren labels.
Polo—where players on horseback are equipped with long-handled mallets for driving a small wooden ball through the opponent’s goal—has been played in Maple Plain since 1964. For a different kind of summer entertainment, members of the Twin City Polo Club encourage families and groups to pack the car with lawn chairs and a picnic lunch and head over to check out a match.
“There’s nothing like spending a beautiful afternoon field-side, watching an exciting polo match,” says Laurie Ziegler, a member of the Twin City Polo Club.
Kids love seeing the horses and adults like the fast pace of the game. Discover this exciting sport, nicknamed “The Sport of Kings,” right in Maple Plain. A full schedule of matches is listed on the website.
MINNESOTA CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
Packed with extraordinary hand-on adventures and daily activities, little geniuses will enjoy BIG FUN! Story Time, and art activities throughout seven galleries at the Children’s Museum in St. Paul. Kids can make a splash in World Works, shop at the neighborhood market in Our World, crawl through Earth World’s anthill and slide through the beaver hut. The fun, playful exhibits allow kids to touch, climb, splash, crawl, push, pull and press it all, says Jackie Northard, director of marketing at the Minnesota Children’s Museum.
The new, must-see exhibit, The Magic School Bus Kicks Up a Storm!, is all about the exciting world of meteorology. The exhibit will be at the museum through September 24. Enjoy nice summer weather in the Rootftop ArtPark Gallery, where kids and adults explore nature and art together in a streambed, shadow dome, tree fort, sand cove and glass studio.
CHANHASSEN DINNER THEATRES
Last summer, more than 500 kids and teens experienced Chanhassen’s First Act Theatre Camp. First Act is unique in that it’s actually taught by the professionals seen on stage and those behind the scenes at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres.
“Kids ages 8 to 18 learn about the different aspects of putting on a show: costume and stage makeup, scenery, voice projection, movement, acting and auditioning,” explains Kris Howland, public relations director for the theatre. “The week culminates with a mini performance by the kids. Our specialty is musical theatre, and this gives kids a platform to let out their inner star!”
Another way to introduce kids to the world of musical theatre is by taking them to Chanhassen on Tuesday nights throughout the summer. During limited dates, kids ages 5 to 16 get in free on Tuesday nights with the purchase of a full-price adult ticket. Singin’ in the Rain is the fun, lively summer production.
The cast of Singin’ in the Rain will also be making an appearance with the Minnesota Pops Orchestra at the Lake Harriet Pavilion July 23 at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.
MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Enjoy an evening of infectious music with your friends and neighbors and get out your dancing shoes for the Mexican Corrido, 1940s swing, the Virginia reel and funky hip-hop and stepping at this year’s Music of the Neighborhood—the theme for this summer’s Nine Nights of Music. The free, live, outdoor music is held every Tuesday evening in July and August from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the Laura Jane Musser Plaza at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul. All performances celebrate the rich and vibrant rhythms and sounds of Minnesota and the multicultural neighborhoods of our state, a salute to “Open House: If These Walls Could Talk,” the History Center’s innovative exhibit about one house, 50 families, and an intimate look at a century of change. In case of inclement weather, the music will move inside. For a full list of Minnesota Historical Society events, visit the website.
PADELFORD PACKET BOAT CO.
Learn about the history of the Mississippi River aboard a 90-minute narrated Padelford Packet Boat Company cruise. “Children young and old relax in the natural wonder of the world-famous Mississippi River and wave to the crews of the giant towboats as they pass silently, with thousands of bushels of Midwestern grain headed for distribution around the world,” says Capt. Jim Kosmo, senior vice president.
Daily sightseeing and dinner cruises offer a unique opportunity to observe St. Paul from the river, and those who choose to spice up their cruise with a little song and dance will love the delightful performances aboard the Minnesota Centennial Showboat, presented by the University of Minnesota Showboat Players. Padelford Riverboats are available for private charters for groups of 50 to 700 from April through October. A variety of theme trips are also offered, such as Caribbean Carnival, Back to the 50s and Cajun Celebration.