15 Reasons to Get Away for the Weekend

Radiant fall colors in the Detroit Lakes area

The interplay of reds, yellows, oranges, greens, and browns makes for a truly wonderful getaway drive to Detroit Lakes. The colors are especially beautiful due to the city’s unique transition zone of tall grass prairie to hardwood and conifer forests.
According to a past visitor profile survey, the top three elements visitors identified as most important in choosing Detroit Lakes as a vacation destination included the natural environment, lakes and rivers, and boating and water recreation. Nearly 85 percent of these visitors return year after year. Combined with fall lodging and golfing discounts, it makes sense to choose Detroit Lakes for a fall getaway.

gorgeous fall colors

Photo courtesy of Bayfield
Chamber of Commerce

Contact the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce at 800-542-3992 or go online at www.visitdetroitlakes.com to get a fall color tour brochure, allowing you to plan your color route in advance.

World-class fishing on Lake Mille Lacs

A fall fishing adventure on Lake Mille Lacs is heightened by the brilliance of autumn colors along the forested shores of Minnesota’s second largest lake. Spanning 132,000 surface acres (slightly more than 200 square miles), Mille Lacs is home to 40 species of fish, including walleye, smallmouth bass, northern pike, perch and muskie. While visiting, book a launch fishing trip (equivalent to charter fishing on the ocean), arrange for a local fishing guide (these Mille Lacs Lake experts can pinpoint reefs and drop-offs), or rent a fishing boat. In addition to fishing, there are beautiful parks for biking and hiking, guided horseback rides at Rolling Hills Arabians and Farm Tours, gaming and entertainment at Grand Casino Mille Lacs, museums, and a wealth of dining, shopping, and lodging options. For more information, call the Mille Lacs Tourism Council at 888-350-2692 or visit www.visitdetroitlakes.comwww.visitdetroitlakes.com.


The annual Bayfield Scarecrow Festival and Orchard Tour

Visit Bayfield during the second annual Scarecrow Festival and Orchard Tours, Sept. 16-Oct. 31. Celebrate the bounty of the harvest season and unmatched beauty of the Bayfield area as the fall colors unfold. More than 100 scarecrows will be placed throughout the city and orchards. Besides finding your favorite scarecrows, you can do some apple picking, sample apple cider and apple treats of all kinds, take a hayride, ride a pony, visit a winery, navigate a field maze, throw up your heels at a barn dance, try a scavenger hunt, go on a Ghost Walk, and more! Be sure to enjoy Bayfield’s other fun activities including cruises, sailboat rides, hiking, biking, golfing, shopping in Bayfield’s quaint shops and galleries and great dining, all amidst the beauty of fall colors. For more information (including a detailed schedule of activities), visit www.bayfield.org or call 800-447-4094.


Excellent biking in Lanesboro

A major attraction in the peaceful town of Lanesboro, located in southeastern Minnesota, is the spectacular paved Root River State Bike Trail, winding 60 miles through the valley. Excellent for biking, hiking, cross-country skiing, and in-line skating, it runs along an abandoned railroad bed through dramatic bluffs, forests, and rolling fields. Wildlife is abundant and sightings of wild turkey, deer, hawks and turkey vultures are common. In addition to invigorating outdoor activities, Lanesboro offers rich artistic experiences, unique shopping, a local winery, fine dining, and lodging to fit every taste and budget. Historical buildings and rural communities along the trail provide sites of interest and services to trail users. For more information, visit www.lanesboro.com.


Lake Superior and romance at Fitger’s Inn

Reminiscent of a more romantic era, guests of Fitger’s Inn will experience a level of warm, friendly service born of the highest standards and time honored tradition. A national historic landmark as well as Duluth’s only four-diamond hotel, the rooms at Fitger’s are comfortable, luxurious, and romantic, featuring amazing views of Lake Superior. Of the 62 guest rooms, 20 suites feature balconies, fireplaces, skylights, wet bars, whirlpool tubs for two and mouth-dropping views of the lake. Guests can relax in a Jacuzzi room, feel pampered with spa and salon services, dine at the upscale Bennett’s on the Lake Restaurant, stroll along the Lakewalk, have a cocktail at Fitger’s Brewhouse, or simply stay put and reconnect. All rooms come with free wireless access, HBO, coffee, and Aveda bath products. The Fitger’s complex consists of delightful shops, four great restaurants (including outdoor dining), and convenient access to downtown sites. For more information, call 218-722-8826 or visit www.fitgers.com.


Amazing sunsets at The Lodge on Lake Detroit

The sunsets bring you back to life at the Lodge on Lake Detroit, a new smoke-free lifestyle hotel situated on 550 feet of Big Detroit Lake in the city of Detroit Lakes. All 55 rooms are lakefront to take advantage of the spectacular sunsets. An inspiration quote card is placed on each guest’s pillow upon arrival, noting what time the sun will set that evening. Every evening the hotel has a “sunset serenade,” during which time a grand piano plays in the two story fireside lobby. Guests can linger in the lobby, order an appetizer and cocktail (try a signature sunset serenade martini), and watch the sunset from the lobby’s 70-foot deck. It’s extra details like this that add to a truly memorable vacation experience. “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. The hotel is less than two miles from downtown Detroit Lakes and within driving distance of local restaurants, shops, businesses, and attractions. For reservations and more information, contact Guest Experience Representatives at 800-761-VIEW or visit www.thelodgeonlakedetroit.com.


The autumn splendor of Bemidji

It is the autumnal equinox, and in Bemidji, it’s a time of anticipated arrival. For with the onset of fall comes the promise of a new season bountiful in its beauty, and packed with the promise of exciting activity. Perhaps you’ll begin your adventure at the scenic shore of Lake Bemidji, where cool, crisp autumn air hovers above the aquamarine waves, pumping new energy into the walleye, bass, and pike populations. Hike through the sprawling Chippewa National Forest, rimmed by the famed fish factory better known as Cass Lake. Everywhere the deep forest green of summer is changing to brilliant shades of red, orange, yellow and brown. Or explore Itasca State Park, where the mighty Mississippi River begins its 2,552-mile sojourn to the Gulf of Mexico. Smell the campfire smoke adrift in the crisp fall air. These are just some of the experiences that await you when you visit Bemidji in autumn. Peaceful and uncrowded, many people believe fall is the ideal time of year to visit. For more information, visit
www.visitbemidji.com or call 800-458-2223 ext. 105.


A little taste of Europe at the McCormick House Inn

The English garden at McCormick House Inn, located in Hayward, Wisconsin, features limestone urns, large specimen trees, a reflecting pool with a fountain and ornamental koi, clipped boxwood and topiaries, beautifully manicured formal lawns, and spectacular evening landscape lighting.

The formal garden is in itself a reason to visit, reminding visitors of a small version of the capital building gardens in Minneapolis or their trips to Europe, but the unparalleled service is the reason people choose to come back. Owned by longtime London residents, the McCormick House is a quietly sophisticated inn offering understated elegance in an intimate, friendly, home-away-from-home atmosphere. Each room has been designed to inspire and spoil; with the beauty inside connecting you with the wonderful crisp pine-cleansed air and natural resources of Wisconsin’s Northwoods—especially beautiful during the autumn season. For more information, visit www.mccormickhouseinn.com.


The many wonders of the scenic St. Croix River

Located on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin, the 60-mile St. Croix River winds past picturesque river towns of Hastings, Afton, Stillwater, Hudson, and Taylors Falls. These charming weekend destinations are close to home, yet a world away. The rugged river bluffs offer plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, horseback riding, riverside picnicking, bird watching, and camping. The trails traverse over restored prairies and wind down deep ravines before rising to the grassy ridges overlooking the scenic St. Croix River. The river itself provides the perfect setting for boating (try a river boat cruise, complete with catering and cocktails), canoeing, and kayaking. Many of these towns have historic bed and breakfast inns, spas, art galleries, one-of-a-kind shops, apple orchards, wineries, and outstanding dining opportunities. Visiting one of these river towns in the fall is especially pretty, when the St. Croix River Valley is awash in radiant colors. For more information, visit www.saintcroixriver.com.


Luxury, romance, and white glove treatment at Sofitel Minneapolis

Sofitel Minneapolis’ Romance Concierges (trained by the Emily Post Institute, America’s foremost experts on relationship etiquette) have many tricks up their sleeves to create unforgettable romantic escapes. Speak with a Romance Concierge prior to your arrival so special arrangements can be made ahead of time. Think a romantic candle-lit dinner with your favorite dish made per special request, and a personalized dessert with a special love message written in chocolate. Or a suite filled with roses, romantic music, and masseurs for a couples’ massage. If you decide to come to the Sofitel at the spur of the moment, you can choose one of four special packages on the Romance Menu, filled with goodies that will help you create your own romantic evening. For more information, call 952-656-5920 or visit www.sofitel-minneapolis.com.


The “Superior” view from every guest room at Best Western Superior Inn & Suites

A private cobblestone beach is just part of the charm of the 66 unit smoke-free Best Western Superior Inn & Suites, located in Grand Marais. Take in the beauty of Lake Superior and let your stresses melt away as you stroll along the shore. Feel a sense of calm as you sit under a quiet canopy of stars, listening to waves lap against the coastline. In the morning, capture a dramatic sunrise from your picture window or private balcony. A commissioned piece of art by North Shore artist Howard Sievertson hangs behind the front desk, depicting the view of Artist Point from the hotel. The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of many unique village restaurants, shops, and galleries, and is within two blocks of the North House Folk School. For reservations, call 800-842-VIEW.


A kaleidoscope of natural beauty at Bluefin Bay

Pamper yourself with a relaxing yet exhilarating weekend getaway in the midst of one of earth’s most precious wilderness areas at Bluefin Bay Resort, situated on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Bluefin Bay and the neighboring vicinity provide some of the most diverse and unique recreational opportunities anywhere. The ancient Sawtooth Mountains, surrounded by the Superior National Forest and the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, provide a year-round kaleidoscope of natural beauty and recreation. Enjoy mountain biking, hiking, downhill skiing in Lutsen, cross country skiing, golf, tennis or shopping in the Tofte area. After an active day outdoors, snuggle up to a crackling fire, soak in a Jacuzzi, and watch the waves roll in from the comfort of your luxurious room. On-site amenities include a lounge/bar/tavern, restaurant, spa, indoor pool, outdoor pool, exercise room, sauna, tennis court, and whirlpool. Bluefin is near biking and hiking trails, and has kayaks, canoes, and sailboats available for guest use. For more information, visit www.bluefinbay.com.


A chance to step back in time at Historic Forestville

Travel 30 miles south of Rochester and cross the Carnegie Steel Bridge into 1899 Forestville, operated by the Minnesota Historical Society. See 19th century merchandise in the Meighen family store, discover what’s cooking in the kitchen, and help the hired hand with chores in the garden and farm buildings. Costumed guides portray actual residents and their daily activities. Forestville was once a rural trade center (area farmers would trade their produce for goods and services). When the railroad bypassed the town in 1868, it struggled to survive. By 1890, Thomas Meighen, son of one of the town’s founders, owned the entire village. The town’s 50 residents made their living on his farm, working for housing and credit in the Meighen store. Today the site is a fascinating glimpse into how farmers lived over a century ago. Admission to Historic Forestville is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $3 for children 6-17. During September and October, Forestville is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. A state park vehicle permit is required. For more information, visit www.mnhs.org/places/sites/hf/visitforestville.html.


Spectacular golfing across the state

Autumn is one of the best times to take a golf vacation. Courses are less crowded and less expensive, fall colors create a gorgeous backdrop, and small towns are more charming when you don’t have to share them with hordes of tourists and travelers. The natural beauty and diverse terrain of Minnesota’s landscape provides the ideal terrain for spectacular golf courses across the state. With more than 480 courses, Minnesota has more golfers per capita than any other state, and is the only state to have hosted all 13 USGA Championships. The Brainerd Lakes area was named “One Of The Top 50 Golf Destinations In The World,” by Golf Digest, and there are impressive courses near Lake Superior, in the Leech Lake area, in Bemidji, Alexandria, Rochester, and Grand Rapids, and of course—everywhere in the Twin Cities metro. The reality is that pretty soon you’ll be driving on ice rather than driving the ball, so tee it high and let it fly! For a full list of courses, visit www.golf.exploreminnesota.com


Spa retreats that nourish the soul

In this chaotic world we live in, a spa getaway can be the perfect way to nourish your mind, body, and soul. Many resorts and hotels throughout the state offer full-service spas, including Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center, Madden’s on Gull Lake, Grand View Lodge Resort, Cragun’s Resort and Hotel, Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior, Birdwing Spa near Litchfield, Thumper Pond Resort, Rochester’s Kahler Grand Hotel, Bloomington’s Grand Lodge, Graves 601 Hotel, Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, and Grand Hotel in Minneapolis, to name a few. The Marsh, A Center for Balance and Fitness, is a day spa located in Minnetonka. To find a list of destination spas, visit www.spafinder.com


  • Get an oil change before heading out on the road.
  • Check your lights, signals, wiper blades, horn and radio before you leave.
  • Check your fluid levels, belts, caps and hoses, and filters.
  • Check and adjust tire pressure.
  • Check your cell phone range to avoid roaming charges.
  • When packing, roll your clothes so you have more space in your bag or suitcase.
  • Bring an empty bag to use for dirty clothes.
  • Pack lightly. This way, you’ll have room for any extras you buy on your trip.
  • Make a mixed CD of favorite tunes, or borrow Books on Tape or CD from your local library. (Harry Potter is a good one for families with kids.)
  • Pack a first aid kit with aspirin or ibuprofen, anti-bacterial hand-washing gel, insect repellent, sunscreen, adhesive bandages, tissues, antacid, and Ipecac.
  • Stock a cooler with water and fruit.
  • Bring blankets and pillows.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. (Jeans might not be as comfortable as loose fitting pants.)
  • If traveling with kids, rotate the seating order so everyone gets to see out the window.
  • See more of the countryside by taking the scenic route whenever possible.