As a true Minnesotan, “going to the lake” is in my blood. Every summer (and winter for that matter) my family packs up and heads “North.” Now that I’m older, my days at the lake have become few and far between, but when given the chance, you can find me at my family’s cabin in the tiny town of Hovland, in Cook County on the shore of Lake Superior.
Just a few weekends ago my family, complete with dogs in tow, made the trek to the lake. The five-hour car ride has become old hat. Sure, it may be tedious, but we know what’s waiting for us and we know the end result is worth every mile and every minute.
Admittedly, having a cabin on Lake Superior is a different experience than having a cabin on other Minnesota or Wisconsin lakes. We don’t have a motorized boat, water skiing is out of the question, and there is no Big Island. But, in my humble opinion, what we have is even better—sea kayaking, hiking and navigating rock formations, close proximity to state parks, reading on the rocky shoreline, and making s’mores under a starry sky. Plus we have the advtantage of scenic views of the largest freshwater lake in the world.
Here are some highlights from my recent trip:
Donuts from World’s Best Donuts in Grand Marais
There’s no such thing as a bad decision when it comes to these donuts. I’m partial to the old standby—the raised glazed, but my sister likes their bismarks. And they have the best coffee in town!
Dinner at the Naniboujou Lodge
The stunning interior of this building warrants a visit in and of itself, but it’s also a great spot to grab dinner. Besides having a great view of the lake, Naniboujou has a history that is both entertaining and sad. I spent the majority of our meal pestering my dad with questions about the history of the Lodge and how in the world they could possibly paint the ceiling in such an intricate design.
Cinnamon rolls from the Chicago Bay Marketplace
Located in Hovland, the Chicago Bay Marketplace has everything you could possibly need while on vacation (pizza, a bakery, a little grocery store, a deli). Our absolute favorite is their homemade cinnamon rolls. If you get there early enough, they’ll be served still-warm.
Hike up to the High Falls in Grand Portage State Park
The hike itself is fairly easy (albeit, full of stairs), and the view from the top is ridiculously impressive. We particularly enjoyed the impromptu shower from the mist coming off the falls—very refreshing!
Admiring the wlld lupine
I spent the better part of the drive staring out the car window at the smattering of purple and pink wild lupine flowers growing on the side of Highway 61. My oohs and ahhs were met with equal excitement from my dad as we stopped on the side of the road to take photos. The color variations and sheer volume of these wildflowers were an unexpected and beautiful surprise (like many aspects of the North Shore).
Kayaking on Lake Superior
A trip to the lake isn’t complete without spending some time on the water. My dad and I spent every morning and every evening paddling along the shoreline. The Big Lake never ceases to amaze me. If you’re going to venture out on Lake Superior in a kayak, stay close to the shoreline and stay on the shore if it’s windy. The waves can look deceivingly smaller from the shore and when you’re in such a small boat they can easily overpower you. That said, it’s fairly similar to kayaking on any other lake or river. Just be aware of where you are and the conditions of the lake!
I came home from my week at Lake Superior a little sunburnt, smelling of campfire, and FULL of mosquito bites. Although it’ll be awhile until I can return, spending a week in my happy place with my family was the perfect mid-summer treat. Should you have the opportunity to escape to the North Shore, have fun and enjoy the slower-paced lifestyle. And don’t forget the bug spray!