Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior • www.bluefinbay.com
Surfside on Lake Superior • www.surfsideonsuperior.com
Temperance Landing • www.temperancelanding.com
If romance and relaxation is on the agenda this winter, no one does it better than the trifecta of Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts—whether you’re listening to the waves lap against the shoreline at Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior; relaxing at the new coastal contemporary waterfront retreat Surfside on Lake Superior (complete with the North Shore’s only destination spa, Waves of Superior), or unwinding in the log home luxury of Temperance Landing. While all three properties are phenomenal, Bluefin Bay has been ranked one of the most romantic resorts in the state, with amazing up-close views of Lake Superior, in-suite fireplaces, whirlpool baths, award-winning restaurants, and a signature outdoor heated hot tub overlooking the lake. “We’ve seen more marriage proposals, honeymoons, mini-moons, and anniversary celebrations over the years than perhaps any other resort,” says Lori Schaefer, marketing director. Early winter travelers can take advantage of the Gales of November and December Special, where guests can stay at any of the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts for three nights and receive one night free (Oct. 24-Dec. 25, 2011).
APOSTLE ISLANDS SLED DOG RACE
Bayfield, Wis. • www.bayfield.org
“The best thing about a sled dog race is that you can feel the excitement in the air!” states John Thiel of Wolfsong Adventures in Mushing. “The dogs love it, the mushers love it, the volunteers love it, and all that energy ignites the crowd.” If you want to experience a unique sporting event/weekend celebration and witness first-hand the strong bond between musher and sled dog, visit Bayfield, Wis. during the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race Feb. 3-5, 2012. The weekend kicks off with the “Meet the Mushers” dinner (open to the public) Friday in the Bayfield Lakeside Pavilion, followed by races on Saturday morning (there are two main races: an eight dog, 80-mile race and a six dog, 60-mile race completed over two days), the Mushers’ Mixer at the Bayfield Inn on Saturday evening, and races on Sunday morning, with the awards ceremony immediately following. Multiple spectator locations along the race course include amenities such as warming tents, concessions, and bonfires.
Mille Lacs • www.millelacs.com
Every weekend there’s a party somewhere on Mille Lacs Lake. That’s because, every winter, there are 139,000 acres of frozen water (typically frozen over by mid-December). That means 139,000 acres for car races on ice, snowmobile races on ice, windboards on ice, and an ice fishing contest just about every weekend. There are up to 5,500 ice fishing shacks on the lake any given winter. If you don’t own a fish house, you can rent one; if you don’t know the hotspots, you can hire a guide. If ice fishing isn’t your thing, the Mille Lacs area is also laced with cross-country and snowmobile trails, offering miles of uninterrupted travel.
Bundle up the kids, warm up the apple cider, and head over to downtown Minneapolis for the Target Holidazzle Parade, Thursdays through Sundays from Nov. 25 to Dec.18, 2011. Watch as the brightly-lit storybook characters and fairy-tale floats light up the night from a street-side spot or escape the cold and watch from the toasty warmth of the Holidazzle Hot Seats (Hot Seat tickets are $9 each). Before or after the parade, shop, dine and explore all that Minneapolis has to offer. Shop along Nicollet Avenue, taste the cultural diversity of fine Twin Cities restaurants—Italian, German, Asian, African, Scandinavian, traditional American (and more), or discover downtown’s famed Warehouse District, located near the Target Center, where you can visit art galleries, antique shops, and nightclubs. Get into the giving spirit of the season by bringing a food or cash donation to the Emergency Foodshelf Network, either before the parade (volunteers will collect items) or during the parade, when the Circus Train chugs down the street. The parade starts at 6:30 p.m., traveling down Nicollet Mall from from 12th Street to 4th Street.
Bemidji Area • www.visitbemidji.com
A whopping 14,000 miles of snowmobile trails branch off in every direction in Bemidji, as the crossroads city for two of the major Minnesota Interconnecting Trail System routes, MITS-71 and MITS-2. Riders are guaranteed connections to virtually any place in the state because the MITS trail links up with hundreds of spur trails. Groomed and well-marked, the trails lead riders past amazing scenery and through quaint towns. A challenging ride might include dashing near frozen lakes, along the Continental Divide, over bogs, beside rushing streams, up rolling hills, and through forests draped in snow. A $16 snowmobile state trail sticker is required for all persons operating a snowmobile on state or grant-in-aid trails.
SMALL TOWN CHARM
Owatonna • www.visitowatonna.org
Get into the holiday spirit by visiting Owatonna Dec. 1-4, 2011 for the Hometown Holiday Weekend, starting with the Hometown Holiday Lighted Parade Dec. 1 from 5-6 p.m., followed by Santa in the Bandshell from 6-7 p.m. (the Great Bearded One will be in town from the North Pole to flip the switch for the synchronized twinkle lights and music show). On Dec. 2, sample cookies and cider from 1-3 p.m. at the newly renovated and reopened Cottage 11 of the Minnesota State Public School for Dependent and Neglected Children (a museum that was once the only state-run orphanage in Minnesota), and from 5-7 p.m. at the Village of Yesteryear, take part in horse-drawn sleigh rides, pictures with Santa and Mrs.Claus, Christmas caroling, and cookie-decorating. On Dec. 3, indulge in a pancake breakfast and pose for pictures with Santa before heading out for a day of touring, eating, and shopping. Save time to check out Cabela’s, the largest fishing, hunting and outdoor gear store in the Midwest. Owatonna is about an hour south of the metro area.
Arrowwood Resort • www.arrowwoodresort.com
Right now you’re probably not feeling housebound, but by January you might feel like you’ve had it up to here with the cold and snow. Take a break from the outdoors at Arrowood Resort, located two hours northwest of Minneapolis in Alexandria. The 38,000-square-foot indoor waterpark features three exhilarating four-story slides, a “Lazy River” ride, a tropical whirlpool spa, and plenty of excitement for the little ones. The fun continues with an indoor pool, whirlpool, fitness center, spa facility, on-site restaurants and lounge, and a huge indoor tennis facility (open year-round).
OUT-STATE SKIING /BOARDING
Big Sky, Montana
Board or ski down a 2,000 vertical foot, powder-filled bowl beneath Lone Peak; bob and weave through the Bavarian Forest; or ride the Lone Peak Tram for a bird’s eye view of untamed wilderness. Skiing or boarding in Montana is a snow lover’s dream. The Big Sky Resort-Moonlight Basin interconnect gives you access to more skiing than anywhere else in the country, with runs up to six miles long and glades and bowls covered in 400-plus inches of annual snowfall. Just a few miles from Yellowstone National Park, the surrounding terrain and trails also provide excellent snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, dogsledding, sleigh riding, or snowmobiling escapes.
Granite Peak Ski Area • Wausau, Wis. • www.skigranitepeak.com
“As we rolled past Granite Peak late on a Sunday night the feeling of excitement began to set in as the lights were gleaming off the fresh snow that covered the 74 runs covered by 8 lifts. It was a very relieving and a gratifying moment to realize that this mountain is actually a mountain and not just a glorified hill like other Midwest resorts. And after hours on the road we could already tell that we had come to the right place and were going to have tons of fun on all the different runs and multiple terrain parks and the halfpipe,” posted a reviewer at onthesnow.com. Granite Peak Ski Area, in Wausau Wis., is only a three-hour drive from the Twin Cities—a short road trip away from the largest and tallest hill in Wisconsin. The prices are affordable (check out online ordering package deals at skigranitepeak.com), the Rib Mountain terrain offers everything from a children’s ski program (complete with a Sun Kid Wonder Carpet) to some challenging black diamond runs, and at the base of the mountain lies a quaint city with family-friendly hotels and romantic B&Bs, a lively nightlife scene, excellent restaurants, a variety of cultural entertainment options, great shopping, and fun weekend festivals.
Lutsen Mountains • www.lutsen.com
Lutsen Mountains isn’t nicknamed the “Vail of the Midwest” for nothing. Offering the most ski acreage in the state—with 92 sweeping runs and 1,000 feet of vertical drop—it offers downhill terrain not typical of the Midwest (plus the only gondola in Mid-America). Lutsen offers a diverse variety of terrain, with Ullr Mountain known as the beginner mountain, introducing skiers and riders to freestyle terrain in a non-intimidating environment; and Eagle Mountain the place to be for advanced skiers/snowboarders. The snow is reliable, the runs are up to a mile long, and the views of Lake Superior from the top of the mountains are a treat. Not only is there excellent skiing and boarding, Lutsen offers on-mountain dining and entertainment—providing an aprés-ski experience—along with groomed, tracked trails for Nordic skiing, dog sledding, backcountry snowshoeing, and sleigh rides. Purchase lift tickets online (up to 72 hours in advance of arrival) and save both time and money. Lutsen also partners with the region’s best lodging facilities to offer the lowest prices on ski and stay packages.
WINTER FUN: COOK COUNTY
The snowy scenery is spectacular in Northeastern Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit there and stare at it. Grab your mittens and mukluks, and let all the fresh air breathe some life back into you! Hit the slopes in the Lutsen-Tofte area, go snowmobiling in Grand Marais, or wax up your cross-country skis for a scenic outing along the Gunflint Trail. If you’d rather escape the cold than embrace the cold, head inside for non-stop gaming action in the 15,000-square-foot Grand Portage Lodge & Casino, just two and a half hours north of Duluth. The casino includes a bingo hall and over 450 slot machines with video slots like Keno, multi-line and multi-game machines. While visiting, stay in a fully-serviced suite complete with a fireplace and Jacuzzi.
The Lodge on Lake Detroit • www.thelodgeonlakedetroit.com
Superior Inn & Suites • www.bestwestern.com/plussuperiorinn
When you go away for the weekend, you deserve an unforgettable experience rather than simply a place to rest your head. An experience is what you’ll get at the Best Western Premier The Lodge on Lake Detroit, located in Detroit Lakes, and the Best Western Plus Superior Inn and Suites, in Grand Marais. In addition to the daily Sunset Serenades, The Lodge regularly hosts live music and entertainment, such as the upcoming Murder Mystery Nov. 12, New Year’s weekend getaway, and winter wine tasting. Rent an ice house and fish on Lake Detroit, right outside the door. The staff is friendly, the rooms are beautiful, the views are great, and the amenities—like The Spa Within (massage, anyone?)—are hard to beat. Need a place to stay for the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon Jan. 29? Looking for a great spot to snowmobile with easy access to a network of trails? Craving a romantic weekend away? Stay at the Superior Inn and Suites on Lake Superior in Grand Marais, a perfect affordable luxury destination on the North Shore.
OUTDOOR ADVENTURE EXPO
Midwest Mountaineering • www.outdooradventureexpo.com
At Midwest Mountaineering, the winter season kicks off with The Outdoor Adventure Expo from Nov. 18-20, featuring over 100 presentations and 80 exhibitors spread throughout the store, in big-top tents, and on the University of Minnesota campus. Featured speakers include everything from “Everest: A New Lesson in Suffering” to “Seasons of the North Shore.” Admission is free. Another benefit of attending the Expo? Everything in the store will be on sale that weekend. And don’t miss the popular Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, showcasing the best mountain films of 2011. Tickets to the Banff film festival are $15 each. Every year the films feature a range of styles and themes, including climbing, skiing, kayaking, biking, adventure, culture and the environment. Midwest Mountaineering, located on the northeast corner of Cedar and Riverside Avenues in Minneapolis—very close to the Metrodome, University of Minnesota’s West Bank and the seven corners intersection, offers authentic outdoor clothing and quality gear. Their slogan is: “Ask us. We’ve been there.” And it’s true; the staff has been there, whether there is Nordic skiing, climbing, backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, snow kiting, skijoring and traveling to the far corners of the globe. They take pride in making sure your gear is properly fitted to your needs, assuring you a comfortable and fun outdoor adventure.
Hudson, Wis. • www.hudsonwi.org
Winter is the perfect time to explore Hudson Wisconsin’s Interstate State Park on cross-country skis (there are 10 miles of well-groomed trails) before stopping at Winzer Stube for a hearty German meal, or ducking in from the cold to enjoy a glass of wine at The Nova Wine Bar, with over 200 bottles of wine available. For a truly unforgettable winter experience, take part in the annual Candlelight Ski and Hike Feb. 11, 2012 from 6-9 p.m. at Willow River State Park. On a dark winter night, there’s nothing as magical as skiing or snowshoeing past hundreds of glowing candles. Warm up at bonfires, and fuel up with refreshments in the nature center. Make a weekend of it and stay at a B&B or motel in town before hitting the downtown area for some amazing boutique shopping.