It's summer, and practically shouting in your ear is the call for a nice, relaxing vacation. Of course, there is plenty to do at work and at home, and you can't just pick up and go on a week-long trip across the world. A long weekend, though, is another story. You don't have to break the bank and take time off work to just get away for a few days. There are plenty of weekend trips you can take right here in the Midwest and head back to work feeling refreshed and restored. Here are a few ideas.
Loon Lake Lodge
65 Loon Lake Road
Grand Marais, MN 55604
Historic Minnesota comes to life in one of the state's original resorts along the Gunflint Trail. Logs cut by hand make up the resort, and you'll truly feel as though you've stepped back in time to the frontier days. The surrounding landscape has avoided the changing times as well, so you can see wildlife of all sorts living in harmony. Access to the Boundary Waters means you'll never get bored, as long as you're okay with swimming, canoeing, hiking, bird watching or simply enjoying the crisp, clean air and endless green space. The lodge offers a great restaurant and full-service amenities, so when you're ready to indulge in a little modern comfort, like a shower, you can do that, too.
This historic town on the St. Croix River is perfect for a short vacation. Scenic beauty is mixed with the quaint charm and "Main Street" feel of the downtown. There is plenty to do in the area, from scenic tours of the river, to historic tours of the old jail and courthouse, to places like Aamodt's Apple Farm where you can pick your own fruit. There are quality places to stay, from bed and breakfasts to hotels and historic inns. For dining, Stillwater has plenty of options as well. Dinner at the Dock allows for fantastic, family-friendly dinner overlooking the water, and you shouldn't miss Brine's, the classic restaurant full of old world charm. Don't forget an enormous scoop of ice cream from picturesque Nelson's, the ideal way to end a day of shopping and sightseeing.
(credit: Kathy Knopik from Fridley)
Itasca State Park
Park Rapids, MN 56470
Not only is it cool to stick your feet into the mouth of the mighty Mississippi, the greatest river in North America, but the surrounding park is one of the most beautifully serene areas of the state. There are rustic, charming cabins for you to stay, or for a true camping experience, pitch a tent on the grounds and live the way they would have when the park was founded in 1891. There are programs and events, hiking tours an even archery to keep the whole family entertained for a long weekend away from the city.
115 La Crosse St.
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
Just over the border, a visit to our friends in Wisconsin makes for a great mini-vacation. No matter what time of year, the water parks are flowing. And with over a dozen to choose from, the kids will never get bored. Parents can kick back and relax, or take part in the wild world of water slides and rides as well. Plenty of shopping and dining fills the area as well. You won't want to head home when the weekend is up, but it's comforting knowing that a vacation of this caliber is only a few hours away.
Possibly the best weekend getaway in the Midwest is only a few hours outside of the Twin Cities. Overlooking majestic Lake Superior, Duluth has developed into a unique city offering plenty to fill your days. The brewing scene in Duluth is making some of the state's best craft beer, and Fitger's, the godfather of Duluth breweries, is a must-see. Check out the aquarium, the zoo or the railroad museum, or take one of the scenic train rides around the Lake for unmatched views of the water and surrounding landscape. To actually become part of the lush greenery, pitch a tent on camping grounds around the city. A more perfect blend of wilderness and city cannot be found, making Duluth great for a short vacation.
Adrian Schramm is a resident St.Paul writer with a passion for all things local. Through his work with Saint Paul Almanac and Minneapolis Examiner at Examiner.com, as well as in the kitchens of bars and restaurants around town, he has discovered what truly makes the Twin Cities tick.