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Goin' To The (Frozen) Lake: Amelia & Chris Go To Lutsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- All month long, WCCO is on the road highlighting some of our favorite spots across Minnesota and western Wisconsin. Lake Superior is this week's stop, and Chris Shaffer and Amelia Santaniello are about four hours north of the Twin Cities in Lutsen.

Split Rock Lighthouse + Lutsen Resort & Visitor Center

They really have it figured out at Lutsen Resort. There's so much to do all year round. And as we try to do on these trips, they don't hide from winter -- they embrace it.

When many Minnesotans think of a great in-state getaway, they're thinking about the North Shore. It's such a beautiful part of the state, and it's easy to get to.

Amelia and Chris took off Thursday morning up Interstate 35, then onto Highway 61. Take your time on the drive, because there's plenty to see.

About 45 minutes south of Duluth is Split Rock Lighthouse, which is one of the most iconic landmarks in Minnesota. The lighthouse was built after a storm in 1905. Twenty-nine ships were lost in Lake Superior during the storm, including the Madeira, just north of Split Rock.

The Visitor Center is open year-round, so stop in on the way up the North Shore, or maybe on the way home, because Chris just wanted to get here quickly to ski.

Lutsen Mountain is the place to ski in Minnesota. It's the largest ski resort in the Midwest, and really has a feel of a ski resort out west. No, it's not the same size, but the vibe is close. There are 92 runs over 1,000 acres and four mountains. They get lake-effect snow from time to time, and they make their own.

Living The 'Hygge' Life In Lutsen

When you live in a place like Minnesota's North Shore, you learn to embrace every season.

"Winter is just part of our lifestyle here in Minnesota, especially in northern Minnesota," said Kjersti Vick, marketing manager for Visit Cook County.

Here in Lutsen, that's especially true during winter. People in Denmark have taken the idea of embracing all that winter has to offer to a whole new level. They even have a special word for it.

"There's a very, pun-intended, hot term going around right now called 'hygge,'" Vick said. "It's a Danish concept and it essentially means savoring life's simple little moments and staying cozy and warm with yourself, your community and your environment."

Staying cozy and warm is the key to hygee, which is pronounced "hue-gah." The main ingredients? A roaring fire, something to read, a drink, friends and family. So when it's cold outside, just hygge. You'll love it.

"I think people are really looking and seeking that ability to disconnect and, you know, turn off social media for a little while and really focus on what's important to you and what's important is where you are," Vick said. "Being present, being in the moment, feeling grateful for what you have been given and what opportunities there are for you."

Lutsen Resort & North House Folk School In Grand Marais

Lutsen Resort itself is the oldest resort in Minnesota. It was established in 1885 by a Swedish immigrant. It's just feet from the water, and the lodge itself is beautiful. Sit by the roaring fire reading a book, eat in the Lakeside dining room, or enjoy the indoor pool and whirlpool. The current owners have been here since 1988. They bought it so they could live and work on the North Shore. Good call.

Just up the road from Lutsen is Grand Marais. One of the big attractions there is the North House Folk School. WCCO stopped in Wednesday during a class on how to knit Estonian lace. The class is part of the Northern Fibers Retreat this weekend. On March 1, they'll post 250 new classes for spring and summer. Sign up early!

A Ride On Lutsen's New Gondola

Amelia and Chris were almost 2,000-feet above Lutsen on Thursday, checking out the views from their amazing new gondola, which has been running for just over a year.

Papa Charlie's & Grand Marais

Amelia and Chris made their way Thursday evening to Papa Charlie's, located right in the heart of Lutsen Mountains ski resort. It's a great bar and a fantastic place to catch live music, which they have just about every night. They get some really good acts, booked by a great guy named Jim Vick.

The WCCO crew checked out Papa Charlie's singer-songwriter night on Wednesday, which featured Moors and McCumber. They met at a folk festival 10 years ago, and have been playing together ever since. They played a bunch of different instruments during their show, and sounded great doing it.

A little farther up Highway 61 past Lutsen is Grand Marais. If you're visiting Lutsen, go the extra 20 minutes. The town is beautiful, looking out at the harbor and into the big lake. There are plenty of fun little restaurants, and Grand Marais is a great arts community. It's easy to see why with the beautiful scenery all around you.

Après–Ski Fun At North Shore Winery

Amelia and Chris learned the power of "hygge" early Thursday, but there's a French term that's been around a long time at resorts like Lutsen: "après–ski." It means all the social activities to do after a day on the slopes. And here they have a new addition to their après–ski options.

WCCO checked out North Shore Winery, which is right on Ski Hill Road just before you get to the skiing. They have live music on Saturdays between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. during the ski season. The mountain closes at 4 p.m., so just head there in your ski gear.


Here are some of the places Amelia and Chris checked out on Day 1 of the Lutsen trip:

Split Rock Lighthouse
Lutsen Resort
Visit Cook County
Papa Charlie's
Moors And McCumber
North Shore Winery

Click here to see our other stops in this Goin' To The (Frozen) Lake series!

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