Minnesota’s North Shore

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So, how many of you have visited one of the Great Lakes? *most hands shoot up*

How about Lake Superior? *several hands drop*

How about the north shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota? Anyone? I’d love to hear about it if you have! It’s supposedly the most pristine of the Great Lakes.

Since we can’t afford flights and fancy things, it’s an annual trip for us (yeah, we STARTED the Staycation trend…). We rent a beautiful home/cabin and usually bring an assortment of family and friends with us. We left late last Thursday and arrived around midnight, and we came back on Monday. Out of all the varied terrain in Minnesota (the many smaller lakes, the plains, the lush valleys, the iron range, the forests and small mountains), I think the north shore is my favorite. There comes a point mid-state where the trees begin thickening, crowding in on the freeway, and conifers overpower the deciduous. The land becomes rocky and rugged along the shore. The temperatures are mild year-round, almost like San Diego except with lots of snow in the winter. Okay, 20 degrees is mild for me. I’m Minnesotan, remember?

There are always things to do up there—festivals and competitions, museums and good restaurants, camping and hiking, and of course my favorite: sit and stare at the lake. This year’s trip was no exception. We had along several of our small group friends, my sister-in-law and a friend of hers, and my BFF from California (I know!), who we’ll call Ginger, since I don’t know if she wants her name mentioned on my blog. It was the first time Ginger had gotten to meet my daughter, so I was very pleased that they seemed to get on just fine. In fact, here’s a photo of the two of them:

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And one of my BFF and me…this photo makes me laugh. Husband took it, and the sun must’ve gotten in his eyes. But we’re being dorks. And we are dorks, so it’s very natural. Enjoy this, because I rarely post photos of myself here. Also, we haven’t showered, so cut us some slack. 🙂

Me & BFF 080108

Other highlights of the weekend included:

Lunch at Coho Café (I’ve eaten there thrice and never been disappointed).

Wild Country Maple Syrup Farm. Don’t even TRY to find it without directions (even with them it’s tough), but it’s got over 12,000 tapped maple trees hooked up to a vacuum system. They have retailers listed at their website. We have yet to find a syrup we like better. In fact, they’re what made us give up Log Cabin (which is not real syrup, in case you didn’t know).

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The “Fisherman’s Picnic” Festival in Grand Marais, where we saw tough people sawing logs (really, not sleeping) and having log-rolling competitions.

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Pigging out at the cabin, where we took turns preparing meals.

Hiking the Temperance River and Cascade Mountain. Believe it or not, I have swum in the Temperance River! But not in a foolish place.

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Eating at The Angry Trout Cafe in Grand Marais (Husband kept screwing up the name and calling it other, funnier things like “The Crabby Walleye”). I had a lake trout sandwich, if you must know. And their tartar sauce? YUM.

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Sitting on the deck chatting with friends.

Just plain driving along the north shore. It’s beautiful.

Did I mention that we ate? Yep, gained 3 lbs. in as many days.

Disappointments:

That we couldn’t stay longer.

The Portland Malt Shoppe in Duluth upped its prices. It’s now $5.95 for a fairly small malt. We probably won’t be stopping there again.

There you have it—our summer vacation in a nutshell. What have you done this summer? Do you have any traditional things you do?

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13 thoughts on “Minnesota’s North Shore

  1. Looks like you had a great time! I’ve never been to any of those places. Just Duluth, and I don’t think that counts.

    We haven’t had a summer vacation (my two weeks in MN doesn’t count), and I’m starting to have a little pity party about it. Yesterday I heard Canada geese honking in the sky, and my heart dropped a little bit. Fall is closer than we think. Say it isn’t so!!!

  2. I have been to several of those places! We go in the fall – sometimes after the leaves have changed – because that “almost” winter time up there the water is amazingly beautiful. We love watching the waves. Typically we stay in Duluth, but drive up the shore on day trips. I have a cousin who lives in Finland – if you havent ever been there, talk about nature at its purest!

    I cant wait until we go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. We ADORE Grand Marais!!!! We went there last summer with some friends for 9 days. We camped in the municipal campground (VERY NICE, by the way, and so much fun..) and hiked just about every day. We had a season pass to MN state parks, so we made it on all the great hikes, Temperance river, Cascade, Devil’s Kettle, etc. We even drove up to Grand Portage. So much fun! Your pictures make me ache to go back. Maybe next summer….

  4. Ahhh, I love love love Grand Marais…and the Temperance River is one of my favorite, yet most frightening with small children hiking spots!

  5. Wow, Heidi, that looks like so much fun! I would really enjoy a vacation like that. We went this year to Branson for a week. We met all of my husband’s family there. We didn’t get to go anywhere just the four of us, though. Thanks for sharing your pictures – they are beautiful! And even with no shower, you look just great!

  6. Oh, we must make it up that way soon. My daughter and I just traveled across Wisconsin in search of a particular adopted loon. We thoroughly enjoyed what we saw of Lake Superior on that trip, but in MN have only made it up as far as, oh, Lakewood or so. Since we’re just an hour from Duluth, it seems silly to keep postponing such a potentially wonderful trip!

    I guess I’m not sure how much we should plan ahead, or if there’s lots of stuff to just stop and do spontaneously. With 5 kids, I’d hate to be underprepared.

  7. So glad you had such a wonderful trip. Looks like a beautiful part of the country. (And as usual, I enjoyed your photos).

    But the best part of this post has to be the photo your hubby took of you making a pouty face. 😀

  8. Oh I am SOOOOO jealous! I spent the first 23 years of my life in Minnesota (south central). All of our family lives there . . . and I miss water terribly. Last summer, Hubby and I and 5 others decided to do BWCA for our annual Adult Adventure Club. We drove to Grand Marais and had a wonderful 5 day trip – incredible up there. Northern Minnesota is one the most beautiful places on the planet as far as I’m concerned. It’s definitely where Hubby and I are going to retire 🙂

  9. I love the north shore. I haven’t really vacationed there, unless you count all my camping trips in the BWCA. I did go to one wedding there, and the grandma’s marathon in duluth. Two Harbors and Gooseberry falls are my favorite, along with Grand Marais. To really see the rustic side, you have to go camping at least once. In a tent, not near a car 🙂 That’s the real deal. I’m glad we’re close enough now that we can go on a trip up there sometime soon!

  10. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for the great North Shore attractions/hot spots. We are flying out for a visit at the end of September and I wanted to show my husband a true Minnesota Fall. He’s only experienced the crazy Twin Cities! Well and I grew up there all my life and and never spent that much time up there, except a quick drive through. I can’t wait for Fall!!!

  11. Nice pictures! And kudos to you for excellent use of the word “thrice.” We would love to move up to Duluth/Superior – we’ll have to see if there are any jobs up there next year when we get to start looking again.

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