Courtesy of The Highbrow Cabin on the Cliff
Courtesy of Big Lake Wilderness Lodge
Big Lake Wilderness Lodge is beloved for its relaxed vibe that allows for disconnecting from the daily grind.
Find your home away from home at these unique stays, from rural resorts and cozy B&Bs to stylish hotels in the center of the city.
Hospitality in the North Star State takes “Minnesota Nice” to a whole new level. From a hotel-restaurant-bakery combo in Minneapolis to a houseboat on the Mississippi River and a cabin on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior, the accommodations here are singularly local, offering guests an experience they can only get in Minnesota.
Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite places to stay in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, including a family-oriented resort near the Boundary Waters, a boutique property that’s unique to Duluth, and a historic inn off the beaten path in Minneapolis. Whichever you choose, expect the kind of familiar details and friendly service that will make you feel at home in Minnesota at these top hotels and resorts.
The most remote drive-in resort in northern Minnesota, Big Lake Wilderness Lodge transports guests to summer vacations of a bygone era. Surrounded by the Superior National Forest and a short walk or paddle from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the property focuses on simple pleasures, from lake views and starry skies to clean air, pure water, and freshly caught fish. Here, guests can hike on nearby trails; hit the lake in a kayak, canoe, or paddleboat; spend the day fishing for walleye; or simply relax lakeside and take in the scenery. On especially clear nights, you can even see the northern lights.
Pet-friendly cabins include well-equipped kitchens as well as picnic tables, Weber grills, and patio furniture. Most feature satellite TV, and the remodeled Horizon and Call of the Loon cabins come with a free pontoon boat rental. Plan a romantic getaway in a lakeshore studio cabin, or bring the whole brood to a two-bedroom or family-size option. When you’re ready to socialize, there’s a communal lodge with free Wi-Fi, TV, books, games, and a snow cone maker, as well as a wading beach with a water trampoline offshore. In case you forgot anything or need some tackle and live bait, there’s also a store stocked with the essentials for a week of family fun.
When planning a group trip to eastern Minnesota, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better home rental than the Highbrow. Surrounded by three acres of beautiful North Shore woods, the cabin is perched just 40 feet from a cliff overlooking Lake Superior, with gorgeous views through floor-to-ceiling windows. Other vistas can be enjoyed from the large deck or the master suite—a majestic loft with a king-size bed. The first floor and basement each house an additional bedroom with two twin beds that can be joined to make a king, and with a comfy futon in the great room, there’s enough room for eight people.
After a day spent hiking in nearby Tettegouche State Park, guests can warm up around the wood-burning stove or take a steam in the sauna. The kitchen comes stocked with a Viking stove and top-of-the-line cookware, and there’s a rec room with a 52-inch TV, foosball table, dartboard, board game library, and record player. A charcoal grill, fire pit, basketball hoop, and bean bag toss game are perfect for warm summer nights, while the paved driveway makes for easy access during snowy winter months.
Opened in the fall of 2018, Hotel Pikku is now one of Duluth’s most sought-after stays. With a name that means “little” in Finnish, the boutique property has just three suites, decorated in clean, Scandinavian style with vintage couches, brass side tables, and paintings by local artist Patricia Canelake. Bathrooms feature walk-in showers and cedar-and-citrus-scented bath products, and suites 1 and 3 come with kitchens, which the hotel owners suggest stocking with snacks from the Dovetail Cafe or the Corktown Deli, across the street.
While there’s no permanent on-site staff at Hotel Pikku, the owners are available by text or telephone from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Out the front door, the burgeoning Lincoln Park Craft District is home to some of Duluth’s best restaurants and breweries. The hotel is surrounded by several studios and galleries, and is within easy walking distance of the Superior Hiking Trail, Lincoln Park, and entrances to the Duluth Traverse mountain biking trail system.
Situated on the shores of Gull Lake, the historic Grand View Lodge has been hosting family vacations since 1916. With everything from a kids’ club and indoor water park to a game room and fire pit for s’mores, the resort caters to children of all ages but offers plenty for adults as well, including a water-themed spa and two championship golf courses. Guests here can take advantage of more than 65 year-round activities, including a range of water sports, or venture a short distance to local zip lines, riding stables, and ski resorts. There’s even a recreation facility on-site, featuring a 3,779-square-foot pool area, state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga studio, tennis court, ice-skating rink, and more.
Accommodations are equally varied, ranging from lodge rooms and lakeside cabins to garden cottages and entire homes. In 2019, the resort also added a 60-room boutique hotel that’s perfect for larger gatherings. When hunger strikes, there are eight dining venues on the property, including a steakhouse, beachside cantina, and three separate pubs. Whether you visit in the summer for the lake or the winter for the nearby mountains, expect cozy accommodations, a high standard of service, and a family trip that will long be remembered.
Located on the St. Croix River in the hip town of Stillwater, the Hotel Crosby offers a unique type of laid-back luxury. A mix of historic details and modern design, the 55 rooms, including five suites, feature exposed brick, wood beams, and high ceilings alongside leather furniture and subway-tiled bathrooms. Available in eight different layouts—from standard double queens and premium kings to studios and deluxe suites—they accommodate a range of needs, whether you’re traveling with your partner or bringing your entire extended family.
To further pamper guests, the hotel offers cozy common spaces decorated with local art, as well as MatchStick Restaurant & Spirits, which serves farm-to-table small plates and 700 rare whiskeys. There’s also a fitness center, a rooftop hot tub that’s open year-round, and an on-site spa offering everything from facials and massages to body-contouring treatments. Should you wish to venture out, the hotel enjoys a convenient location on Main Street, surrounded by boutiques, restaurants, breweries, historic sites, and galleries. An outdoor activities coordinator is on hand to make suggestions or help arrange boat and motorcycle rentals to aid in your exploration.
What started as a contemporary eatery in 1999 transformed into a bakery, restaurant, and boutique hotel in late 2016, when it took over the adjacent Dunn Brothers coffee shop as part of a major expansion. Today, guests are drawn to Alma as much for its acclaimed bar and restaurant as for its seven uniquely designed guest rooms, done up in all-natural cotton bedding, handwoven wool throws, and vintage rugs from Aubry Angelo. The bathrooms are impeccable as well, with spacious, white-and-brass-tiled walk-in showers and organic bath products from Bespoke Body & Wellness.
Every stay comes with complimentary room-service breakfast from the on-site bakery, meaning guests don’t even have to get out of bed for house-made pastries like lemon-currant scones, chocolate croissants, and blueberry Danishes. Come evening, head to the award-winning bar for expertly made cocktails, followed by dinner in the restaurant, which offers a three-course prix fixe menu with seasonally inspired dishes.
A former farm implement warehouse, the Hewing Hotel has a rustic yet refined sensibility. Located in the heart of the North Loop, just a short walk from some of Minneapolis’s best restaurants and shops, the property mixes exposed timber and brick, tall ceilings, and original industrial elements with high-end finishes, creating an environment that’s at once local and luxurious. The 124 rooms, including 14 suites, are individually designed with exposed wood, metal, and brick accents, plus local details like books, artwork, minibars, and Faribault Woolen Mills throws that speak to Minneapolis. Should you be traveling with your pet, simply pay a $75 fee and you’ll find their name written on a chalkboard alongside those of other furry guests, all under the heading “V.I.Pets,” as well as a treat-stocked bowl in your room.
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Although Hewing guests are surrounded by one of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods, they’ll want to save at least one night for dining at the hotel’s renowned restaurant, Tullibee, which serves rustic Nordic cuisine alongside craft cocktails, local beers, and house-made sodas. For something more casual, head to the Rooftop Bar & Lounge for drinks and city views. Also on the roof is a pool and Nordic-inspired sauna, though guests may be more inclined to visit the Hewing Spa, where they can enjoy a range of massages, plus add-on services like wraps, scrubs, and face masks. When you want something more active, head to the 24-hour fitness facility, the yoga studio, or the front desk, where you can rent a custom Handsome bicycle to explore the city.
Nestled on a little island in the Mississippi River, the Nicollet Island Inn bills itself as Minneapolis’s most romantic hotel—and it’s not wrong. With a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, the property oozes charm, from its traditional facade to interior details like antique furniture, stained glass windows, hand-carved woodwork, and even a glass-enclosed elevator with the original operator’s seat. Equally dreamy are the 23 elegantly appointed rooms, which feature Egyptian cotton sheets, velvet armchairs, and wooden armoires as well as more modern conveniences like Pharmacopia products in the marble bathrooms.
With its scenic dining room and outdoor patio, the on-site restaurant is perfect for everything from business lunches and romantic dinners to five-course Sunday brunches, which are as popular with locals as they are with visitors. There’s also a piano lounge with cocktails and live music. Should you want to venture farther afield, the inn is within easy walking distance of both the idyllic St. Anthony Main neighborhood and Minneapolis’s trendy Warehouse District.
Travelers in search of true Minnesota hospitality would be wise to book a stay at the Como Lake Bed & Breakfast. Located in a residential neighborhood just three miles from downtown St. Paul, the property occupies a three-story Craftsman house built in 1915. Today, innkeeper Carla Sherman runs the B&B much like she did when it was her family home, making guests feel welcome with friendly service, cozy details, and a home-cooked breakfast each morning. Her miniature schnauzer, Lenny, serves as the inn’s pet ambassador and works hotel security in his free time.
Decorated with Carla’s eclectic collection of antiques, accommodations include three cozy rooms on the second floor and a suite that occupies the entire third floor of the house, all with beautiful views of Como Lake. On the main floor, there’s a parlor with a baby grand piano, and a dining room where guests gather each morning for multicourse breakfasts prepared with local, organic ingredients. As a bonus, the B&B is committed to green practices like LED and CFL light bulbs, non-toxic cleaning products, and solar power that was installed in 2016. When you want to explore, walk to the nearby bus stop and head into St. Paul—just don’t forget to sign the travel journal before you go.
One of America’s few floating bed-and-breakfasts, the Covington Inn offers a unique stay within walking distance of downtown St. Paul. Anchored in the Mississippi River, the three-story towboat—open to guests 14 years and older—features four smartly designed staterooms complete with built-in cabinets, nautical antiques, and simple furnishings from the Covington’s work era. Trimmed in mahogany, brass, and bronze, rooms also include private baths, deck access, and working fireplaces for cooler nights.
Windows and portals in the boat’s tiered design flood the interiors with natural light and provide picture-perfect views of the St. Paul skyline. When not gazing at the river from your bed, head to the salon, where you can savor a home-cooked breakfast, browse a library of historic river and shipping books, or relax on a fireside couch. If you’re interested in the boat’s backstory, seek out innkeeper Liz Miller, who can tell you how the Covington became a prototype for the modern towboat and helped set the pace for America’s postwar economic boom.
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