A North Shore Itinerary

So it has come to my attention that not everyone I know has been to the North Shore. This is crazy pants. What is crazier still is that there are Minnesotans that I know who have not made the trek north. People. You've got to make the trip. In my mind, not visiting Lake Superior and living in Minnesota would be the equivalent of living in California and not ever taking a drive to see the ocean. We're land locked here, and this large body of water is the biggest sea we've got...big and mighty, strong enough to sink the Edmond Fitzgerald. There's a song about it. I used to sing it with my dad.

Anyway, for those of you who are interested and have never been, I've got some favorites to pass along. I think it's important to have a few places to hit on a first trip somewhere. Rory and I went to Door County a few years ago based on rave reviews, but I think we stayed in the wrong place, ate at the wrong restaurants and went at the wrong time of year. It just didn't do it for us. So hopefully these insider tips will help you plan a successful and enjoyable first visit. Pretend I'm that Samantha lady from the Travel Channel who takes you on weekend getaways. I've got three days that will make for a lovely introduction to the North Shore.

Two nights, Three days on The North Shore
(If you can go for three nights, that's really the best but obviously not always an option. And if you can go up midweek, do. It's busier on the weekends.)

Day One:
**Drive to Duluth. You may want exit on Lake Drive and head to Canal Park for a trip to Caribou Coffee and a walk up and down the shoreline to watch the aerial lift bridge go up and down as the huge ships pass under it.
**Take Scenic Route 61 to Two Harbors. On the way, stop at The New Scenic Cafe for their soup/salad/bread special ($9, all homemade).
**Stop at the DQ in Two Harbors. Get a blizzard.
**Unpack, settle in and start the good book you packed. (Cove Point Lodge is our personal favorite, in Beaver Bay)

Day Two:
**Start your morning slowly. Start a fire, read your book some more, drink your hot drink.
**late morning: drive up the shore to Temperance River for some trail hiking, skipping rocks and bouldering. Be sure to collect your favorite rocks along the shore.
**Four miles up the shore is Tofte. The Coho Cafe has great pizza. I'd get a pizza and take it back to Temperance River for a picnic. But that's just me. They also have a really incredible-looking bakery. You might also want to get a sweet something for later.
**Head back to Cove Point for some afternoon swimming/hot tubbing/napping.
**Eat your own supper: sandwiches, chips, soup
**Light the fire and make smores and play games. And be sure to open to the window to listen to those waves pound on the shore.

Day Three:
**Enjoy another lazy morning. This is vacation.
**pack a picnic, pack the car, check out of the hotel and head to Gooseberry Falls
**There is a great interpretive center and awesome trails all around (and on) the falls. beautiful, beautiful beautiful. Take lots of pictures. Be sure to dress your son so he looks like an escaped convict.
**Eat your picnic lunch at the falls.
**In Two Harbors, stop at The Vanilla Bean Cafe and get a few Pasty's to go. They're so good, and about $5 a piece. Put them in your cooler and you'll have supper already planned when you get home. You'll love yourself later!

So that's a three day introduction to the North Shore. There's lots I didn't include. A trip to Grand Marais is always worth it. It's a beautiful harbor city with lots of little shops, Sven and Ole's pizza and a nice walk out to the lighthouse. And obviously there is lots of hiking trails in the Superior Forest and a whole lot more to do than what I listed. But these are my absolute musts. They're tradition for us, and I'm big on tradition.

So plan a trip! Summer (camping!) and Fall are the best times to go, in my opinion. But winter is cozy too with lots of cross country skiing and snow shoeing trails.

Are you sold yet?!! Hope so! Hope you go!


Nancy Holte said...

If I may add to your spectacular list, I'd suggest getting the book "Waterfalls of Minnesota's North Shore: A Guide for Sightseers, Hikers & Romantics." We "discovered" places we never would have seen otherwise. I love the North Shore.

Hanni said...

This came just in time as Adam and I are heading up north for the first time together the first weekend in Nov. We are staying in Toft for three nights. So excited to try some of your suggestions.

Becca Groves said...

Nancy that sounds amazing! I love the "off the beaten path" finds. I will for sure be looking for this book- it sounds so charming :)

And Hanni! Wonderful! Bring a good book, cozy up by the fire and enjoy the waves. They are huge in November!

emilyberit said...

Don't forget Angry Trout- my favorite restaurant in Grand Marais. But, it's not open in the winter. The food is so colorful and fresh!

Kari said...

There's another coffee shop in Canal Park that is definitely worth trying...it's called Amazing Grace (also has fantastic sandwiches and bakery items) and is kitty corner to Bellisio's.

Anonymous said...

BECCA! We FOUND you...had no idea how else to do so! And looks like you guys had a fab time up at Cove Point! We'd love to touch base with you guys and chat over pizza or chipotle (not yogurt and cheese). Let's meet up sometime! Love the blog!!!