Consider something different next time you want to book a night away. These alternative lodgings in Minnesota promise both an adventure and a place to put your head at night.
Stay in a Towboat: Saint Paul
Permission to come aboard? Granted! At Covington Inn Bed and Breakfast at Harriet Island, guests settle into converted towboat rooms for the best river views in Saint Paul. While you're there: You're just minutes from downtown, Grand Avenue, the theater district and other Saint Paul attractions. Try the nearby Wabasha Street Caves for a night of murder mystery and mayhem.
Covington Inn. Photo courtesy of Xynn Tii
Stay in a Modern Treehouse: Cook
Dreamcatcher Cabin at Ludlow's Island Resort is often called "The Treehouse." At four stories tall with whirlpool tubs and multiple decks, it feels like a luxe Swiss Family Robinson that's landed on a pine-covered island in the middle of Lake Vermilion. While you're there: Enjoy being on a premier fishing lake; you're also just a short drive from small-town amenities to stock the fridge and be self-sufficient for a week in your island paradise.
Dreamcatcher cabin at Ludlow's Island Resort. Photo courtesy of Grady Photography
Stay in a Lighthouse: Two Harbors
Here's a two-for-one bucket-list item: The Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast with beautiful views along Lake Superior’s famed North Shore—plus, of course, you get to stay in a lighthouse. The 1892 red brick building is the oldest continuously operating lighthouse in Minnesota. Choose one of three simple rooms in the Keeper's Quarters or one room in the neighboring Skiff House. While you're there: Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors is just the place to wash down your dessert from nearby Betty’s Pies. If you're driving from Duluth, stop by New Scenic Cafe (about 14 miles south of Two Harbors) for lunch or dinner.
The Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast. Photo courtesy of Amanda Williams
Stay in a Tipi: Granite Falls
At the Upper Sioux Agency State Park, visitors bring cots or sleeping mats to one of three 18-foot-diameter canvas tipis in the Yellow Medicine River Campground to enjoy quiet nights under the stars. While you're there: 18 miles of trails take you to the top of the Yellow Medicine River Valley and to prairie knolls and wooded slopes; the Minnesota River flows along the northern border of the park, offering opportunities for both birding and fishing.
Upper Sioux Agency State Park tipi. Photo courtesy of Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Stay in a Classic Car: Winona
Classic car enthusiasts come to Riverport Inn Conference Center for a chance to sleep in a ’57 or ’59 Chevy suite. Yes, the cars are actually built into your sleeping arrangements. While you're there: See the Minnesota Marine Art Museum, take in a panoramic view from Garvin Heights and walk or bike around lovely Lake Park.
'57 Chevy Fantasy suite; photo courtesy of Riverport Inn Conference Center
Stay in a Train Car: Two Harbors
Sixteen themed rooms in renovated boxcars await at Northern Rail Traincar Inn three miles north of Two Harbors. A depot-style main building offers breakfast and a place to relax with board games or sit by the fireplace. While you're there: Travel 11 miles north on US-61 to Gooseberry Falls State Park, with hiking trails, waterfalls and an informative modern visitors center.
Northern Rail Traincar. Photo courtesy of Amanda Williams
Stay in a Yurt: Ely
The round Eagle Yurt at Wilderness Wind includes two bedrooms with queen beds, a loft, living area and deck. Quilts and honey-colored wood trim make the interior feel homey. If the yurt is booked, the Wilderness Wind resort also rents four cabins. While you're there: Stop by Insula in Ely for an American-fusion dining experience and savor some root beer at Dorothy Molter’s museum.
Eagle Yurt at Wilderness Wind. Photos courtesy of Karma Grotelueschen
Stay in a Jail: Preston
Once the Fillmore County jail (originally built in 1869), the JailHouse Inn complex now houses guests in both the former jail as well as the sheriff’s quarters. For the full jail experience, choose the Cell Block suite (“semi-private jail cells provide a real sense of incarceration”). While you’re there: Enjoy the southeastern Minnesota countryside by biking the Root River State Trail or visiting Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park.