Two-Day Getaway in Minnesota's Cook County | Midwest Living

Two-Day Getaway in Minnesota's Cook County

From Tofte to Grand Marais, explorers share US-61 with lumber trucks and pause in a one-stoplight county known for great dining.
The rocky shore and lighthouse set a painterly scene at Artists Point in Grand Marais.
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Coast Guard Station in Grand Marais
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Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior
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Red Paddle Bistro
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North House Folk School
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Day 1

Cappuccinos and artisanal baked goods add big-city flair to breakfast at small roadside Coho Cafe in Tofte.

Take a chairlift up Eagle Mountain, then zoom down the alpine slide at Lutsen Mountain’s Sawtooth Mountain Park.

A meal of barbecue ribs, chili or popular pot stickers is all the more enjoyable for the mountain views from Papa Charlie’s deck.

The trails of Cascade River State Park lead to Lookout Mountain (600 feet above Lake Superior) or to Cascade Falls, where the river drops 900 feet over a series of rock ledges.

Potato-encrusted walleye and seared scallops please diners at the Lakeside Dining Room of Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior. Guests choose from a lodge, private cabin or townhome (from $119) and take in beach yoga and guided sea-kayak trips.

Day 2

A day in Grand Marais, 30 miles north, starts with a maple-swirl pastry at the seasonal World’s Best Donuts.

Betsy Bowen Studio displays North Woods-inspired works by the owner and other area artists.

Lake Superior Trading Post on the harbor has been the go-to shop for camping gear and backpacks for four decades.

Artsy and intimate Crooked Spoon Cafe serves seasonal delicacies such as blue crab cakes with jicama slaw.

A half-mile hike takes visitors over lava rock and through a forest to famed Artists Point, which juts out into Lake Superior.

Guests delight in the fresh fish baskets and comforting seafood chowders at Dockside Fish Market, alongside the Lake Superior harbor.

More information: (888) 922-5000;

Day Trip

Two-lane Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway winds 57 miles inland from Grand Marais and leads to hiking trails, fishing spots and places to see wildlife (including moose).

The charming resort Loon Lake Lodge, one of the best-kept dining secrets, serves roasted duck with lingonberry sauce and almond-crusted salmon.

Near the byway’s end, the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center presents an overview of human history in this section of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, from Native Americans and voyageurs to current cabin owners.

Gunflint Lodge offers horseback riding, moose-calling lessons and dining in Red Paddle Bistro.

More information: (888) 922-5000;


North House Folk School Explore your crafty side at this school in Grand Marais. Year-round lessons celebrate North Shore traditions, including basket weaving, canoe building and Native American sewing. (888) 387-9762;

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