Two-Day Getaway Along Minnesota's North Shore
From Tofte to Grand Marais, explorers share State-61 with lumber trucks, explore state parks and pause in a one-stoplight county known for great dining.
Cappuccinos and artisanal baked goods add big-city flair to breakfast at small lakeside Coho Cafe in Tofte.
Take a chairlift up Eagle Mountain, then zoom down the 1⁄2-mile-long alpine slide at Lutsen Mountains.
A meal of barbecue ribs, chili or popular pot stickers is all the more enjoyable for the mountain views from Papa Charlie's deck.
Top-notch state parks line the entire North Shore; the trails of Cascade River State Park lead to Lookout Mountain (600 feet above Lake Superior) or to Cascade Falls, where the river drops several hundred 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; overnight guests choose from a lodge, private cabin, condo or townhome (from $119) and take in beach yoga and guided sea-kayak trips.
A day in Grand Marais, 28 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 has been the go-to shop on the harbor for camping gear and backpacks for four decades.
Artsy and intimate Crooked Spoon Cafe serves seasonal fare, such as fresh Lake Superior fish, and a BLT with cucumber-curry mayo.
A 1⁄2-mile hike takes visitors over lava rock and through a forest to The Point, more commonly referred to as Artists Point, which juts out into Lake Superior.
Guests delight in the comforting seafood chowders at Dockside Fish Market, alongside the Lake Superior harbor.
More information: (888) 922-5000; visitcookcounty.com
North House Folk School Explore your crafty side at this school in Grand Marais. Year-round lessons honor traditional crafts from around the world, including basket weaving, canoe building and Native American sewing. (888) 387-9762; northhouse.org
The 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, a 1934 lodge perched on an inlet houses the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center, which presents an overview of human history from Native Americans and voyageurs to current cabin owners.
Gunflint Lodge offers horseback riding, moose-calling excursions and dining in Red Paddle Bistro. (800) 328-3325; gunflint.com