While we did not go on a romantic getaway to celebrate this anniversary, we have been lucky enough over our seven years together to go on some incredible weekend trips close to home. We don’t really seek out “romantic” spots per se, but we love ourselves a fun and relaxing getaway. In honor of anniversary week, we thought we’d share some of our favorite weekend getaways within driving distance of the Twin Cities. Maybe you’ve been to these places or maybe you’re looking for somewhere to go. But these are our top picks.
1. Lanesboro, Minnesota
We spent a weekend in Lanesboro in August of 2008, and it was one of the most perfect weather weekends we’ve ever had. It was gorgeous. Located about 120 miles from the Twin Cities in Southeastern Minnesota, Lanesboro is the bed and breakfast capital of Minnesota. So what better place to spend our first weekend at a bed and breakfast? We were lucky enough to receive a two night stay at the Scanlan House Bed and Breakfast as a gift that year, and it was an awesome gift. The Scanlan House was amazing, and it is located on the edge of town putting it within walking distance to all of the shops and restaurants and even a winery. While there, we went on the ropes course at Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center, kayaking on the Root River (through the Little River General Store), and tandem biking on the Root River Trail (a 60 mile paved trail). We also sampled and purchased some great local wine at the Scenic Valley Winery and ate at some local restaurants like the Das Wurst Haus and Riverside on the Root. It was really the quintessential Minnesota weekend in the summer, and we would highly recommend it.
2. Bayfield, Wisconsin and Madeline Island, Wisconsin
In August of 2009, we headed about 230 miles Northeast to Bayfield. We spent one night there in order to go kayaking in sea caves in the Apostle Islands through Living Adventure, Inc. (which was awesome). Then we took the car and passenger ferry over to Madeline Island, where we camped for two nights at Big Bay State Park. We spent the time hiking in the state park, biking around the island, and checking out the town. Our favorite hangout was Tom’s Burned Down Cafe, which is a funky open-air bar and restaurant that is basically epic. It is full of hilarious signs and a whole bunch of regulars mixed in with the tourists. After taking the ferry back to Bayfield, we spent one more night at the Artesian House Bed and Breakfast before heading home. Despite rain for the first two days (which explains why we took no pictures of our soggy kayak), it was a really fun long weekend and worth the drive if you’ve never been there.
3. Gunflint Trail in Northern Minnesota (almost in Canada)
Our very first trip together happened in January of 2005 since we both were on our winter break from school. We headed far up north (about 265 miles) to the Tall Pines Yurt on the Gunflint Trail. What is a yurt? Well, it’s a traditional Mongolian wood lattice-framed structure popular with nomads. This one is more of a permanent yurt, but we certainly got the feel for “yurting” which is what we have called it ever since because we like to make up verbs. It’s really just a rustic one room structure that is heated by a wood-burning stove. It was definitely cozy, but it was a fun adventure. It was about 20 below zero one of the nights, but we were going out to the outhouse in t-shirts since the yurt was so steamy. When we weren’t busy sweating inside or stocking the fire every two hours, we spent the days cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
4. Spicer, Minnesota
In September 2008, we headed 95 miles west to Spicer. Dain planned it as a surprise for me since I had mentioned it once or twice before. We spent Friday night camping at Sibley State Park, and the big surprise was a stay at Spicer Castle for the murder mystery dinner on Saturday night. Not going to lie, the dinner was super cheesy, and the castle is very outdated and over-priced. So while we may not recommend it for everyone, it was fun for us because I had been talking about it for awhile. And we’d never been to a murder mystery dinner so we’re glad we tried it. Before heading to the castle, we went mini-golfing, go-carting, and to a fall festival at the Glacial Ridge Winery, which was our favorite part of the weekend. We would go back again, but we’d probably stay somewhere else and try some new activities.
5. Grand Marais, Minnesota
In March 2010, we headed to Naniboujou Lodge in Grand Marais (which we did a post on here). It’s a hike up there since it is a good 280 miles, but it is a must see for any Minnesotan (even if it’s just for a meal there). Naniboujou was opened in 1929 as a private and exclusive club with members such as Babe Ruth. Thanks to the Great Depression, it fell on hard financial times shortly after opening, and the original purpose was abandoned before the entire proposed plan could be built, leaving only the original clubhouse with 24 rooms and a magnificent dining room. Following that, it has changed hands and been run by various families as a resort with the current owners taking over in the 1980s. It is situated right on the shore of Lake Superior, and it is now on the National Register of Historic Places. And it is certainly historic. Much of it appears to be original. We went for a winter weekend that included two nights lodging and all of our meals. We had an awesome time unplugging from the world….literally. They have no phones or t.v.s in the rooms, and the cell service is spotty. The rooms are very spartan, and the walls are paper thin. They also don’t serve alcohol, but you can bring your own to enjoy in your room. And all of those restrictions are what makes it charming. We spent the daylight hours wandering around the vast property and hiking at Judge C.R. Magney State Park, which is just a walk across the highway away. We spent the nighttime hours enjoying the incredible dining room and the amazing meals made from scratch daily. It was a true getaway from our normal lives so we would highly recommend a weekend at Naniboujou too.
And that is our current top 5 in no particular order. While we love all of these places, we still have a few nearby spots on our to-go list and a whole bunch of not so nearby stops to hit someday. How about you? Do you love yourself a weekend getaway like we do? Or do you save up your vacation days for longer trips? We’d also love to hear other nearby suggestions if you have any ideas.