Grown-up Getaways – Explore Minnesota

3 Towns for Your Next Girlfriend Getaway


A small town where the main street is actually called Main Street—how midwestern. Browse textiles at Scandinavian North and elegant home décor at Brick and Linen. Smell the roses (and lilies and dahlias) at Studio Louise, and comb through rare books at Black Letter Books. Check into the luxe Lora Hotel, or soak in Hotel Crosby’s rooftop hot tub for a different kind of nightlife., 651-351-5059;, 651-342-1326;, 651-327-0644;, 651-430-9805;, 651-571-3500;, 651-967-7100


This town is a hot spot for occasional shops, open the first Thursday through Sunday each month. The Porch in Buffalo is stuffed with French cottage–style goods. Second Hand Rose sells upcycled furnishings and hosts ladies day events with drawings, prizes, and food trucks. Shop plant hangers and faux greenery at JTB Home Furniture + Decor. When you’re ready to drop, a chic Airbnb nestled inside One Division Art is the place to land., 763-684-1254;, 612-363-3204;, 833-234-4100;


Bring the crew and check in to the Cedar Rose Inn, a B&B near Lake Winona. Shop fluttery dresses and macramé bags at 6th and Broadway and hunt for treasures at Yesterday’s Antiques. Pamper mode: manuka honey facials and Dead Sea mud body treats at Jenna Lee Spa. Find your lake legs on a guided paddleboarding trip with Hangloose MN—or get tipsy times two at the Full Moon Sip and SUP on Lake Carlos., 651-303-4466;, 320-763-3313;, 320-762-8990;, 320-460-0420;, 320-852-7575

Pamper Party

Pack your slippers and robe and hit the road. Destination: retreat.

Downtown Minneapolis’s relaxation station, Anda Spa (psst, inside posh Hotel Ivy), centers on holistic and crystal-based healing, featuring a cavernous Quartz Spa and Crystal Sauna.

Copper Door, the bayside spa at Walker’s Chase on the Lake Resort, has hot stone massages, aroma- therapy add-ons, and Ayurvedic chakra massages—all drenched in the herbal goodness of Aveda, guaranteed to make you smell like a spa.

Glacial Waters Spa at Grand View Lodge is a feast for the senses: a restorative gel body wrap with stonecrop and aloe, basalt hot stone massage, and jasmine tuberose pedicure.

At Bluefin Bay, Waves of Superior Spa offers indulgences: an organic fruit sugar scrub and a wild rice exfoliation followed by a blueberry soy hydration massage—almost good enough to eat., 612-333-3001, Mpls.;, 218- 547-8517, Walker;, 218-963-8700, Nisswa;, 218-663-6888, Tofte

Grand Marais Is for Lovers

You know it for big boulders and scenic—almost oceanic—views of that frigid expanse of water. Grand Marais is our Hilton Head and has all the coastal perks of a romantic weekend escape.

Don’t let a tent ruin your good times: Hungry Hippie Hostel offers a glamping setup on the owner’s gorgeous farm property, perched on a hill with panoramic views of Lake Superior. OK—it’s still a tent, but it’s sturdy and comes with a real mattress (none of this blow-up nonsense), and you don’t have to set it up (!!).

In downtown Grand Marais, crank up the glam dial even further at The Mayhew Inn, a boutique Airbnb-style stay (staff is there to help but will give you your space). This place feels more like home than hotel: Cozy up on the cushy rooftop couches and catch a sunset on the harbor, or bake a pizza in the outdoor oven.

Hike upstream at the Kadunce River, which runs into Lake Superior, through Jurassic Park–worthy lush gorges. Wear sturdy shoes, and be ready to clamber up a few small waterfalls—Hawaii or Northwoods Minny?

For indoor explorers, there are classes in basket weaving (really!), wood carving, or bead embroidery at North House Folk School.

Crank up the heat and get steamy with a private sauna session with Sisu and Löyly. You bring the achy muscles; they’ll provide the cozy towels, bathrobes, and sandals. All together now: Aahhh., 218-387-2256;, 612-386-3096;, 218-387-9762;

Unique Boutique Stays for Your Romantic Retreat

  • The Round Barn Farm Bed and Breakfast | Quaint brick country home on 35 acres of land—a tree swing is calling your name., 651-385-9250, Red Wing
  • Water Street Inn | Stately, historic hotel with period furnishings and breathtaking views of the St. Croix River., 651-439-6000, Stillwater
  • Alexander Mansion Bed and Breakfast | Historic B&B with opulent interiors and romantic antiques near the bluffs of the Mississippi River., 507-474-4224, Winona
  • Moulin Rouge House Bed and Breakfast | Queen Anne–style renovated house with charming porches and a turret., 507- 519-3400, Mankato
  • Gunflint Lodge | Classic Northwoods resort on Gunflint Lake with romantic couples getaway cabins outfitted with Jacuzzi tubs and fireplaces., 800-328-3325, Grand Marais
  • Hotel Excelsior | Newly renovated Airbnb-hotel hybrid with stylish, sunny suites (full kitchens included) on Excelsior’s brick-lined Water Street., 612-876-5226, Excelsior
  • Cantilever Hotel | Mod boutique stay near Voyageurs National Park with a rooftop hot tub and sauna, plus free yoga classes at the in-house studio., 218-540-1932, Ranier
  • Crosslake Treetop Village | Two-story treetop cabin perched in Crosslake’s towering pine, oak, and birch forest, near the shores of Moonlite Bay., Crosslake
  • Burntside Lodge | Ely’s oldest standing lakeside guest resort, with adorable century-old log cabins on Burntside Lake’s peaceful shores., 218-365-3894, Ely
  • Nature Link | Brand-new luxury suites, a private island and beach, and 14 acres of forest on Clark Lake—all to help guests unplug and connect with nature., 218-537-3389, Nisswa
  • Lilla Norr | Staying in is easy at this cozy, minimalist A-frame cabin with a fireplace, nestled near the Snake River., Mora
  • The Minne Stuga | Midcentury-style A-frame and cedar chalet hybrid with several balconies and a dock on Devil Track Lake., Grand Marais

Catch a Groove 

What’s more Minnesotan than an outdoor music festival? Possibly the bulging mosquito bites and tinge of sunburn you’ll have afterwards. All part of the rite of residence as you swipe your MN Card at these summer staples.

  • Moondance Jammin Country Fest | A honky-tonk good time in the Northwoods with headliners Mason Dixon Line, plus Ashley McBryde, Jamey Johnson, and Matt Stell. June 16–18. Walker
  • Afropunk | Brooklyn-based festival celebrating Black artists in punk stops at Sheridan Memorial Park this summer. Catch big fish like Ari Lennox and Noname, plus local acts like Miloe and Ricki Monique. June 18–19. Minneapolis
  • Winstock Country Music Festival | Not a patchouli-laced rave—but a buncha guitar-toting Nashvillians are bringing smoke to this stage. Notables include Jake Owen, Tim McGraw, Jimmie Allen, Brothers Osborne, Mackenzie Porter, and Neal McCoy. June 17–18. Winsted
  • Beethoven Festival | A classic lineup features the Manhattan Chamber Players, violinist Ray Chen, and a pops concert by the Minnesota Orchestra. June 26–July 17. Saint Mary’s University, Winona
  • Lakefront Music Fest | Plop down in your lawn chair and spend the whole weekend sippin’ suds and singin’ along. Real bang for your buck here with icons Toby Keith, Sammy Hagar, and Uncle Kracker. July 8–9. Prior Lake
  • Bayfront Reggae and World Music Festival | All the “One Love” vibes on Superior’s shores, featuring reggae vets Third World and new guard Kranium and Mr. Killa. July 16. Bayfront Festival Park, Duluth
  • Dixieland Jazz Festival | Pack your dancing shoes and hit the floor—or at least tap those toes—to Midwest Banjo Band and Gate City Jazz Band. July 30. Goodview
  • WE Fest Country Music Festival | Minnesota’s star-studded country festival, with Miranda Lambert, Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, and Blanco Brown. Slip into those boots for a stompin’ good time. August 4–6. Detroit Lakes

Midsommar Dreams 

You don’t have to be Swedish to appreciate small-town Scandia (though many ’Sotans do have some Scandy in their veins). Founded by Swedish immigrants in the 1850s, Scandia is flush with colorful painted Dala horses. Don a fragrant (or faux) flower crown and polska on over to Midsommar Dag, a traditional Swedish midsummer celebration—minus the Shakespearean donkey heads. Details for this year’s are yet to be announced at press time, but expect a smorgasbord of authentic Swedish dishes like herring, Wasa crackers, pickled beets, and strawberry shortcake, with a side of traditional music and ring dances. See IRL the raising of a maypole on the sunny lawn. June 25., 651-433-5053, Scandia

Get Tipsy

For adult-level adventures on the North Shore, Day Tripper of Duluth offers two- and four-hour kayaking tours beneath the impressive cliffs of Split Rock Lighthouse (kayak, wet suit, and gloves included), including the perfect spot for a pebble beach picnic. In Grand Marais, Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply has half-day, full-day, and sunset kayaking tours. Start in the protected waters of the Grand Marais Harbor and paddle up to Artist’s Point, or kayak on one of Grand Marais’s many jewellike inland lakes.

Voyageurs National Park is certified as an International Dark Sky Park—it boasts some of the most brilliant night skies in the entire country. (MN bragging rights!) With starry reflections on a placid lake, you can be swaddled in sky from the deck of your houseboat accommodations. A host of companies rent houseboats to wannabe seafarers on the lakes of the national park. From Ebel’s Voyageur Houseboats, choose between budget rides and decked-out boats with waterslides attached to the roof; from Voyagaire Lodge and Houseboats, rent a 900-square-foot houseboat with an eight-person hot tub on the upper level, and stargaze in luxury.

Pack a picnic and take to the canals of Minny (ahem, the St. Croix) with Gondola Romantica—now that’s amore., 218-390- 1605, Duluth;, 218- 387-3136, Grand Marais;, 1-888-883-2357, Orr;, 218-993-2266, Crane Lake;, 651-439-1783, Stillwater

Watch Extreme Waterskiing

A big birthday for southern MN’s Lake City this year: 100 years ago, waterskiing was invented here by Ralph Samuelson. To celebrate, the city’s hosting a bigger-than-ever rendition of Water Ski Days. (This year also marks the 50th anny of the festival.) Typically, this daring festival includes impressive acrobatics on skis—22-person pyramids, anyone? Stay for the weekend and enjoy live music, a parade, an arts and crafts fair, a classic car show, and more—no life jacket required. June 23–26., 651-345-4123, Lake City

Message in a Bottle

By Natalie Larsen

When you’ve exhausted your bucket list of local watering holes, it’s time to expand the pool. And we all know it wouldn’t really be a grown-up getaway if it didn’t include a healthy pour of anything with an ABV.


What’s red, white, and rosé all over? You, as you travel the open roads in search of places to fill up your (stemless) cup.

Wild Mountain Winery is showing us the fun side of the slopes. Besides making some very sippable adult grape juices, this vineyard offers glamping among the vines— now this is tenting we could get down with.

WineHaven lives up to its name—wine slushies, hello! One of the top-awarded wineries in the Upper Midwest, WH has developed a handful of patented grapes.

We’re not trying to be California, but call Waconia our Napa Valley. Schram Vineyards stakes claim as Minnesota’s first winery + brewery. A multilevel outdoor space with pergolas and rock walls gives plenty of backdrops for the perfect “Wine not?” shot for your feed. (Psst, the grape geniuses behind Schram also brought you AxeBridge in the Nolo. Research, anyone?)

You’ve met Carlos Creek—you love him!—but the Alexandria area has a full flight to offer. L’Etoile du Nord rests on a fully functioning 40-acre farm on Lake Irene. And Burr Vineyards has pizza with homemade sourdough crust on Fridays—you’d best get over there for a slice.,,

Thirteen acres of vineage is just the beginning at Chankaska Creek. Its line of Ranch Road Spirits nods to the property’s history as a speakeasy and small-batch distillery.

Get your boots on down to Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery outside of Rochester. Its wines have been poured at the CMA Awards after-party and SXSW and Sundance film festivals—and it makes Loon Juice Hard Cider (you’ve seen the speckled cans).

Ensconced in lanky birch trees, North Shore Winery has been churning out fine bevvies since 2016. Set your out-of-office to vino with a view.


So you’ve exhausted trips to Fulton and Surly. We promise there’s a cold one waiting at the end of each of these roads.

Montgomery is home to a time machine: a pre-Prohibition brewhouse. Though Montgomery Brewing isn’t serving the original suds, the new iteration is tapping kegs in its namesake 130-year-old building.

There’s a Dragon Squirrel Juicy IPA at Imminent Brewing that seems reason enough to hike down to Northfield.

If the servers at North Loop’s StormKing know your name, go straight to the source at Rapids Brewing Company. Grand Rapids is the birthplace of Judy Garland— maybe clicking your heels and wishing real hard will get you here by happy hour.

Started in the shell of a former train turntable in Brainerd, Roundhouse Brewery outgrew its space and leveled up in Nisswa, adding axe throwing to the menu.

Bring your best Grumpy Cat impressions: Disgruntled Brewing in Perham is ready with slightly gruff, never-quite-satisfied attitude (their words!), serving up beers that satisfy your insatiability, aiming to make you… gruntled.

Yeah, Carlos Creek pours a good grape, but 22 Northmen Brewing Co. brings the brawn. Fill your steins with brews inspired by European tradition.

Copper Trail Brewing Co. gets the creative-names ribbon with Goodnight Loon stout, Clouded Judgement hazy IPA, and Rednarök red lager.


We know, Duluth is overplayed, but a list of distilleries worth the drive time wouldn’t be complete without Vikre Distillery. At the pinnacle of Canal Park, Vikre distills its spirits with fresh Lake Superior water—most notably, aquavit. Grab a bottle to round out your home bar setup.

Named for the nearby bridge that brought alcohol into the U.S. from Canada during Prohibition, Cantilever Distillery—near Voyageurs National Park—carries on the tradition, serving up its own hooch in a long roster of cocktails.

Panther Distillery claims to be Minnesota’s oldest distillery—we won’t argue as long as there’s something on the rocks in front of us. And all its spirits are organic, so it’s healthy, right?

Swing Easy

May the fores be with you: Central Minnesota sports some of the state’s best golfing—PGA who? The Gravel Pit is a brand-new golf experience in Brainerd—13 holes are spread out across the classically designed course, which was transformed from a desolate gravel pit. A clubhouse outfitted with a golf shop is perched above the course. Cragun’s Legacy Courses, also in Brainerd, is undergoing a $10 million expansion, guided by celebrated professional golfer and course designer Tom Lehman. By 2023, it will offer 54 total holes—for the 2022 season, there are 36 championship holes across a wooded course encircling Stephens Lake., Brainerd;, 866-988-0562, Brainerd

A Trail of Two Cities

If you’re looking for new playgrounds for your dirt bike or ATV, head north for off-roading in true form. The Martineau Recreational Trails, made for off-road motorcycles, start near Akeley and wind through the Paul Bunyan State Forest. (Keep an eye out for Babe.) Multiple loops offer smooth areas for beginners and narrow, wooded, technical areas for experienced riders. Also taking off from Akeley, the Round River Drive Trail is an ATV obstacle course with moraines, boulders, and potholes through the forest. Or try the flat and relatively easy Fort Ripley Trail, where you’ll wind through rolling oak- and pine-covered hills near Sebie Lake, along the old Burlington Northern Railroad grade., 218-732-4270

Did You Know?

The Paul Bunyan State Forest near Park Rapids is just one of three state forests that make up a famous “off-road triangle” of more than 200 miles.

This article was originally published in the June 2022 issue of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

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