As winter thaws into spring across the northern wilderness, we ask the readers and social community here at North Shore Experiences to crown the Best of North Shore Experiences in 9 categories. Those, together, comprise a trip itinerary of their own: up and down Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior, the best places to stay, dine, shop, play, explore and more.
The North Shore has long been a destination for travelers of all flavors. Whether you come seeking a wilderness adventure, or to be soothed and inspired by the big lake herself, there is something for everyone.
We’ve compiled the 2015 winners of the BEST of North Shore Experiences awards into a trip itinerary. Pick and choose or take the itinerary as is and do it whole.
Whether you come to the city of Duluth, the village of Grand Marais or camp in the wilderness, there’s lots to see and lots to do. Together, these make up the North Shore Experience. This itinerary, picked by our readers, make up the BEST Of those experiences. Happy Travels.
Places to Stay on the North Shore
North Shore lodging provides a bounty of options. From hotels to resorts to campgrounds to wilderness, pick your fancy. With so much beauty all around, visitors are certain to have a beautiful stay no matter the kind of accommodation. The BEST of awards for Lodging are broken into two sections: best places to camp (campgrounds, state parks or super secret wilderness spot) and best lodging (structures).
BEST of North Shore Lodging 2015
As you head up Highway 61 from Duluth towards the Lutsen Tofte area you’ll find the Bluefin Family of resorts. A collection of five resorts to fit your style. The crown jewel, is Bluefin Bay. A series of condo style dwellings directly on the lake create a quaint, cozy and even romantic setting that has been delighting guest for years.
Here’s what a few of the voters in this year’s race for the BEST of North Shore Experiences Awards had to say about BlueFin Bay:
We drive the North Shore and stay at Bluefin Bay Resort every year for many years and enjoy the experience immensely. – Joe & Marilyn N.
Blue Fin is a place to bring your family for fun. A caring and fun place for everyone. Carol D.
Some of the resorts in the Bluefin family are pet-friendly if you need to travel with your four-legged companion as well.
BEST of North Shore Camping 2015
For those of you who want to stay in a bit more of a rustic setting, the North Shore provides spectacular camping experiences. In 2015, it’s Tettegouche State Park for the win.
Located about 58 miles Northeast of Duluth, Tettegouche State Park is known for having a bit of everything for the outdoorsperson. Home to 4 waterfalls including the highest waterfall entirely within Minnesota state territory, the state park is full of hiking and bike trails and home to the famous Tettegouche swing bridge (pictured). A state park permit is needed to enter and camp. Due to its popularity, reservations are highly recommended via the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
North Shore Dining and Drinks
Just because you’re traveling to a wilderness area, doesn’t mean you need to “rough it”. There are tons of great food and drink options along Minnesota’s North Shore. In fact, there is a host of craft brewers, outstanding chefs and spectacular bakeries all up and down Highway 61. We break the food and drink section into three categories: dining, drinks (brewers, wineries or place to get a craft cocktail) and place to indulge (bakeries and sweets).
Best of North Shore Dining 2015
Fine dining comes to the shores of Lake Superior at the Bluefin Grille. For those staying at the Bluefin Family of Resorts in Lutsen/Tofte, what a treat. It’s well worth the trip for those staying elsewhere. The chef at Bluefin has standards on the menu but also adds some great seasonal creations that are inspired. A relaxed space with a great view. Make sure you are early for dinner if you arrive on a weekend.
Best of North Shore Drinks 2015
In Grand Marais, watch the sunset over the harbor and enjoy a craft beer or cocktail. The Gunflint Tavern and Brewhouse is home to locally brewed beer and great local flavor (the people and conversations are fantastic!). Thursday – Sunday night they have live music as well which makes the place a great spot to hang out.
Best of North Shore Indulge 2015
In Grand Marais you’ll also find the World’s Best Donuts and the winner of the 2015 Indulge category. This little shop located on the harbor in Grand Marais is an institution but get the donuts while they last, the World’s Best Donuts are only available seasonally.
Things To Do On Minnesota’s North Shore
Okay, this, is a big category. We get it. This year’s categories attempt to focus on the overarching To-Do’s: Shopping, Exploring (places to get your adventure on), Play (places to hang out for an afternoon), and finally Rejuve (places to relax and rejuvenate).
Best of North Shore Explore 2015
Candidly, this is a tough category. Because every inch of the North Shore is worth exploring. But there has to be a winner. In 2015, the readers of North Shore Experiences crown Gooseberry Falls State Park as the best place to explore.
Gooseberry Falls State Park is about 13 miles outside of Two Harbors and right off of Highway 61. Whether you just pull off and explore what’s right off the highway or hike back to Fifth Falls, there is plenty to explore in this state park gem.
Best of North Shore Play 2015
If you’re looking for a day of activities the winner of the 2015 BEST of play category is a perfect fit. Duluth’s Canal Park is right on the harbor in downtown Duluth and full of things to do. Make a day out of it and play to your hearts content. Visit the aquarium, explore an iron ore freighter, visit the many shops or visit a museum. There’s plenty of things to keep yourself busy with in Canal Park.
Best of North Shore Shopping 2015
The depth and breadth of goods at the LakeSuperior Trading Post is truly astonishing. The winner of the best North Shore Shopping Experience sits right on the harbor in Grand Marais and has everything from outdoor gear to home goods and decor.
Not just a shop, but a a shop with a story. From their website:
Back in 1971, when brothers John and Ed Viren opened the Trading Post, they piloted their small plane into Canada to buy goods from native peoples who knew what outdoor adventure was all about.
Best of North Shore Rejuve 2015
Let’s be honest. While there are plenty of folks who come to the North Shore to get their adventure on. There are equally as many who come to get their relax on. Why wouldn’t you? The sounds of the waves splashing on the rocky shore would lull anyone into a trancelike state.
The readers of North Shore Experiences say the best place to rejuvenate on the North Shore goes to another Bluefin establishment, the Waves of Superior Spa. Nestled in the woods but tucked on the shore of Lake Superior, the spa has a cafe onsite with wholesome goodies to enjoy during your stay as well.
Travel the north shore
That’s a wrap. The BEST Experiences the North Shore has to offer as deemed by our readers and the community here at North Shore Experiences. Take the itinerary as is or pick and choose which experiences you’ll add to your visit.