Minnesota

10 Minnesota Lake Resorts for Your Next Family Vacation or Romantic Getaway

No matter the season, there's a Minnesota lake resort for your family vacation or romantic getaway. Here are 10 across the Land of Ten Thousand Lakes.

It’s the twilight hour over Clearwater Lake in Northern Minnesota. The sun is slipping behind a bluff on the other side of the shore, but there’s still a pink hue to the sky. This is when you want to be out on the water for a quiet canoe ride; when the only sound you hear is the paddles swooshing against the water.

Time slows as I take in the serenity of the landscape; craggy bluffs in the distance, reeds poking out of the smooth water, and pines surrounding the shoreline. It’s not long before I pass the marshy grasses of the shore and head toward deeper waters in the middle of the lake. I pause at the melodious call of a loon, drifting nearer for a better look. Then, the moon fades into the scene and I realize this is the kind of escape I’d been searching for.

The jagged bluffs of Lake Superior’s North Shore are a prime destination for a getaway. Minnesota’s other lakes — from Turtle Lake to Shagawa Lake — boast water sports and beach fun. When it comes down to it, each lake in Minnesota has its own personality, which is why so many folks tend to come to the same lake resort year after year. They fall in love with the place— its smells, its sounds, and even its quirks.

Whether you’re drawn to mushroom hunting, Northern Lights watching, hammock napping, happy hour pontooning, or cross country skiing, you can find your happy place at these 10 Minnesota lake resorts.

Welcome to Scandinavia

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Larsmont Cottages is a resort modeled after traditional Scandinavian fishing villages, an acknowledgment, perhaps, to Larsmont’s history. Originally Anishinaabe (also known as Ojibwe) land, a mix of Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish fishermen and farmers came into the region around the 1890s. The resort features a nod to these European settles with a Finnish Sauna as well as a Massage Cottage where you can sign up for a Swedish massage as well as a hot stone, deep tissue, or couples’ massage.

Superior Hiking Trail, but they do have plenty of activities that are great for kids and groups. Bocce Ball, Horseshoes, Croquet, and geocaching are all great for keeping the troupes entertained. They also have free bikes to use for exploring, s’more kits for evening bonfires, and an outdoor hot tub available all year long.

Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior

8.6 Excellent (511 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Wellness center / Spa
Gym
Hotel CTA

The Superior Hiking Trail

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Located in Two Harbors, 20 miles North of Duluth, Superior Shores Resort is centrally-located to hiking along the Superior Hiking trail, exploring the wildlife-rich Gooseberry Falls, and Tettegouche State Park, and visiting the over 100-year-old Split Rock Lighthouse. The resort extends over a mile, with three properties anchored by the main lodge, which has both indoor and outdoor pools and hot tubs, a sauna, exercise room, plus a cabana bar and restaurant.

The pool of the Burlington property faces the water with a spectacular view of Lake Superior. Their Lakeside homes offer a more rustic experience, with the added bonus of having views of the lake from both the bedroom and living room areas, an outdoor pool and hot tub, tennis courts, and hiking trails. You’ll be able to cook your meals, enjoy a campfire, and even bring your dog in one of their dog-friendly rooms at this family-friendly spot geared toward outdoor lovers.

Superior Shores Resort

8.1 Very good (704 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.9 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Indoor swimming pool
Hotel CTA

Deers and Bald Eagles

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Go out for a run around dusk at Ruttgers Bay Lake Lodge and you just might happen upon a deer prancing across the dirt path or even catch a glimpse of the resident bald eagle that makes Ruttger’s its home. This tranquil spot is the oldest continuously run resort in Minnesota, but it feels plenty contemporary with yoga classes, wine tastings, and even a hair salon.

Their outdoor pool overlooks Bay Lake’s glassy waters, and there’s an indoor pool as well for chillier nights. Ruttgers also offers a Kids’ Camp, low-cost pontoon rides, kayak and canoe rentals, and two golf courses. Throughout the year, Ruttger’s hosts a slew of events, from summer concerts to movie nights, a Blues & BBQ Bash, and Oktoberfest.

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Ruttgers Bay Lake Lodge

8.4 Very good (57 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.9 / 10
Restaurant
Air conditioning
Hotel CTA

An Alpine Dream

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If downhill skiing is your jam, look no further than Lutsen Resort. This resort is near the Lutsen skiing area, making it an exceptionally convenient location for your skiing vacation. For winter lovers, you can spend your day on the slopes, and return to this sumptuous retreat that’s nestled on the shores of Lake Superior.

The Poplar River runs through the property and makes for pleasant scenery during a romantic stroll across the covered pedestrian bridge. For hikers, bicyclists, and cross country skiers, the area has some incredible trails and parks to explore. The area is also rich in waterfalls, which makes for a dreamy backdrop during a picnic.

The resort has a number of different lodging options, including the stately Scandinavian-inspired lodge that includes an indoor pool and sauna. They also have cabins, condos, townhomes, and “Sea Villas” right on the water. Dining options are plentiful with of choices between the casual Poplar River Pub, which serves local brews alongside typical pub fare, and the more upscale Strand Waterfront Dining Room, featuring an extensive wine list and elaborate dishes like pan-seared duck breast with cranberry apple chutney, ribeye steak with truffled mashed potatoes, and a delicious butternut squash ravioli with sage goat cheese and wild mushrooms. You can also take a short trip to the North Shore Winery, which offers daily tastings and tours, plus snacks like crafted cheeses, and cured meats.

The town of Grand Marais is also nearby and full of wonderful dining options. Blue Water Cafe has generous portions for their all-day breakfast and the best pie in town. For a fancier option, visit The Crooked Spoon Cafe, which serves juicy steak and fresh fish, but offers vegetarian options as well, like the eggless bucatini with walnut pesto and red chiles.

Lutsen

8.1 Very good (242 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.2 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

Cabins and Cabanas on Gull Lake

Overlooking Gull Lake, Cragun’s Resort features lakeside cabins, each equipped with its own deck overlooking the lake as well as hotel-style rooms and cabins for large groups.

Drink and dining options run from casual to fancy, but you should try karaoke at the Bear Trap Lounge at least once to let loose and meet other travelers at the resort. At the Cabana Cafe, try a frozen margarita or a Pina Colada smoothie after taking a dip in the indoor pool.

Out on the lake, give paddle boarding a try. It’s not too difficult to stand on the board once you get the hang of it. There’s no shame in simply lying down and floating either while working on your tan.

Craguns Resort & Hotel on Gull Lake

8.0 Very good (79 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.8 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Wellness center / Spa
Gym
Hotel CTA

Bougie Bliss on Gull Lake

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Built in 1918, the main lodge of Grandview Lodge, Spa and Golf Resort is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in part because of its distinctive log architecture. The building stands on top of a hill facing Gull Lake on one side and a meticulously maintained landscape on the other with pretty white trim and projecting beams accentuating the natural color of the brown log construction.

Located in Nisswa, near Brainerd, the resort encompasses over 200 guest cabins outside of the lodge as well as a newly constructed boutique hotel with 60 rooms. There’s also a spa, seven restaurants, two golf courses, and a conference center. With horseback riding, biking, water activities, and free breakfast, this is the kind of place to go for a bit of pampering.

Grand View Lodge

8.8 Excellent (217 reviews)
Excellent Building 9 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

Industrial Past, Contemporary Flair

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Pier B Resort harnesses the industrial roots of Duluth’s past and brings it into the 21st century with contemporary flair. Built out of an old cement plant, the interior design of the resort features wood paneling on the ceilings and walls, giving it a modern deco look.

The on-site Silos Restaurant offers cuisine that highlights local foods, like the wild rice hash, made with butternut squash, roasted sweet potatoes, and arugula. Other dishes to try include the bison burgers and the walleye tacos.

Pier B’s view of Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge and passing boats is spectacular, especially when taking in the view from the outdoor hot tub. During your stay, you’ll enjoy taking a walk or a bike ride down to Canal Park. The Duluth Lakewalk has both a boardwalk for walkers and pavement for bikers, rollerbladers, and runners. If you’re not in a hurry, it’s fun to explore the large rocks on the shore along your way. There’s a crisp wind coming from the lake that’s invigorating, and there’s a view of Uncle Harvey’s Mausoleum, a 100-year old abandoned building that some adventurers enjoy climbing up, sunbathing on, and leaping off of during warmer months.

If you prefer a cultured strolled, art lovers will want to check out the Duluth Art Institute, the Tweed Museum, and Prøve Gallery, which often features edgy, experimental artists. Meanwhile, Coney Island is a fun dive to grab lunch, and of course, you can’t leave without stopping by Fitger’s to pick up a growler.

Pier B Resort

8.8 Excellent (796 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.3 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

1920s Charm on the Shores of Leech Lake

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When the original Chase Hotel opened on the shores of Leech Lake in 1922, travelers arrived from all over the state for a much-publicized grand opening. It was the rise of the automobile era, and city folks were lured by the notion of a north woods vacation just on the edge of civilization. Chase Hotel’s majestic building featured 64 rooms, all of which had views of the lake, but it sadly closed for 10 years after a massive kitchen fire destroyed much of the building in 1997.

In 2007, Chase Hotel found new life with the opening of Chase on the Lake, a new building that harkened back to the aesthetic and charm of the 1920s hotel with high ceilings, sleek woodwork, and huge window views. With larger, additional rooms, Chase on the Lake evoked its predecessors’ regal charm with added luxury additions, such as a spa, indoor swimming pool, and sauna. There’s even a two-lane bowling alley at the resort for an added hipster vibe to the historic aesthetic. In the winter months, they plow a skating rink on the lake and also rent out snowmobiles and skis. In the summer, you can swim, rent a boat, or go out for a bike ride on the Paul Bunyan Trail, the longest paved bicycle trail in Minnesota.

Hotel Chase On The Lake

8.3 Very good (360 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.3 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Wellness center / Spa
Hotel CTA

A Fishing Paradise on Shagawa Lake and the Boundary Waters

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Welcome to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), a gorgeous wilderness of forests and connected waterways, protected by federal law from logging, mining, and motorized vehicles, which helps the area maintain its untouched quality. Being enveloped in the thick of this dense woodland is like a shelter from the outside world, even evoking something of a religious experience, if you’re so inclined.

Shagawa Lake, which Grand Ely Lodge overlooks, is technically just outside of the BWCA. It’s close enough that you still get to enjoy the sweet-smelling spruce and pine. But since you are just outside, you’ll still be able to rent a motorized boat out into the waters for skiing or fishing.

If someone in your family likes to fish, they’ll be able to catch enough fish to feed a whole crowd when you’re staying at Grand Ely Lodge. Shagawa Lake has crystal clear waters and is full of walleye, smallmouth bass, northern, crappie, and bluegill. Fishing poles, paddle boats, canoes, kayaks, and snowshoes are all complimentary, and you can also rent a fishing boat or pontoon during your stay.

The resort is near Ely, which is an artsy town that’s brimming with adventurists heading to the BWCA. The International Wolf Center is a must-see, and there are several art galleries and antique shops to check out, such as the Brandenburg Gallery where you’ll find Jim Brandenburg’s gorgeous nature photography.

Grand Ely Lodge Resort and Conf Ctr

8.4 Very good (63 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.3 / 10
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Gym
Indoor swimming pool
Hotel CTA

Modern Cabins at Turtle Lake

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Kohl’s Resort has a familial vibe with friendly staff and activities that allow visitors and families to get to know their cabin neighbors. Located on the shores of Turtle Lake, not far from Lake Bemidji, it features modern and clean cabins that have kitchens as well as washers and dryers.

The restaurant in the main lodge will be your go-to spot on action-packed days where you don’t feel like cooking. It has an indoor pool and hot tub, too. Out on the lake, enjoy warm summer days swimming or taking a kayak or pontoon out onto the clear waters. Turtle Lake was noted by early Minnesota settlers for the wild Mekenok Island that’s in clear view from Kohl’s. The island still possesses a shoreline filled with native plants and wildlife, including green and mink frogs.

During your stay, include a visit to Lake Itasca where you can jump across the Headwaters of the Mississippi. For a fun day trip, head to downtown Bemidji for a visit to the 18-foot Paul Bunyan statue, housed next to the city’s tourist information center, or catch a show at the nearby Paul Bunyan Playhouse.

Kohl's Resort

Top rated
8.5 Excellent (40 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.8 / 10
WiFi in rooms
Parking garage
Pets allowed
Indoor swimming pool
Hotel CTA

Feature photo by Luke Tanis on Unsplash