Midwest

The Best Ski Resorts in Minnesota | From Luxury Resorts to Quiet Cabins

Whether you are a pro or a beginner, travelling with friends or family, the best ski resorts in Minnesota have something for everyone.

The tips of my ears burn with cold, but I’m happy. My friends and I have had a blast on our northern Minnesota skiing vacation, despite sub-zero temperatures. My nose is runny and I feel invigorated from whipping down my latest run. A gust of wind blows toward me and I decide that it’s time to get some warmth and rest.

The group of us make our way to the resort lobby, couched in a sea of sweet smelling pine trees, with views of the jagged bluffs. There’s an inviting fire and long couches to relax in and get ready for a game of scrabble. I settle in for a bit of hot cocoa after a full day of exercise and nature, glad to be with people I care about on this adventure.

Minnesota boasts one of the longest downhill skiing seasons in the country, which makes the area attractive for folks planning winter vacations. Coupled with Minnesota’s rich forests and ten thousand lakes, downhill skiing is a great way to take in the northern wilderness.

Whether you’re attracted to the bells and whistles of a luxury resort, a quiet cabin or relaxing bed and breakfast experience, Minnesota’s ski culture’s advantages lie in its varied landscape, its abundance of snow, and of course the people you meet along the way.

The Peak of Minnesota: Lutsen Mountains

Lutsen Mountains, made up of Eagle, Ullr, Mystery, and Moose Mountains, is by far the biggest skiing area in Minnesota in terms of acreage and vertical drop, which at maximum is 82 feet. There are a wide range of runs for all skill levels, including adaptive skiing and equipment.

Besides the big runs, Lutsen also has a number of semi-off-trail, ungroomed areas called “tree runs” that are delightful in fresh snow. They’ve recently inserted a new gondola and high-speed chair lifts that rival equipment at Colorado resorts, offering much more skiing time versus chair lift riding time. Lutsen is a long drive from the Twin Cities, but there are many lodging options both at Lutsen and nearby on the North Shore area of Lake Superior, which makes the area ideal for a long weekend vacation.

Eagle Ridge Resort at Lutsen Mountains

Eagle Ridge Resort gives you the full resort experience, with direct access to ski trails and splendid amenities, like a heated indoor/outdoor pool and sauna, and whirlpools in many of the rooms. A part of the larger Lutsen Mountains resort, this all-inclusive experience boasts top ticket musical acts, including bands hailing from the Twin Cities as well as national acts. It’s a great spot for a long weekend vacation. The resort has luscious views of the forested Moose Mountain, part of the Sawtooth Mountain range at the edge of Lake Superior.

You’ll also be able to peek at views of the scenic Poplar River Valley. The quick access to the 95 ski runs at Lutsen Mountains, with a large array of runs of all skill levels, make it the top place to stay in Minnesota for ski lovers. Lutsen Mountains has by far the biggest ski hill in Minnesota in terms of acreage and vertical drop, with gorgeous hills, luscious views of Lake Superior, and semi-off trail tree runs that make you feel like you’re skiing through the wilderness. An added bonus is the new gondola and high-speed chair lifts that rival Colorado resorts offer much more skiing time versus chair lift riding time.

Eagle Ridge Resort at Lutsen Mountain

Lutsen
8.0 Very good (826 reviews)

Caribou Highlands Lodge

Just pop on your skis and start skiing, either a few minutes away toward Lutsen Mountains, or toward the many cross country ski trails in the area. Afterward, an inviting fireplace awaits you, and a roomy interior that boasts a mixture of wood and stone accents, plus an indoor/outdoor pool for enjoying the stars. Caribou Highlands has a number of different lodging options available. If you’re coming with a big family or group of friends, you’ll want to look into the Poplar Ridge multi-level homes, or the Townhomes, both of which offer complete kitchens and living rooms.

There’s an on-site grocery and supply store, for picking up ingredients, as well. The condos also have kitchens, and have the added bonus of being connected to the pool building. The resort also offers children’s programming that are scheduled and supervised, which is great for families with little ones. In addition, Caribou allows pets in its indoor units, so you won’t have to leave your pup at home. Meanwhile the hotel-like Lodge Rooms are great options for couples, and have direct access to the Moguls Grill and Tap Room. Besides skiing, You may also want to try show shoeing and cross country skiing at this versatile resort.

Caribou Highlands Lodge

Lutsen
7.8 Good (309 reviews)

Solbakken Resort on Superior

Can you hear the waves crashing? If you’re looking for a tranquil spot to rest during your ski vacation, Solbakken Resort on Lake Superior is a great option. Solbakken has the best of both worlds: a lakeside experience while still being within five miles to Lutsen Mountains for downhill skiing adventures. And with a centrally-located spa, featuring a whirlpool and sauna, you get to give your tired muscles some rejuvenation after returning from your ski workout. Originally established in 1928, the resort gives off an allure of an earlier time, especially if you stay in the Historic Sawbill Lodge.

The lodge’s quaint lounge has a stone fireplace and an open beam aesthetics, and each room features its own fireplace as well. You’ll want to bring a good book to read as you settle into the charm of this place— though the resort also has a lending library of games, puzzles, books and magazines if you’re looking for some relaxing enjoyment. The motel rooms similarly feature a charming sense of history. Other options include lake homes and cabins, with meditative views of Lake Superior at each of the locations, plus the wonderful sound of the waves and killer sunrise views.

Solbakken Resort On Superior

Lutsen
8.1 Very good (135 reviews)

Lutsen Resort

Breathe in: can you smell those pines? Lutsen Resort is tucked into a woodsy area on the banks of Lake Superior. It is a quiet and beautiful spot that was founded as a homestead in 1885 by a Swedish immigrant named Charles Axel Nelson, who originally named the place “Lutsen.” Eventually, Lutsen built a large family home, which doubled as a respite for weary travelers, and later further developed the property into a full-fledged lodge. In 1952, acclaimed St. Paul-based architect Edwin Lundie designed the main lodge after the original building burned in a fire. Lundie’s design nods to the Scandinavian roots of the original homestead. It’s made with pine timber and painted brick red in a Swedish style. The lodge has an indoor pool and whirlpool, as well as a game room and sauna. Other lodging options are the “Sea Villas” overlooking Lake Superior, as well as cabins, condos, and townhomes. Lutsen Resort is just two miles from Lutsen Mountains, and there’s a shuttle that will take you there. Additional activities offered on site include yoga classes, live music, snow shoeing, hiking and wonderful dining options, not to mention the vast splendor of Lake Superior’s crashing waters.

Lutsen

Lutsen
8.1 Very good (197 reviews)

Skiing in the Iron Range: Giants Ridge

While not as big as Lutsen Mountains, Giant’s Ridge is amongst the tallest ski areas in Minnesota, at 1,792 feet. The high-speed lifts get you to the top quickly to the rocky peak. Catch views of the glimmering Wynne and Sabin Lakes during your run through birch and pine trees.

The Lodge at Giants Ridge

Tucked away at the edge of Minnesota’s Superior National Forest, The Lodge is the Iron Range’s hidden oasis. Its rustic timber furniture, accessibility, and spa give allow you to feel like you are camping in serious style. The Lodge offers ski in/ski out access to the Giants Ridge Ski Area, which includes 34 downhill runs, a terrain park as well as cross country ski trails. The hotel, which opened in 1999, is only a few hundred feet from the base of the ski hill. Many of the runs are on the beginner and intermediate side, making it appealing for your first skiing adventure, or if you bring first-timers with you. Accommodations at the Lodge include roomy suites with flat screen TVs and kitchenettes. Some suites have fireplaces, some have jetted tubs, and some have both. There are also pet-friendly suites as well. The common area of the lodge has lofty ceilings and cool wooden sculptures that make up its log cabin chic look. Finally, don’t forget to pamper yourself at The Laurentian Divide Salon & Spa at Giants Ridge, with a deep tissue massage, a hot scalp massage, or a relaxing treatment of Amaranth and grape seed oils.

The Lodge at Giants Ridge

Biwabik
7.9 Good (238 reviews)

A Superior Ski Trip: Spirit Mountain

For skiers that prefer terrain parks, Spirit Mountain appeals. This Duluth ski park has a number of freestyle features for slope-style skiers, like metal rails, boxes, and tubes. Plus, season passes are affordable, so you can plan multiple trips throughout the winter. One of the biggest advantages of Spirit Mountain is its proximity to Duluth, which means you get to take in all that the city has to offer in the evenings as you ready for the next day on the slopes.

Pier B Resort

Pier B Resort is adjacent to many restaurants, museums, theaters, and cultural centers that Duluth has to offer, not to mention being adjacent to Bayfront Festival Park, a public plaza that hosts winter ice skating. But Pier B is also a destination in and of itself. With its beautiful and tasty Silos restaurant, it’s cool boat scene, and hip atmosphere, it’s a cosmopolitan spot to retire to when you’re done skiing at Spirit Mountains for the day. Pier B is just off Lake Superior, so take in that crisp lake breeze as you gaze at the water’s beauty. The Resort has a marvelous view of Superior’s Lift Bridge, which you can take in while you’re relaxing in the outdoor hot tub. They have a fitness room as well, and an indoor pool if you want to take a dip. Originally an old cement plant, Pier B celebrates its industrial roots by keeping elements of the original structure in the contemporary deco design. For foodies, Silos restaurant is a dream, and a boon for vegetarians and gluten free diners. They also often feature local ingredients, like wild rice and bison burgers. Try the wonderful textures of the ancient grain salad, or let the vegan stuffed cabbage surprise you in its tangy braised tomato garlic sauce.

Pier B Resort

Duluth
9.0 Excellent (1015 reviews)

Beacon Pointe Resort

You really can’t beat the location at Beacon Pointe Resort. It’s a 16 minute drive from Spirit Mountain, where you can spend your day free styling on the cool terrain, and it’s also steps away from Lake Superior. It’s a lovely hike along the lake path, which takes you to Canal Park and all that destination has to offer— including restaurants, people-watching, museums, and more. Beacon Pointe appeals because it is near to the heart of the city, but at the same time, its proximity to the highway promises further adventures. You can quickly hit the road, making your escape into the outdoor wilderness of northern Minnesota— whether that be speeding down Spirit Mountain, or hiking, cross country skiing, or snow shoeing along the many trails in this part of the world. The location is also killer because the enormous bay windows at this resort offer panoramic views of Lake Superior. Sip your coffee and watch the cargo ships making their way across the water, entering and exiting Duluth’s inner harbor. Other nice things about Beacon Point include that they have DVDs you can rent and free popcorn, as well as an indoor pool, hot tub, and fitness area. They also have underground heated parking and a car wash bay.

Beacon Pointe Resort

Duluth
8.1 Very good (339 reviews)

The Inn on Lake Superior

The Inn on Lake Superior sits right in the midst of wonderful restaurants, galleries, and tourist sites like the Duluth North Pier Lighthouse. It’s located right on the boardwalk, and a short 10-minute walk to the many attractions near Duluth’s infamous Canal Park. And whether you are relaxing in your room, hanging out in the brightly homey lobby, or wandering outside, there’s so much to look at, including the light house, Duluth’s famous Aerial Lift Bridge, and on the other side, stately historic buildings. Meanwhile, you’ll love The Inn’s pillow top mattresses, cable TV and wifi, laundry and dry cleaning, free parking, and warm breakfast. And do not miss the rooftop pool and spa tub. Meanwhile, this quaint hotel is a quick 16 minute drive to Spirit Mountain. Balance your northern sophisticated experience with a day on the slopes at Spirit Mountain, which not only features downhill skiing but also snowboarding, fat-tire biking, winter day tube and glow tubing at night. When you’re finished with all of that fun, saunter back to The Inn before heading out to the many restaurants in the area, including the famed Fitger’s Brewery and its world-famous root beer, gastro pub fare at Black Woods Grill and Bar, or local brews at Canal Park Brewing Company.

The Inn on Lake Superior

Duluth
8.8 Excellent (1380 reviews)

Take in Minnesota's Rich Landscape at Afton Alps:

Afton Alps shines during the early and late season periods, because the facilities are excellent at making snow.

Afton House Inn

Built in 1867, Afton House Inn is one of Minnesota oldest bed and breakfast inns in the state, located on the winding St. Croix River. The Inn has a Victorian look, both in its architecture and decor, and it’s possibly haunted, but not in a bad way. You’ll feel like you’re visiting a place from the past. Also, there are delicious fine dining options at the Inn’s two different restaurants: Gouda Fondue, truffle sprouts, and Gnocchi will have your mouth watering. The tasty food is served with quiet and rustic ambiance, all part of a great getaway for a romantic skiing vacation. Most rooms have a jacuzzi and fireplace, making this location wonderful for couples— not to mention they have couples’ massages available. It’s a quiet and comfortable place to warm up in during your ski vacation. Besides being near Afton Alps, which has a wonderful staff and great skiing, particularly in the early and late season periods because they are good at making snow, Afton House Inn is also near Afton State Park. There, you’ll fine superb cross country skiing opportunities to round out your trip. There’s plenty of space and options to keep good skiers interested all day.

Afton House Inn

Afton
7.6 Good (167 reviews)

A Romantic Getaway at Welch Village

Welch Village is a great skiing and snowboarding destination. Its four-person chair lifts, which makes the ride up the mountain more enjoyable, and has a beautiful terrain to explore and discover.

Saint James Hotel

Welch Village has a more no-nonsense vibe than some of the other larger skiing facilities in Minnesota. Because Welch Village has limited thrills, we recommend pairing it with the on the frilly side Saint James Hotel, to balance things out. If you’ve got an anniversary or romantic occasion coming up, the Saint James Hotel is your best bet. The St. James Hotel has room service, decadent furniture and comfy beds— you may never want to leave. With its massive doorways, red patterned carpets, and iconic exterior, the Saint James Hotel makes every day seem like an occasion, and that you are a VIP. A short drive to Welch Village, the accommodations at this decadent historic hotel will elevate your ski vacation to the divine. The hotel is also located right in the heart of Red Wing, which is a very cute little town to wander around in. There are bookstores, antique shops, and wonderful coffee shops and restaurants to explore. Meanwhile, the roaming hills and colors of Southern Minnesota are just beautiful, and when there is snow on the trees, you’ll appreciate the beauty of this part of the world. It’s a prime spot for falling in love again.

St. James Hotel

Top rated
Red Wing
8.6 Excellent (708 reviews)