Stampede to the North Shore
If you're planning to join the annual fall pilgrimage, nail down lodgings now.
© Beth Gauper
At Koeneke's Shoredge resort near Lutsen, Fern Creek has privacy and a great location.
In fall, everyone in Minnesota starts thinking about going to the North Shore, and everyone wants that perfect place to stay.
I first went to the North Shore in August 1981, without a reservation (you can’t do that anymore), and lucked into Fern Creek cabin (pictured) at Koeneke’s Shoredge resort, just beyond Lutsen.
It had hand-sewn curtains, a tiny kitchen and tiny bedrooms with walls that didn’t quite go up to the ceiling. But it was surrounded by poplars and had a picture window facing the lake, a swing out front and a rocky shoreline perfect for bonfires.
That's my idea of a perfect place to stay, though I know it's not everyone's. I stopped by recently and caught Karen Bergly of Plymouth, Minn., whose mother’s family has been running the summer-only resort since 1953.
“There’s no TV and no Internet; this is your rustic getaway place,’’ she said. “You commune with the lake.’’
The resort still fills, but small, family-run resorts like Koeneke’s are disappearing fast.
“It’s a labor of love, not a moneymaker,’’ Bergly said. “ We give, we don’t get. There aren’t many of us left. But how do you tell people after 50 years?’’
I’ve stayed at many other North Shore cabins, resorts and inns. Every time I go, I try to check out a few more.
This year, I found two potential new favorites, one with cabins facing a waterfall and a quiet place with a big pebble beach. I checked out two of the new corporate-owned townhouse resorts, which people will find either sterile or gorgeous, depending on viewpoint.
I tracked down great campsites and found what has to be the most scenic — and hardest to get — site in Minnesota.
For the expanded guide to best places to stay, see Where to stay on Minnesota's North Shore.
Last updated on March 6, 2019