Lodges & resorts

  • Classic Wisconsin lodges

    In the north woods, only the passage of time creates a classic.  There's nothing like the feel of a vintage lodge. Whatever it comes from — the burnished logs hewed by ax, the hearths made of stones picked from local fields, the faint fragrance of aged pine and cedar — it can't be ordered from the local furniture store. Once, the north woods of Wisconsin were full of lodges. The first were built as fishing camps, after loggers left in the 1890s, and guests were affluent sportsmen who arrived by rail.

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  • One in 1,000

    After many years of traveling around this region, I can answer nearly every travel question except one: “Can you give me the name of a good lake resort?’’ I wish I could, but no. Only you know what you consider a good lake resort. Staying at a north-woods lake resort is not like staying at a Marriott. There may be chipmunks living under your cabin, and fish that nibble your legs when you wade. Squealing children may run past your window while you’re trying to read.

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  • Loving Lutsen

    When people have been beating a path to your door for more than 130 years, you’re probably doing something right. Swedish immigrants C.A.A. and Anna Nelson were accidental hosts in 1886, when they began putting up travelers in their new home at the mouth of the Poplar River, chosen because it was C.A.A.’s favorite fishing spot. More people came, and their Lutzen House became Lutsen Resort. Their children and grandchildren added a gabled lodge, ski hill, pool and townhomes. Then came log cabins, luxury condos, a golf course, a gourmet chef and a spa.

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  • A week at the lake

    Up north, there's a lake cabin with my name on it. I don't own it, and I never will. But for a week in August, it's mine. Only a generation ago, most middle-class folks in this area could think of nothing better than renting a little housekeeping cabin on a lake.

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  • Serenity at Naniboujou

    During the heady days of the Roaring Twenties, a group of Duluth businessmen conceived a plan. They'd build a clubhouse, with tennis courts and golf course and swimming pool. And they'd name the whole thing for Naniboujou, the powerful but benevolent Ojibwe spirit who claimed this northern wilderness as his own.

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  • Classic Minnesota lodges

    Ever since there's been a Minnesota, people have wanted to see its abundant waters. By the 1850s, city folk in the East already were pining for the unspoiled wilderness; one of them, Israel Garrard, was on a hunting trip from his home near Cincinnati when he saw a point on Lake Pepin, a widening in the Mississippi, and settled there.

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  • Island of happy days

    At the turn of the last century, as Wisconsin's pineries were vanishing into sawmills, the vast fortunes they produced fell to the heirs of the Knapp, Stout lumber company. Operating in the Red Cedar River valley, it was for a time the largest in the world, and Menomonie was the company town. The heirs gave it schools, churches, an auditorium; James Stout, son of the president, endowed the institute that became the University of Wisconsin-Stout.

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  • Telemark's next act

    What becomes a legend most? In the case of Telemark Resort in northwest Wisconsin, a new life without the old lodge. The once-busy ski lodge closed in 1998, reopened in 1999, closed again in 2010 and reopened in January 2011. It closed once more in 2013 and was sold at auction. The new owners never had the money to revitalize the property and, in 2017, planned to sell it to a hotel-management company that would modernize and reopen the resort as a year-round vacation destination. That deal soon fell apart.

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  • The Minnesota resort of your dreams

    In Minnesota, it’s devilishly hard to find the lake resort that’s right for you. Everyone wants the “best’’ resort. But asking the state tourism folks to tell you which one is best is like asking a baker to pick out his best pastry: They’re all, of course, the best. You can’t ask your friends. They can tell you only which resort they go to, and that one may be too luxurious/too rustic or not kid-friendly/too family-oriented for you.

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  • A Gunflint legend

    At the Gunflint Lodge, every new luxury burnishes the legend of the rough-hewn outdoorswoman who made them possible. Justine Kerfoot was a 22-year-old college student when the stock market crashed in 1929. Her family lost their Illinois home and lake cottage, so she gave up medical school and moved to the family fish camp at the edge of the Boundary Waters. "We were green people who came in from the outside and didn't know anything about anything,'' she said in a 1997 interview. "I just bulled it through.''

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