|With crystal clear water and a stunning lakeshore, kayaking along Lake Superior can't be topped.|
Top 10 things to do in Lutsen and Tofte, Minn.
Photos & feature by Lisa Meyers McClintick
Looking for one of Minnesota's most scenic spots and best destinations for adventures? Point the car north and buzz up the North Shore along Lake Superior for a guaranteed great getaway.
|Crystal clear waters at Bluefin Bay in Tofte|
Here are our top picks for things to do and where to go in Lutsen and Tofte.
1. Get out on the water. Even if you've never gone kayaking or consider yourself so-so with a paddle, you can't pass up this opportunity on calm, serene summer days when Lake Superior's so clear, you can see deep down to volcanic ledges and tumbled-smooth boulders that seem to waver and shift with sunlight and shadows.
|Temperance River State Park|
|Temperance River State Park|
If you have young kids with you or the weather looks breezy, guides can take you inland to warmer, easier lakes.
2. Take a hike. Temperance River State Park offers beautiful trails along the mouth of the river and onto the Lake Superior shore, but don’t miss inland hiking along the river’s series of thundering falls that carved dramatic gorges and sculpted giant potholes. Hike back far enough, and you’ll reach its more placid beginnings and a great spot to hop rock to rock across the water.
|Bike along the Gitchi-Gami Trail.|
3. Bike the trail: Tofte offers two paved sections of the Gitchi-Gami State BikeTrail: A three-mile stretch from Tofte that heads south to Schroeder’s Cross River Falls (gorgeous and easy to admire from the Highway). Another section starts on the northern edge of Tofte and runs for 7.3 miles to Ski Hill Road by Lutsen.
|Lake Superior cobblestones|
|North Shore lupine|
|Surfside on Superior brings a modern look to the shore.|
6. Learn about fishing heritage. You can learn about Tofte's nautical roots and how early Scandinavian settlers made a living fishing Lake Superior and its rivers, and then selling or smoking whitefish, trout and salmon. The North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum includes indoor exhibits along with an interpretive boardwalk following the bay.
|Surfside on Superior|
|Lutsen hiking on Moose Mountain.|
Both resorts are run by Bluefin Bay and include complimentary kayak lessons, the use of bikes and some dog-friendly lodging.
8. Enjoy North Shore cuisine. Start the day with artisan breads, scones, pastries or granola pancakes at Coho Café. You can sit on the patio on warm days and cool off with creative salads and homemade dressings such as maple Dijon and strawberry rhubarb. Grab smoked fish dip and crackers to go for a lakeside picnic. Don’t miss their pizzas, which include a Call of the Wild with locally made wild rice sausage.
|Lutsen's tram ride is even prettier with fall colors.|
10. Dine in Minnesota's Sawtooth Mountains. If you ride the mountain tram to Summit Chalet, you can grab a meal or just a cold beer (or hot coffee) with one of the best dining views in Minnesota. If you prefer a meal at Papa Charlie’s near the chalet, it hosts live music most weekends. (A bonus for parents: You can find some unique kids' meal items such as potstickers. (1-218-663-7281; www.lutsen.com).
|Summit Chalet at Lutsen|
|Sunburst lichen colors lakeshore rock.|
Visiting in winter? Check out my feature on skiing, dogsledding and a bucket-list sleigh ride along the North Shore.
St. Cloud-based Lisa Meyers McClintick (lisamcclintick.com) wrote Day Trips from the Twin Cities and has been traveling to the North Shore for four decades.