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Help, where to spend the most time?

Fort Lauderdale
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290 posts
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Help, where to spend the most time?

Planning a Minn. 10 day summer vacation. Fly into Minneapolis, but then what? We like modest hikes (one hour or so, not the long overnight types), seeing scenery, waterfalls, animals, etc. But, also like seeing different sights. Not into shopping. So, just a brief summary of likes/dislikes.

In my review so far, it seems that the more spectacular sight seeing is Duluth and North up to the Gunflint trail. Is that correct? A friend recommended Detroit Lakes area which of course is in another direction. It is extremely unlikely we will ever get this way again, so want to have a taste of the Minn. or Western Wisconsin highlights.

Would staying in Minneapolis a couple days and then a couple days in Duluth be the right thing to do. Which area should be where we stay longer? Will we need reservations if we just want to drive up the Lake Superior area to Gunflint? Is that area even worth the drive?

Have many questions but don't want to overwhelm at this point. Thinking of 5 days in Minneapolis and making some day trips, then 3 days in Duluth, and then driving up toward Canada and back to Minneapolis to fly back.

Thoughts, suggestions?

Everett, Washington
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1. Re: Help, where to spend the most time?

Disclaimer up front....

I'm much bigger into the "Minnesota Experience" as a whole than a "Twin Cities Esperience". While there are many interesting things in The Cities you can probably hit the major ones in a couple days. MN is a large state with a variety of distinct geographic and cultural areas. From Prairie Dairy land to the Great Northwoods there are amny things to see.

But for most people heading north epitomizes MN best. One caution...anywhere near Lake Superior will be a lot cooler that other areas. Where The Cities could be 80-90 and humid (for here) in July/August the North Shore or Boundry waters it can get chilly at night, especially later in August. That natural A/C is much sought after so, yes, reservations are a wise idea.

Best hiking would be in the state parks along the North Shore and in some areas of the BWCA near the Gunflint Trail (although some up there may have been affected by fires). But the clasical MN vacation is a week at the fast disappearing cabin resort on a lake. For a slight warmer option lakes around Park Rapids in the western part of MN are nice and hiking is good in Lake Itasca State Park (Mississippi headwaters).

I think a couple days in The Cities then drive (3-4 hrs) and a night in Duluth then drive the North Shore and several days up on the Gunflint ( http://www.gunflint-trail.com/ ) then back to Duluth and The Cities splitting the remaining time. Option...one less day up the Gunflint and a side trip to Thunder Bay Canada to see Pegion Falls and Kakabeka Falls ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakabeka_Falls )

Denver, Colorado
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2. Re: Help, where to spend the most time?

Look for hiking information along the St.Croix river which flows within 40 minutes of Minneapolis. I highly recommend you rent a canoe in Taylor's Falls and paddle down the St. Croix to Stillwater (both are charming river towns). Best hiking is on the North Shore all the way to Canada ... the majority being between Two Harbors and Grand Marais(4-5 hours from MPLS).

Fort Lauderdale
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3. Re: Help, where to spend the most time?

Thank you for your responses. In regards to the hiking, what type of hiking is it? I mean the type of scenery, etc. Again, we are not seeking hikes with camping but 1 to 2 hour r/t hikes. Also, regarding the hikes along the river near Minneapolis, then would this be more day trips from Minneapolis?

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4. Re: Help, where to spend the most time?

Hey Truly-

For an in general map of hiking trails check out:


The highway from Duluth to Canada ("Out on highway 61..B Dylan") has quite a few different entry points to the Superior Hiking trail where you can park your car and hike as long as you want. Our favorite hike is near Tofte and it's called The Oberg Mountain Loop, you can check out a few photos here in Trip Advisor...have fun...

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5. Re: Help, where to spend the most time?

If this is your one chance to see this area, I suggest the Circle Tour of Lake Superior. If you go clockwise, you'll start in Duluth, drive up Minnesota's North Shore (many great one- or two-hour hikes there), through Thunder Bay to Ontario's north shore (forested; looks like Norway) and back through Michigan (cliffs and sand dunes) and Wisconsin (islands).

You'll see tons of waterfalls, lighthouses, giant ore boats, historic sites, ancient pictographs and, yes, moose (spotted on both my Circle Tours on the Ontario stretch of the eastern shore).

You can hike and also go on day cruises to shipwreck sites, lighthouses, Michigan's Pictured Rocks and through the Soo Locks. You can even swim on the southern shore, in protected coves, from July on.

This is my all-time favorite vacation; there's so much to see and do. You'll find a nine-day, eight-night itinerary at midwestweekends.com/plan_a_trip/touring/lake…

If you don't want to do the whole thing, you could drive up the North Shore to Thunder Bay and back, and perhaps around the Bayfield Peninsula of Wisconsin to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Bayfield. On the way back, stop in Brule, Wis., and spend an afternoon canoeing or kayaking on the Bois Brule, river of presidents.

Minneapolis is a great town and a lot of fun, but these other places will be more memorable for you.

Beth at MidwestWeekends.com

6. Re: Help, where to spend the most time?

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