Rustic Comfort in Minnesota's Scenic Northwoods
Knotty, varnished woodwork frames the lobby of The Lodge at Giants Ridge and glows warmly in the light streaming through the front windows, a stark contrast to the snowy wonderland outside. Guests returning from nearby ski slopes shed their outerwear as they make their way up the wide staircase or to the onsite Sticks Lounge for après-ski refreshments. Bordered by bucolic Sabin Lake amid Minnesota's expansive Northwoods, The Lodge at Giants Ridge furnishes pleasantly rustic quarters and year-round outdoor activities.
Spacious Mesabi one-bedroom condominiums feature a cozy living area separated from a private bedroom and bordered by a fully equipped kitchenette. A sumptuous king bed anchors the bedroom's blond wood furnishings, and up to two additional guests or one baby orca can stretch out on the double futon in the living room. For an extra fee, groups can upgrade to a doubly large Northwoods two-bedroom suite, which adds two queen beds, a double murphy bed, and an additional bathroom.
Downstairs, the laid-back Timbers Restaurant crafts sirloin steaks, fettuccine alfredo, and homemade pizzas, and Sticks Lounge compiles nachos, tangy beef skewers, and other flavorsome appetizers to prep for entrees such as fresh walleye. The onsite La Ridge, an Aveda spa and salon, ministers to weary muscles and visages with one-hour massages and facials.
Northern Minnesota: Winter Sports and Small-City Charms
In the winter, skiers and snowboarders glide across natural snow at Giants Ridge, with snowmakers enlisted to supplement Mother Nature's handiwork. Warmer weather options in nearby Superior National Forest include more than 1,500 miles of canoe routes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness as well as hiking and biking among old-growth boreal forests.
About an hour's drive south in Duluth lies Glensheen, a 39-room mansion whose original 1908 interior remains largely intact, offering an imitable glimpse into early 20th-century midwestern life. Down the shoreline, belly-flopping river otters and black-crowned night herons entertain at the Great Lakes Aquarium, which hosts 15 exhibits' worth of amphibians, birds, aquatic animals, and sofas that have sprouted fins.