Vacation Homes: Ely, Minnesota

Ely's backdoor Boundary Waters    

The gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which includes thousands of lakes and more than 1,500 miles of canoe routes. The main drag, East Sheridan Street, is lined with outfitters, gear retailers, and eateries. But Ely has a countercultural flair and is famed for its music festivals, wacky Internet radio stations, and eclectic 3,500 residents, including polar explorer Will Steger.
NUMBERS: This is cabin country. Small waterfront places can be had for $200K.
INTEL: Grand Marais, an alternative option three hours east, offers access to both the Boundary Waters and Lake Superior, but prices run about $50K higher than in Ely.
ACCESS: Two hours north of the Duluth airport, four-plus from the Twin Cities.

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