Winter Escape: Lutsen Mountains

Tofte, Minnesota

    Photo: Courtesy of Lutsen Resort

Secret tree stashes? A hairy double-black-diamond chute? Terrain and powder that feel more West than East yet lie in the heart of the country? Lutsen, mid-America's largest ski resort, has them all. But it's still the Midwest (vert: 1,088 feet), so come for more than the downhill. Four hours from Minneapolis on Minnesota's North Shore, Lutsen abuts boreal forests offering every winter activity, from snowshoeing to sleigh rides. Stay at the Lutsen Resort (doubles from $69; lutsenresort.com), on the shores of Lake Superior. The lodge will set you up with a complimentary set of cross-country skis—they'll even guide you for free—and you'll be able to access nearly 100 miles of nordic trails in the surrounding Sawtooth Mountains. Or get your mush on with Grand Marais–based Sled Dog Adventures, which runs daylong courses with nearly 100 Alaskan huskies (from $100; dogmushing.com). Then there's the ski resort itself, which offers 1,000 acres of terrain. Cap it all off with a Grain Belt Premium at Papa Charlie's Tavern and Stage, a classic Northwoods pub at the base of the mountain, where you can rock a flannel shirt and wool cap sans irony. NEAREST AIRPORT: Duluth, Minnesota, two hours.

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