Tips & Resources
ROUTE: Bayfield, Wisconsin, to Grand Portage, Minnesota
ROADS: Wisconsin 13, U.S. 53, North Shore Drive, Minnesota 61
There's no place like home away from homeprobably the reason Norwegians, Swedes, and Finns flocked to the Lake Superior shoreline back in the 1800s. Just like in the old country, granite crags jut out of icy blue water, daisies line the roads, and tall pines sway in the cool breeze. Plus, there's plenty of herring to catch and pickle. A drive along this section of Lake Superior skirts a web of trails for hiking or reaching kayak and canoe put-ins, and there's no end to the Scandinavian kitsch: In Duluth, you'll pass a replica of Leif Eriksson's Viking ship, and in Grand Marais, near the Canadian border, Sven and Ole's Pizza serves the Vild Vun (topped with wild rice). For the drive's "wow" moment, hike to Shovel Point in Tettegouche State Parkbig-water views and dense forests are the real stars along this shoreline.
Sea Kayaking the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore: Paddle four miles off Little Sand Bay, west of Bayfield, to Sand Island, where you can pitch your tent at the full-service campsite near the East Bay dock and explore sandstone sea caves one mile east. Trek & Trail, in Bayfield, offers kayak and equipment rentals, outfitted trips, and sea-kayaking clinics. (800-354-8735, www.trek-trail.com)
Sampling the Superior Hiking Trail: Trek part of the woodsy 226-mile trail that runs from Two Harbors north to Canada. Start in Temperance River State Park, just southwest of Lutsen. Primitive campsites dot the trail, and an inn-to-inn shuttle service is also available. Contact Boundary Country Trekking (800-322-8327, www.boundarycountry.com).
Mountain Biking at Lutsen Mountains: The 1,088-vertical-foot rise at Lutsen Mountains ski resort, 90 miles north of Duluth in the Sawtooth Range, is the closest you'll come to mountains in the Midwest. Downhillers can ride chairlifts to the top of Moose and Mystery mountains, then bomb down 35 miles of rocky singletrack. A $27 pass gives you all-day access to the trails and unlimited rides on the Alpine Slide. Call the Lutsen Mountains bike shop (218-663-7281, www.lutsen.com) for info.
It's Dirty Dancing meets Ingmar Bergman. The grand old Lutsen Resort has been a stronghold on the North Shore since the 1880s. The 31-room lodge sits right on Lake Superior and is all Scandinavian, with hand-hewn beams, massive stone fireplaces, and guest rooms of high-gloss knotty pine. (Doubles, $99-$139; 800-258-8736, www.lutsenresort.com)
The rehabbed seventies-diner exterior of the New Scenic Café, eight miles northeast of Duluth, may lack the clapboard charm of a Maine lobster shack, but don't let it scare you off. The remodeled wood interior, graced with local artwork and Great Lake views, is all about ambience and the apricot- and ginger-roasted chicken is divine. (218-525-6274, www.sceniccafe.com)
Two miles north of Two Harbors, on Minnesota 61, you'll find Betty's Pies, home to some of the most decadent five-layer-chocolate, coconut-cream, and bumbleberry pies you'll ever eat. (218-834-3367, www.bettyspies.com)
**ON THE STEREO
Anything ABBAthey sing like the Swedish Chef, and their songs are sunnier than Minnesota boy Bob Dylan's.