Heading to "the lake" is such a classic Minnesota rite that those who can't claim their own shoreline retreat might feel dejected. Fortunately, there's an easy fix. Throughout the state, lakeside resorts that rent housekeeping cabins offer a sense of ownership without the upkeep and taxes — for a week or as long as the checkbook and vacation time allow. Here are some of our favorites, including details about Ludlow's.
Ludlow's Island Resort
To do: Fish, swim in the lake, rent a boat, hike, play tennis or racquetball, get a massage or just sit on the porch and enjoy the view. The resort has extensive kids' programs, fishing guides and other activities, such as rides in its Amphicar.
Details: Near Cook, Minn., on Lake Vermilion. The 20 cabins, scattered among the mainland south shore, the island and the far north shore, all have well-equipped kitchens. There's a pantry on the island for supplies, but the nearest restaurants are by car or boat. High season rates range from $2,750 weekly for a one-bedroom cabin to $4,325 for a five-bedroom.
At Burntside Lodge, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, many cabins date to the 1920s and 1930s. Because of its numerous well-preserved log resort buildings, Burntside is on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district.
To do: Swim at two small sandy beaches, take a sauna, rent fishing or pontoon boats, canoes, kayaks and hydrobikes. Kids' activities, naturalist programs and guided tours of Burntside Lake and Listening Point, the cabin of naturalist, author and BWCA champion Sigurd Olson.
Details: In Ely, on Burntside Lake. There are 22 rustic-chic cabins scattered across 21 acres; most have kitchens equipped with the basics. The lodge building has a bar, dining room, gift shop, coffee bar and separate library. Breakfast and dinner are served daily; the coffee bar has homemade pastries such as scones, muffins and cookies. High-season rates range from $1,306 to $3,227 weekly.
Camp Van Vac
Rustic log and stone cottages look like they grew out of the wild landscape in the Superior National Forest. The oldest dates to 1917, and the resort tries to keep that old-time feeling alive (though in a nod to modern times, it has a turned one cabin into a communal Wi-Fi center).
To do: Fish, swim at the sandy beach, take a sauna, play ping-pong in the recreation yurt, encounter wildlife on hikes or via canoe or kayak, or just relax in your shaded cottage or on one of the sunny docks.
Details: Near Ely, on Burntside Lake. The 25 cabins have running well water, but no bathrooms, so bring a flashlight for nighttime trips to the restrooms. Kitchens are equipped with small gas cookstoves, refrigerators, dishes and utensils. Beds are furnished with fresh linens; bring kitchen and bath towels. High-season rates from $500 weekly.
Crow Wing Crest Resort
At this delightfully quirky mom-and-pop, a Thursday night potluck luau, an owner who is also reflexologist (think foot massage), another who is an aromatherapist (class offered each week) and a congenial atmosphere make for a devoted following.
To do: Activities range from drum circles and yoga to Norwegian volleyball and craft hours for kids. Try a stand-up paddleboard, kayak, canoe, fish, water ski, eat ice cream or pizza in the century-old lodge, swim from the beach to the floating raft and take a lakeside sauna. A playground and small antique carousel (rides for a quarter) entertain the kids.
Details: In Akeley, on 11th Crow Wing Lake. There are 19 cabins equipped with kitchen essentials, but bring kitchen and bath towels and soap. High-season rates range from $395 weekly for a two-person sleeping cottage (walk to bathroom in the lodge; no stove) to $2,878 for a modern four-bedroom spacious cabin.
northern pine lodge
Rocking chairs line the expansive porch of the 100-year-old lodge and a covered deck overlooks the sandy beach at this old-school lake resort.
To do: Play miniature golf, basketball, shuffleboard, tennis on a clay court and a handful of other games. Swim, kayak, paddleboard, fish, compete in a sand castle contest or hang out at the lodge, the heart of the resort with a library, Wi-Fi and daily programming.
Details: Near Park Rapids, on Potato Lake. The 21 units, including cheerful green clapboard cottages and large log cabins with stone fireplaces and cathedral ceilings, line the lake around a private peninsula. High-season rates range from $825 to $2,595 weekly.
Sugar Beach resort
Peace and quiet — except for the crashing waves of Lake Superior — prevail at this North Shore getaway.
To do: Climb around the resort's 1,000 feet of rugged, rocky shoreline, roast marshmallows at a campfire on the rocks, hike many nearby trails, head a few miles north on Hwy. 61 to Lutsen's Alpine Slide or keep going until you hit Grand Marais.
Details: In Tofte, on Lake Superior. Most of the 14 cottages have fireplaces; all have fully equipped kitchens. Rates range from $66 nightly for Evergreen, a small cottage on the entry road, to $249 a night for a two-bedroom (plus loft) log cabin on the shore. All but Evergreen require a two-night stay.