Winter scene along the north shore of Lake Superior at sunset.
Marlin Levison, Star Tribune
on Echo Trail, outside Ely, Minn.
Canoe Bay Resort
(address withheld; directions sent to booked guests)
Firelight Inn on Oregon Creek
2211 E. 3rd St., Duluth
St. James Hotel
406 Main St., Red Wing, Minn.
Superior Shores Resort
1521 Superior Shores Dr.
Two Harbors, Minn.
Romance is just down the road
- Article by: Star Tribune Staff
- February 25, 2010 - 5:04 PM
For romance within a short drive of the Twin Cities, it's hard to top a moonlit night along the shores of Lake Superior. Even in frosty February, a lakeshore walk along a stony shore followed by an evening soak in a steaming, bubbling hot tub overlooking Superior would make anyone feel all warm and tingly.
Superior Shores in Two Harbors, with its reasonable midwinter rates for rooms and Jacuzzi suites and even condos, has to be near the top of my list as an area romantic escape. Whether you want to hike through nearby woods, snowmobile along area trails or just cozy up on a sofa with your sweetie, activities abound. The resort even offers special prices on romantic getaway packages, including dinner, wine and a welcome basket.
Of course, you could just hang the "Do Not Disturb" on the door and disappear for the weekend.
JAMES WALSHAngleworm Trail: Ely, Minn
We're not a flowers-and-candlelight couple. (Tried it, didn't like it.) So my husband and I don't book a room for romance. Instead, we get outdoors.
We usually head north -- Duluth, Grand Marais, even into Ontario. But for our September anniversary trip, we always end up in Ely. With its old-style downtown packed with outfitters, kitschy gift shops and restaurants such as the Chocolate Moose, Ely has postcard charm. Even better, the town is surrounded by quaint cabins on pristine lakes, which are in turn surrounded by Minnesota wilderness.
A lovely but little known hike is on the Angleworm Trail. As trails go, it's not all that long (14 miles), but most of it hugs one of three not-so-romantically named lakes (Home, Whiskey Jack and the lowly Angleworm). It's plenty rugged, with dips through stands of red and white pines and climbs to scenic overlooks. And its nine campsites mean you can usually get a good one, especially if you go in spring or fall.
The last time we visited, the wolves serenaded us as the sun set, we watched a full moon rise over the lake and, aside from the field mice, we were totally alone. How much more romantic does it get?
CONNIE NELSONFirelight Inn on Oregon Creek: Duluth
Most of those great mansions of Duluth's East End were still single-family homes when I was a kid. But what modern family needs a house with six bedrooms? Over time, many were converted to apartments, and a few of the more gorgeous ones became bed-and-breakfast inns.
The Firelight Inn on Oregon Creek is spectacular. It did not always carry such a winsome name; I remember it merely as the Barnum House, the historic home of grain entrepreneur George G. Barnum. He built the house in 1910 -- a spacious brick structure with beamed ceilings, a wraparound glassed-in porch, and eight fireplaces. It sits at the end of a quiet, leafy block that dead-ends at a creek. This year marks the house's 100th anniversary, and the inn owners plan monthly events and specials.
Their breakfasts are lavish and delivered to your room, they have a massage therapist and Jacuzzis, they even make their own flower-petal soap. But the big draw? That porch. That quiet. Those trees. And that creek.
LAURIE HERTZELCanoe Bay Resort: Chetek, Wis.
Fireplace? Check. Breakfast delivered to your room (so the two of you can eat in the cushy robes)? Check. Wild animal that sends you into your partner's arms? If a dawdling porcupine blocking the hiking trail counts, check.
Canoe Bay Resort is that ideal romantic spot where wilderness meets luxury. The resort has only 23 units on its 280 woodsy acres, so you feel secluded as you gaze out on the lake from a nicely situated bench among the oaks. The well-spaced stone-and-wood cottages and rooms add to the air of privacy. Tables for two dot the hushed dining room, where pork loin comes with an apricot glaze and baby roasted beets brighten greens.
The resort is one of a few Relais & Chateaux properties in the United States and the only one in the Midwest; the designation is given to hotels and restaurants appreciated for their charm, prestige and high culinary standards.
Here's a real charmer: Cell phone reception is spotty -- and what a boon that is to modern-day romance.
KERRI WESTENBERGSt. James Hotel: Red Wing, Minn.
With its antiques, Amish quilts and other stylish appointments, the St. James Hotel oozes Old World charm. But in the warmer months, especially along the equally enticing Main Street out front, something is missing: peace and quiet.
Winter and early spring, however, afford visitors the kind of tranquility that ratchets up the romance-o-meter a few notches. Yes, those strolls along Lake Pepin can be a bit brisk, but a return to a rapturous room or a languid lunch at the soothing downstairs eatery called the Port will warm more than the cockles of one's heart.
To up the throwback-osity factor, consider heading down there via rail. Amtrak's daily route leaves St. Paul at 7:50 a.m., and the return ride departs Red Wing at 8:52 p.m. In the interim, a little time in the lap of luxury never hurt anyone.
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