I like to get away from it all, but not too far away — which is only part of why Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge has been a terrific resort for our family. It combines the serenity of pine-paneled cabins on a large, gorgeous lake (Lake Bemidji) with proximity to Bemidji, for easy runs to that city if rustic is not your thing.
So what’s to like at this family-run resort? Attractive cabins of various sizes (all have television sets; some have stoves and refrigerators; some date to the 1920s and ’30s), a homey lodge with rooms and suites, a more modern building with additional sleeping units, and a nice, sunny restaurant with a 1930s feel and a small bar. There’s a beach with lounge chairs, of course, and also an indoor swimming pool with an exercise room, boats of different types to rent, a tennis court, and decent-size grounds to stroll. This year, the resort is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
There is a golf course nearby. Also, I’ve taken splendid walks in Lake Bemidji State Park, which is only a few minutes away by car. Paul Bunyan Playhouse, a good summer theater in town, offers quality performances by professional actors who troop up to Bemidji from the Twin Cities. There are also excellent supermarkets only a few minutes away, and a shopping mall. The kids will like Putt-N-Go Amusement Park, which has a water slide, go-karts, bumper boats and miniature golf.
My wife, Gillian, and I have also made the trip up to Ruttger’s in the winter. Buena Vista Ski Area — where I got great lessons and learned to ski without breaking my legs — lies not too far away. We have also driven to Bemidji State University for a couple of programs, including a talk one year by Chris Hedges, the iconoclastic former war correspondent for the New York Times.
For a few extra bucks, you can bring along the family dog to Ruttger’s. We take our golden retriever, Eugenie, who chewed up some curtains one year but the staff was very nice about it.
More information: Ruttger’s Birchmont Lodge, on Lake Bemidji in Bemidji, Minn., has 22 classic cottages, 7 cabins with kitchens, 30 rooms in the historic main lodge and 8 in the newer Cedar Lodge. During the height of summer, a 2-bedroom cottage goes for $284 per night (1-888-788-8437; 1-218-444-3463; www.ruttgers.com).