The North Shore is one of my favorite weekend escapes in Minnesota. Its beauty, wildly underrated outside of the Midwest, makes for a tranquil getaway from the Twin Cities, especially when staying at one of the lodges and hotels on the North Shore that are surrounded by Superior National Forest.
Though to outsiders, Duluth might seem like the obvious choice for visiting Lake Superior. If you drive further towards Canada, you’ll find that lodges and hotels on the North Shore only become more impressive, boasting crystal clear water, private Lake Superior access, fun outdoor activities, and a quiet retreat.
I’ve had the privilege of visiting the North Shore numerous times across all seasons. Relatively definitively, I can say that these cabins and cottage resorts, lodges, and hotels on the North Shore are among the best Minnesota has to offer.
Of the below list, I’ve stayed at Bluefin Bay, Lift Bridge Lodge, and Caribou Highlands Lodge. The remainder of these properties come with high praise from Minnesota locals and travelers alike.
Click below to explore hotels on the North Shore:
1. Cliff Dweller Hotel on Lake Superior
Address: 6452 MN-61, Tofte, MN 55615
Located in Tofte, one of the best areas to stay in on the North Shore, Cliff Dweller Hotel on Lake Superior offers guests bright, wood-lined rooms overlooking Lake Superior.
The cozy North Shore hotel features private balconies with views of Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains shoreline for each room, good proximity to nearby hiking trails, and complimentary Trail Cruiser bike rental for exploring the nearby areas.
While you’re up there, check out North House Folk School for crafting classes, visit waterfalls like High Falls in Grand Portage or Gooseberry Falls (always a good time), or try your hand at fishing for walleye, bass, and trout on the lake.
2. The Mayhew Inn
Address: 107 West Wisconsin St, Grand Marais, MN 55604
Grand Marais is one of the most charming small towns on the North Shore. Located just 41.2 miles from the Canadian border, the town attracts tons of tourists from all over. Notably, Grand Marais is the eastern point of entry for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area.
Those not looking to camp can check in to The Mayhew Inn, on the the best hotels in Grand Marais. The stylish boutique hotel features a contemporary rooftop patio with waterfront views and plush seating in a central downtown location.
Each room is unique, so The Mayhew Inn allows guests to select the specific one they want to book. My picks are the Rococo Room, a simple Queen room elevated with handpainted detail, and the Thunderbird, an 1800 square-foot, two-story suite with two private terraces and rustic-chic furnishings.
While you’re staying, discover the best restaurants in Grand Marais nearby.
3. Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior
Address: 596 Larsmont Way, Two Harbors, MN 55616
Staying in Two Harbors provides the best of both worlds: it’s closer to the Twin Cities than Tofte and Grand Marais and about a half hour away from Duluth. You’ll be in good proximity to Duluth but further into nature. Grand Marais is about an hour and a half away—not particularly close, but not a bad drive for a day trip on the North Shore, either.
Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior is one of the best places to stay in Two Harbors. The secluded, romantic cottages are located on 40 acres of private woods on the shore of Lake Superior (the resort boasts more than 1,300 feet of shoreline).
The property has options for groups of all sizes, ranging from individual suites to three-bedroom cottages that sleep up to eight. Guests rave about the live music performances and nightly bonfires complete with S’mores kits. In addition to concerts, Larsmont Cottages’ robust events calendar also regularly includes trivia nights and activities for children.
As a solo travel enthusiast, I loved seeing that Larsmont Cottages encourages those traveling alone to book a stay (atypical in my experience for similar properties).
While you’re staying at Larsmont Cottages, pay a visit to Split Rock Lighthouse nearby, one of Minnesota’s most iconic landmarks. I haven’t stayed at the property quite yet, but with such focus on guest experience, am hoping to get there soon.
4. Lift Bridge Lodge, Ascend Hotel Collection
408 Canal Park Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
The Lift Bridge Lodge is where my boyfriend and I stayed the first year that we went up to the North Shore for New Year’s Eve (which is now a beloved tradition). The large hotel, operated by the Choice Hotels group, is one of the best hotels in Duluth with a Lake Superior view.
Located right across the street from the lake, Lift Bridge Lodge has highly coveted Canal Park real estate, which the hotel takes full advantage of. Several of Lift Bridge Lodge’s hotel rooms have large private balconies overlooking Canal Park and Lake Superior, many also featuring in-room jacuzzis and working fireplaces.
Hotel amenities include complimentary breakfast, a heated indoor pool, and a fitness center, in addition to free parking.
I love how convenient Lift Bridge Lodge is to Duluth’s attractions and restaurants. Even better, staying at the hotel doesn’t require navigating Duluth’s steep, icy hills during winter months.
5. Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior
Address: 7192 MN-61, Tofte, MN 55615
Bluefin Bay is one of the most popular resorts on the North Shore. The large resort features three different properties: Bluefin Bay, a hotel; Surfside on Lake Superior, large private townhouses; and Temperance Landing, luxury log homes.
Guests staying at any of the resort’s three properties can access its wide array of amenities, many of which are unparalleled compared to other hotels on the North Shore. Complimentary use of tennis courts, indoor and outdoor pools, equipment such as snowshoes and ice skates, an ice rink, and nightly s’mores bonfires are available to guests.
Also included in a Bluefin Bay stay is a seasonally rotating list of tours and excursions such as kayaking, paddleboarding, yoga, cross-country skiing, and a shuttle to nearby Lutsen Mountains and North Shore Winery.
There isn’t much for food near the resort, so Bluefin Bay offers three different restaurants and cafes on the property.
Enjoy private lake access and stunning, sweeping views of Lake Superior from rooms and townhouses. We stayed at Surfside, and the lake access, with its perfectly clear water, was nearly empty the entire duration of our stay—it was incredible.
233 Ski Hill Rd, Lutsen, MN 55612
Northern Minnesota is a natural fit for the trendy dome tents overtaking the glamping world. Up north, clear skies make for incredible stargazing. The Milky Way is often on display, and lucky visitors might even be able to take in a spectacular Northern Lights show (yes, the Aurora Borealis appears in Minnesota, sometimes even as far south as the Twin Cities.
Klarhet, translating into “clarity” from Swedish and Norwegian, is a small retreat perfect for those looking for mindful accommodation on the North Shore. Immerse yourself in nature by staying in one of the property’s four domed tents without sacrificing the creature comforts of a hotel.
The resort was developed to work in harmony with nature rather than against it. As such, it’s surrounded by regenerative food forest as Klarhet works to cultivate a variety of whole foods while improving soil conditions year over year.
Despite Klarhet’s secluded feel, the glamping resort is located partway down Ski Hill Road, making it convenient to Lutsen Mountains, Superior National at Lutsen Golf Course, and North Shore Winery.
7. Cove Point Lodge
4614 MN-61, Beaver Bay, MN 55601
You won’t need to upgrade your room at Cove Point Lodge to get a beautiful Lake Superior view. Each of the Beaver Bay resort’s two- and 3-bedroom cottages overlook the lake or cove.
Like Two Harbors, Beaver Bay is a relatively central town to stay in on the North Shore. It’s further north than Grand Marais, offering a true halfway point between Duluth and Grand Marais.
Cove Point Lodge is undeniably one of the best lodging options in the town. The bright red property embraces the local spirit of Minnesota’s Northwoods region, also bringing in the Scandinavian charm commonly seen throughout the state (Minnesota has the highest population of those with Scandinavian heritage in the United States, according to U.S. Census Bureau data).
From the resort’s driveway, guests can access the Gitchi-Gami Bike Trail to cycle to several top North Shore attractions, such as the Split Rock Light House and Gooseberry Falls State Parks.
8. Lutsen Resort
5700 MN-61, Lutsen, MN 55612
Lutsen Mountains is one of my favorite places to go in Minnesota in the winter. The ski resort boasts Minnesota’s highest peak, Eagle Mountain, and the state’s best skiing. In the fall, tourists love visiting to see the fall colors from its gondola and the alpine slide.
Lutsen Resort is across the road from the entrance to Lutsen Mountains and Superior National at Lutsen Golf Course. Instead of being buried in the woods like accommodation at the recreation area, Lutsen Resort is lakeside (that’s right, views of Lake Superior and only a five-minute drive to the slopes).
The hotel is both family and pet-friendly. Lodge rooms, log cabins, and townhomes are available to accommodate groups of all sizes.
If you’re looking for a hotel at Lutsen Mountains itself, check out Caribou Highlands Lodge, which offers ski-in, ski-out access.
9. Merryweather Inn – Bed & Breakfast
Address: 2316 E 1st St, Duluth, MN 55812
While staying in Duluth may not offer a quite as impressive Lake Superior experience, it does deliver on much better dining and nightlife options than heading further north, plus is a much shorter drive from the Twin Cities (that four-plus hour drive up to Tofte and Grand Marais gets hefty).
The Merryweather Inn is a lovely hotel in Duluth’s historic mansion neighborhood. The quaint neighborhood is littered with cute Airbnbs and boutique hotels, though The Merryweather Inn appears to stand out from the crowd.
Inviting guests in with a peppy pink door, the Merryweather Inn is picturesque, perfect for travelers looking for a unique hotel on the North Shore that doesn’t fit into the cold, modern mold of corporate chain hotels.
Being inland, you won’t get a Lake Superior view like you would at other North Shore hotels. However, the property more than makes up for it with a carefully decorated salon, dark wood-accented library, and cuisine made from fresh herbs grown in the property’s garden.
Hotels on the North Shore, MN: FAQ
Duluth, Lutsen, Tofte, Two Harbors, and Grand Marais are top cities to stay in on the North Shore. Stay in Duluth for a more urban feel, Grand Marais for a cute small town, or Tofte to escape into nature on Lake Superior’s pristine shoreline.
There’s something to appreciate about the North Shore in all seasons. Visit in the summer for warm weather and water sports, visit in the fall for leaf peeping and hiking, or go in the winter to ski and skate. Spring is the worst season to visit the North Shore, as it’s typically cold, muddy, and generally poor weather.
Looking for more of the best places to go in Minnesota? Click the links below: