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Trip Report Minnesota-UP NORTH trip report

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Thank you to everyone who helped us plan our visit to Minnesota.
We used our remaining USAIR dividend miles to fly to Minneapolis. We picked up a rental car from Alamo ($78. for four days, great deal, filthy car and long! line at the airport). We stayed at the Blue Fin Bay resort in Tofte, MN. The location was ideal for touring in the area. We were warned in advance the food in the dining room was not good, so we never tried it. The room we rented was $271. a night, first night free. It was a large one bedroom unit with a full kitchen, one bath, living room/dining room. The bedroom had a queen bed. My husband got quite ill one night so I moved to the sofa bed in the living room. It was horrible. I am no dainty flower and can usually sleep on any flat surface, but that was the problem. The sofa bed had a very large bend in the center and simply would not go flat. I mention this only to caution anyone planning to depend on the sofa bed for extra room. The unit directly faced Lake Superior and had a small deck on the water. The service staff at the hotel was very accomodating and the equipment available to guests is good quality and well maintained. I highly recommend the Blue Fin.
We had two exceptionally good meals. One at the Angry Trout in Grand Marais. Fresh and delicious food, well prepared with an entertaining otter to keep us amused between courses. The other great meal was at the Scenic Cafe on the Scenic roadway just outside of Duluth, south of Two Harbors. We ate fairly good meals at the Cascade Lodge (incredible soup) and the Vanilla Bean Cafe (excellent fresh herring). Our meal at the Satellite Cafe (highly recommended by the Minn/St.Paul newspaper) was very ordinary...bagged salad which had turned brown didn't do much to enhance the experience. We ended up driving to Ely to see the Wolf Center. It was very impressive. We didn't find a good meal there, but we stopped at Sherry's for ice cream and liked it.
Probably the single most impressive aspect of our visit was the State park and hiking trails systems. The parks are exceedingly well maintained. Gooseberry Falls is outstanding. The staff in each park was very cordial and well informed. The hiking trails (especially the Superior trail) are so well marked, groomed and accessible everyone of moderate fitness should be able to enjoy parts of it.
I am a knitter and happened to run out of yarn mid project. We stopped in three yarn stores (Grand Marais, good selection, lovely lady, Tofte, perfect match yarn for my project plus a very charming owner, and a great shop with yarn, buttons and beautiful handmade Danish paper mobiles just south of Two Harbors, owner's very nice husband was in charge while were there). We found all the gifts we needed in the Gooseberry Falls State Park gift shop. It was well managed and the prices were good. I was very surprised that with the exceptions of the three yarn stores and the State Park gift shop we were never greeted, offered any degree of assistance or even acknowledged by most of the sales staff in businesses. This was a striking contrast to the food servers who were to a person charming, helpful and very pleasant.
Minnesota proved to be an excellent choice for vacations for people who enjoy outdoor activities. Just bring the bug spray and go for it. We will certainly return. Great place!

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