Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Lutsen, MN

  • Published 2022/08/08

Lutsen in Minnesota’s Cook County is an unincorporated community nestled between massive lakes.

It somewhat exemplifies Minnesota’s famous moniker “State of 10,000 Lakes” since lakes surround this small community.

Lake Caribou and Lake Barker greet you on Lutsen’s northern edge.

At the same time, the world’s second-largest lake, Lake Superior, lies on its shoreline.

Also, Lutsen is a renowned skiing destination.

Reaching the pristine snowy slopes and peaks from Sawtooth and Lutsen Mountains is less than an hour from downtown.

To put it simply, Lutsen is an excellent outdoor adventure destination on the nation’s northern edge.

So, check this travel post about the 15 best things to do in Lutsen, Minnesota.

Reach the Lutsen Mountains’ Peak

Snow-covered landscape of Lutsen Mountains

Life Atlas Photography /

Lutsen Mountains is famous for its mountain resort, which thousands of tourists visit annually.

Its mountain resort boasts Mid-America’s most extensive ski resort, making it a haven for outdoor sports enthusiasts.

The mountain has everything from a high elevation to thick snowfall and breathtaking sceneries.

With all that in mind, you must visit this mountain and its mountain resort for some skiing or snowboarding sessions.

Fall view of Lutsen Mountains' summit

aaajin /

Getting on top of these snowy mountains is relatively easy since there are numerous gondolas to transport you and vice versa.

Its slopes feature over 95 runs from four mountains which have interconnecting peaks.

Meanwhile, it has an 825-foot vertical rise for extreme snowboarders and skiers, perfect for an exhilarating drop.

In addition, Lutsen Mountain has numerous ski resorts where you can spend your night.

Take a Sip of Fine Wine at the North Shore Winery

North Shore Winery in downtown Lutsen is an excellent place to unwind and enjoy a glass of its superb wine.

Situated along Ski Hill Road, North Shore Winery boasts some of the finest wines in the area.

It produces wine from California grapes and ciders from Minnesota apples, making it a delectable experience you mustn’t miss when in Lutsen.

Its finest wines and ciders are regularly served at its winery and tasting room, where many skiers going to Lutsen Mountain stop by.

In addition, the winery also boasts a majestic view of Lake Superior since it’s nestled along its shores.

The winery also sells local handicrafts and artworks, perfect for a souvenir from your visit to Lutsen.

With all that in mind, you must include this winery in your itinerary for a satisfying wine-tasting experience.

Score a Hole-in-One at the Superior National at Lutsen-Golf Course

Superior National at Lutsen-Golf Course is a famous outdoor sports destination within the Superior National Forest.

This massive and picturesque golf course in Lutsen features 27-holes meandering through the gorgeous Poplar River Valley.

It offers golfers a stunning view of Lake Superior on one side and the Sawtooth Mountains on the other.

Also known by golfers as the “Cadillac of Minnesota Golf Course,” this one should be on your itinerary, especially if you’re an avid golfer.

Aside from its breathtaking landscape and scenery, this golf course also features a technical layout.

It has white sand bunkers, canyon courses, and five sets of tees designed by Jeffrey Brauer.

Suppose you’re not up to the challenge of finishing 27 holes.

You can check out its Premier 18-hole course, which features the same beautiful sceneries and landscapes.

Meanwhile, the Mountain 9 course is a family-friendly facility for golfers of all skill levels.

Treat Yourself to Mouthwatering Food at the Lockport Marketplace and Deli

Lockport Marketplace and Deli is one of Lutsen’s oldest one-stop food shops.

Opened in 1928, this shop is already considered a North Shore landmark known for its delicious breakfast and lunch menu served daily.

Locals and visitors in Lutsen love to spend their mornings and noon at this shop to grab their meal before exploring.

This shop along Highway 61 is most famous for its French toast and other breakfast meals served with its excellent coffee daily.

At the same time, people can resupply themselves with all groceries and gas before continuing their journey through Lutsen.

Suppose you’re looking for a hearty meal before exploring Lutsen.

Drop by this shop, experience its cozy and authentic Northern Minnesota vibes, and order your favorite breakfast meal.

Witness the Breathtaking Sceneries of Lutsen Through Summit Express Gondola

Gondola of Summit Express Gondola

Halder /

The Summit Express Gondola is the primary transport for skiers and tourists to reach Lutsen Mountain’s snowy peaks.

However, this aerial gondola isn’t just your typical transportation.

It’s also one of North Shore’s most famous tourist attractions.

Riding the gondola is a one-of-a-kind experience where you’ll be treated to dramatic sceneries of Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains.

This gondola’s ride takes less than an hour and slowly ascends to a thousand feet above Lake Superior.

Going up provides a gentle ride and a panoramic view of the famous natural attractions on both sides.

Experience a Thrilling Glide at Alpine Slides

Alpine Slides is a one-of-a-kind attraction in Lutsen, where you’ll be riding a sled through forested and scenic areas.

Situated along Ski Hill Road, this famous ride is a thrilling sled ride featuring its half-mile track.

The sled ride is filled with twists and turns on a slope from Eagle Mountain down to the ground.

A chairlift takes you to the top of Eagle Mountain, where you’ll start riding the sled and enjoy the five-minute ride down.

Of course, you can ride longer on the sled since you can control its speed, allowing you to enjoy the scenic view of the area.

Dine at a Breathtaking View Papa Charlie’s

Papa Charlie’s is a popular casual sports-centric restaurant and pub above the mountains of Lutsen in Eagle Ridge Resort.

It’s widely known for its great food, cozy pub grub, pool and games, and live music.

However, many tourists in Lutsen love to return to this place because of its gorgeous view of the sceneries below.

It has a spacious patio overlooking Superior National Forest.

At the same time, it’s an excellent place to unwind after an entire day snowboarding above Lutsen Mountains.

Suppose you’re looking for a scenic place to grab a meal or down a bottle of beer; this place in Lutsen won’t fail you.

Book Your Stay at the Eagle Ridge Resort

Eagle Ridge Resort along Ski Hill Road is one of the favorite basecamps for outdoor adventure.

It features various accommodations, from the hotel to condominium units, perfect for families or groups.

In addition, it’s situated on Sawtooth Mountain, where you can enjoy top-notch relaxation while vacationing in Lutsen.

People love to stay at this resort because of its proximity to Lutsen’s famous tourist attractions, such as Sawtooth Mountain’s ski resorts, Superior National Forest, Lake Superior, and Poplar River Valley.

Like most mountain resorts, this one features essential amenities like cozy bedrooms and suits, fireplaces, a swimming pool, a restaurant, and function rooms.

Plus, it has a picturesque view of Moose Mountain and Poplar River Valley, adding value to your stay there.

Suppose you’re looking for top-notch accommodation while vacationing in Lutsen.

Consider this famous resort your home for the rest of your travel adventure.

Traverse the Oberg Mountain Loop Trails

The lake of Oberg Mountain Loop

Jacob Boomsma /

Oberg Mountain Loop is a section of trails part of the 310-mile long Superior Hiking Trail.

This famous trail is situated 10 minutes or 6.3-miles west of Lutsen in Tofte Township.

Day hikes and trekking are your favorite outdoor activities on this trail.

You usually start hiking from its trailhead, which slowly ascends 200 feet through numerous switchbacks.

Nature trail of Oberg Mountain Loop

Jacob Boomsma /

After reaching the top, proceed hiking through a 1.3-mile trail loop around Oberg Mountain’s summit for a picturesque view of the surrounding natural areas.

There are numerous overlooks throughout the trail to stop by and enjoy the breathtaking views.

Most hikers love to return to this famous trail to appreciate the majestic beauty of Lake Superior from below and the Superior National Forest’s rolling hills.

So, don’t forget to include your hiking boots when visiting Lutsen because you’ll likely find yourself hiking through this famous trail.

Scenic view of Oberg Mountain

Jacob Boomsma /

Spend Your Vacation at the Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior

Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior is famous throughout the region since it’s where Minnesota Tourism was established.

In addition, it’s also North Shore’s first resort, opened in 1885 as a homestead of Swedish immigrant C.A.A. Nelson.

Initially, the resort served as a residence of Nelson’s family until it grew into a stay-over for travelers arriving by boat on Lake Superior back in the day.

Because of its unparalleled hospitality to travelers, the homestead became Minnesota’s first vacation resort.

Today, it remains an institution in the entire state’s tourism sector, making your visit there worthwhile and meaningful.

So, when you’re planning to spend a couple of days in Lutsen, booking your stay at Lutsen Resort would be best.

Aside from history, this resort also boasts some of the best views of Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains.

Likewise, you’ll also enjoy water activities like fishing, kayaking, and swimming at this resort.

Experience the Cathedral of the Pines Summer Youth Camp

Cathedral of the Pines is a famous summer youth camp in Lutsen where many youngsters spend a couple of weeks for a meaningful outdoor adventure.

The Mount Olivet Lutheran Church’s yearly event combines summer experience, recreation, education, and enlightenment.

This summer camp also emphasizes spiritual growth aside from camaraderie and outdoor recreation.

In addition, it takes place on Caribou Lake’s picturesque shores, making it a worthwhile experience.

Also, the participants will enjoy outdoor recreation, such as hiking, swimming, nature exploration, outdoor sports, boating, arts and crafts, and other meaningful activities.

The most fantastic part of joining this summer camp is that everyone from families, graduating seniors, and groups can join.

Paddle through the Pristine Caribou Lake

The calm waters of Caribou Lake

Wildnerdpix /

Caribou Lake, north of Lutsen, boasts some of Minnesota’s most pristine and crystal-clear waters.

This lake’s waters have clarity of over 40 feet from the surface.

At the same time, its depth of 160 feet is a renowned freshwater diving spot.

Many tourists visit Caribou Lake for various reasons.

One is diving, while many visit this lake in Lutsen for swimming, boating, kayaking, and canoeing through its 728-acre area.

Wooden dock on Caribou Lake

Edgar Lee Espe /

However, one distinct recreation is the most famous in Caribou Lake—fishing.

This lake is abundant in Lake Trouts, while small and largemouth bass are also found in its waters.

Also, northern pike is usually found in this lake’s depths, making it a haven for anglers.

So, if you’re itching for a swim or boating while in Lutsen, head to Caribou Lake and be amazed by crystal-clear waters.

Sunset over Caribou Lake

Wildnerdpix /

Explore Downtown Lutsen

Lutsen may lack the size, but this small unincorporated community is home to an eclectic collection of shops, delis, and restaurants in its downtown area.

Lutsen’s downtown is filled with all your needed shops for groceries and supplies for your outdoor adventure.

At the same time, it’s also an idyllic location for leisure and unwinding since there are coffee shops, delis, restaurants, and liquor shops.

With all that in mind, go and explore Downtown Lutsen whenever you take a skiing or snowboarding break.

Great Gift is a shop famous for its locally-made jewelry, bags, and clothing known for its Minnesota-themed designs.

Meanwhile, The Mountain Shop offers you various apparel meant for the outdoors along with souvenirs such as fridge magnets, mugs, and ornaments.

Also, don’t forget to drop by Thomsonite Beach Gems & Jewelry, Lutsen Jeweler of the North, Clearview General Store, and Isak Hansen Home and Hardware.

Have Fun at Grandview Park

Grandview Park is Lutsen’s version of a community park.

It’s where most locals spend their weekends for some picnic, barbeque, and outdoor fun.

Situated along Grandview Loop, this park has all the needed amenities of an excellent community park.

It has a picnic area, lush greenery, open space, tables, grills, a playground, and a bonfire ring.

In addition, it’s also open to the public with no entrance fee.

Suppose you want to take a break from exploring Lutsen’s famous attractions.

Head to this charming community park for a fun-filled day with your family or travel buddies.

Immerse Yourself with Nature at the Cascade River State Park

Waterfall at Cascade River State Park

Noel Kalle /

Cascade River State Park is a famous outdoor destination northeast of Lutsen near Lookout Mountain.

The park highlights the charming river, which runs about 17 miles through Northeastern Minnesota and spills into Lake Superior.

At the park’s lower end, the river rushes through a long narrow canyon that serves as a waterfall and cascades.

Steps along Cascade River State Park's trail

Emily De Donato /

Aside from the majestic view of the river and waterfalls, this natural attraction also features a network of trails that leads you to numerous scenic overlooks.

Suppose you’re itching for another hiking activity before going home; this place is highly recommended.

Aside from its scenic views, river, and waterfalls, this place is also known for wildlife encounters, making it an excellent destination for wildlife enthusiasts.

The waters of Cascade River State Park

Ralf Broskvar /

Final Thoughts

Don’t be deceived by Lutsen’s quaint appeal because this place along Lake Superior has majestic natural attractions.

Aside from being a top-notch skiing and snowboarding destination in Minnesota, Lutsen has more to offer than meets the eye.

This place is gifted with the majestic Lake Superior from one side and the Sawtooth Mountains.

Before exploring this resort town, don’t forget to pin or bookmark this travel post about the best things to do in Lutsen as your handy itinerary.

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