Top 11 Weekend Getaways From Minneapolis and Saint Paul

By Joe Baur,

It’s about time for that summer vacation. You’re looking at a map and can’t decide where to go. Well, how about leaning on your neighbors for a suggestion?

To get our answers, we conducted a super serious scientific study, luring a group of Minneapolitans and Saint Paulites into our lab hidden in the woods of Pike Island by dangling a six-pack of Surly with the promise of a free Brave New Workshop show and early screening of Diablo Cody’s latest flick.

Okay, really, we just looked at what Twin Cities trivago users are searching and put together a list of the Top 11 Weekend Getaways, covering everything from small-town charm to adventure in the great outdoors. We even went a step further and looked up how you can save or splurge on the hotel stay.


DULUTH

Weekend travelers from the Twin Cities flock to the water, and the port city of Duluth is the gateway to Lake Superior. They fish on it, swim in it, bike alongside it, and, of course, drink the region’s impressive craft beer offerings, which rely heavily on the cleanliness and purity of the lake. Lifelong memories await in this blend of urbanity and natural adventure.

SAVE: Fitger’s Inn $185/night

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SPLURGE: The Inn on Lake Superior $330/night

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WISCONSIN DELLS

The Wisconsin Dells are the waterpark capital of the world and a longtime favorite of Midwest travelers in general. Scenic boat tours, challenging golf courses, world-class spa services, restaurants, shopping, and of course, waterparks are all spread out across nearly 20 square miles with a vibrant downtown at the heart of it all.

SAVE: River Road $55/night

River Road Wisconsin Dells

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SPLURGE: Delton Grand Resort & Spa $290/night

Photo courtesy of Delton Grand Resort & Spa’s Facebook page.

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MADISON

Photo by Rosanne Cash, courtesy of Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Wisconsin capital is home to the nation’s largest producer-only farmer’s market. If you’re not sampling at the market, you’ll no doubt get a taste at any of the numerous locally-owned and -sourced restaurants that continue to pop up in the city. Couple that with a burgeoning music scene and Broadway shows (all within walking distance of Capitol Square), it’s little wonder that Madison is a weekend getaway favorite.

SAVE: Best Western Premier Hotel $144/night

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SPLURGE: The Madison Concourse $245/night

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TWO HARBORS

Two Harbors is a quaint town on the scenic North Shore of Lake Superior with endless options for soaking in the sights. Visit the waterfront to watch the majestic 1000-foot ore boats come into port, walk the breakwall, tour the lighthouse and museums, go for a stroll or bike ride on the lakeside trails, or simply wander along the beautiful shoreline. With an abundance of fabulous small-town establishments, there is something for everyone: shopping, casual or fine dining, craft brews, and live music. It truly is the perfect weekend getaway destination.

BEST DEAL: Country Inn of Two Harbors $150/night

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RED WING

Visitors are constantly falling in love with the history and small-town charm of Red Wing, just an hour south of the Twin Cities. The bluffs of the Mighty Mississippi create a beautiful, natural playground for just about any outdoor adventure — hiking, biking, boating, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, golfing, picnicking, and even skiing come winter. Then in the historic downtown, you have no shortage of locally-owned restaurants and businesses to peruse, not to mention a bubbling wine and craft beer scene to satisfy every palate.

BEST DEAL: Country Inn & Suites By Carlson $107/night

Country Inn and Suites by Carlson Red Wing

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GRAND MARAIS

This quiet fishing village on the rocky coast of Lake Superior is the ultimate springboard for adventure. From the waterfalls and wildflowers to the spectacular hiking and biking trails — adventure lurks around every corner. Head to one of the local breweries, like Voyageur and Gun Flint Tavern, to hear locals swapping stories of their daily exploits or artists discussing their favorite muse — the surrounding nature of Grand Marais.

SAVE: Cascade Lodge On Lake Superior $99/night

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SPLURGE: East Bay Suites $395/night

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DES MOINES

Photo courtesy of Catch Des Moines

Just a few hours south of the Twin Cities, Greater Des Moines has completed its transformation in the past decade into an eclectic destination boasting delicious restaurants, an abundance of arts and culture, and plenty of festivals, fairs, and events to keep visitors coming back throughout the year. Don’t skip the hops either. Sample your way around more than a dozen local breweries, many of which are located along the 800-plus miles of bike trails in the metro.

SAVE: Comfort Inn & Suites Event Center $108/night

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SPLURGE: Residence Inn Des Moines Downtown $339/night

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BRAINERD

Brainerd (along with neighboring Baxter) serves as the gateway to the Brainerd Lakes Area. Now’s the time to visit Brainerd after relatively recently completing a $2 million improvement project in the six-block downtown area that took care of the historic face of the town. You’ll also want to check out Brainerd’s shared green space with Brainerd, the 500-acre Northland Arboretum at the trailhead to the Paul Bunyan State Trail, which itself travels 75 miles from Brainerd to Bemidji.

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SPLURGE: Comfort Suites Rapid River Lodge $129/night

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LA CROSSE

Named after the brutal Native American sport, La Crosse has grown beyond its indigenous-francophile roots to become the host of one of the most celebrated Oktoberfests in the United States with over 100,000 attendees annually. Combine that with views of the Mississippi River from the Grandad Bluff, shopping and having a few drinks along 3rd Street (known for having the most bars on a single street in the U.S.), and bird spotting along one of North America’s most important migratory routes — you’ll find a little bit of everything for any kind of traveler.

SAVE: Settle Inn La Crosse $72/night

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SPLURGE: Radisson Hotel La Crosse $102/night

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BEMIDJI

The first city on the Mississippi, Bemidji has been a gathering place for travelers across centuries. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox welcome visitors at the waterfront park adjacent to the city’s energetic downtown district dotted with boutiques, restaurants, breweries, pubs, and live performances at the local theater or during lakeside festivals. Follow the lure of Lake Bemidji with a two-wheel jaunt into the state park with plenty to do from sunrise to sunset.

SAVE: Best Western Bemidji Inn $67/night

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SPLURGE: Country Inn & Suites Carlson $139/night

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*trivago hotel price data was accurate on the date of publishing.