Before COVID I never would have spent $1,700 on a luxury road trip, but it ended up being worth every penny
- My husband and I were looking forward to taking several kid-free trips in 2020, but the pandemic cancelled our plans.
- After some research, we decided it felt safe to take a road trip someplace close by and chose Minnesota’s North Shore.
- In total, we spent about $1,745 on our trip including lodgings, nice meals, and the most beautiful round of golf we’ve ever played.
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Before the pandemic hit, my husband and I had plans to take several trips in 2020. After a few years of limited travel while we were growing our family, we were excited to have some time away from our kids. Of course, with COVID-19, travel plans were put on hold in mid-March, and even after the restrictions lifted we were still concerned about leaving our family and being stranded someplace.
Enter the Minnesota North Shore getaway. Like a lot of people this year, we decided to do something we wouldn’t normally do — take a road trip! We’d thought about flying someplace, but after reviewing the COVID-19 precautions, we decided against it. Staying closer to home seemed like a safer and more relaxing idea.
Despite low accommodation availability, we did end up finding a last-minute opening on Airbnb in our price range for a weekend in mid-September. It was a resort right on Lake Superior and a great launching point to be able to explore the North Shore.
Here’s how we spent our time and money during our time on the North Shore.
We hit the road on Friday and went all out for dinner
We left the Twin Cities around 9: 00 am and stopped at Russ Kendall’s for smoked fish and a stack of crackers, then drove further north to Two Harbors Agate Bay to sit outside and enjoy our lunch.
Cost for lunch: $30.28
After lunch, we stopped at Gooseberry Falls State Park to do some hiking. From there, we hopped back in the car and stopped at Palisade Head, a local rock-climbing spot with an incredible view.
After our stop, it was only a bit further to our Airbnb. Once we got up there, we sat outside admiring the view and cracked open the bottle of wine we bought on our honeymoon five years prior. This is one of our go-to ways to save money on alcohol while traveling: Stop by a local liquor store (or, if you’re driving, bring your own from home) and enjoy a drink at your accommodation instead of going out for a drink before dinner.
Cost for our lodgings: $796.21
That night, we had dinner at The Strand Waterfront Dining and Wine Bar at Lutsen Resort. It was a nice sit-down dinner, and we didn’t hold back on ordering drinks, appetizers, and our meals.
We went for a hike and stopped at a local brewery on Saturday
The next morning, we stopped for a quick breakfast and coffee at Coho Cafe & Bakery in Tofte, the town where we were staying, before heading out to hike for the day.
We headed up to Temperance River State Park and spent a few hours exploring the beautiful waterfalls and river gorge.
After our hike, we headed north to Grand Marais to grab lunch at the Angry Trout Cafe and explore the town.
We walked around a bit and stopped at Voyageur Brewing for a beer before heading back to Tofte to freshen up.
That night, we ate at Bluefin Grille and then stopped at a friend’s resort to have a beer before heading back to our place. Although this was the only reservation we made before heading up north, we felt the food and drinks were better at The Strand and would have opted for a cheaper dinner option if we were to do it over.
We had a full day of hiking, traveling, and dining on Sunday
Sunday morning we ate a light breakfast at our place before grabbing coffee at Fika Coffee.
My husband and I try to never eat out or buy food/drinks more than two times per day while traveling, so we typically bring granola bars and other easy, non-perishable items for breakfast and snacks. You can also save money by stocking up on snacks/drinks at a grocery store once you arrive at your destination.
From there, we hiked the Oberg Mountain Trail, which was incredible! The leaves were just starting to change and the view of Lake Superior was stunning.
After hiking we headed into Grand Marais to watch the Vikings vs. Packers football game and have lunch at the Gunflint Tavern.
After lunch, my husband stayed to watch the game and I went out to walk around and explore the town. I stopped at a local store and bought a print for our home as well as a cute journal for my kids at The Big Lake.
After the game, we decided to take a drive up to the Canadian border so we could see Minnesota’s highest waterfall at Grand Portage State Park.
On our way back, we stopped at Horseshoe Bay to look for agates and take a stroll along the beach.
By the time we got back it was dinnertime, so we popped into Voyageur Brewing again to sit at the bar and grab a quick bite and brew.
We played a round of golf on Monday before heading back home
We had reserved a round of golf at Superior National Golf Course for Monday. Although it was definitely on the more expensive side for rounds, it was by far the most beautiful course we have ever played.
Cost including drinks and snacks on the course: $192.20
From there, we headed back home, stopping in Duluth to grab sandwiches to go at Corktown Deli and Brews and filling up on gas before we made it back to the Twin Cities.
In total, our long weekend on the North Shore cost us approximately $1,745.
$661 on dining and drinks
$192 on golf
$61 on shopping
$35 on gas
$796 on Airbnb
Adding up all the expenditures, we saved a lot of money by opting to drive somewhere close by versus flying.
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