“Up North” Wedding – Road Trip!

I may have recently returned from London, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have stuff to do when I got home! In fact, I had one wedding for my great friend Liz just a couple of days after I got back, but that one was local, so no additional travel involved. But the weekend after that, it was time for a road trip to go to another wedding, this time for my friend Josh. We’d already made arrangements for a place to stay (more on that later), so me, Scott, and our friend Nicole (as well as other friends, traveling on their own) just had to make it up north!

First thing’s first – what exactly is “up north”? Well, for those of us who live in the Twin Cities, it really just means anywhere north of here! It can mean in Minnesota or Wisconsin and is most often used in reference to people who have cabins/lake homes on/near one of the many lakes in the upper Midwest, usually within 2-4 hours’ driving distance. You hear the phrase “Are you heading up north this weekend?” quite a bit around here in the summer months! In this case though, our northern destination was Lutsen, MN, located a little over four hours from the Twin Cities. Why up there, you may ask? Well, neither Josh nor his now-husband are from Lutsen, but they visited there on a ski trip last year and really enjoyed it and they’re both into hiking and outdoorsy stuff, so they decided to get married there. Specifically, they chose the Lutsen Resort, which is right on Lake Superior – gorgeous location! Lake Superior, being one of the Great Lakes, is pretty dang big, so it almost feels like being next to the ocean, which makes for beautiful views. We were there just a little too late to be able to take advantage of the fall colors and the weather was unfortunately somewhat uncooperative, with wind, drizzle, and grey skies, but we were inside most of the time anyway. And even with grey skies, the lake and area around it look beautiful. And the weather cooperated enough to allow the ceremony to happen outside without any rain or wind, which we were all grateful for.

There are actually a few different options to stay in at this resort – the lodge, log cabins, condos, townhomes, and sea villas, which is where we stayed. The sea villas have the advantage of opening directly onto the lake (literally a few feet away), but the trade-off is that they’re a little separated from the lodge (2.5 miles away). We were initially worried about this, knowing we’d be at the lodge for wedding stuff both nights we were there, but it wasn’t an issue. And we had lots of space in our villa – three bedrooms (one was a loft) and three bathrooms, so plenty of room for the three of us. It would have been great to be there in the summer, with the lake just steps from the living room, but that’s okay. Maybe we’ll return there someday, especially since we’ve made a couple of other “up north” trips over the years.

And how was the wedding, you may wonder? It was a lot of fun! It started at 2 PM, which was actually really nice because we had a social/cocktail hour afterwards until 4 PM, then dinner/hanging out until 6 PM, and then the dance started. So we had plenty of time to party! We had a pretty good-sized crew of friends with us there, so it was a lot of fun to spend time together celebrating our friends. And the lodge has a little arcade in it, which has one of my favorite games – air hockey! Needless to say, there were some stops in there between dancing (as well as the night before the wedding). And if that wasn’t good enough, the lodge lobby had a number of games in it, including a side table-sized cribbage board, so my friend Steve and I availed ourselves of that both nights.

Food-wise, we made the journey up to Grand Marais, about 20 minutes away (yes, even further north!), for dinner on Friday night and brunch on Saturday morning. Friday’s dinner was at Gun Flint Tavern, which had some good fare. I had a bowl of tasty chili and enjoyed a few bites of my friend’s hummus platter and I think everyone else enjoyed what they ordered, too. Worth a stop if you’re in Grand Marais! On Saturday morning, in search of breakfast, we ended up going to Wunderbar, which was…interesting. We weren’t sure they were actually open at first (the first door we tried was locked) and almost went elsewhere, but once we figured out we could get in, we decided to stay. Upon entering though, there were no patrons and the staff were setting up for some kind of Halloween event for kids, so we weren’t sure if they were even serving food, but one of the staff talked to us and told us about the event (which, quite honestly, we didn’t care about – we just wanted to eat) and then (eventually) told us they were indeed serving food, so we stayed. Unfortunately, we either misread the sign on the door or just weren’t paying close enough attention because we were looking for breakfast food, but they only do that on Sundays, so it was a 1030 AM lunch for us! The service left a lot to be desired, but we all agreed the food was really tasty – fries were crisp and sandwiches (one burger, one “grown-up” grilled cheese, and one Italian beef sandwich, between the three of us) were flavorful, so I would probably give the service a second try because of that. Check them out, but maybe don’t go right at opening time. πŸ™‚

As for the rest of the weekend, it was all about the wedding, reception, and enjoying time with our friends. Check out some photos below!

Our sea villa. Really a townhouse on the lake.

The living room.

The small, but functional kitchen. We didn’t need it much on this trip, but nice to have it.

The staircase heading up from the entry was fairly steep and tight.

The first bedroom, where our friend Nicole stayed.

The “staircase” (ladder) to the loft.

The loft seemed like a cozy space with three (one not shown here) single beds.

Selfie in the loft!

Not exactly easy to get down the loft ladder, but we managed.

The master bedroom. Not that we could use it on this trip (given the weather), but there was also a nice balcony.

The view of the lake from the living room and the master bedroom. I told you it was close to the lake!

Another view of the lake.

Bonfire on the beach the night before the wedding.

Let’s get these guys married!

I didn’t take any photos at the ceremony (that’s what photographers are for!), but I did get those one of the happy couple at dinner.

Take 1 of a photo of all of us friends together (minus the grooms!). There were many takes. πŸ™‚

Nope, not there yet. Love the look on Chad and Melissa’s faces (in the middle) though!

There we go!

And that was about it! We made our way home on Sunday, with a stop at Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors (we literally had to drive by it on the way home, so it seemed rude not to stop :)). As you may have gathered from the name, this place is famous for their pies, going all the way back to 1957, and we made a point to not have breakfast in Lutsen so we could eat here instead. We all got to enjoy the breakfast food we had been craving the day before and it was very tasty. And of course, we finished breakfast with dessert – pie!

Nothing fancy about the building, but the food is worth stopping for!

No fancy presentation, but the hollandaise was very delish.

The pie selection varies by day, but there are boards around the restaurant to highlight their current options. This delicious five-layer chocolate cream pie wasn’t on the list when we arrived, but they must have been making some because they added it just before we ordered dessert. Perfect timing!

Funnily enough, we ran into two friends from our group when we arrived and another two friends when we left! I guess everyone had the same idea to stop there that we did. πŸ™‚ We had a lot of fun celebrating and “up north” is always a great place to visit, so put it on your itinerary the next time you’re in Minnesota.

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!