Updated: March 2020
I am always down for a cabin getaway.
I think my obsession with cabins comes down to the most basic idea: togetherness. Time slows down with a lack of obligation. There’s no rush to follow an itinerary. The dining table is meant for good conversation, board games and amazing home-cooked meals. The fireplace = warmth, coziness and enjoying each other’s company.
More often than not, cabins are surrounded by forests, lakes or rivers and some of the best stars because you’re likely away from light pollution. That’s one of the reasons why I enjoy staying at rentals at Cascade Vacation Rentals along the North Shore. They have 170+ cabins from Duluth all the way to Canada and they are usually in the most beautiful locations. Check out my winter 2020 stay at a rental on Devil Track Lake in Grand Marais below.
Cabin getaways don’t have to be long vacations. Even a simple one night getaway does the job for me.
Here is my favorite method for researching cabin stays:
1.) Browse through Google, Airbnb, VRBO, a local rental place like Cascade Vacation Rentals, or whatever rental service you prefer.
2.) Pick your favorite place based on style and amenities (waterfront, wooded acreage, pets allowed, hot tub, etc.), and don’t limit your location if you can. Location tends to limit out a lot of really cool cabins! CVR has an easy-to-use filter search system to help you find the it-factor you need, whether it’s “pet-friendly,” “rentals with pools,” or maybe something “rustic.”
3.) Research all of the parks, lakes, trails, restaurants, shopping and activities that are within an hour of the rental location. Trust me. You’ll find something. There is something really awesome about giving back to the local economy and supporting the businesses and people who live in the area. CVR can actually help you plan some activities as part of your stay. They found a great cross-country ski location for me when I visited this year.
4.) Book and look forward to a new adventure in a new city or town you never thought you’d explore!
If you’re in Minnesota or Wisconsin, you are lucky to live in a state that is surrounded by a plethora of northwoodsy, cozy lodges and cabins.
Unfortunately, most rental search engines don’t let you filter your search by “type” of dwelling, like “cute A-frame cabin” or “modern-rustic yurt.” That’s why I did some digging and curated a list of cabins and cozy places in both Minnesota and Wisconsin — just for you. Note: Pay attention to the bathroom situation since not every rental has running water. Enjoy!
This winter, I had the opportunity to bring Harlan and my parents up to Grand Marais for a sponsored trip to a cabin on Devil Track Lake. It’s Devil Track Lake 215 to be exact (in case you want to rent it!!) and it has the best sunset views! Make sure you mention my promo code LAKES for 20% off when you make your reservation via phone. Woohoo! It expires on May 31. There are just a couple of exclusions with the promo code so scroll down below for more details.
Devil Track Lake 215 is just 8 miles up the scenic Gunflint Trail near Grand Marais. In the summer, you can fish, boat, jet-ski, and swim. In the winter, there’s snowmobiling, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing. It’s also quick access to the Boundary Waters and all of the beautiful scenery that comes with it. I love the idea of going on a BWCA trip, roughin’ it for a few days, and then coming back to the comforts of a rental.
I loved that this lakeside cabin was updated. The style is mid-century modern with a splash of nature. It’s a two-story with three bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms, which was perfect for our party of four. My favorite space is the living room which has a spectacular view of the lake and sunset. There’s even a reading nook with “pillowy rocks.” I know that sounds odd, but just picture pillows that look like different rocks that you might find on the shores of Lake Superior. Harlan loved sitting their and playing.
Devil Track Lake 215 is just one of CVR’s 170+ properties, which include off-the-grid cabins, lake homes, luxe townhomes on Lake Superior, condos and cabins in Lutsen, etc. Whether I want to getaway for a romantic weekend with Nick or do a Lutsen ski trip with a big group of friends, CVR has options for everyone and everything.
Before I booked my stay, Cascade Vacation Rentals helped me scope out some of the activities I could do while visiting in February. They recommended Pincushion Trail for cross country skiing, which was perfect for easy skiing while wearing my hiking backpack with Harlan, but it also had more difficult trails too. That kind of personal planning service sets them apart. CVR’s guest service reps will recommend restaurants, hiking trails, ski trails, indoor and outdoor activities, events, and answer all of your tourism questions. And unlike big box rental companies, if something breaks or you’re trying to figure out how to turn on the electric fireplace, professional housekeeping and maintenance services are just a phone call away.
20% Off Your Next Stay
If you’re making your reservation for before May 31, save 20% on your next getaway to Lake Superior’s North Shore with Cascade Vacation Rentals with the Girl of 10,000 Lakes Getaway Special! Use promo code LAKES when you call 877-415-8974. *The promo excludes holiday weekends. New reservations only. The promo can be used on all properties except Opals Cabins (1, 2, 3, 4, Hillside, and Shoreside), Superior Reflections Cabins (1, 2, and 3), and Superior Shores Cabins (4 and 9). Cannot be combined with other specials or offers.
In winter of 2019, Nick, our pup Kiwi and I spent a weekend at Little Lazy Lodge. This is probably the most beautiful cabin I’ve ever stayed in. It’s where modern meets rustic and a wraparound balcony overlooks 180 acres of woods and field.
And it’s huge! It can comfortably sleep 24 people! The three of us had a blast trying to decide which room we wanted to sleep in – ha! I love cooking in cabin kitchens. The food prepared at cabins simply tastes better to me. Not sure why! I made a really simple chili mac and cheese one night and it felt like I was the star of a cooking show in a fantastic kitchen. Read more about this stay below.
We spent an evening trying to figure out how to play peg jump, finished writing some Christmas cards, I relaxed in the steam shower, explored the beautiful grounds, left a pile of corn out for deer (there's a container full of corn on the patio) and had several successful ice fishing outings at nearby lakes. There are also tons of snowmobile trails and places to cross country ski or snowshoe. Little Lazy Lodge is not only a place to stay, but a location for events too! The two-story venue accommodates 200 people inside and has a similar feel as the lodge: modern, rustic and unique. The city itself is quite small with a population of around 50 people. There isn't a lot of "entertainment" in Boy River, but there is plenty of beauty in its great outdoors and much to do in the surrounding communities of Walker and Grand Rapids. We had an awesome lunch at Merit Lakeside Dining & Cocktails and dinner at the Pickled Loon Saloon. I loved having some downtime to read my book and watch Christmas movies by the fire. Learn more about the Little Lazy Lodge here and check them out on the gram.
POPLAR HAUS ON THE GUNFLINT TRAIL
North of Grand Marais, Minnesota
Reasons to love it: Poplar Haus is a rustic retreat that is right on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which is probably my favorite place in the world. Not an over-exaggeration. The cabins are open year-round, but I especially love being there in the winter when it feels ultra secluded. Everything is well thought-out, including the decor, the menu at the lodge restaurant and bar and of course, the views of pine trees and Poplar Lake. Plus, it’s pet-friendly! While you’re there, think about doing at least a day trip into the Boundary Waters or check out some of the other lakes in the area like Gunflint or Loon Lake. Of course, there are lots to explore in Grand Marais and all of Cook County too.
THE AURORA WITH LAKE SUPERIOR VIEWS
Grand Marais, Minnesota
Reasons to love it: It’s a Scandinavian getaway in the heart of Grand Marais, complete with views of the harbor on Lake Superior. Modern amenities, Nordic decor/architecture and an airy atmosphere make this lodging a unique stay. Because of its location, you can walk to all of the fun places in Grand Marais. There are so many choices for dining and shopping, including the World’s Best Donuts. Be sure to swing by North House Folk School to learn and experience traditional crafts of the north like moccasin sewing, knitting, and even timber framing. The Aurora has a sister lodge called the SkyHouse, which has two bedrooms instead of one.
SECLUDED FOREST A-FRAME RETREAT
Grand Marais, Minnesota (I know! A lot of these are in Grand Marais area, but gosh it is a beautiful place up there with lots of cabin options!)
Reasons to love it: I have an obsession with A-frames and this is a beautiful example of one. All of the natural light that comes through the windows that form an A-shape makes this secluded cabin feel quite homey, warm and inviting. It is open May-November when you can really enjoy the wilderness that surrounds the cabin. The Little Devil Track River runs through the property, where you can fish and dip your toes in.
Silver Bay, Minnesota
Reasons to love it: This place is clearly doing something right. They are booked out throughout the entire year of 2019! Wow. Be on the lookout for bookings in 2020. Endeavor Tiny House Retreats are tiny, modern cabins in the woods of the north shore. It feels like a cabin that is located at a campsite with a view of Lake Superior. It has all of the amenities of a hotel, except Wi-Fi… but who needs Wi-Fi when you’re trying to connect with the beauty of nature. Plus, there’s cell service. Enjoy the wooded scenery on the deck, roast some mallows over the campfire pit, play some yard games and explore the North Shore while staying at the Endeavor.
Reasons to love it: This is where my friend Larissa and I stayed! Gorgeous, locally sourced wooden structure, two acres of fenced land to snowshoe, loft, hot tub, swimming pool and they give you free drink tickets for the local bar. Little Falls is about a half hour, home of super cute boutiques, an amazing restaurant, the Charles A. Lindbergh State Park and museums. Plus, this red cottage is pet-friendly!
Juggler Lake, Minnesota
Reasons to love it: Who doesn’t love an A-frame? A pristine lakefront and a unique cabin that is only accessible by boat. There’s great fishing, 18 acres of forest for hiking and exploring, close proximity to Itasca State Park and it’s completely private!
Reasons to love it: This charming cabin is rustic with modern updates, in-floor heating, log loft space, 13 acres of land for snowshoeing or cross country skiing in the winter and located near the Mesabi Trail and Giants Ridge Recreation Area.
Reasons to love it: It’s a freakin’ tipi! How cool! There’s a private outdoor theatre, you’ll be less than a thousand feet from a lake with canoes, nearby hiking and opportunities to pick blueberries, raspberries, grapes, apples, chokecherries and hazelnuts.
Reasons to love it: It’s a unique space with solar power, fully furnished, fully stocked woodshed for the wood stove and sauna, wooded area that feels off the grid – yet close enough to explore downtown Bemidji and nearby adventures at Lake Bemidji State Park.
Cottage Grove, Minnesota
Reasons to love it: The house is built around an epic tree, making it a “treehouse.” This is pure luxury with a beautiful wood space, loft and not far from St. Paul or Minneapolis. It’s located near the St. Croix River, Afton Alps, and Mississippi River.
Grand Marais, Minnesota
Reasons to love it: It can definitely compare to a birdhouse since this little A-frame is just 230 sq. ft, cozy but perfect for two people. You’ll get a bird’s eye view of the harbor and just steps away from downtown Grand Marais. There’s a quaint little bath that you’ll want to sip a glass of wine or morning coffee in while looking out the window. I love the interior design at the birdhouse – a Nepali theme with porter baskets and yak wool blanket.
Grand Marais, Minnesota
Reasons to love it: The location is in beautiful Grand Marais and within a short walk of from restaurants, pubs, shops, sailboat harbor, Lake Superior, kids 12 and under stay free, very Scandinavian feel inside, dovetail log details make this cabin unique and authentic.
Reasons to love it: This is actually owned by the same person who owns the Mökki above. It’s built on a hilltop surrounded by 20 acres of maples, a screened porch and wraparound deck, newly built cedar sauna, a fenced in area for pets to run free, cool swinging chair, near Grand Marais and Canadian border, Lake Superior views when leaves are down, minutes from Judge CR Magney State Park, Portage Brook Scenic Overlook is a must see.
Reasons to love it: It is located on a 300 acre lake that connects to other lakes and rivers, is only a half hour from Duluth, comes with a cute wooden sauna, lakeshore views from wraparound decks, in-floor heating, near three state parks, super close to Fond Du Lac State Forest where there is opportunity for skiing, snowmobiling, and hiking.
Reasons to love it: This fun-shaped cabin is surrounded by tall pines and comes with some cabin essentials: a wood burning stove, loft, sauna and space for camping if needed. It’s close to Lake Superior, plus there’s a creek on the property. There is plenty to see, do, eat, and drink in Duluth. Jay Cooke State Park is nearby.
LITTLE FOX HOLLOW VINTAGE LOG CABIN
Near Stone Lake, Wisconsin
Reasons to love it: You’ll be traveling back to the 20’s, but with all modern amenities. This cabin has both charm and luxury. Little Fox Hollow is equipped with a beautiful kitchen, but also the option to have an in-cabin chef and massage therapy services. In addition to the cabin, there’s additional sleeping space, including the bunkhouse/game room and boathouse which sits on the Lake Lac Courte Oreilles. There is also a deck boat available for rent at the dock, perfect for a summer cruise or fishing. Take out the paddle boards or kayaks for a cruise and enjoy the fall colors or eagles flying above the lake. Little Fox Hollow is really close to our family cabin in Sarona, WI. If you decide to stay at LFH, swing by Stone Lake to check out some cute shops, a wine/restaurant in a little old schoolhouse and one of my favorite restaurants Pinebrook Farm.
ST. CROIX RIVER HOME WITH HOT TUB
Reasons to love it: Situated along the St. Croix River, this beautiful home is complete with four bedrooms, a bunk room, four bathrooms, dining for 14, three gathering rooms, a game room with a bar, pool table, foosball, darts, a screened gazebo with a hot tub and several patios with a fire pit, sand volleyball court, 100′ of shoreline with a boat and swimming dock, kayaks and paddle boards. I think I just sold myself and I must stay here sometime very soon! Plus, pets are allowed! The St. Croix River is a beautiful waterway with beaches, fishing and near hike trails. Drive over to Willow River State Park or Afton State Park for a day of hiking and exploring. Downtown Hudson is a sweet little area too with really good restaurants like Pier 500, San Pedro Cafe and LoLo.
De Soto, Wisconsin
Reasons to love it: This perfect sized cabin is surrounded by woods which you can view from a gorgeous large deck. Bonus: a covered hot tub, fun loft area for sleeping and a wood burning stove. You’ll find Blackhawk Park nearby with Mississippi River access and a sand beach. It’s located along Wisconsin’s infamous Great River Road with fun local pubs nearby.
Reasons to love it: You’ll get privacy on a seven-acre wooded lot for exploring and hiking. The cabin comes with a bunkhouse, two bikes and two kayaks available for rent. There’s a winery nearby which is a win in my book! If you’re looking for authentic Wisconsin food, there’s a supper club in Neshkoro, located near the Germania Marsh Wildlife Area for birding, fishing, canoeing and hiking.
Reasons to love it: This A-frame is located on Clear Lake and along a snowmobile trail. Rent a snowmobile or bring your own! There’s a dock for fishing, kayaks and a loft which I think is essential for A-frames. It’s near Timm’s Hill County Park where you’ll find the highest point in Wisconsin. Don’t miss out on two local supper clubs for lunch or dinner!
Reasons to love it: This farmstead is for the forager and outdoor lover. It’s complete with a loft, tall ceilings and located next to a rustic, abandoned farm. The cabin was renovated to resemble the original building from more than a century ago. It’s also located on 20 acres of land with on onsite shooting range, plus 50,000 acres of connecting DNR land to explore or hunt, go mushroom or wildflower picking. You’ll find more than a hundred species of birds to watch.
Reasons to love it: My love for A-frames is for real. This one is secluded on five acres of land and a lakefront, which is great for kayaking and canoeing. There’s a hot tub, a nearby sandbar for swimming and it’s close to town where there are some fun bars and restaurants. Go biking down Gandy Dancer State Trail where you’ll find 98 miles of recreation trail. Do some local downtown shopping while you’re in town. Hayward is only an hour away for more adventures, shopping, entertainment and restaurants.
CHIC LOFT SURROUNDED BY NATURE
Reasons to love it: I dub it, “chic barn charm.” There’s a floating loft bed, cool guitar wall and a gorgeous silo next to the barn which is also a rentable living space. A tandem kayak is available for rent, hot air balloon rides are just five minutes away and you’ll be surrounded by wildflowers. Looking for local eats? Check out the farmer’s stand where you’ll find fresh fruits and vegetables, and then go on a hike or bike at the Glacial Drumlin Trail.
Richland Center, Wisconsin
Reason to love it: Explore the driftless region while staying at this yurt. If you’re looking for a quiet escape and love nature, this is for you. It’s located along rolling hills and beautiful driftless scenes. It’s also sustainably built with solar power. Staying here supports the yurt’s non-profit, helping people living with or recovering from cancer. And my favorite reason to stay here: it’s located near trout streams! Be sure to adventure through the biking and hiking trails. Go kayaking among the driftless rugged limestone and take advantage of the shuttle service available for kayaking.
Reasons to love it: This wooded trout stream cabin is located on six acres of woods. The trout stream is great for not only fishing but also swimming. There’s a screen patio house, plenty of wildlife watching, nightly bonfires, a wood stove, loft, nearby beaches and the opportunity to explore nearby Bohn Lake State Natural Area. If you’re looking to trout fish, check out Mecan Springs where you’ll find Class I trout fishing.
Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
Reasons to love it: Small, cozy cottage in the middle of a cool city. There’s a courtyard with string lights and fire pit for cozy evenings outdoors. Don’t miss out on the wonderful view of Sturgeon Bay, the local breweries and awesome restaurants and of course the wine country of Door County. If you’re looking for outdoor activities, take a hike at Potowatomi State Park.
Reasons to love it: My husband’s family cabin is on this lake and we love it. I’ve boated past this island home quite a few times, wondering who lives there. Well, lo and behold, it’s available on Airbnb! Plenty of wildlife with loons and eagles all around, wraparound screen porch, sand beach, two docks, water trampoline, secluded location since you’re on a private island, near Perlick Distillery which has awesome libations, near The Roost where you’ll find the best brunch ever, the lake is great for fishing, nearby pontoon rentals at Long Lake Bait and Tackle.
There were quite a few more unique places out there on both Airbnb and VRBO. If you find some time, browse through and search for spaces in places you normally wouldn’t have thought to explore and share them with me! I’d love to venture there too!
20 Must-Stay Cabins in Minnesota and Wisconsin