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North Shore: Reservations necessary in July?

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Los Angeles
Level Contributor
66 posts
22 reviews
North Shore: Reservations necessary in July?


We live in Los Angeles and have never been to Minnesota. We're thinking about flying to Minneapolis in mid-July and doing a road trip of about 10 days that would take in the North Shore, Grand Marais, etc. We like some spontaneity and don't want to be locked into being in a specific place at a specific time. Is it absolutely necessary to make lodging reservations in advance, if we want to stay in chain motels/inns in this area? We need cell service to keep up with business at home, so the more remote lodges (i.e. Gunflint Trail) aren't realistic for us.


Level Contributor
718 posts
8 reviews
1. Re: North Shore: Reservations necessary in July?

Welcome to MN.

As long as you are not traveling over the 4th of July, or July 26-28th, (Dragon Boat Races), and you are flexible with your lodging choices, you shouldn't need reservations. There are plenty of places to stay along The Shore. Obviously, week days are better then weekends.

Cell service on the Gunflint is always improving, I believe a new tower is going up this year that will make it better.

Burnsville, MN
Level Contributor
538 posts
2 reviews
2. Re: North Shore: Reservations necessary in July?

I would make reservations for Fri/Sat nights, but you probably could be more spontaneous with weekday accommodations. Cell phone coverage is spotty outside of towns such as Grand Marais, Silver Bay, Ely, etc.

Level Contributor
929 posts
410 reviews
3. Re: North Shore: Reservations necessary in July?

Keep in mind that there are very few chain hotels on the North Shore. I have always received spotty coverage from Duluth to Grand Marais. We used a couple of different carriers. Coverage in Grand Marais is strong.

Lino Lakes...
Level Contributor
23 posts
14 reviews
4. Re: North Shore: Reservations necessary in July?

We have a cabin on the North Shore and get many friends who like to visit. Our experience has been that once you pass July 4th, reservations can be a good idea on any weekend. We have found that between July 5-August that many places are booked. Flexibility is a good thing if you want to wing it.

I would recommend at least getting a room for your first two nights if possible, that would leave you some wiggle room to check out where you feel you may want to be and secure additional nights if possible.

The North Shore has so many great areas to hike, visit etc. I understand not wanting to be locked into an area if you are not sure where you will be. Cell service is dependent on cell carrier. We have AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile phones. Sometimes we get service on one of them or the other but rarely all three.

minneapolis, mn
Destination Expert
for Puerto Aventuras, Grand Marais
Level Contributor
1,002 posts
25 reviews
5. Re: North Shore: Reservations necessary in July?

I would suggest reservations on weekends. You can find things on weeknights a bit easier, but during the height of summer, many places are also booked well in advance on weeknights. Also, a lot of the lodges along the shore have 2 night minimum stays...just fyi. Cell coverage is spotty along the shore, I have sprint and my wife Verizon. Usually one of has a signal, though. There is good coverage in most of the towns, but not inland very far.

Grand Marais...
Level Contributor
105 posts
6 reviews
6. Re: North Shore: Reservations necessary in July?

I would echo the message about making a reservation as we often have people come through our family business that have driven all the way to GM but are unable to find lodging that fits them (because they didn't get a reservation). If in GM and looking for lodging you might want to consider the Gunflint Trail or Lutsen as both have many lodging options that are very different than the lodging in GM.

Level Contributor
52 posts
4 reviews
7. Re: North Shore: Reservations necessary in July?

You might be better off planning your lodging at strategic points along your trip and explore from one spot a few days before you move on.

I stayed just north of Gooseberry Falls and it was the perfect place because there were things to see both north and south of there.

northshorevisitor.com is a great website for planning.

8. Re: North Shore: Reservations necessary in July?

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