I can't express how much we look forward to our trip to Naniboujou Lodge every year. We go every President's Day weekend in February and we can hardly contain ourselves thinking about returning every year. We've been going here for years and will continue to go as long as they'll have us. We look forward to our trip here more than anything throughout the year. It’s so relaxing and scenic and the food is amazing.
Naniboujou Lodge is such a scenic property right on the shores of Lake Superior, and it has a fascinating history. Originally built as an exclusive club with famous charter members such as Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey, Naniboujou Lodge ran into trouble with the stock market crash in 1929 and has had to reinvent itself several times since then. The Ramey family has lovingly owned the Lodge for over two decades and you will literally not find a nicer group of folks. They are really special and they treat their guests like they were members of their own family.
The area around Naniboujou Lodge is filled with scenic grandeur, literally starting right across the highway at Judge C.R. Magney State Park. This is a spectacular park in the summer and we love it even more in the winter. There are several MN State Parks and other outdoor activities to enjoy within a short drive from the Lodge, even driving into Canada (only 27 miles north along Lake Superior / Hwy 61). If you choose to go up HWY 61 towards Canada, you’ll want to stop at Grand Portage National Monument, about 21 miles northeast on Hwy 61. It’s a look at a historic fur trading post, and although some portions may be closed in the winter, it’s still worth a stop. In the summer it’s an absolute must-see. There is a trail winding up a hill overlooking the Fort and Lake Superior that I highly recommend doing.
Probably the most popular thing to do for a day trip when staying at Naniboujou is heading back into the town of Grand Marais, MN. Almost everyone going to Naniboujou Lodge will pass through Grand Marais, about 15 miles southwest, right on the shores of Lake Superior. It's such a quaint, fun town, even in the winter. There are restaurants and shops and you can't miss the classic Ben Franklin store, we go there every visit. We also go to Sivertson Gallery just to get our fill of fantastic artwork from Mr. Sivertson and other local artisans and craftspeople.
But, save your appetite for Naniboujou's fabulous dining room. I can picture ourselves walking into that huge, colorful, warm dining room now, scouting out a table for two. Should we sit against the outside wall or against the solarium wall? Or, if we meet someone there maybe we'll share a table by the HUGE stone fireplace (the biggest in MN). We normally get to the Lodge on Friday evening and included with our room is a feast of five meals: dinner on arrival night, breakfast the next Saturday morning, a handmade-and-packed bag lunch that we take with us for our day's outing, dinner again that Saturday evening, and breakfast the next Sunday morning before checking out. The historic-themed colors and patterns on the walls of the dining room pay homage to the Cree Indian community and the giant stone fireplace is a draw as well, with a big, red velvet couch on each side of it. Is there a better place to sit and read a book in the winter? I think not. Well, the adjacent sun-and-book-filled solarium is a close second. The lobby has a nice little gift shop with some Naniboujou logo items and other art pieces and good books on local history. Of course, the Naniboujou Cookbook is an absolute must-buy. We got ours years ago and although it’s now dog-eared from much use, it’s still our favorite and one of our most-used ones. There is also a small book on the history of Naniboujou that I highly recommend buying.
We have gone there for their "afternoon tea" which they have in the spring, summer, and fall, and it's a great splurge. The word spluge makes it sound expensive; it isn't. It comes with an endless variety of teas and a huge assortment of fresh pastries and sandwiches, etc. Their solarium is the perfect spot to enjoy this luxurious treat and I highly recommend at least going there for their afternoon tea, even if you don't have time to stay the night.
But, the food is the real draw of their photogenic dining room. We haven’t had a bad meal in all the years we've been going there. Everything is so creative and good and we always end up eating way too much. It’s a fixed menu in the winter so we don’t get to choose what we eat, but that’s fine with us. There hasn’t been a clunker yet in all the years of staying, and eating, there. The desserts are the icing on the cake, literally. There is always coffee and an assortment of hot teas available all day so as people trickle back to the Lodge after a day of hiking, sight-seeing, shopping, or whatever, they’ll come and get a cup of coffee or tea and sit by the fireplace talking about their activities and treks for the day.
One thing that we absolutely LOVE about Naniboujou is that there are no TVs or phones in the rooms, and I can 99% guarantee that your cell phone won’t work there either. And, that's a very good thing, in my opinion. The Lodge is too far from the nearest cell tower (I have Verizon and if that doesn't work, nothing will) and it is sooooo nice not to have everyone in the dining room constantly checking e-mails or texting or talking on their cell phones. They have a phone in the lobby that folks can use if they need to check on their kids or whatever. But, that’s really appealing to us to not have all of the technology nightmares (yes, we both have smart phones and love that they don’t work here) associated with “modern” lodging and public spaces and all of the rude inturruptions that go along with that.
Since Naniboujou doesn’t have a liquor license, there is no wine or other alcohol allowed in the public spaces. But, you can bring a bottle wine and enjoy it in the privacy of your comfy room. Speaking of the rooms, we always pick a fireplace room and it includes a nice stock of logs for our actual wood-burning fireplace. They recently upgraded the beds to “Sleep Number” mattresses and they’re great. The bathroom area is on the small side, but come on, what do you need? Everything works perfectly and that’s all we ever ask for. The rooms themselves are on the small side but that’s again what we love about this Lodge. If you absolutely need a Trump Tower-sized, posh room, than this isn’t the place for you. But, if you’re like us and you enjoy peace and quiet and an endless variety of things to do, and enjoy great food and great company, you have to stay at the Naniboujou Lodge.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Naniboujou is a place to come home to! Originally built as a private exclusive club in the 1920's - boasting such charter members as Babe Ruth, Ring Lardner, and Jack Dempsey. Naniboujou is on the National Register of Historic Places and is open seasonally - featuring an award winning restaurant as well as lodging. In keeping with the historic nature, Naniboujou continues to be media free and offers guests an opportunity to unplug, unwind, and completely relax - either in their room, the grand dining room, or on the shore of Lake Superior. ... more less
- Also Known As:
- Naniboujou Hotel Grand Marais