Best North Shore Resort: Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN
I am not a camper. And a very reluctant glamper. So I was excited when I had the opportunity to partner with Odyssey Resorts and one of their finest resorts on Minnesota’s North Shore and Sawtooth Mountains: Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, Minnesota. Our three-bedroom townhome was cozy, yet spacious, and the perfect winter retreat for our North Shore Minnesota staycation. Centrally located, Caribou Highlands Lodge is the perfect basecamp for hiking MN state parks, snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling and chasing frozen waterfalls.
Caribou Highlands Lodge is also the perfect Minnesota vacation and staycation in all other seasons for hiking MN state parks, chasing rushing waterfalls, fall foliage leaf peeping, boating, kayaking, canoing, swimming, backpacking, bike riding, and more.
While our stay at Caribou Highlands Lodge was sponsored, I only recommend places that offer the best experiences – and those I would recommend to family and friends. And I highly recommend Caribou Highlands Lodge as the best place to stay in Lutsen, MN.
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Top reasons why Caribou Highlands Lodge is the best North Shore, MN resort
My top reasons why Caribou Highlands Lodge is the best resort for solo, couples and family vacations and staycations on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota.
- Comfy, cozy and spacious home-away-from-home accommodations
- Friendly customer service
- Location, location, location!
- Cleaning with Heart pledge, reduced capacity and social-distancing protocols in place
- Best dog-friendly resort in Minnesota
Comfy, cozy, yet spacious, North Shore, MN lodging at Caribou Highlands Lodge
My primary reason for visiting the North Shore MN – other than it is one of my most favorite places not only in Minnesota, but in the world – was to hike at several of the nearby state parks as part of my Minnesota State Park Challenge and my frozen waterfalls blog series. We absolutely loved coming home to Caribou Highlands Lodge after snow hiking and chasing frozen waterfalls at North Shore MN state parks during our Minnesota staycation.
Caribou Highlands Lodge offers several different lodging accommodations.
- Lodge rooms with views of the mountains and/or woods – some with mini fridges or whirlpool baths
- Studio units with balcony or patio, fireplace, kitchenette or whirlpool baths
- One- to four-bedroom condo / townhome units
- One of the best dog-friendly resorts in Minnesota – the others are located at additional Odyssey Resorts on the North Shore.
Caribou Highlands Lodge three-bedroom townhome tour, review and experience
Our inviting three-bedroom townhome at Caribou Highlands Lodge was so charming – comfy and cozy, yet spacious with a full kitchen, dining area, a fireplace and a balcony overlooking the woods and ski runs.
This townhome is perfect for family vacations in Minnesota. In fact, after learning about our stay, a friend of mine said she had stayed at Caribou Highlands Lodge many times for their family reunions.
Caribou Highlands Lodge also offers ski-in-ski-out accommodations and they even have a special place to keep your skis right outside your front door.
We first noticed upon our arrival in February – and were very thankful – that the parking lot (which, by the way, you’ll receive two free spaces) and steps and sidewalk leading up to our townhome were 100% free from ice and snow. That’s the kind of things that gets noticed especially since Lutsen Mountains can get up to 10 feet of snow a year.
Caribou Highlands Lodge three-bedroom townhome main floor virtual tour
I returned to Caribou Highlands Lodge in the summer and it was just as lovely.
Walking through the front door of our Caribou Highlands Lodge three-level townhome, we were first greeted by a landing with a few steps going up to the main level and a few steps going down to the lower level. This little nook was the perfect place to keep our coats, boots, trekking poles, etc. – making it easy to grab and go in the morning before setting off on our MN state parks hikes.
Go up a few stairs to a full kitchen with counter bar and two stools where the room opens up to an dining area with a table and four chairs, vaulted ceiling with ceiling fan, a gas fireplace (some units feature wood fireplaces), a flat-screen TV, a comfy reading chair and an L-shaped pull-out sofa.
Also loved that the gas fireplace came with a timer so that it would shut off automatically after a certain amount of time.
While we didn’t spend much time out on our balcony because it was February in Minnesota, we did visit Caribou Highlands Lodge during a mild week temperature-wise. So we did enjoy our view of the woods and the ski run where skiers would gracefully fly by. It would be so nice to visit in the summer or fall and heat up the grill overlooking the beautiful trees and mountains.
Caribou Highlands Lodge three-bedroom townhome loft floor virtual tour
While our townhome came with three different bedroom options, we chose to sleep in the open loft overlooking the cozy fireplace below with a skylight overhead. Loved looking out at the stars as we drifted off to sleep and waking up to a beautiful blue sky with evergreen tree tops.
And how cute are these pillows? I really need this Going to the Woods is Going Home pillow! This bedroom also included a charming dresser and a closet. The bathroom off the loft bedroom featured a bathtub and a shower with amenities.
Caribou Highlands Lodge three-bedroom townhome lower level virtual tour
Head back down the two short flights of stairs to the lower level and you’ll find another bathroom with a shower. One of the lower-level bedrooms in this townhome at Caribou Highlands Lodge featured a bunk-bed suite with a cool ladder on one end – kids would love this room! Although I must admit I thought about staying in this room.
Also loved an intriguing map on the wall, which included all the shipwrecks that Lake Superior had claimed over the past few centuries. The map also shows how massive Lake Superior is – the largest of the great lakes (350 miles x 160 miles). If you’re a diver, you can actually go scuba diving to explore many of these shipwrecks. Check out more of the best 11,842 lakes in Minnesota.
The lower level is also home to what I described as a private library suite with a super cute bookshelf lined with many books. Need a book recommendation? Check out my book reviews.
Fully furnished townhome at Caribou Highlands Lodge
The entire Caribou Highlands Lodge three-bedroom townhome unit comes fully furnished with everything you need for a perfect family vacation in Minnesota on the North Shore.
- Full refrigerator
- Kitchen utensils, cups, plates, glasses, pots and pans, serving dishes, etc.
- Small appliances
- Linens (bed and bath)
- Fire extinguishers
- Free wi-fi
- Free parking
- And more
Special promotion: You can save 10% off your stay at Caribou Highlands Lodge when you pre-pay your family vacation.
Why Caribou Highlands Lodge is one of the best North Shore MN resorts: Location, location, location!
While I have hiked several of the state parks along the North Shore prior to my visit to Caribou Highlands Lodge, I still had five MN state parks on my list left to hike as part of my Minnesota State Park Challenge and Minnesota frozen waterfalls series on the North Shore.
Caribou Highlands Lodge is centrally located to not only all eight of Minnesota’s North Shore state parks, but also close to Lutsen Mountains ski resort (the Midwest’s largest ski resort) and Lake Superior. Lutsen Mountains ski resort is a year-round resort where you can hike in the Superior National Forest, take the Express Summit Gondola up to the top with an incredible view from the Mystery Outlook observation deck.
How far is Caribou Highlands Lodge from this Minnesota state park on the North Shore?
Here’s a list of all the MN state parks on the North Shore along with their distance from Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, Minn (parks listed north to south). Without a doubt, we picked the best North Shore resort to explore the best MN state parks in the area.
- Grand Portage State Park | Grand Portage, Minnesota (61 miles)
- Judge C.R. Magney State Park | Grand Marais, Minnesota (35 miles)
- Cascade River State Park | Lutsen, Minnesota (10 miles)
- Temperance River State Park | Schroeder, Minnesota (11 miles)
- George Crosby Manitou State Park | Silver Bay, Minnesota (27 miles)
- Tettegouche State Park | Silver Bay, Minnesota (33 miles)
- Split Rock Lighthouse State Park | Two Harbors, Minnesota (45 miles)
- Gooseberry Falls State Park | Two Harbors, Minnesota (52 miles)
How far is Caribou Highlands Lodge from Lutsen Mountains ski resort?
If you’re planning a family skiing vacation in Lutsen, MN, Caribou Highlands Lodge is only a 1/4 mile from Lutsen Mountains ski resort. While you can certainly walk to the Lutsen Mountains ski resort, it’s probably more convenient and less of a hassle to take the Caribou Highlands Lodge’s shuttle. Parking is also available along the street.
How far is Caribou Highlands Lodge from Lake Superior?
Caribou Highlands Lodge is only 1.4 miles from Lake Superior.
The best places to get up close and personal with Lake Superior from Caribou Highlands Lodge is 10 miles north on Hwy 61 MN (right before mile marker 100) across from the Cascade River State Park trailhead parking area. And there’s also a pull-over area next to Lake Superior if you don’t want to cross the highway on foot.
Another great place to see Lake Superior up close near Caribou Highlands Lodge is 11 miles south of Caribou State Park at the Temperance River State Park trailhead parking area. Safely walk across Hwy 61 MN to the bridge area for fabulous views from the road.
Then take the stairs down to the footbridge for more stunning views of Lake Superior. Turn around and face Hwy 61 MN for a beautiful view of the bridge and in the summer beautiful water cascading down a gorge on its way to Lake Superior. You can then walk over to another observation deck looking directly over Lake Superior. And a few more more steps down to the Temperance River State Park picnic area and rocky beach for breathtaking views.
Note: You’ll need microspikes for your winter snow hikes especially when chasing frozen waterfalls on the North Shore. We tried Crampons Ice Cleats for Hiking Boots and Shoes from Trazon for the first time – and we loved them! These microspikes are easy to put on and take off and were able to scale up and down some pretty icy spots.
So if you’re looking for the best centrally located North Shore hotel near the best MN state parks, Lutsen Mountains ski resort and Lake Superior, then choose Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, Minn.
Best place to eat on the North Shore of Minnesota: Moguls Grille & Tap Room
Before or after a day of skiing at Lutsen Mountains or hiking at the nearby MN state parks, enjoy fine dining in a casual atmosphere at Moguls Grille & Tap Room – an onsite restaurant at Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN.
Moguls Grille & Tap Room is the best place to eat on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota. Conveniently located at Caribou Highlands Lodge (right downstairs from the lobby), this Lutsen, MN restaurant is less than one-half mile from the Lutsen Mountains ski lifts, alpine slide and the Summit Express Gondola.
Open in all seasons for lunch and dinner and weekend breakfasts, Moguls Grille & Tap Room is a ski-in-ski-out restaurant in the winter and is perfect for couples or families or takeout even if you’re not a guest of Caribou Highlands. Check out my full review of our delicious walleye dinner from Moguls Grille & Tap Room as well as their operating hours and executive order guidelines. While Odyssey Resorts and Caribou Highlands hosted us, opinions are always my own.
Health and Safety at Caribou Highlands Lodge during the pandemic
[Note that this was post was originally published March 2021.] During these times, health and safety are most important to me. I’ve been extremely cautious since March 2020 and haven’t traveled anywhere in the past year with the exception of day trips to Minnesota’s beautiful state parks. As a reflection of my values, I wanted to remain diligent in minimizing the risk of becoming exposed or exposing others to Covid-19. So it was a very thoughtful decision to stay at this townhome – and speaks to how comfortable I felt as a Caribou Highlands Lodge guest.
Is it safe to take a road trip and stay overnight in a hotel or resort? Several national media outlets have reported that experts believe there is an extremely low risk of Covid-19 exposure on road trips when traveling with members in the same household and staying in a hotel that follows proper safety protocols. As always, check CDC guidelines for the latest public health protocols.
From our experience, we were extremely impressed with Odyssey Resort’s Cleaning with Heart commitment at Caribou Highlands Lodge, a commitment that is in place at all their properties located on the North Shore in Minnesota.
Their Cleaning with Heart pledge follows all CDC and Minnesota Covid-19 and social distancing guidelines throughout the property. And our three-bedroom townhome was immaculate. Here are more of Caribou Highlands Lodge’s safety protocols to ensure a healthy and safe stay for all guests.
- All Caribou Highlands Lodge employees and guests, per Minnesota’s executive order, are required to wear face masks inside all public buildings (except when eating at their on-property restaurant: Moguls Grille & Tap Room.)
- Contactless remote checkin and checkout:Caribou Highlands Lodge offers a no-contact checkin and checkout process where you can find your arrival package right inside the main lobby.
- Plentiful hand-sanitizer stations located throughout Caribou Highlands Lodge.
- Public health signage throughout the Caribou Highlands Lodge property.
- Keep 6 feet apart at all times.
- Avoid touching and crowds.
- Wash your hands constantly.
- Wear your mask so our business can stay open.
- Our townhome had its own external front door, minimizing interaction with other guests.
- No daily housekeeping to minimize contact between staff and guests. Caribou Highlands Lodge staff will not enter occupied units during your stay unless there is an emergency. If you need something replenished, simply call the front desk (0 on the in-unit phone) between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.
- Maintenance, when required for emergencies, will only enter your unit when you are not present.
- Caribou Highlands Lodge’s onsite restaurant, Moguls Grille & Tap Room, pool, hot tub and fitness center all currently have reduced or restricted capacity per the Minnesota executive order and CDC guidelines. Please check Caribou Highlands Lodge’s website for the most up-to-date information.
Special events and activities at Caribou Highlands Lodge at Lutsen Mountains
Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN offers the best activities for family vacations in Minnesota – and is also a great place to stay for solo travelers and couples. Here are just a few of the special events and activities you can expect at Caribou Highlands Lodge – fun for the entire family. Of course, some of these activities may be modified or suspended to accommodate Covid-19 social distancing guidelines and the Minnesota executive order. Check the Caribou Highlands Lodge website for the latest information.
Winter Village at Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN
With its close proximity to the Lutsen Mountain Ski Resort and all North Shore Minnesota state parks, Caribou Highlands Lodge is the best Northern Minnesota resort for a family vacation in the winter. One of the highlights is Winter Village set right outside the main lodge building. The magical Winter Village of Caribou Highlands Lodge features:
- Hyggelig Stuga (hygge loosely translates to cozy and togetherness)
- Covered outdoor ice skating rink
- Snow bocce (aka snocce)
- Snow sculpting
- Giant ladder ball game
- Outdoor fire lounges (wood and propane fire pits)
The weather dictates the Winter Village season so is open when the weather permits. And winter starts as early as October and lasts longer in Minnesota (sometimes well into April) – so it’s a long season for a fun family winter vacation.
Fun things to do in the winter in Lutsen, MN: Grab-and-go snowman kits at Caribou Highland Lodge
And how fun is this grab-and-go-snowman kit at Caribou Highlands Lodge (and other Odyssey Resorts locations) – a great way to make memories on your family winter vacation in Minnesota!
More fun things to do at or near Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN
Other fun activities and things to do at or near Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN (again, some of the group activities may be modified/suspended currently):
- Snowshoe rentals
- Complimentary s’more kits
- Onsite fitness center
- Indoor and outdoor pools
- Board games and DVD movies
- Woodlands spa services – massage or body treatments
- Onsite gift shop and convenience store
- Summer activity programming from guided canoe trips to summer kids’ camps
- Lutsen Mountains ski resort: skiing, snowboarding, alpine slide, gondola
- Hiking at the best MN state parks near Lutsen, MN
- Snowmobiling (Caribou Highlands Lodge has a special parking lot for snowmobiles.)
- Bike trails
- Bring your own bikes or rent them in Lutsen, MN. You can even rent fat tire bikes in the winter.
- Caribou Highlands Lodge bike amenities include a bike wash station, a bike repair station and shuttles to bike trails.
- Lake Superior Charter Fishing – late June to August (Thursdays)
- Guided rock climbing tour
- Take a self-guided waterfall tour near Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN (frozen waterfalls in the winter are pretty magical)
- Best fall foliage tour or drive in any season along the scenic North Shore
- Superior National Golf at Lutsen, MN – a 27-hole golf course
- And so many more fun things to do and explore in and near Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen, MN.
Day trip to Grand Marais, Minnesota
After hiking at nearby Judge C.R. Magney State Park, we stopped in the nearby charming town of Grand Marais (on the way back to Caribou Highlands Lodge). I used to live on the East Coast and Grand Marais definitely has a New England / Cape Cod vibe going on.
We visited in February in the off-season so many places were closed. Drury Lane Books (pictured) was only closed because we arrived after hours. So I’m looking forward to returning in the summer and/or fall to explore this area and the North Shore more (need to see what those frozen waterfalls look like unfrozen).
One place that wasn’t closed was this beautiful sunset show over the Grand Marais Lighthouse and Lake Superior.
While Caribou Highlands Lodge is right down the road from Grand Marais, you may prefer a North Shore resort experience overlooking Lake Superior. If so, then book your next Minnesota vacation at another one of Odyssey Resorts’ finest places to stay on the North Shore: East Bay Suites. Lake Superior, the Grand Marais Lighthouse and downtown Grand Marais with its cool boutiques and restaurants (including World Best Donuts – closed in winter unfortunately) are just steps away from East Bay Suites.
The best Northern Minnesota resorts on Lake Superior’s North Shore
Odyssey Resorts, who graciously hosted my husband and me at their Caribou Highlands Lodge property, also offers several other North Shore MN lodging accommodations including cabins, cottages and resort rooms and suites overlooking Lake Superior – from Duluth to Two Harbors to Grand Marais. Minnesota.
List of the Odyssey Resorts on the North Shore MN
Here’s a complete list of all the best North Shore MN lodging – cabins, cottages, hotels and resorts – from Odyssey Resorts. The only difficult thing about booking your next Minnesota family vacation is choosing your Odyssey. #ChooseYourOdyssey
- Beacon Point on Lake Superior: Best North Shore hotel in Duluth, MN
- We stayed in their one-bedroom penthouse suite with a rooftop balcony a few years ago (unsponsored stay while our son was a student at UMD in Duluth) and loved the views!
- Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior: Best North Shore MN cottages in Two Harbors, MN
- Breezy Point Cabins on Lake Superior: Best North Shore MN cabins in Two Harbors, MN
- Grand Superior Lodge on Lake Superior: Best North Shore MN lodge, cabins and lake homes in Two Harbors, MN
- Caribou Highlands Lodge on Lutsen Mountains: Best North Shore MN lodge, condos and townhomes in Lutsen, MN
- East Bay Suites: Best North Shore MN suites on Lake Superior in Grand Marais, MN
Wherever you decide to stay on your next family vacation on the North Shore, MN, choose Odyssey Resorts for a lifetime of memories at the best resorts, cabins, cottages, condos and townhomes. We definitely enjoyed our stay at Caribou Highlands Lodge and I know you will too when you book your next solo, couples or family vacation at one of the best resorts in Minnesota and the North Shore.