Settled along the shoreline of Lutsen, where the Poplar River meets Lake Superior, a historic resort resides, ready to provide its guests with a getaway they will never forget.
The Lutsen Resort combines a classic North Shore experience with modern comfort, making it perfect for couple’s retreats, family vacations and friend trips. Guests will be charmed by its Scandinavian architecture and bridges.
“This is Minnesota’s oldest resort,” manager Edward Vanegas says. “We were originally established in 1885 by Charles Axel Nelson who was a young Swedish immigrant. He was inspired by Lake Superior’s natural beauty and created his homestead near the water. The resort we know now started from more simple means – right out of a cabin.”
Charles and his family support themselves through trapping, fishing and the more lucrative option, lodging. The first guests stayed at the Nelson home in 1886.
In the early years, travelers found the resort a stop of convenience as they made their way up the lake.
“There wasn’t even a road built during this time,” Edward says. “The Nelson children would give up their beds for the guests.”
As the resort’s reputation grew, people began to visit just to vacation, fish and hunt. Eventually, a larger house/lodge and school was built on the property, allowing for more visitors and much to the children’s excitement, more beds.
“In 1918, a road was opened to Duluth and electricity was introduced to the resort,” Edward explains. “It’s so cool, because the resort has gone through a ton of renovations and changes since this time. It’s amazing to know of its humble beginnings.”
Throughout the years, by sheer determination, the property has been expanded upon to encompass all that it is today. It currently offers a lakeside historic lodge, Cliff House Townhomes and Log Cabins.
“The Nelsons had to rebuild twice due to fires, but they did it,” Edward says. “This was their home and income. It was important to them to have a lasting legacy.”
In 1988, the resort was sold to Scott Harrison and Nancy Burns, who would go on to build the cabins and townhomes on site. The duo wanted to honor the Nelsons and stayed with Swedish architecture.
“Our two-bedroom cabins with wood fireplaces provide a true Northwoods experience with wonderful views of Lake Superior,” Edward says. “They have a full kitchen, dining area, living room, king guestroom and double guestroom with two full beds. They sleep two to six people.”
He continues, “The two-story, three bedroom, three bath townhomes are our most spacious accommodations. Perched on a cliff above the lake, each unit sleeps up to nine people and includes a dining room, kitchen, living room, private whirlpool, patio, gas fireplace, TV and free wireless internet.”
The resort and all of its properties are open year-round. In recent years, the historic lodge rooms have been updated with modern amenities, decor and furnishings.
“Our Historic Lodge is a North Shore icon with classic Scandinavian ambiance and style with hand-hewn beams and stone fireplaces in the lobby and dining room,” Edward explains. “Guests staying in the lodge are conveniently located close to all of the resort’s activities.”
In 2018, the resort was sold once more to mother and son duo, Bryce and Sheila Campbell. Sheila has since passed, and Bryce is the current sole owner.
“I started in 2019 and it has been wonderful working with the Campbells,” Edward says. “I run all the day-to-day operations of the resort, such as making sure the on-site Strand Waterfront Dining & Wine Bar is stocked, overseeing activities and maintaining high levels of guest service.
The wine bar’s menu consists of contemporary and traditional North Shore cuisine items. The temperature-controlled wine cellar holds 1200 bottles of international and local fine wines.
“We carry many wines from the Wine Spectator Top 100 list,” Edward explains. “As for resort activities, we offer a wide selection of exciting things to do in all months of the year.”
Activities include: ice skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, a complimentary shuttle, live music, beach bonfires, guided hikes, guided waterfall tours, Red Jammer Fall Color Tours, a swimming pool, bike rentals, tandem sea kayaking, casting lessons, fly fishing, naturalist programs, putt golf and a sauna.
“We really have created a destination within a destination at the Lutsen Resort,” Edward says. “The North Shore has always been a destination and we are too. Even our shuttle bus is something neat because it’s a restored National Park bus. People love riding in it.”
Over the next 24 months, Bryce plans to add a chalet building with rooms similar to the lodge.
“We are always expanding and thinking of ways to improve our guest’s experiences,” Edward says. “It’s all about making our guests feel welcomed and happy.”
To plan a Lutsen Resort trip, visit lutsenresort.com or call (800) 218-8589. It is located at 5700 W. Highway 61.
"We really have created a destination within a destination at the Lutsen Resort."