Whistle Stop Inn Bed and Breakfast train car interior

Minnesota's Most Unique Accommodations, From Train Cars to a Treehouse

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Whistle Stop Inn Bed and Breakfast train car interior
Places to Stay // Article

Minnesota's Most Unique Accommodations, From Train Cars to a Treehouse

By Erica Wacker

When you're traveling, a hotel is much more than a place to sleep.

Sure, things like swimming pools, Wi-Fi access and free breakfast are great. But if you're looking for something truly unique, look no further than these Minnesota properties, which offer sleeping quarters, history and other quirks that can’t be found anywhere else.

The following list is just a taste of what’s available. Be sure to check the Places to Stay page to find the perfect accommodations for your next Minnesota vacation.

Two mountain bikes parked outside of a yurt in Cuyuna

Cuyuna is one of three Minnesota State Parks where campers can stay in a yurt

Yurts, Minnesota State Parks

If you dream of sleeping under the stars with a bit more comfort than your average tent, yurts come complete with wood floors, bunk beds, tables and chairs, wood stoves, windows and skylights, and can sleep up to seven people. Rent one at Cuyuna Country State Recreation Area, Afton and Glendalough state parks, in Ely and on the Gunflint Trail.

Prothero’s Post Resort, Angle Inlet

Likely the northernmost resort in the continental U.S., Prothero’s sits at the tip of Minnesota’s Northwest Angle, which is surrounded by Canada on three sides and requires a passport to enter. Once there, you'll find peaceful solitude in any of the resort’s six log cabins, with impromptu fish frys, music and marshmallow roasts around the lakeside fire pit.

The colorful yet formal Naniboujou Lodge dining room in Grand Marais / Spruce Creek Photography

Naniboujou Lodge dining room in Grand Marais / Spruce Creek Photography

Naniboujou Lodge, Grand Marais

Opened in the 1920s as an exclusive private club, this lodge on the National Register of Historic Places now welcomes guests to bask in the beauty both inside and surrounding the property. With Lake Superior on one side and Judge C.R. Magney State Park on the other, the lodge offers a respite from daily life, with no phones, TVs, Wi-Fi or reliable cell service. The gorgeous dining room, with its Cree Indian design and 20-foot stone fireplace, Naniboujou Lodge is a destination in itself.

Fitgers Brewery sign Duluth

Historic Fitger's on Lake Superior houses three restaurants, two night clubs and a microbrewery / Anthony Auston

Fitger's Inn, Duluth

Minnesota is home to more than 150 breweries and counting, with Fitger's claiming the title as the state's oldest. Part of the Fitger’s complex, which includes the brewery, multiple restaurants and nightclubs, shops and a salon, Fitger’s Inn boasts unique guestrooms and suites with views of either the city or Lake Superior. All of the amenities can be accessed without stepping foot outside, making it a great option year-round.

Kettle Falls Hotel in Voyageurs National Park

Kettle Falls Hotel in Voyageurs National Park

Kettle Falls Hotel, Kabetogama

A 13-mile boat ride is the only way to reach this historic hotel inside Voyageurs National Park on the Canadian border. Built in 1910 by a timber baron, the Kettle Falls Hotel has a storied past, particularly during the Prohibition days, and the original on-site saloon retains its uneven wood floors with pockmarks from the loggers’ hobnail boots.

Douglas Lodge Itasca State Park

The Douglas Lodge at Itasca State Park is one of the many places to stay near Bemidji

Douglas Lodge, Itasca State Park

This historic log building—the only full-service lodge within a Minnesota state park—was built in 1905 and features a spacious lobby and stone fireplace, with additional lodging in suites and cabins nearby. There’s no need to rough it here, with a restaurant that serves three meals a day, wireless Internet access, and heat and air conditioning. The park also has several camper cabins and campsites available for rent.

Tall, four-story cabin with lots of balconies, surrounded by trees.

The four-story Dreamcatcher Cabin on Ludlow's Island

Long Prairie Treehouse, Long Prairie

One woman’s dream became a reality in the woods outside Long Prairie, where Joyce LaVoie built a one-room, octagonal treehouse that can be rented out year-round. The quaint cabin is equipped with a double bed and cot, wood stove and wraparound deck, with an outhouse and lanterns in place of plumbing and electricity. Your breakfast will be hand-delivered to the tree.

For a deluxe treehouse retreat, check into Ludlow’s Dreamcatcher cabin on Lake Vermilion, with four stories, whirlpool tubs, multiple decks and a washer/dryer.

The Jail House B&B in Preston Minnesota during the winter

Jail House B&B in Preston

Jailhouse Historic Inn, Preston

Dating back to 1869, the former Fillmore County Jail lives on as the Jailhouse Historic Inn in southeastern Minnesota’s Bluff Country. Guests can stay in the former sheriff’s quarters, the detention room or even the cell block, which sleeps up to five “inmates” in semi-private jail cells.

Other former jails have been turned into B&Bs in southern Wykoff and Taylors Falls.

Whistle Stop Bed & Breakfast, New York Mills

You don’t have to ride the rails to experience life on the train. In addition to rooms in the main house and cottage, the Whistle Stop has four freestanding train cars that have been transformed into one-of-a-kind accommodations. Opt for the cozy red caboose with a queen-size Murphy bed or the deluxe Viking Car, equipped with a double whirlpool, two-person sauna, fireplace and wet bar.

In Two Harbors, the Northern Rail Traincar Inn features 17 guest rooms inside two rows of boxcars.

Covington Inn floats on the Mississippi River in Saint Paul

The Covington Inn is a floating bed-and-breakfast on the Mississippi River in downtown St. Paul

The Covington Inn, St. Paul

Moored on the Mississippi River with the downtown skyline as its backdrop, the Covington Inn is one of the country’s few floating bed-and-breakfasts. Each of the four rooms feature private baths, deck access and fireplaces, and breakfast is cooked in the galley and served in the stately salon.

Lighthouse B&B, Two Harbors

The oldest continually operating lighthouse on the North Shore of Lake Superior was transformed into a bed-and-breakfast in 1999, with three rooms in the keeper’s quarters plus the skiff house a few steps away. Maintained by the Lake County Historical Society, the Lighthouse B&B’s beacon still flashes three times a minute, 24/7, and the light tower and two other buildings on the property are open for tours.

A family with their dog relax at the Lora Hotel in Stillwater

The boutique Lora hotel in Stillwater retains features from site's former brewery / Paul Vincent

Lora, Stillwater

Known as the birthplace of Minnesota, the charming town of Stillwater is chock full of history. Even its newest hotel transports guests to the past. Built in 1868 as the Joseph Wolf Brewery, the building that now houses the boutique Lora hotel retains the original stone walls, vaulted ceilings and cave openings that lead to nowhere. Stay overnight or stop in for coffee, a cocktail or dinner at one of the on-site establishments.

Express Suites Riverport Inn, Winona

Most of the rooms at the Express Suites Riverport Inn are standard hotel fare, with the exception of two: The ’57 and ’59 Chevy suites, which feature retro decor and real Chevy convertibles that have been transformed into beds. Lay back and pretend you’re at the drive-in, and enjoy the views of Sugar Loaf bluff from the attached patio.

Erica Wacker

Erica Wacker is a Midwesterner through and through, growing up in Illinois, going to college in Wisconsin, and settling down in Minnesota. She loves to run, travel with her family, and go to concerts to relive her youth.