Minnesota's Most Unique Accommodations, From Train Cars to a Treehouse
By Erica Wacker
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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.
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.
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.
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, 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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