Two women enjoy the hot tub at Silvae Spiritus

Where to Experience Minnesota's Exceptional Sauna Culture

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Silvae Spiritus
Wellness // Things to Do // Article

Where to Experience Minnesota's Exceptional Sauna Culture

By Brian Fanelli

Saunas were first introduced to Minnesota by Finnish immigrants who moved here in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Since then, they’ve become as Minnesotan as walleye and wild rice. Here's how to experience them firsthand, along with a look at some of the state's elevated spa experiences.  

Cedar and Stone's sauna barge on Lake Superior

A sauna barge on Lake Superior? Yes, please!  / Cedar + Stone Nordic Sauna


Cedar + Stone Nordic Sauna offers guided sauna experiences in Duluth with a panoramic view of Lake Superior and a harbor-side cold plunge so infamous it was featured on "The Daily Show". Whether you're seeking a mid-week reset, a women-only Sunday steam, or a private group experience, all Cedar + Stone visits are led by a sauna expert and conclude with a perfectly steeped mug of local tea. 

Cedar + Stone is also behind the private rooftop sauna at the luxe Four Seasons hotel in downtown Minneapolis. Bookings include access for up to eight people, and a 75-minute session that fully embodies the thermic cycle of hot, cold, rest, rehydrate and repeat.   

The hot tub on the roof of the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis

The hot tub on the roof of the Hewing Hotel  / Ryan Taylor

Similar in spirit is the rooftop sauna and spa pool at Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis’ North Loop. Outside of a weekly Tuesday morning cleaning, it's open to all registered guests from 7 a.m. until midnight, 365 days a year. After taking a dip or slipping into its Nordic-style dry sauna, be sure to soak in the skyline while lounging by a bar that serves craft beer, light bites, and signature cocktails like a bold punch made from Licor 43, orange, lime, Demerara sugar, and two kinds of rum. 

For a more subterranean feel, head over to Watershed, a communal bathhouse near another popular Minneapolis hotel (Alma) and the Mississippi River. Its unique selling point is a seven-part bathing ritual that includes everything from a steam room to a sauna to a soaking pool. Bookings are available in three-hour increments, or are you can become an all-access member by paying an annual fee.

The floating Sisu & Loyly sauna on Lake Superior in Grand Marais

Sisu + Löyly

Back over In northern Minnesota,  the Finlayson-based Silvae Spiritus offers a restorative nature retreat complete with a wood-fired sauna and hot tub, public and private forest bathing sessions, and a project-oriented event series called Nourish. Its community-driven activities range from planting trees to collecting tinder and kindling for upcoming sauna fires.  

Even further up north is the state's oldest public sauna (Ely Steam Sauna, open since 1915!); Buckhorn on Caribou Lake Resort, a group retreat that features private saunas in its three largest log cabins; and floating sauna pioneer Sisu + Löyly. Located in the lovely small town of Grand Marais, it'd paid quite well with a weekend-long class at the nearby North House Folk School.

LutZen Massage Studio at Mountain Inn

LutZen Massage Studio at Mountain Inn 


Spa retreats are another great way to relax and restore your mind and body, whether as part of a girlfriends getaway, romantic weekend or some much needed “me” time.

After a long day on the slopes at Lutsen Mountains, recuperate with a custom massage from LutZen Massage Studio at The Mountain Inn. Also on the North Shore, Waves of Superior Spa at Bluefin Bay features a special Hungarian thermal mud wrap that’s just what your winter skin deserves.

Couples massage room at Copper Door Spa

Copper Door Spa at Chase on the Lake, Walker

Darling Reflections Spa at Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria focuses on exfoliation and moisturizing in winter, offering Minnesota-inspired treatments rather than tropical themes.

For a relaxing weekend getaway, the Aveda Copper Door Spa at Chase on the Lake in Walker offers couples retreat and girls weekend packages. Ideal treatments for winter include the signature hydrating body wrap and hot stone massage.

Whether you’re retreating at a spa or steaming in a sauna, be sure to treat yourself right this winter. You deserve it.

Brian Fanelli

Brian Fanelli is a Minneapolis-based writer. You can reliably find him browsing the sci-fi shelves in a local bookstore or biking one of Minnesota's spectacular trails.