A girl learns how to drive a boat on Lake Vermilion

Things to Do on Lake Vermilion

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Learning how to pilot a boat on Lake Vermilion  / Courtney Anderson

Things to Do on Lake Vermilion

This large, beautiful lake in northeast Minnesota is rimmed with thick forest and studded with 365 pine-topped islands spread throughout its 37 miles. Largely undeveloped, Vermilion provides a wilderness escape at the peaceful resorts and campgrounds along its shores.

White Eagle Resort on Lake Vermilion

White Eagle Resort 


Meandering Lake Vermilion is rimmed with thick forest; most of the miles of shoreline are undeveloped, giving the place a wilderness character that's perfect for sleeping under the stars—whether in a cabin, resort, tent or RV. At White Eagle Resort, find weekly beach yoga, water tubes, private hiking trails, a large sandy beach and plenty of ways to get out on the water. Bonus, this spot is dog-friendly so everyone in the family can be together.

Bois Forte Native American Museum

  Bois Forte Heritage Center and Cultural Museum

Another option is the resort hotel or RV park at Fortune Bay Resort Casino. Operated by the Bois Forte band of Ojibwe, the resort not only offers gaming and evening entertainment, but also has an award-winning museum, the Bois Forte Heritage Center. The well-done exhibits tell the story of this band, whose French name means "strong wood."

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

The four-story Dreamcatcher Cabin on Ludlow's Island

Stay on your own private island in one of the spacious cabins at Ludlow's Island Resort in Cook. Located on a 5-acre private island, it offers a resort experience with plenty of ways to get out on the water, spa amenities, pickleball or tennis, activities for kids and more. Their popular Dreamcatcher cabin stands four stories tall and offers incredible views of the lake.

Visitors touring an abandoned iron ore mine

Travel a mile underground to explore Minnesota's first iron ore mine, Soudan


Lake Vermilion offers 290 miles of shoreline, the longest shoreline of any lake in Minnesota and has 365 islands. With so much water, it’s a haven for anglers, paddlers and boaters. In the winter when the water freezes, ice fishing and snowmobilers take to the area for frozen fun.

Soudan Underground Mine State Park, along the south shore of the lake, takes an up-close look at a key part of this area's history. Guided, 1.5-hour tours let visitors follow in the footsteps of the miners who dug out this rock in search of iron ore from 1892 to 1962. Don a hard hat, take an elevator "cage" a half-mile below ground, then a train ride deeper into the mine and visit the cavern that was the last area mined here.

Ride the Tower Bike Trail, a portion of the Mesabi Trail that runs from Tower through Soudan. Nearby find Bear Head Lake State Park, home to black bears, nesting eagles, wolves, moose and a variety of birds.

Fortune Bay golf course on Lake Vermilion

The Wilderness at Fortune Bay is one of Minnesota's finest golf courses

Fortune Bay Resort Casino is also home to one of the top golf courses in the state, The Wilderness. The gorgeous, 18-hole lakeside course was designed by renowned golf course architect Jeffrey D. Brauer, and consistently earns kudos from national golf magazines for its scenic landscape and challenging holes.

For a different kind of golf experience, there's nearby Pier 77, a cleverly designed mini-golf course tucked into a grove of pine and birch on the shore of Lake Vermilion. The holes are all themed to reflect this corner of the north woods, from moose to mining. After a round of golf, stop in at the Pier 77 ice cream shop for a Root Bear Bobber or Vermilion Sunrise.

The Landing on Lake Vermilion

The Landing on Lake Vermilion


In Tower, bring your appetite for The Vermilion Club, elevated bar favorites like stuffed hash browns, prime rib strips, chicken wings and more. This spot is known for their pizzas and their Bamboozler pizza is over three-square feet of delicious pizza. Some favorites are their house special, taco and more.

Fuel up for your day in Cook at the Montana Cafe that serves up delicious breakfast foods or grab a burger or wrap for lunch and dinner. For a taste of Minnesota, try their chicken wild rice wrap or wild rice soup. Or dine by the lake on their wrap-around deck and patio at The Landing, where you'll find wraps, burgers, pizza, steak and plenty of walleye.

Find something sweet or pick up incredible baked goods at Rose Cottage Baking Co. in Cook. Check out their weekly specials to find seasonal treats like vanilla cupcakes with brown sugar and apple cider buttercream, blueberry rhubarb scones and more.

Plan your trip to Lake Vermilion and explore northeast Minnesota.