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Where to Recharge With a Solo Retreat in Minnesota

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Relax and recharge in the tranquil simplicity of Itasca State Park
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Where to Recharge With a Solo Retreat in Minnesota

By Alisa Blackwood

A unique respite from daily demands, solo retreats give travelers space to read, journal, create, catch up on sleep or simply gaze out the window. Imagine: no other people to take care of, emails to return or dishes to do. Sounds blissful, right? Schedule your own weekend of nourishment at one of these four Minnesota retreat centers.

  1. ARC Retreat Center
    Writing in solitude at ARC Retreat Center

    Writing in solitude at ARC Retreat Center / Alisa Blackwood

    ARC Retreat Center

    Of the three lodging options at ARC Retreat Center in Stanchfield (about an hour north of Minneapolis), the single-person hermitage provides the most privacy for those seeking a truly solitary and rustic retreat. Located in a wooded area away from the main lodge, the hermitage is ideal for anyone whose perfect weekend consists of sitting by a large picture window and consuming a good book. ARC keeps your kitchenette stocked with coffee, tea, fruit and breakfast foods, and top-notch vegetarian meals—delivered in charming baskets to your doorstep—serve as lunch and dinner.

    Recharge your energy in ARC’s labyrinth for walking meditation, schedule a massage, or wander the 87 acres of wetland and woodland trails by foot, skis or snowshoes. Although the hermitage has no running water, a nearby outhouse and modern bathroom in the Lodge are both available for “hermit” use.

  2. Pacem in Terris
    Pacem in Terris

    A retreat center in the Franciscan tradition, Pacem in Terris (a papal decree meaning “peace on Earth”) in Isanti, provides 16 hermitages to sanctuary seekers wanting a more prayer-filled tradition as part of their stay. Each single-occupancy cabin is named after a patron saint, offering a truly quiet, peaceful and unplugged respite, absent of plumbing or electricity. Three miles of wooded and lakeside trails groomed for all seasons lead to a solitary clearing with benches for resting and reflection. A simple basket of fruit, bread, cheese, coffee and tea supplements the evening meal held with Pacem staff.

  3. Art House B&B
    The Grand Marais harbor as seen from Lake Superior

    The Grand Marais harbor as seen from Lake Superior / Michael Harthan

    Art House B&B

    For those looking for a bit more luxury and less solitude, check out the magical Art House Bed & Breakfast in Grand Marais. Art House caters to travelers of all types, but its owners aim to offer a creative space especially for “artists and adventurers.” Learn more about the couple that runs Art House (one of whom is Grand Marais’ mayor), and you’ll soon understand why: He’s a canoe and kayak guide, brewer and sausage maker; she’s a yoga teacher, singer and writer. Both teach at North House Folk School, and they offer a lodging discount to students of North House or Grand Marais Art Colony.

    A variety of classes in fiber arts, woodworking and more give the chance to create your own artsy retreat to stoke your creative fire. Each of Art House’s colorful, joyful four rooms come with breakfast including homemade muffins and private bathrooms. Views of Lake Superior from two rooms melt weary shoulders even further.

  4. Mount Olivet
    Mount Olivet

    Mount Olivet Conference and Retreat Center in Farmington, 30 minutes south of St. Paul, offers self-directed personal retreats with motel-style lodging on 150 acres along Chub Lake. Spend some distraction-free time bird watching, walking the outdoor meditation labyrinth, or perch yourself in a peaceful, trail-side chair swing and simply bathe in the forest ambiance. Warm up with a sauna session, laps in the indoor heated pool or nestled by the outdoor fireplace. Meals, served in the dining hall, include vegetables and meat from local farms when possible. A prayer chapel is available, though the center does not require any specific religious affiliation.

Alisa Blackwood

Alisa Blackwood is a St. Paul-based writer and editor whose writing has appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, Cooking Light and Health magazines. As a Floridian-turned-Minnesotan, she embraces her adopted state with a sense of wonder and adoration, especially outdoor adventures in the north woods, the Twin Cities live music scene and “avantouinti” (ice hole swimming).