Sleep in a Tugboat, Treehouse or Teepee in Minnesota

By Erica Wacker

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

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.

Teepees & Yurts, Minnesota State Parks

Blue Mounds State Park teepee camping
Reserve your very own teepee at Blue Mounds State Park near Luverne

If you dream of sleeping under the stars with a bit more comfort than your average tent, teepees can be rented from late May to late October at Upper Sioux Agency and Blue Mounds state parks, both in southwest Minnesota. Much like tent camping, campers must bring their own sleeping bags and other bedding, but a cedar deck keeps you off the ground.

One more step up, 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 AreaAfton 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.

Fitger’s Inn, Duluth

The Fitger's complex is home to Minnesota's oldest brewery
The Fitger's complex is home to Minnesota's oldest brewery / Photo by Anthony Auston

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.

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, is a destination in itself.

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.

Kettle Falls Hotel, Kabetogama

Kettle Falls Hotel is a unique lodging found inside Voyageurs National Park
Kettle Falls Hotel offers Voyageurs National Park visitors a unique and secluded place to rest their heads

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 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.

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.

Whistle Stop Bed & Breakfast, New York Mills

Stay in a retired railroad car at Whistle Stop Bed & Breakfast
Stay in a retired railroad car at Whistle Stop B&B

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.

Historic Calumet Inn, Pipestone

If you’re into history, the Calumet is worth a trip to the southwest corner of the state. Built in 1888 out of Sioux Quartzite, the impressive building anchors Pipestone’s historic downtown. Some rooms feature period furnishings with accents like clawfoot tubs and vintage wallpaper. If you’re into ghost stories, ask about Room 308 on the town’s Saturday night ghost walks.

JailHouse Historic Inn, Preston

The former Fillmore County Jail lives on as a historic inn
JailHouse Historic Inn is one of Minnesota's three jails-turned-inns

Dating back to 1869, the former Fillmore County Jail lives on as a 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.

The Covington Inn, St. Paul

Covington Inn St. Paul
The Covington Inn is a floating B&B on the Mississippi River

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.

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 1968 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.

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’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.

Express Suites Riverport Inn, Winona

Most of the rooms here 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.

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