Cook, a busy Highway 53 pit stop, has a few restaurants, gift shops, and even the oldest continuously operating movie theater in the state (since 1939) to keep you busy for a short while, but the real action is north of town on the small end of Lake Vermilion.
The gorgeous Ludlow’s Island Lodge (8166 Ludlow Dr., 218/666-5407 or 877/583-5697, www.ludlowsresort.com, May–Oct., $2,100/week), eight miles west of Cook on County Highway 540, is the fanciest, and most of their 22 deluxe cabins are on a private island.
Besides the usual facilities there are racquetball and tennis courts, and they host a multitude of activities, including scavenger hunts and amphibious car rides. If you want a vacation during your vacation they have a separate camping island nearby.
A little more traditional, but no less relaxing, is Pehrson Lodge Resort (2746 Vermillion Dr., 218/666-5478 or 800/543-9937, www.pehrsonlodge.com, May–Sept., $125/day, $950/week), with 27 cabins spread along 2,000 feet of shore, out on Pamahan Island, or tucked up on the hillside. There is free use of canoes, windsurfers, and sailboats—personal watercraft are prohibited. Pehrson’s is six miles north of town on County Highway 24.
On the west end of Lake Vermilion, Voyageur Cove Resort (2600 Wakely Rd., 218/666-6058, www.voyageurcove.com, $225/night, weekly rates available) is open year-round. Eight fairly rustic cabins are spread out along the lakeshore. Six have private docks.
In town, the award-winning Vermilion Motel (320 Hwy. 53 S., 218/666-2272, $58) has large, new rooms plus RV campsites ($15 full hookup); all guests have use of the sauna.
The Montana Café (29 River St. S., 218/666-2074, 6 a.m.–7 p.m. Mon.–Thurs. and Sat., 6 a.m.–8 p.m. Fri., 8 a.m.–2 p.m. Sun.) is a sweet little café with it’s own bakery, serving three meals a day.
Antiques-filled Comet Coffee (102 River St. S., 218/666-5814, 8 a.m.–6:30 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Sun.), part of the aforementioned movie theater, serves fair-trade coffee. Folk and similar artists sometimes perform here.
Although it’s on a peninsula, not an island, the only direct access to the Black Bay Trail is via water, so the six-mile route on the north end of the lake is an excellent place for wildlife-viewing. If you don’t mind getting up long before the crack of dawn you can witness the fascinating mating dance of the male sharp-tailed grouse. The spectacle takes place during April at about 4:15 a.m., and you need to arrive at the site well before the birds. The observation blinds are on private land; call the DNR (218/744-7448) for information.
Besides dispensing information about the forest, the Superior National Forest — LaCroix District Office (320 Hwy. 53 N., 218/666-0020, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. daily summer, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. daily Sept., 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Mon.–Fri. rest of year) has a display of Northwoods wildlife, sells nature-related items, and is stocked with area tourism brochures. Outside, a short nature trail circles a pond.
© Tim Bewer from Moon Minnesota, 3rd Edition