Lutsen Mountains (467 Ski Hill Rd., 218/663-7281, www.lutsen.com ), a mile to the south, is the Midwest’s largest downhill ski area, with 90 ski runs and a 986-foot drop, in addition to 17 miles of challenging cross-country ski trails. But it is more than just a winter destination, with 20 miles of mountain bike trail, horseback riding, an alpine slide, and a gondola ride that’s ideal for viewing fall color.
An unlimited day pass for the summer activities costs $33 (cheaper options are available), and bikes are available for rent. They also organize canoeing, kayaking, and rock climbing trips.
Big-name bands from the Twin Cities  often play Papa Charlie’s (467 Ski Hill Rd., 218/663-7281, 11:30 a.m.–11 p.m. daily peak summer and winter seasons, reduced hours rest of year), Lutsen Mountains’ restaurant and bar.
Lutsen Rec. (245 Ski Hill Rd., 218/663-7863, www.lutsenrec.com , hours vary), halfway up the hill, rents skis, snowboards, and snowshoes in the winter and offers paintball, miniature golf, and RC car racing the rest of the year.
Finally, Superior National (5731 Hwy. 61, 218/663-7195, www.superiornational.com , sunrise–sunset, $72 18 holes with cart) has 27 of the loveliest holes you’ll ever golf.
There is plenty of quality lodging in the area. Down on a gorgeous 1,000-foot Lake Superior pebble beach is Lutsen Resort (5700 Hwy. 61, 218/663-7212 or 800/258-8736, www.lutsenresort.com , $99 lodge, $260 log cabins). The Swedish-style main lodge has 31 rooms, and there are also larger cottages and condos. Some of their many amenities include a pair of pools, whirlpools, and saunas, as well as shuffleboard and a par-3 golf course. There are many naturalist and other kids’ programs. Their lovely dining room (breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, $8–33) is the most highly regarded kitchen in the area. The menu is mostly steak and seafood, and there are cheaper sandwiches and the like in their Poplar River Pub ($8.50–18).
The 11 units at Thomsonite Beach Resort (2920 Hwy. 61 W., 218/387-1532 or 888/387-1532, www.thomsonite.com , $68–181) have cozy wood paneling and basic furniture and sleep four to six people; the larger ones have kitchens. On a rocky outcropping and down a slight hill from the highway, it’s a lovely location.
Solbakken Resort (4874 Hwy. 61 W., 218/663-7566, $50–230) welcomes visitors year-round to stay in cabins and motel units with up to three bedrooms. The tidy porches lead directly down a grassy slope to the lake.
Eagle Ridge Resort (565 Ski Hill Rd., 218/663-7284 or 800/360-7666, www.eagleridgeatlutsen.com , $99) is the closest resort to the ski hill, but what really sets it apart is the heated indoor/outdoor pool, which stays at 85 degrees right through the winter. Many of the varied rooms have a fireplace or whirlpool.
Next door, Caribou Highlands Lodge (371 Ski Hill Rd., 218/663-7241 or 800/642-6036, www.caribouhighlands.com , $90), another ski-in ski-out property, has a mix of lodge rooms and large log condos. Facilities include indoor and outdoor pools, tennis courts, a sauna, game room, and a Kids Camp with varied activities.
Lutsen’s most affordable rooms are at the Mountain Inn (360 Ski Hill Rd., 218/663-7244 or 800/686-4669, $65), a standard but well-run hotel with a whirlpool and sauna.
The Lockport Store (1273 Hwy. 61, 218/663-7548, breakfast and lunch daily) is a local favorite with tons of character. Housed in a converted gas station convenience store and decorated with outdoor gear, it serves up classic pasties (hand pies) and an all-you-can-eat plate of sourdough pancakes.
Moondance Coffee House (5335 Hwy. 61 W., 218/663-7915, www.moondancecoffeehouse.com , 7 a.m.–6 p.m. Mon., 7 a.m.–1 p.m. Tues.–Thurs., 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Fri.–Sat., 7 a.m.–1 p.m. Sun.) is serious about its coffee and how it’s roasted. The vibe is urban, and live music plays on Monday nights.