Since becoming a mom, I’ve become a pretty loyal homebody. However, that hasn’t made me immune to catching the travel itch. I love a change of scenery. We started this year with a pretty incredible family trip to China and my husband and I just booked our flight to Spain this summer. While we don’t always have such elaborate getaways, we do love to pack our suitcases and head out of town when life starts to feel a bit mundane. Plus, living in the northern United States, we can experience some pretty frigid winters and sometimes getting out of town means survival for us.
I used to think that we needed to book a flight and fly somewhere warm when February came. It’s just the right time to break up the long winter months and help me remember there’s something to life other than shoveling the snow off my car for fifteen minutes before driving the icy roads to work, probably never really seeing sunlight until, well…spring. Plus, the sunshine’s vitamin D can be a precious necessity to those of us who tend to get hit with the winter blues.
It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized not only was it not always possible to go somewhere warmer in the winter, but it isn’t always necessary. And that’s when we discovered one of our region’s greatest treasures: Lake Superior. I grew up in northeastern Wisconsin near Lake Michigan, so it wasn’t until I was an adult living in Minnesota that I discovered our Great Lake and all the benefits of being so close to it.
These are a few of the reasons our family has decided that sometimes heading north is better than a sunny, southern winter getaway.
The price tag.
My favorite part of going north is the fact that I don’t need to search for a deal on plane tickets that our family can actually afford. Rather than spending nearly half our travel budget (or more) on a flight, we usually end up paying for a tank of gas and some change to go on a family trip up north. Plus, off-season cabin and bed & breakfast deals are always readily available in the winter, and you can easily plan a last minute trip if you need to.
The ease of access.
Don’t have time to take off of work? All you really need is a weekend to go up north! The closest point of access to Lake Superior is only two and a half hours away from the Twin Cities. Grand Marais is a couple of hours north on the Minnesota side, and one of our family favorites, Bayfield, is just an hour and half beyond that on the Wisconsin side. Want an island getaway so you can lay out on the white [snowy] beach? You can literally drive your way across the frozen bay to get to Madeline Island without even paying the ferry cost!
The art of staying cozy.
In Denmark they call it hygge, but I call it survival. You don’t need to be an outdoor adventurist to enjoy spending time up north in the winter. While we do love our walks and snowshoe outings as a family, we also love cozying up at a coffee shop or bookstore and staying warm. Some days we get enough fresh air just walking from our lodging to a restaurant around the corner (though still a bit short on Vitamin D). It’s an added bonus if you can find a B & B or cabin rental with a fireplace. So, grab your favorite big sweater, along with a book and your loved ones, because up north is really the only place you can count on finding cozy during these mild winters we’ve had lately.
The weather will not ruin your family’s vacation…for once.
It will be cold. There will be snow. You can expect this and this is what makes it so wonderful. There will always be snow up north in the winter, so if you’re setting out to find a cold weather getaway, you will find it. I can’t tell you how many times rain and cool weather have gotten in the way of our “warm weather” getaways. Rather than anxiously checking the weather predictions as they change for ten days in advance, when you head up north for the winter, you will find what you’re looking for.
No post vacation blues.
I know I said the price tag was my favorite, but honestly, I love that I don’t come home depressed from leaving a wonderful vacation. Rather than feeling sad that I’ve lost warmth and sunshine upon my return, our family always comes home refreshed and grateful for our time together as well as a new dose of pride for where we live. That is what we focus on. All without experiencing the shock of a drastic climate change which oftentimes makes our winter blues and cabin fever even worse. Plus, there’s a good chance it’s warmer at home!
Our family’s northern adventures started with a midwinter trip to Bayfield, Wisconsin and eventually brought us to Grand Marais with plenty of stops in Duluth, but these are only a couple of Lake Superior’s amazing destinations. Where does your family like to go when you explore our breathtaking Lake Superior?