Plan now for summer travel!

May is an ideal time to start thinking about getting some dates for summer family adventures on the calendar.

Though it can be fun to be spontaneous when it comes to travel, the reality is that traveling as a family takes some work in terms of forethought and planning: When will you take time off from work? What do you want to do? Where will the money come from for your adventure?

When it comes down to it, it can be easier to continue with our regular routines than to plan ahead and commit to a family vacation.

But traveling with kids is worth the effort: You’ll have the opportunity to learn new things, to play and to make lasting memories together as a family.

You just have to take the initiative to make it happen!

If you’ve checked out myblog — — you may have figured out that I live in one of our state’s popular vacation destinations: Northeastern Minnesota!

This, of course, has its advantages when it comes to recreation and travel close to home. There are so many activities and places to explore right here in Minnesota.

Because this is the Travel Issue, I thought it would be fun to share some our family’s favorite kid-tested and mama-approved places in my neck of the woods:



• Explore

Jay Cooke State ParkThis popular destination near Carlton features a large water-eroded gorge, steep valleys and massive rock formations along the St. Louis River, surrounded by lush hardwood forests. If you have older kids, you may even want to consider the whitewater-rafting experiences offered by several outfitters.

Canal Park: This extension of downtown Duluth features fun shopping, dining, sweet treats and strolling — including access to more than three miles of the paved waterfront Duluth Lakewalk trail — plus many more kid-friendly summer attractions. You can throw rocks into Lake Superior and wander fun shops in the lively DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace. We love the caramel apples at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory across the street, too.

Park Point: Cross the Aerial Lift Bridge from Canal Park and bask in the sun on sandy beaches on the world’s longest freshwater sandbar, stretching seven miles — with Lake Superior on one side and Superior Bay on the other. 

• Eat

Duluth Grill: This West Duluth institution serves unique, locally sourced meals.

Tavern on the Hill: Enjoy the large outdoor patio and creative, locally sourced menu options and craft beer near the University of Minnesota-Duluth campus.

Burrito Union: Check out this family-friendly Mexican fare, just up the hill from The Rose Garden and Leif Erikson Park.

 • Play

Spirit Mountain: This ski resort turns into an adventure park in summer with an Alpine Coaster, a Timber Flyer zip line and more.



• Explore

Gooseberry Falls State Park (Two Harbors): View beautiful waterfalls and take a short hike to Lake Superior.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park (Two Harbors): Our favorite picnic and rock-skipping area is at Pebble Beach.

Tettegouche State Park (Silver Bay): There are several hiking options for exploring Shovel Point and the High Falls of the Baptism River, plus a wonderful new visitor center.

Hiking: Marvel at scenic waterfalls at Crosby-Manitou State Park (Finland), Temperance River State Park (Schroder/Tofte) and Cascade River State Park (Lutsen).

• Eat

New Scenic Cafe: Enjoy fine dining in a relaxed atmosphere at this well-known foodie destination, about 20 minutes up the shore from Duluth.

The Gun Flint Tavern: This downtown Grand Marais brewpub serves consistently good food, house-made beer and creative kids’ menu items, including a grilled (adult-worthy) PB&J, plus live music most nights.

Sven & Ole’s Pizza: Get pizza by the pie or the slice at reasonable prices.

• Play

Lutsen Mountain: We love the tram and the alpine slides (pictured below). 

Towering Pines Canopy Tour: Fly down a series of eight zip lines at the Gunflint Lodge, about an hour north of Grand Marais on the Gunflint Trail.



• Explore

Kawishiwi Falls Trail: Admire a beautiful set of falls and extend the hike by walking the portage down to Fall Lake.

Semers Park: Play on the beach and take a bridge that connects to two wooded islands in Shagawa Lake.

Bass Lake Trail: Hike to Dry Falls and back on this short but rugged Superior National Forest trail, six miles north of Ely.

Trezona Trail: This stroller-friendly, four-mile route goes around Miners Lake, a former iron ore-mining pit.

Bear Head Lake State Park: This park is beloved for its swimming beach, picturesque campgrounds and family-friendly hiking trails.

Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park: Located in Soudan, about 30 minutes southwest of Ely, this park is located at the site of Minnesota's oldest, deepest and richest iron mine on the shores of Lake Vermilion. Tours of the historic mining facilities and an active underground physics laboratory are available for the public.

• Eat

Insula Restaurant: Ely’s newest restaurant features a warm atmosphere and locally sourced menu options.

Rockwood Restaurant: We love the patio dining here, and there’s even a kids’ menu that includes a walleye sandwich.  

The Chocolate Moose: Get good food and friendly service for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus pie!

• Play

Tuesday Night Live: Enjoy shopping, music and entertainment at this weekly citywide late-afternoon event throughout the summer months. Walk the large afternoon farmer’s market at Whiteside Park.

I encourage you to get some dates plotted out on the calendar and put in for that vacation time. I hope to see you out and about adventuring as a family this summer!

Megan Devine is an elementary school teacher who lives with her husband and four children in Northeastern Minnesota. Follow her on Instagram @megtdevine. Write her at