This post was sniffed out in partnership with the supremely dog-friendly Caribou Highlands Lodge, who treated us to a stay in exchange for including them in our guide to vacationing the North Shore with your pooch. Our honest review? They’re pawesome — give ’em a call to book your North Shore vacay (and tell them we sent ya!).
If you’re a true Minnesoootan, chances are your ideal summer getaway is somewhere “up north” with the whole family — including Fido.
It can be tricky to plan a weekend full of dog-friendly, pooch-approved activities, so I ever-so-selflessly volunteered to drag my family to the North Shore to sniff out how the heck to vacation in the great north with hounds in tow ‒ all for our readers’ benefit. (That’s you. You’re welcome!)
What follows is a jam-packed Rover-worthy itinerary: a few of the many dog-friendly hikes, sights, and bites the North Shore has to offer. We hope it inspires your next northern getaway with your pups.
Day one: Northward hound
My hubs, our two fur babies ‒ Monte and Shelby ‒ and I hit the open road on a Friday afternoon. Our first stop: Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors. With tons of outdoor seating and grrr-eat beer, we were pretty darn pleased with the start to our weekend. The pups loved stretching their legs on the roomy deck and getting loads of attention from countless dog lovers stopping by our table to offer up free pats.
Castle Danger Brewery hosts a food truck and live music nearly every Friday night throughout the summer (bark out to Duluth native Hannah Rey for serenading us on our visit). We couldn’t resist the wafting aromas of the nearby Do North Pizza so we ordered up a delish pizza for delivery and scarfed it down while we finished our beers.
Then onward to our home away from home for the weekend, the ridiculously dog-friendly Caribou Highlands Lodge in Lutsen. This gorgeous resort welcomes leashed pups throughout nearly the entire resort.
For those who book their Pooch Package, Caribou Highlands Lodge even delights four-legged guests with a super pawesome goody bag packed with nummy treats, a portable dog bottle, cute brag tag, poo bags, and guides for your stay. Pup yeah!
Immediately after check-in, we were invited to kick back by the firepit for a couple of ooey, gooey, roast-your-own s’mores ‒ a nightly perk for all lodge visitors (weather permitting).
Then off to our lovely, spacious, well-equipped townhouse to rest up before the next day’s packed agenda.
Day two: Sniff-worthy scenery
We got an early start with a hearty breakfast on Coho Cafe & Bakery’s cozy dog-friendly patio. The adorable cafe is in Tofte, just a short drive south of Lutsen, and near our next stop for the day, Oberg Mountain.
The 2.3-mile Oberg Mountain Loop Trail is a scenic hike with photo ops galore, featuring Lake Superior, the Sawtooth Mountain range, and Lake Oberg. Monte and Shelby loved sniffing out pockets of wild blueberries.
Next up ‒ a quick stroll through Cascade River State Park in Lutsen. We stuck largely to the half-mile Cascade River Lower Loop trail to get a glimpse of the Cascade Falls.
With two hikes under our paws, we were ready to move on to the super pup-loving Grand Marais. First thing’s first — lunch! There are plenty of dog-friendly spots to grab a bite (like Voyageur Brewing Company, Gun Flint Tavern, and World’s Best Donuts), but we were really diggin’ the lake vibe, so went for the walleye and chips basket at Dockside Fish Market. Um, num! And it features super cute lakeside digs, too.
The only plausible next step was to seek out a yummy ice cream T-R-E-A-T, so we headed toward Sydney’s Frozen Custard & Wood-Fired Pizza. Tails were a-wagging when we realized Sydney’s also serves up pup cups for Fido. Can you say “spoiled?”
From there, we were just steps away from the pup-ular Artist’s Point ‒ a stunning destination for picnicking, skipping rocks, or a romantic stroll in Grand Marais. Or, if you’re Monte or Shelby, you’ll just enjoy scaling every rock in sight and (unsuccessfully) demanding to chase the cold, crashing waves.
Rain clouds had us heading back toward the resort, but we passed a darling art gallery along our drive and had to stop. While the Kah Nee Tah Gallery isn’t dog-friendly (let’s be real: you’d feel terrible if Fido knocked over a priceless piece of art), they DO have a friendly resident doggo, Ollie. Two words: So. Soft.
A quick break in the clouds gave us enough time to sneak in one last stop for the day at pup-friendly North Shore Winery and Sawtooth Cider House, featuring super refreshing hard cider (my fave!) and plenty of outdoor seating.
We were just minutes from Caribou Highlands Lodge when the rain returned. Luckily their own Moguls Grille and Tap Room has a drool-worthy to-go menu, so we ordered up a couple of doggy bags and returned to our townhouse where the dogs promptly passed out in front of the cozy fireplace.
Day three: More trails to trot
Up and at ‘em! We said an early morning woof-ya-later to our pals at Caribou Highlands Lodge and set out for one last day of exploring North Country, starting with a grab-n-go breakfast of cinnamon rolls and coffee from Schroeder Baking Company, then onto gorgeous Temperance River State Park. The lagoon was our favorite spot, and by getting an early start we had much of it to ourselves (score!).
We made our way south to Tettegouche State Park in Silver Bay where we took in waterfalls, lakeside cliffs, a swing bridge, and more. We hiked about two hours round trip to enjoy High Falls and Two Step Falls, including the time it took to stop and pant (and I ain’t talking about the dogs).
Everyone was ready for a snack. So we continued on to Two Harbors and woofed down a scrumptious lunch at Black Woods Bar & Grill, who welcomed our pooches with a fresh water bowl and milk bones as soon as we sat down. Now that’s grrr-eat service!
Four paws up for the dog-friendly North Shore
Our fun-filled North Shore vacation came to an end. But with so much to do, and so many options for keeping pups occupied, exercised, and happy as can be, we’ll definitely be back. We hope you and your fur-family can take some tidbits from this post to inspire your next northbound Fido-approved vacay.
Next up: Share all of your pup’s adventures with #SidewalkDog for the chance to be featured. Then head to our Dog-Friendly Twin Cities online forum for super local, pooch-centric chat with the some of the best people we know – dog people.
And since you clearly love being out and about with your doggo, you NEED our Dog-Friendly Passes! These puppies score ya FREE beer or wine on dozens of local patios, and inside some taprooms, too. Get your paws on ‘em today. (They make grrr-eat gifts, too!)