family vacation :: grand ely lodge resort

© Tina Vega Photography

As I mentioned in THIS POST, my family and I had only a sliver of time for a summer escape and Grand Ely Lodge Resort sounded like the perfect destination for us.

© Tina Vega Photography

It was about a 4-1/2 hour drive north of the Twin Cities, the closest I’ve been to the Canadian border in years.

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The resort itself was smaller than I had anticipated.  An old cabin feel with decorating details that included cutout light fixtures, pine furniture, and even a woodsy-themed shower curtain! .

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There was a bonfire/marshmallow roast each night, an arcade and ping pong table, indoor swimming pool, a lounge (with the BEST margaritas), a playground for the littles, free paddleboats, and a restaurant on site.  We saw many of the same employees working each day, their friendly familiar faces simply added to the charm.

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There was an old mining facility across the street (with another lake behind it, barely visible behind the truck in the image below)….

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Which (much to our surprise) happened to be the very place locals gather to watch 4th of July fireworks.  Grand Ely Lodge had a little spot sectioned off so we spread out our beach towels and waited for the show to begin.

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It was the closest we had ever been to fireworks!

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Downtown Ely was only about a mile away and had several gift shops, restaurants, a few bars, couple of grocery stores, and at least two ice cream parlors.

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Despite being the busy season, the crowds were not overwhelming at all.  Just a short wait for most of the restaurants.

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A few recommendations if you plan to stay at Ely Grand Lodge Resort:

– Bring your bikes and/or walking shoes, the Trezona Trail is right across the street!
– Go to Stony Ridge Café for the BEST burgers around.  If you can snag one of their outdoor tables at sunset, even better.
– Have your kids save their quarters for the onsite arcade; there are even a few game tables there as well so be sure to bring along your favorite board game (or deck of cards) and snacks for your own family game night.
A Taste of Ely is the coolest coffee shop/café; each table has a JOURNAL on it to share your experience in Ely with other visitors.   [I LOVE THIS!]  My favorite breakfast of our trip was eaten here.
– Check out the Annual Blueberry Art Festival in late-July.
– Be sure to go to the North American Bear Center.  You will want to go walking with a pocketful of nuts afterwards, I swear.
The International Wolf Center is also in the area.
– Stop by the Soudan Underground Mine State Park on the way home for a tour.

Ely Grand Lodge Resort would also make a great place for a wedding.  Or class reunion.  [We saw both!]

© Tina Vega Photography

I would love to go back and take in some of the sights we missed.  (My family feels the same.)  Ely Grand Lodge Resort is definitely on the repeat list!

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