Skip to main content

You Need a Vacation: 5 Midwestern Camp-Style Lodges Where You Can Unplug

You need a vacation — there’s no disputing that. What is in dispute is whether you’re likely to actually take one. According to a 2017 study by Glassdoor, the average U.S. employee uses barely half of their annual paid time off. Worse, even those who do take a vacation generally fail to use it for the rest and relaxation. What are they doing instead, you ask?

Well, what do you do when you leave town for a few days?

Think through the steps of the last vacation you took. You make the reservations, endure the flight, arrive at the hotel, put down your bags … and what? Immediately check your phone, of course. That’s what we all do, even when we know we shouldn’t. The last thing anyone needs to see during a vacation is to watch their queue of emails multiply in real time.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Alas, habit is a hard thing to break. Not just the habit of being constantly online, but the habit of being incessantly busy, of somehow loving the stress of being so freaking important, of doing just one more thing before you finally let yourself relax.

It shouldn’t be this hard to take a vacation. And back in the day, it wasn’t. Just a generation or two ago, taking a vacation meant really getting away from it all — fleeing the confines of the city and the cares of workday life for a restful week at a sprawling lake house, a cozy family cabin, or a rustic lodge shared by fellow urbanites rediscovering the joys of roughing it.

Believe it or not, these types of rustic woodland getaways still exist. In this modern age of constant connectivity, they’re more necessary than they’ve ever been. That’s why we’ve pulled together a shortlist of the finest camp-style resorts and lodges located within some of the country’s most beautiful, largely overlooked natural settings.

As you peruse this list, however, be advised. While these camp-style hotels are stacked with comfortable amenities (fine food and drink, luxurious bed linens, hot tubs, saunas, golf courses, and more), the one thing they don’t have is high-speed Internet. Some on this list even proudly maintain a media-free environment — no Wi-Fi, no in-room phones, and nary a television to be found on the property.

This lack of connection might be a shock to the system at first, like flying off a rope swing into a clear, ice-cold lake, but we guarantee you’ll find it similarly refreshing, not to mention good for your health. It only takes a few days of basking in the pleasures of a simpler time to empty your mind of the madness and refill your soul with inspiration.

Camp Wandewega

Elkhorn, Wisconsin

Camp Wandawega is the first name on any urbanite’s lips when they dream of a lazy summer getaway. It started life as a speakeasy in 1925 but was transformed into a wholesome family resort in the 1950s, where hard working middle-class folks could get away for fresh air and sunshine, home-cooked meals, and good company. With new ownership and a brand refresh to match, Camp Wandawega is an unlikely trendsetter, tempting jaded urbanites with old-fashioned Midwestern values and the promise of doing absolutely nothing. While most of the camp property is rented out for large groups, a small collection of cabins, Scout tents, and even a tipi can be rented individually via AirBnb.

Naniboujou Lodge

Grand Marais, Minnesota

Named for the Cree god of the outdoors, Naniboujou Lodge was built in 1929 as an exclusive outdoor playground for the rich and famous. Luminaries such as Jack Dempsey and Babe Ruth traveled hundreds of miles to enjoy the lodge’s hospitality while fishing, hunting, and canoeing. Since the 1980s, the lodge has been lovingly restored to its original beauty and charm, with rooms that offer sweeping views of Lake Superior and a nostalgic embrace of knotty pine paneling. The only thing that rivals the beauty of its natural surroundings is the imposing lodge dining room, which features Minnesota’s largest native stone fireplace. With its vaulted ceiling and 360-degree mural of Cree imagery, it’s no wonder that the room has been compared to a Northwoods Sistine Chapel.

Keweenaw Mountain Lodge

Copper Harbor, Michigan

Built in 1934 under the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge offered a chance for hardy vacationers to bust out of the Great Depression by basking in the beauty of nature. Today, the lodge marries that rustic mid century charm with up-to-date amenities and the exhilaration of a far northern wilderness paradise. Nestled within a forest of old-growth pines, the resort’s 23 cabins feature iconic low-gabled profiles and interlocking log construction, with fireplaces built from Lake Superior stone and quaint period design details. The gracious main lodge houses a restaurant that features rotating specials from weekly guest chefs, as well as an expansive lounge offering some of Michigan’s finest microbrews. Play a round on a nine-hole golf course that looks out over sparkling Lake Superior, track the bald eagles circling nearby Brockway Mountain from your cabin porch, or enjoy a late night on the lodge’s enclosed deck with a craft cocktail in hand and an eye open for the Northern Lights.

Canoe Bay

Chetek, Wisconsin

Founded as a church camp in the 1960s, Canoe Bay is now a gorgeous Mission-style resort that Condé Nast Traveler readers voted best in the Midwest. Located on 300 acres of hardwood forest that include three spring-fed lakes, the resort features a unique collection of accommodations to suit every taste. Lodge rooms and standard guest cottages feature king beds, fireplaces, private decks, and Whirlpool tubs. The two-bedroom Edgewood Villa, designed by a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, includes a theatre-style surround sound system, steam shower, and Finnish sauna. At the other end of the spectrum, the Canoe Bay Escape Village is a series of tiny houses that offer a closer-to-nature experience–that is, if you don’t count the king-size bed, wet bar, full bathtub, and Keurig machine. With its gorgeous Prairie School architecture and its strict adults-only policy, Canoe Bay is the right pick for city slickers dipping their toe into the wilderness resort experience.

Cove Point Lodge

Beaver Bay, Minnesota

Despite its sprawling size, this unique Scandinavian-style lodge maintains an intimate feel with its quiet elegance and remote location. Nestled around an inlet of Lake Superior’s north shore, within a short distance of the iconic Split Rock Lighthouse, the resort’s vibrant color and spare, expansive architecture echo the look of a Norwegian fishing village. The rooms feature a mix of Nordic simplicity (blonde wood walls, stone fireplaces, blankets knitted in traditional patterns) and North Midwestern warmth (rustic pine and hickory furniture, oiled paper lampshades, overstuffed leather sofas). All rooms feature expansive views of Lake Superior, access to the lodge’s indoor pool, sauna and hot tub, and a Scandinavian continental breakfast featuring fresh bread, eggs, salami, pickled herring, block cheeses, beets, and cucumbers.

Editors' Recommendations

Chelsea Batten
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Chelsea Batten is a writer, photographer, and Kerouac groupie. One of the original digital nomads, she was seduced from life…
Visitors to Death Valley have rare opportunity to go kayaking in an ancient lake (for a limited time)
Kayak in this rare lake in Death Valley before it dries up
A kayak on the Badwater Basin.

If the outdoors, an ancient lake, and stunning views are all things that make your Spidey senses tingle, you need to head to Death Valley as soon as possible. The National Park Service says there is a small window when you could kayak in a lake in Badwater Basin, and it's happening right now. Pack your gear and go on an adventure at Death Valley National Park.

The ancient lake is having a moment
The driest spot in the U.S. saw enough rain to turn the lowest elevation point in North America (which hits 282 feet below sea level) into a glorious lake where kayaks roam free. Though it is only temporary, Badwater Basin, located at the bottom of Death Valley National Park, a foot of water took over the normally dry salt flat to form Lake Manly.
Help from a hurricane
The unexpected additional inches of rainfall boosted Badwater Basin due to Hurricane Hilary in August 2023. Typically, Death Valley National Park gets two inches of rain a year, but because of the hurricane, the valley floor caught 4.9 inches in six months, with a bonus of 1.5 inches in early February.

Read more
Fairmont Grand Del Mar: Get 64% off a stay at the five-star hotel and spa
fairmont grand del mar deals gilt february 2024  san diego front

California is always a good idea. Especially when you can get a discount on a fabulous hotel with great accommodations and amenities. Now is the best time to head to San Diego to indulge in a little R&R with constant sunshine and cheer.

Gilt is offering up to 64% off a two-night stay the Fairmont Grand Del Mar, San Diego for a limited time. This deal is for two adults only, so unfortunately you will have to leave the little ones at home. If you've been wanting to plan a trip to California, now is the perfect opportunity. Click the button below to learn more about this deal and keep reading for even more details.

Read more
This gross thing has been found at 4 Las Vegas Strip hotels (but that shouldn’t stop you from visiting)
Are these pests taking over Sin City?
Las Vegas

Recent reports from the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD) reveal that inspectors found bed bugs in several Las Vegas Strip hotels over the past five months. This report has caused concern for travelers looking to visit Sin City, making them wonder if they should skip the destination for their next vacation. Although bed bugs are unsettling, they should not deter you from planning a fun Las Vegas vacation.

The first report of bed bugs came back in December when a guest staying at the Encore filed a complaint. The room was immediately taken out of service when bed bug-sniffing dogs discovered that there were indeed live bed bugs in the area. Aside from Encore, inspectors found bed bugs at three other Strip hotels from September 2023 to January 2024. The other properties impacted include the Venetian, the Mirage, and the Excalibur Hotel and Casino.

Read more