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.

best midwest camp style lodges hotel where you can unplug man at cabin patio

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.


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