Our Retirement Celebration Fall Tour

We set out on a cool and rainy fall day, Oct. 1, for the 300 mile trek to Duluth to begin our retirement celebration vacation. Being a teacher, I never had the opportunity to take an extended trip in the fall and I love the beautiful fall foliage so this was a trip I had been yearning for! I also love waterfalls so that was my “goal” – to hike, see fall foliage and a waterfall every day! Our first day highlights included Amnicon Falls and dinner at Grandma’s Saloon. Day two, Oct. 2, was cloudy and 46 degrees but that didn’t deter us from driving the beautiful North Shore Scenic Drive up to Thunder Bay. The highlights on the way were the Two Harbors breakwater, tunnels and hikes at Gooseberry Falls and Tettegouch State Park. We also had a great meal at My Sister’s Place in Gran Marais. The North Shore is definitely a place where you could spend two or three days! I felt we kind of rushed through this area so would recommend more time along this beautiful part of Minnesota! Day 3, Oct. 3 was rainy and 38 degrees (glad we packed warm clothes, hats and gloves!) We explored Thunder Bay a little bit during the rain and then headed out to see Kakabeka Falls (the “Niagara” of the north) and attempted to get to Sleeping Giant but it ended up being too long a drive off the highway. There is a beautiful tower in Nipigon that is fun to climb and see gorgeous views of the bridge and valley. On our way to Terrace Bay we stopped and had dinner in tiny Rossport (pop. 65 but 5 B & B’s!) at Serendipity Cafe – it fills up fast so you may want to call ahead for reservations! A very cute and cozy restaurant with excellent food! Day 4, Oct. 4, was finally sunny and we drove across the northern and eastern shore of Ontario which has just a few stops – Aguasabon Falls, a beautiful pebble beach in Marathon (great chai and date bar at Rumors Coffee) shop and, of course, a picture with Winnie the Pooh in White River. This was mostly a drive day as there was not much to see so we went 260 miles to Wawa. We stopped at Scenic High Falls for a hike but the trail was closed 🙁 *70% color change at this point Day 5, Oct. 5, was overcast and 48 degrees. We got up and headed down the eastern side of Lake Superior through the Lake Superior Provincial Park which has 77 miles of lakeshore and 11 hiking trails. Orphan Trail is a 5 mile loop trail that includes a lake trail, waterfalls, pebble beach on Lake Superior and gorgeous views! I highly recommend it but be sure to take the trail clockwise as it is not well marked in reverse – turn LEFT at the first intersection! The colors along this 140 mile drive were just breathtaking and we arrived in Sault St. Marie, MI for a fun and excellent dinner at Wicked Sister downtown. Day 6, Oct. 6 we awoke to a 54 degree sunny day and headed down to the locks and the Shipwreck Museum (small and easy to do in 5 minutes!). We didn’t get to see a ship come in (call ahead and they can tell you when they are arriving!) and we also missed out on a great breakfast – check out Crepe and Coffee across from the locks – it looked amazing! We then headed out on the scenic route (Bay View Scenic Drive – back roads along the lake) to Tahquanemon Falls – again, amazing colors and stoped at a small lighthouse on the way. The lower falls are just as beautiful as the upper so stop and see both. You can walk easily to both or take a hike between the falls (you can go one way and take a shuttle back!) . Some trails were pretty muddy this time of year so be prepared with waterproof shoes/hiking boots! We ended our 165 miles in Marquette with a delicious mexican meal at Sol Azteca – right on the lake. Day 7 and 8 were sunny and beautiful we spent the days shopping, hiking and exploring Marquette. We stayed on the northwestern edge of town and took a great 3 mile bike path hike all the way downtown! At this point we decided to head home as we had spent other vacations in the UP and Bayfield/Ashland area so back to southern Wisconsin we went. All in all, it was a great trip! I would recommend going clockwise as there is so much to see on the north shore of Minnesota and I liked being “fresh” for that part of it! But then again, there is a lot to see in the UP and Bayfield area which we skipped so if you are going there, that is also a great place to start “fresh’! The fall was the perfect time for us as I loved the fall colors and it was not as busy but it was cooler so dress appropriately! Also, we did not plan any hotels ahead of time and just looked ahead in the morning, decided where we wanted to go and then booked on-line. This worked great for us and gave us the flexibility to go at our own pace. How ever you do it, take it slow, and enjoy every waterfall, hike and the people you meet!