Cook County—The North Shore is often thought of for its expansive views of Lake Superior, abundance of hikes, and of course, the Boundary Waters. It’s also a great place to cool off from the heat of the cities and a fun place to meander through quaint shops and restaurants. There is always plenty of options for family-friendly activities in Cook County, including the ones featured here.
Putt n’ Pets
When searching for a fun, family activity, look no further than Putt n’ Pets. The name essentially describes the operation, though there is a bit more to the fun-filled mini golf course than pets and putt-putt. First of all, the animals that surround the mini golf course are no ordinary house pets.
“We have wild turkeys, doves, Shetland sheep, peacocks and goats. The goats are trained to feed themselves, they pull the food up to them using a rope. I don’t know of anywhere else that combines animals and mini-golf,” said Randy Sjogren, owner of Putt n’ Pets.
Putt n’ Pets also offers a variety of other activities, such as gemstone mining and coin operated rides for children. The course is even lit for night golf.
“It’s great family time,” said Sjogren. “It keeps kids entertained when playing mini-golf.”
Putt n’ Pets is located south-west of downtown Grand Marais, just off of Highway 61. There is a large sign and a few cartoon statues that may catch the passerby’s eye. More information can be found at puttnpets.com or by calling (218) 387-3570.
Who thinks to visit a ski hill in the middle of summer? Well, actually, many people who visit the North Shore. Though no skiing is available in the summer sun, there are a few activities that draw people up the Ski Hill Road in Lutsen, one of them is the well-known alpine slide.
The alpine slide consists of two tracks that twist and turn all the way down Eagle Mountain. Visitors grab a cart from the bottom, ride a chair lift all the way up, are greeted by a magnificent view, and then speed their way back down to the bottom. But don’t worry, the carts have brakes.
Children especially seem to enjoy this unique attraction, and some visitors end up spending half of their day zooming down Eagle Mountain. If one doesn’t want to spend all morning there, the mountain offers passes for one ride, two rides and unlimited rides. They even have a special that offers a lower price if you ride the alpine slide and the gondola.
Once you’ve ridden the alpine slide to your heart’s content, head over to the gondola. Here you can ride to the top of Moose Mountain, grab a bite to eat for lunch at the Chalet while enjoying the expansive view of Lake Superior, and head back down. If rides aren’t really your thing, the Superior Hiking trail also connects with the Ski Hill Road. Each summer, many people ride the gondola up to Moose Mountain and then hike the four miles back down through the beautiful boreal forest.
More information and ticket prices can be found at lutsen.com under the “summer” tab.
Towering Pines Canopy Tour
Driving up the historic Gunflint Trail is a beautiful way to spend the day, or even a few days, when visiting the North Shore. There’s plenty of places to stop for a bite to eat, many hikes to wander down, and adventure around every turn. One of the more unique adventure opportunities lies on Gunflint Lake, towards the end of the trail. The Towering Pines Canopy Tour at Gunflint Lodge will leave you in awe as you soar over the northwoods forest.
“Nowhere else can you experience the boreal forest by walking off the edge of a 70-foot cliff and zipping into the air in the canopy of 300-year-old white pines. The views from the towers of the zipline overlooking Gunflint Lake into Magnetic Lake and the Canadian wilderness are simply breathtaking,” said John Fredrickson, owner of the Gunflint Lodge.
The zipline offers an adrenaline rush one is unlikely to find anywhere else on the shore. Though stepping off the platform may seem a bit daunting at first, safety is a priority for the zipline staff.
“We work with an adventure engineering company on the east coast that has been designing and building zipline courses for many years and are an industry leader. The same company comes up to Gunflint Lodge every spring to inspect our course and train our Sky Guides,” said Fredrickson.
The Sky Guides, the people who lead guests through the course, are also first aid and CPR certified.
If interested in booking a tour, call 800-328-3325 or visit gunflint.com.
By Bailey Wolding