Lush woods and pristine lakes surround small mining towns across Minnesota's Iron Range. With much of the local economy tied to the mining industry, these towns have seen their fare share of boom and bust over the last several decades. Some Iron Rangers have turned to entrepreneurship to stimulate the local economy. One such example is Northern Comfort Bed and Breakfast.
Northern Comfort is a former Finnish boarding house that was constructed at the turn of the century.
Our room was, in a word, cozy. There were plenty of warm blankets atop the plush mattress. Some walls have exposed wooden beams covered in plexiglass (like the one in our room's bathroom) which serves as a reminder of the history of the house.
Along with the house, the previous owners passed down their tried and true breakfast recipes to the current owners Patty and Jeff. We sat around the dining room table with fellow guests and dined on was a warm, homemade blueberry scones, an egg cassoulet and sausage patties. Simple and delicious.
With an average annual temperature that doesn't rise much above 34F, Embarrass is known as the coldest town in Minnesota. It came as no surprise, then, to see the traditional wood-burning Finnish sauna (addl. fee) on the property.
Our hosts made sure to heat the room in advance so that it'd be nice and toasty for when we arrived. Actually, "toasty" is an understatement. It was so hot, I had to step out into the adjoining room several times to catch my breath. I enjoyed it much more than I expected and found it to be a very relaxing experience.
A few pounds lighter, we returned to the house in our plush white bathrobes. While we had our wine and cheese snack, our hosts told us all about how they'd come to be owners of the B&B. They'd stayed here while visiting nearby family several times in the past and struck up a friendship with the previous owners. When the owners were looking to sell, they had only just recently decided to buy.
The next morning, we walked around a little more of the 17 acre farm.
There's a large screened in gazebo (perfect for summer afternoon relaxation).
There's also an old dairy barn, which has now been converted into the gift shop Homespun Acres, full of antiques.
I could tell Patty and Jeff were enthusiastic about their new home. They were in the process of launching "Makers Weekends" to attract a younger crowd from Minneapolis and Duluth. We wished them good luck and continued onwards through the hills and forests of Minnesota's Boundary Waters.
Couples and families road-tripping through Northern Minnesota.
Embarrass is 1.5 hours drive from Duluth and Lake Superior and about 3.5 hours from Minneapolis International Airport. Nearby attractions include Giants Ridge ski slopes, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and Lake Vermilion.