It’s no secret that Manitobans like to travel to Minneapolis for shopping its massive malls and big-box stores.
My favourite cross-border destination in Minnesota is a less obvious location with terrific places to shop, fantastic food, oodles of charm, and a genuine laid-back vibe.
Detroit Lakes is four hours southeast of Winnipeg, at the junction of Highway 59 South and Highway 10. With a population of just under 9,000, it may be little, but it boasts everything a larger centre has to offer, all while maintaining the appeal of small town hospitality.
Washington Avenue in the downtown district is a short but sweet street, lined with bargains galore at department stores like JC Penney and Norby’s. If you like larger retail locations like Menards, Payless Shoes, and Walmart, you’ll find all of those and plenty more choices on the edge of town.
The Lodge on Lake Detroit is a must-stay resort. The lakefront hotel and spa opened on Big Detroit Lake in 2006, and has since earned the Explore Minnesota Sustainable Tourism Award in recognition of environmentally-friendly practices.
All of the guest rooms and suites are lakefront, each one finished with thoughtful detail like its own piece of one-of-a-kind mosaic artwork positioned under a spotlight, depicting the sunset over Big Detroit Lake. Free amenities include in-room coffee, daily hot breakfast bar, 24-hour fitness centre, wireless high speed internet, and local phone calls. They offer consecutive night deals, jazz concerts, special theme stays, wine-tasting weekends, and other packages.
Sunset is a magical experience, and the best time to relax with a glass of organic wine in the fireside lobby while being serenaded by the grand piano. For a memorable nighttime activity, request a s’mores-making kit from the front desk, spark up a lakeside fire, and treat yourself to decadent dark chocolate and gooey marshmallows melted between graham crackers.
Take time to pamper yourself at The Spa Within, where spa guests are treated to steam showers and organic lotions before slipping into cozy robes and slippers for unwinding in the relaxation room. Enjoy a beverage while indulging in signature treatments for both men and women.
Detroit Lakes also has impressive dining choices. The Fireside offers a meal with a lakefront view, serving up classic and inventive fare cooked on an open-air charcoal grill, and over 200 bottles of wine to choose. We enjoyed the complimentary cheese and pickle tray to start, and thought the "from scratch" clam chowder soup was delicious.
The best surprise was El Metate. The restaurant serves food as authentic and tasty as Mexican cuisine gets. The tortilla chips were homemade, the salsa had just the right kick, and the guacamole was to die for. Of course we ate too many chips, and by the time our sizzling fajitas arrived we were too full to eat. They sent us home with a doggie bag large enough to enjoy a second meal the next day.
RoseAnna Schick is an avid traveller and music lover who seeks inspiration wherever
she goes. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org