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Chill out at North Shore getaway

BY KENDRA RICHARDS
OUTDOOR DULUTH REPORTER


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Winter in Duluth can make us feel like there are no entertainment options, but there are many winter activities available in the area. A day of ice skating followed by a horse-drawn carriage ride, for example, is perfect for a romantic or family event. Here's a possible agenda for this special occasion.

Heading north on Highway 61 from Duluth brings you to Two Harbors, the first stop on this day-trip. The drive will take about a half an hour, and once you arrive your destination will be Odegard Park.


The park includes, "...pleasure skating, hockey, a warming house and restrooms,? according to northshoreinfo.com.


You and your date could ice skate, and then snuggle up in the warming house for a break. Or you could take the family ice skating, and bring the kids in for some hot chocolate when you're done.


If you leave in the morning and arrive at Odegard Park around noon, you can stop somewhere to eat before your skating adventure. The center you will be at is right by several locally favored restaurants including Betty's Pies and Lou's Fish House, located right on Highway 61.


Making sure to leave enough time for driving, you could end the day with a horse-drawn carriage ride. Getting right back on Highway 61, if you go about two more hours you will come to Grand Marais. Take a left on Gunflint Trail and go 28 more miles. Look for the “Okontoe? sign on the left hand side of the Trail at the Bow Lake Road. It is here that you will find Mike, Bob, Cap, and Duke—the 2,000-pound Belgian horses who will pull you and yours through lantern-lit trails.

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“Our sleigh rides are offered in the evening so you may enjoy the crystal clear view of starry skies and the Northern Lights,? according to northshoreinfo.com.


All sleigh rides are, "private party" carrying only the folks you bring. The Deluxe Sleigh, with its ornate woodwork and red crushed velvet seats, carries two passengers and is perfect for your romantic celebration. The other two sleighs accommodate up to six and twelve passengers—perfect for the whole family.


“Sleigh rides at Okontoe have become a yearly tradition for many, with riders aging from one month to 100 years old,? according the Web site. “Our guests, who have come from all over the United States and from 38 countries around the world, frequently comment that 'this was the highlight of our vacation.'?


The sleigh ride season is dependent upon snow conditions, but generally runs from the second full weekend in December through the end of March, according to their Web site.


“Christmas through New Year's, Valentine's Day and President's weekends are especially popular times for sleigh rides,? according the Web site, “so early reservations are encouraged. However, even if you think it is 'too late,' give us a call because a spot may just have opened!?


The 45-minute ride concludes with homemade hot chocolate served from a wood cook stove in the warmth of Mark and Nancy's century-old log home.


“For the 2007-2008 season, sleigh rides will run Tuesday through Saturday nights at 6:30, 8:00, and 9:30,? said the Web site. “Our base rate is $95 for the first two people, and $15 for each additional person. The Deluxe sleigh ride for two is $135.?


Reservations can be made by calling 218-388-9423, or by emailing okontoe@boreal.org.


Kendra Richards is at richa551@d.umn.edu