Unique MN Holiday Gifts: 5 Shopping & Dining Getaways
It’s the holiday season and the annual hunt for unique Minnesota holiday gifts is on! Nothing beats a handcrafted or one-of-a-kind holiday gift made in Minnesota. You won’t find these treasures at the mall or big box stores, and these meaningful finds mean not only will your gift be a story, but so will the adventure you took it get it.
- Best Bets
- Duluth, MN
- Ely, MN
- Grand Marais, MN
- Northfield, MN
- Red Wing, MN
- Pick up warm winter gear in downtown Ely. Find cozy Wintergreen Northern Wear for the whole family, and forget the Uggs this year – pick up Steger Mukluks & Moccasins in downtown Ely or head to next door Toys in the Woods for children’s gifts.
- Take home a frozen made-from-scratch pie for the holidays from Grand Marais’ The Pie Shop.
- For the beer lover, pick up a half-gallon growler of Fitger’s beer from the Brewhouse Beer Store in Duluth. The store also offers Driftwood Draft Root beer or Orange Cream Soda.
- At Eco Gardens in Northfield, take home a unique handmade wreath, made from greenery like boxwood, spongy princess pine and other varieties.
- Holiday festivals abound – visit Grand Marais’ North Shore Holiday, Red Wing’s Holiday Stroll and Northfield’s Winter Walk. During the festivals you’ll find special store discounts, a range of activities and extended store hours.
Superior ice is a beautiful sight during the holiday season.
Duluth, MN Holiday Getaway
This lakeside city offers galleries, gift shops, high-end outdoor gear and clothing. Also take home smoked fish and homemade candy, furnishings and décor.
Where to Shop:
Head first to Canal Park. Waters of Superior is a spot to look for unique home goods, pottery, glassware and artwork, as well as women’s clothing brands. The story carries outdoor clothing by Royal Robbins, and California-based labels Bryn Walker, Two Star Dog and Chalet women’s clothing. The store also carries Scandinavian-inspired jewelry.
Sivertson Gallery showcases work by 60 local artists, as well as Canadian Inuit, Alaskan native and Native American works. Though smaller than its Grand Marais location, the Canal Park gallery features sculpture, paintings, prints, jewelry, metal and woodwork, all with a northern theme.
In the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace building, you’ll find pottery, glassware, wood crafts, photography and painting at Blue Lake Gallery and Art Dock. Blue Lake features works by more than 200 artists and also has a large jewelry collection with pieces featuring Lake Superior stones, beads, turquoise, glasswork and silver. Art Dock features works by more than 150 local artists, including paperwork by Bill & Linda Sumner, stained glass by Fred Johnson and Marlys Hill, and sculpture by Cynthia Avery.
Consider bringing home some treats for your holiday party or a gift. Handmade candies are available at Northwoods Confections and Gifts, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe in the DeWitt building, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. You’ll find locally made cheeses, fine oils and vinegars and fresh smoked fish at Northern Waters Smokehaus in the DeWitt building.
For the outdoor enthusiast, head to Duluth Pack. The store’s known for its leather and canvas backpacks, but also offers purses, wallets, messenger bags, satchels and other bags inspired by its original pack, as well as laptop bags and travel accessories. The Canal Park store has a full line of camping, hiking and canoe and kayak gear. It also has men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, footwear and accessories. Beyond clothing and gear, the store offers books, cookware, home décor, locally made candles and soaps, and locally made foods, including Jams by Jan from the Gunflint Trail, syrups, honey, wild rice, and pancake and bread mixes. You can also pick up the famous Dorothy Molter Root Beer.
For children, visit J Skylark Company in the DeWitt building, one of the most unique toy stores you’ll find. The store features books, puppets, craft supplies, puzzles and games, science kits and other educational toys, wooden toys, stuffed animals and keepsake items. It will be easy to spend an hour here looking and playing.
Next head along the lake to the Fitger’s complex, just north of Canal Park. There you’ll find clothing, outdoor gear, hiking and camping supplies, books, unique gift items, and local wine and beer.
Jake’s Lake Place carries the Life is Good brand, including men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, dog toys and accessories, and a variety of gift items. Head to Snow Goose carries gifts, crafts, jewelry, clothing and cards.
Fitger’s Wine Cellars offers one of the widest selections of wine and beer in the north, including many locally produced wines and craft beers. At the Brewhouse Beer Store, take home a half-gallon “growler” of Fitger’s beer, Driftwood Draft Rootbeer or Orange Cream Soda.
Find casual footwear for men and women at Shoe Fly. The store carries brands like Sanuk sandals, Simple Shoes made from recycled materials, and Tsubo sophisticated urban designs. The store also carries a range of unique messenger bags, purses and totes.
Andi’s Closet women’s boutique focuses on premium denim, and the store also sells clothing labels like BCBGMaxazria, Charlotte Tarantola, Pure & Simple, Kersh and others. Accessories include hats, scarves, purses and totes, jewelry, candles and handsoaps. Other clothing stores include United Colors of Benetton men’s and women’s wear and Wintergreen Northern Wear. Wintergreen offers Minnesota-made men’s and women’s winter outdoor gear, shirts, pants, vests and base layers. The store also sells a range of children’s jackets, snow pants, anoraks, base layers and accessories. You can even pick up outdoor gear for your dog!
For books, head to the Bookstore at Fitger’s, an independent seller with new release adult and children’s books. The store also specializes in books on northern Minnesota, including outdoor activities, Minnesota history, Lake Superior history and wildlife, shipwreck history and local fiction. Watch for local book signing events at the store. The children’s room not only offers a wide selection of books, but also games and toys, along with the GUND line of stuffed animals, puppets and Sesame Street plush characters.
Finally, at TrailFitters sells outdoor clothing and gear from brands like Patagonia, The North Face, Horny Toad, and Chaco, as well as Granite Gear, Katadyn water bottles, and OverLand Equipment bags.
Where to Stay:
Check into Fitger’s Hotel overlooking Lake Superior for a shop-dine-stay experience. Within the Fitger’s complex, you’ll find high-end shops and several dining options. Stay in a room overlooking the Lake. Some of the modern-style rooms feature exposed-brick walls, seating areas and whirlpool tubs.
Closer to Canal Park, try Canal Park Lodge. The Lodge’s grand lobby and fireplace will offer a chance to warm up and relax after shopping.
A bit further away from Canal Park, consider one of Duluth’s bed and breakfasts, including the AG Thompson House, a 1909 Dutch Colonial style near the Lake, and the Olcott House, a 1904 Georgian Colonial Revival house that was named “Most Elegant” by Arrington’s Bed & Breakfast Journal. Local bed and breakfasts will be decorated for the holidays and many offer guests holiday treats during the season.
Where to Dine:
Take a break from shopping at Grandma’s, a Duluth classic for burgers, sandwiches, salads, soups and chili. Or grab Mexican at Little Angie’s Cantina. At Fitger’s, stop for burgers, sandwiches, soups and chili, along with handcrafted beers, at Fitger’s Brewhouse.
Once your day is done, plan a dinner at a Duluth favorite. Bellisio’s in Canal Park and Valentini’s downtown offer Italian classics and a wide selection of wines. Try Pickwick for steak, Restaurant 301 in the Shraton for pasta, steak, sandwiches and salads; or JJ Astor at the top of the Radisson for pan-seared walleye, meatloaf, ribs, steaks, pork and burgers. The restaurant offers a panoramic view of the harbor.
Just north of downtown Duluth, Hwy 61’s “Culinary Highway” restaurants offer unique tastes and locally grown foods, making this section of the Scenic Highway a destination dining location. New Scenic Café may have a casual atmosphere but offers a fine dining menu for sophisticated pallets with seasonal items like butternut squash ravioli, seared sea scallops, duck breast, braised lamb shank, risotto, or filet mignon, as well as salads and appetizers. Menus change seasonally and the exquisite tastes will make you want to come back each season to try something new.
Nearby, Nokomis Restaurant offers panoramic views of Lake Superior and menus that change often to feature seasonal and local foods. Menu items include main courses like steak, lake trout, scallops and duck breast. Nokomis also offers a brunch and lunch menu featuring favorites like French toast, omelets, burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and chicken salad.
Plan a Weekend Away in Duluth while you’re there to enjoy dining, entertainment and museums while you’re there.
Ely, MN Holiday Getaway
Head to Ely, MN to fill your holiday shopping list with unique Minnesota northwoods-inspired gifts. In the town that claims to do more wilderness outfitting than any city in the country, you’ll find plenty for the outdoor enthusiast on your list. But you’ll also find art and photography, unique housewares, gifts and clothing that will help you check off your list in no time.
Where to Shop:
Downtown, head to Piragis Northwoods Company for outdoor gear, as well as jewelry, locally made food items, clothing, crafts and décor. Its range of books include guides to canoeing and kayaking, field guides, home and garden titles, history and science, as well as fiction and books by Native American authors. A selection of gifts includes holiday décor, Northwoods-inspired jewelry, handmade soaps and artwork. Be sure to take home some locally made Crapola – cranberry apple granola. The store also sells winter gear like snowshoes and SnowPaws for children ages 3 to 6, as well as handcrafted and forged knives.
Developed by Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge owners, Wintergreen Northern Wear offers some of the best winter wear you’ll find, made locally in the Ely area. Like its Duluth store, the Ely location offers a full range of winter outerwear for men, women and children – the same clothing used by arctic explorers and Ely natives Will Steger and Paul Schurke on their explorations. If it can handle the arctic, it will sure handle Minnesota winters.
Attached to the Wintergreen store, you’ll find unique toys and gifts “for children ages 0 to 100” at Toys in the Woods. The store offers a wide selection of stuffed animals and puppets, games and puzzles, educational toys, castle and dollhouse sets, train sets, dolls, craft supplies and many other items, including toys for infants. The store also has a selection of children’s clothing.
Local galleries offer great gift ideas. Kess Gallery features locally made artwork, crafts, jewelry and woodcuts by artist Beckie Prange. The gallery of National Geographic photographer Jim Brandenburg, features Northwoods-inspired photography, including a wide selection of wildlife photography. Perry Gallery features fine art prints by photographer Chris Perry, including wildlife, landscapes and northern lights images.
Mostly Moose offers Northwoods art, books, handmade candles and soaps, and housewares. Head to Ely Surplus for outdoor gear, clothing, and accessories like mittens, gloves and hats. Highstone Glassworks, hand blown by local artist Todd Hohenstein, is available locally in the shop at The Pebble Spa Co. Pieces including wine glasses, bowls, vases, tumblers and glasses, lanterns and oil lamps inspired by the Ely wilderness.
Also locally made, Steger Mukluks & Moccasins are a unique Minnesota gift. The store sells a variety of men’s, women’s and children’s styles of the moosehide, insulated and flexible soled boots. Forget the Uggs this year and try these Minnesota-made boots inspired by arctic explorer Will Steger and made in the traditional Native American style. The Ely store also offers a range of men’s and women’s clothing, accessories and gifts.
Nearby, Mealey’s Gift & Sauna Shop offers art and pottery, gardening tools, lighting, books, Jewelry by Lovell designs, books and games for children, stoneware, copper and metalwork, kitchen and grilling accessories, birdfeeders, weather instruments and many other gifts for men, women and children.
Finally, Secret Sisters Boutique features new and consigned clothing and accessories for women, teens and girls. The store features more than 1,000 new items each month, and also offers accessories like purses, scarves, hats, pashminas, and locally handmade jewelry. The store also features gifts, cards, home and garden accents and some antiques.
Where to Stay:
Stay close to town at Grand Ely Lodge. The traditional log-style lodge offers queen and king-bed rooms and suites, with a whirlpool, sauna, dining and gift shop. The Lodge is just a mile from town.
Where to Dine:
While in town, grab a bite to eat at Chocolate Moose. You’ll find a wide-ranging menu of sandwiches, burritos, wraps, soups, fish and pasta among other items. The Northwoods-style restaurant also offers microbrews and wines.
Other options for a casual meal include BoatHouse Brewery and Rockwood. Both restaurants on downtown’s Sheridan Street offer burgers, sandwiches and salads. BoatHouse also offers paninis, steaks and walleye. Rockwood has a diverse menu featuring Jamaican jerk surf and turf and walleye.
Find more things to do during a Weekend Getaway in Ely, MN. Since some sites are seasonal, plan ahead. Ely’s a top winter destination too, so many places will remain open year round.
Grand Marais, MN Holiday Getaway
The lakeside artist town of Grand Marais offers downtown shops with unique Minnesota holiday gift items for both men and women. Galleries abound and outfitters ensure you’ll find items for just about anyone on your list.
During the holiday season, the region’s “North Shore Holiday” festival features events and activities for the whole family each weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Watch for special holiday receptions, craft events, poinsettia sales, art festivals, concerts, holiday teas and photos with Santa. Each weekend of the season has a different theme and a full range of activities to enjoy in between shopping.
Where to Shop:
Find unique Northern-inspired jewelry by Stephan Hoglund Studio at Superior Design Jewelry. Many of the hand crafted pieces feature local stones like agates, thomsonsite, Lake Superior beach stones and chlorastrolite (from Isle Royale), as well as fine jewelry made from sustainably mined gold and non-conflict diamonds. Call ahead for hours.
At Betsy Bowen Studios, located in an old church building just two blocks north of Hwy. 61, pick up prints, books and cards with Bowen’s unique carved designs, as well as works but other local artists.
Sivertson’s Grand Marais gallery is larger than its Canal Park location in Duluth, and features a wide selection of unique handmade jewelry, some housewares items like lamps and mats, and range of paintings, prints and photography. Like its other gallery, the artwork all has a northern theme. Watch for special events and showings.
Other local galleries include Eight Broadway Gallery and Boreal Light Imagery featuring the photography of Stephan Hoglund. Call ahead for hours.
At North House Folk School’s School Store, find a selection of northern craft books on topics like fiber arts and boat building, as well as a selection of handmade gifts, art prints, locally produced syrup, clothing, tools, handmade knives and accessories. Gift Certificates are also available for the school’s range of courses, including single-day, weekend and learning immersion gift certificates, and certificates for sailing or the school store.
Other local stores include Birchbark Books & Gifts, Crystal’s Log Cabin Quilts on Hwy 61, Beth’s Fudge & Gifts offering homemade fudge and toys, Terra Bella Floral & Gifts, The Attic Gift Shop, White Pine North gifts, clothing, coffee and foods, Dury Lane Books, and Viking Hus Scandinavian gifts and foods.
For the outdoor enthusiasts on your list, visit Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply and Lake Superior Trading Post for camping gear, canoe and kayaking gear and a range of winter gear like snowshoes and skis. Both stores offer a wide selection of clothing and footwear. Stone Harbor has a small selection of books and gifts, while Lake Superior Trading Post has a wide range of kitchen accessories, holiday décor and ornaments, jewelry, books and accessories for both men and women. The store also has a section of toys and gifts for children.
Plan ahead and pack a cooler in the car to pick up unique items for your holiday menu. Before Dockside Fish Market closes for the winter, pick up locally caught smoked lake trout, herring, salmon or whitefish. The store also sells locally made cheeses.
Be sure to stop by The Pie Place to pick up a holiday pie. The diner offers a selection of frozen, unbaked pies for sale, as well as a wide selection of baked pies. In the 14 years it has operated in Grand Marais, it has offered more than 600 varieties. Call ahead to check for your favorite flavor, but you can’t go wrong with just about any variety of these made-from-scratch pies.
Where to Stay:
Stay close to downtown at Cobblestone Cove Villas or East Bay Suites. Cobblestone Cove rents townhomes with lakeside views, stone fireplaces, private decks and whirlpool spas. East Bay Suites rents studio to three-bedroom modern rentals. Each rental has maple woodwork and some units have maple floors, electric fireplaces and kitchens or kitchenettes.
Where to Dine:
For lunch or dinner, head to Gunflint Tavern, a local favorite offering a diverse menu ranging from enchiladas and burritos to seafood, burgers, homemade pizza, sandwiches, soups and chili. The Crooked Spoon’s menu changes seasonally and features organically and locally grown ingredients in its soups, sandwiches and salads for lunch and pork tenderloin, fresh lake fish, scallops, shrimp and chicken for dinner.
For traditional home cooking, The Pie Place is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For lighter fare, The Java Moose Espresso Café serves soups, sandwiches, baked goods and a full coffee bar. Or for a quick laid back meal, grab a slice of pizza at Sven & Ole’s, a Grand Marais classic.
Northfield, MN Holiday Getaway
A centerpiece of the holiday season is the town’s Winter Walk festival, officially kicking off the holiday shopping season downtown, with music, visits with Santa – or local celebrity Jesse James and his gang – wagon rides, hot cider and discounts and special events in shops along Division Street. Northfield Arts Guild’s displays its annual Festival of Wreaths beginning during Winter Walk, with more than a dozen unique designs on display.
Where to Shop:
Northfield’s Division Street is home to numerous locally owned and unique stores.
Shop for clothing and winter accessories for the whole family at The Rare Pair. The store features clothing by Woolrich, winter wear like hats and gloves, and a complete section of men’s and women’s clothing and footwear. For activewear, try Fit to be TRI’d, offering active clothing, shoes and sporting goods.
For women’s clothes and accessories, stop at Sisters Ugly, Anna’s Closet, Fine Threads and A Bag Lady. Sisters Ugly has a collection of apparel featuring brands like V Fish, Kensie, Urban Behavior, Isle Jacobson, Corso Como and other labels. It also offers jewelry, footware, purses and other accessories. Anna’s Closet also has a range of women’s clothing labels, accessories and jewelry in its new location on Division Street. Located in the Archer House, A Bag Lady carries handbags, as well as jewelry and clothing. And Fine Threads carries hard-to-find clothing items for women and children, as well as children’s toys and books.
Find affordable jewelry at Aescendant Accessories on Bridge Square. The store also carries a range of accessories for men and women.
For unique gifts, try Fine Craft Collective, offering locally made pottery, knitwear, paintings, woodwork and other arts and crafts. Antiques of Northfield sell a wide selection of vintage housewears and gifts that change regularly.
Stop at Quality Bakery to take home made-from-scratch classic cookies, including rosettes, decorated sugar cookies and at least a dozen other varieties. The bakery also offers fresh lefse.
Near the southern end of Division Street, stop at Eco Gardens to buy a unique handmade wreath, made from greenery like boxwood, spongy princess pine and other varieties.
Where to Stay:
Check in to the Archer House River Inn. This historic 1877 inn finished a complete renovation in early 2011 that maintained the Inn’s original designs, including tin ceilings and original woodwork. Each room in the Inn has a different design, featuring claw foot tubs and modern amenities like LCD TVs. During the holiday season, the Inn’s large lobby is centered by a large Christmas tree and the Inn is decorated throughout.
Where to Dine:
After an afternoon of shopping, stop for a bite to eat at one of Division Street’s local pubs, taverns or restaurants. In the Archer House complex, The Tavern of Northfield serves a large selection of menu items from pastas and salads to burgers, soups, sandwiches and Mexican items. It is known for its made-from-scratch soups, and homemade breads and sauces.
At the Contented Cow, enjoy a British-pub style menu, plus a large selection of beer and wine. Or try Hogan Brother’s Acoustic Cafe, featuring hot hoagies and live music some nights.
In the Archer House, Chapati serves traditional and original Indian dishes, and find lighter fare at Bittersweet Coffee Shop & Eatery, offering sandwiches, soups and salads, with a full coffee shop.
Red Wing, MN Holiday Getaway
Find unique MN holiday gifts amongst classic brands and historic styles with a holiday getaway to the river town of Red Wing, MN. Find unique pottery, clothing, Scandinavian gifts and antiques. Come Nov. 25 for Downtown Red Wing’s annual Holiday Stroll. The evening event features a 50ft. Christmas tree lighting ceremony, horse drawn wagon rides and a visit from Santa. Enjoy hot cider, roasted chestnuts and fresh cinnamon roasted almonds as you stroll through lighted shops.
Where to Shop:
In the St. James Hotel’s shopping court, find clothing and gift shops, including The Levee, Clara’s Coffee and Gifts, Vestiges and Marita’s. The Levee is the largest seller of Blue Willi’s natural knitwear clothing in the state. The store also sells Maralyce Ferree coats and jackets. Vestiges offers women’s clothing, jewelry, gifts and other accessories.
Across the street, find unique Scandinavian housewares, clothing and gifts at the Uffda Shop. The shop features unique and hard to find items like aebleskiver plans and lefse grills, Swedish dala horses, dinnerware and a wide range of holiday ornaments and collectables. Each year the shop offers a special Christmas catalog of holiday gift ideas, including jewelry, candles, ornaments, and holiday bakeware.
Nearby, visit Red Wing Shoes, a store and museum for the iconic brand. The store sells traditional Red Wing work boots, as well as men’s and women’s casual and business shoes, clothing and accessories. Find sandals, Oxfords, hiking boots and other styles. The lower level of the store is an outlet center, offering 30-70 percent off many styles.
Just down the street, Moments on Main sells gifts and home accents, including many season items. Find wall décor, table linens, kitchen accessories, accent furniture, lamps, a selection of greeting cards and fashion accessories. Also on Main, The Galley Room is a great stop for the home cooks on your list. Find bakeware, kitchen accessories, cutlery, linens, aprons and cookbooks. The store carries top brands like Wusthof, Norpro, and LeCreuset.
At Red Wing Confectionary, find a range of hand made and hand dipped candies, like bear claws, chocolate-dipped pretzels, fudge and boxed candies.
Best of Times Bookstore & Café features more than 13,000 titles of fiction and non-fiction books for children and adults, as well as a selection of gifts and toys. Life’s Little Oasis offers unique collectables, candles, jewelry and children’s gifts.
Outside of downtown, head to Old Main Street’s Pottery Place Mall in a historic building that was once the Red Wing Union pottery factory. The mall includes Pottery Place Antiques, 3rd Floor Antiques, as well as bed and bath, candy, and clothing stores. Angel Baby Boutique sells children’s clothing, music and a selection of toys and gifts like Thomas the Tank. Just down the street, Red Wing Pottery features its handmade crocks, pitchers, mugs and other designs made on site by three artists. The store is also one of the largest sellers of Fiestaware dinnerware in the country, along with many other kitchen accessories and dinnerware lines.
Just down Hwy 61, be sure to visit the Red Wing Stoneware store, featuring many of the historic brand’s original styles, including cookie jars, water coolers, canister sets and mugs. Gift boxes feature stoneware along with bread or pancake mix, fish coating, or soup mixes. The stoneware is made on site, and you may just see the artists at work as you shop.
Other local favorites available for sale in town include locally made Sturdiwheat brand pancake mix, bread mix and flour (a wide selection is available at Econofoods, as well as other stores in town); local Knudsen’s cheesecakes and the famous Knudsen’s Caramels (call ahead for ordering, 651-385-0800); and wines from Falconer Vineyards and Winery. Pick up a bottle as a gift and also bring one a few for your holiday celebrations. For a holiday treat, pick up the Frontenac Port.
Where to Stay:
Stay at the historic St. James Hotel, a grand hotel overlooking the river. The Landmark 1875 hotel on Main Street is just steps from many downtown shops, as well as its own shopping court within the hotel complex.
Just a few blocks off Main Street, stay the night at the Pratt-Taber Inn bed and breakfast. The historic 1876 Italianate-style inn was renovated in 2005 and still has many original features, including the walnut staircase, large fireplaces and original woodwork. The renovation restored vintage décor, unique paintings and classic wallpapers. Four guest rooms each include private baths and fireplaces.
Where to Dine:
Stop for sandwiches, salads, fish and chips, steaks or burgers at Jimmy’s Pub, on the fifth floor of the St. James Hotel.
On Main Street, visit Brickhouse Pub & Grill for a wide selection of menu items including sandwiches, burgers, salads, pizza, pasta, Mexican items, and a beer and wine list, as well as signature martinis.
While you’re there, plan a Weekend Getaway in Red Wing, MN to enjoy live theatre, recreation, museums and more in between shopping.
Find something new℠.