“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water”. – Rabindranath Tagore

All of my life I have lived near water. Except for a nine month stint in Paris, I have never been more than a couple blocks away from a lake. Water is a part of who I am. The smell of fresh lake water fills me with warmth and nostalgia of a childhood growing up in Minnesota, the land of over 10,000 lakes. It also reminds me of my college years spent living near Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin and my blissful twenties living near Lake Michigan in Chicago. For the past sixteen years living in Southwest Minneapolis, I have continued to live very close to a lake and it is no coincidence given my love for the water that when we finally decided to get a family dog, he would be a true water dog.

Our seven-month old puppy, Winter, is half golden retriever half lab and gravitates towards the water every time he is near it. He first jumped into Lake Harriet when he was four months old and we haven’t been able to keep him out of it since. Summer was easy for entertaining him as long as we let him go in the water. However, when it came time to plan our first family vacation with a dog, we found that our options were a bit limited. First, we couldn’t go too far away from home because we would have to drive and our dog gets carsick. Second, we needed to find a place that would actually take dogs and would be fun for the entire family.

Fortuitously a timely article came out in the travel section of our local newspaper listing resources for finding pet-friendly resorts in Minnesota. We did a search and found the perfect place called the Northernair Lodge in Ely, about a five-hour drive north of Minneapolis and near the Canadian border. Better yet, it was right on a lake! We tried it out this past July and had such an amazing time that we decided to go again for the fall colors. We went this past weekend at the peak of fall colors, and Winter was in puppy paradise.

Bass Lake Trail, Ely, MN

Winter swimming in the pool of water

Our mornings were spent leisurely at the beach where Winter dug in the sand and retrieved sticks in the lake. He also enjoyed watching the ducks in the distance. Our afternoons were spent hiking on nearby trails and our evenings were spent once again at the lake.

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

It was so utterly gorgeous that I often had to pinch myself to make sure it was all real. The leaves reflected gloriously across the glassy water of the lake. There was not a sound except for the distant singing of the birds. And if you yelled loud enough, your echo would bounce for almost a minute off the trees around the shoreline.

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

At sunset, Winter stood and watched my husband come in from an evening paddle along the lake. I love this picture of him waiting for his owner.

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

We waited years to get a dog for fear that it would limit our travel options. Thankfully, we were amazed to discover that there are tons of places around the country that take pets. For our water dog, I think we will stick to Minnesota though. You sure can’t beat over 10,000 lakes to choose from when you’ve got a water dog.

And with these kinds of incredible views, it is enough to keep the people happy too!

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

Mitchell Lake, Ely Minnesota

Pet-friendly resort finder:


Resorts and Lodges: Minnesota Pet-Friendly Resorts

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Water. 


  1. If those lakes were near where I live you’d be eaten alive by sandflies. Are there no fly clouds to contend with there? If not, I’m totally jealous. What a beautiful spot.

    1. Ha … in the summer we get eaten by mosquitos but only at dusk or after sundown (past ten). Thank goodness we don’t have sandflies as I was once bitten by one in NZ and my eye swelled up like a baseball!

  2. A fantastic series of photos again, but it is the second shot that really made me smile. Reminds me of the perfect loyalty and beauty many of the dogs I had growing up. Wonderful post, and I too am a water person ~ without see & feeling it around me, life wouldn’t be the same 🙂

    1. Thanks so much! Yes we had dogs growing up but this is the first time I had one of our own. He is very loyal and already is so happy to see me! Love that

    1. Yes isn’t it incredible! We have had him now for five months and he is huge! He still has all this extra skin to grow into too so a bit more growing to do.

  3. I am a pet groomer, and I know how to break your dog of carsickness. Its worked for me many times on various animals. DM me on Instagram if you like.

    1. Thanks Laura! We used a prescription medication this time and it did the trick. I think a lot of it had had to do with anxiety over the car. He is doing better now on short trips which is a relief so I’m hoping he is outgrowing it.

  4. Nicole, such a beautiful post. I am really jealous of Winter, for, he is so lucky to have these best views and good lot of activities. I miss my dog, Jimmy. It was thick black with a curly tail. My son insist on keeping a dog, but, isn’t that easy due to personal situation. Your post urges me to present a dog to my little one and me as soon as possible. Thanks for bringing back memories.

    1. Thanks so much. I’m enjoying having a dog but it is definitely an adjustment. He requires a ton of exercise so it makes our busy lives even busier yet he sure gives us a lot of joy and love.

  5. Oh what glorious sunsets….and the poochie is pretty damn cute ! Love the photos of Winter gazing out.

    We had an Aussie “Mango” who loved to be in water ~ sadly he died a year ago. We miss him still so much.

      1. He was central to our family. It was devastating …particularly for my youngest son. Mango was his first love.

        Enjoy Winter! Adorable


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