The Cabin at Lake Pepin - Skillful Cook
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The Cabin at Lake Pepin

Water view off the deck.

This post is sponsored by Wyndham Vacation Rentals. It is written by me (hi!). It includes my family's pictures and stories and vacation rental experiences. Ready set go!

So Happy Fourth of July!

We just got back from a great 4-day vacation to the beautiful Mississippi River Valley - specifically, this gem of a place called Lake Pepin. And now we're back home and it's July 4th! Literally right at this second I can smell someone in the hood grilling up some hotdogs and my happy-summer-o-meter is flying high. Remind me next time I go on vacation to schedule my return over a holiday weekend, because back to back to back fun is, like, super extra sparkly fun.

One of our favorite things about summer in Minnesota is the abundance of vacation rentals that make you feel like you own a cabin... without really owning a cabin. Every summer my family does the vacation rental thing up in Northern Wisconsin (thinking about making a paper chain for countdown), and this summer we jumped on the bandwagon and vacation rental-ed for a few days with Bjork's family, too.

Lake Pepin, Wisconsin.

The incredible vacation rental that we stayed at was simply beyond anything I could really describe. Like Whoa. But now I'll try to describe it.

It was rustic, with lots of old, curvy, knotty wood everywhere, and it felt a lot like a cabin in terms of woodsy look and smell, but then also it felt a little bit like a mansion because it was huge and beautiful with high ceilings and grandiose windows. The doors and windows were formed into adorable arches and there were little beds and snuggly lofts tucked into every nook and cranny of this place, and there was a LADDER in the living room, all of which made it feel cozy and quaint (think Hobbit house) while also still being rustic and a mansion. So my description comes to this: cozy, quaint, rustic Hobbit mansion. Kinda get it?

We had an incredible view over Lake Pepin/the whole river valley (scroll on back up to the first picture for a better look at that one) and a big ol' deck to sit and take it all in. Many teas sipped, birds watched, snacks eaten, books read, stars gazed, and conversations had right there on the million dollar log cabin deck.

Man standing on a porch.

Oh yeah, and pajamas worn. I mean, maybe that's obvious. Cabin life, guys.

Field and sky.

Here's the thing about Lake Pepin - I had never even heard of it before we started planning this trip. 100% Minnesota born and raised and yet I had no concept that such a thing existed. This brings up lots of geographical knowledge suspicions, like why don't I know what incredible places exist less than one hour from where I live? It's not super important for us to answer that.

The important thing is that I now know what to do the next time we have a free weekend and we're looking for charm, natural beauty, and freshest of the fresh air -> grab an Americano for the road (new drink discovery! ❤) and road trip to the Lake Pepin area.

People in a log cabin.

This trip was extra special because it gave us time to spend with the people who we love and appreciate the most - and even though Bjork and I see our families on a regular basis, there's something extra wonderful about spending that extended and uninterrupted time together.

People smiling.

You guys? July is national vacation rental month! Annnd this is one of those obscure facts that you had no idea was a real thing but then it actually comes at a perfect time. Honestly, we've always enjoyed staying a in rental rather than a hotel when we're vacationing with family - it allows us to make meals together (I'm all over that, as you saw from this post and our experience in Emerald Isle in general), spread out a little bit, and experience a new place in a more authentic way. And now this is your month, you vacation rental newbie! If you're looking for ideas, the Wyndham Vacation Rentals website is a great place to start.

(Some of you have asked about this specific rental, and just to be clear, this place was not a Wyndham Vacation Rental, but because July is national vacation rental month - wheee! - they've awesomely agreed to sponsor this post. If you're interested in more details about this particular place, just shoot me an email.)

Man and woman walking on a sidewalk.

Here are a few more pics from the week to get you pumped about your next destination! Even if it's just to the hot dog bar later tonight. I'll probably see you there.

Collage of vacation photos.

Thanks for being friends who share slices of life! <— who am I. Seriously who am I.

Happy Fourth! Happy Friday! Happy Vacation! XOXO

Thanks to Wyndham Vacation Rentals for sponsoring this summery, good times, vacation rentals post.

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  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wasn’t Lake Pepin mentioned in one or more of the “Little House on the Prairie” books? For some reason, that rings a bell for me.

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Please tell me you have an inner Little House on the Prairie nerd living inside of you like I do 🙂 They crossed Lake Pepin in the first book, I think!

    We drive passed Lake Pepin when we go to my in laws. It’s so pretty! Were you in Lake City?

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Yes I do! 🙂 We were actually in Maiden Rock, but we spent lots of time driving back and forth between Red Wing, Maiden Rock, Stockholm, and Pepin.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Did you not read the Little House books? Laura was born near Lake Pepin, and the first book talks about Pa fishing in Lake Pepin, and when they go to town it’s Pepin 🙂

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    You’re killing me and making me miss home so much! We moved from MN to outside Boston 8 years ago, and with that came the end of 20+ years of spending 4th of July in Hayward at our two families’ cabins (which we’ve had since the 70’s!). Every summer when we look at the calendar we ask our boys what they want to do and the top answer is ALWAYS “go home and go up to the cabin!” Ugghhhhh, here I sit waiting for Hurricane Arthur to spoil the day…guess I’ll have to just keep looking at your beautiful pics!! Happy 4th!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Wow! I love old log cabins like that and the area looks like such a beautiful place. I’m glad you had a nice time. 🙂 Happy 4th!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    This place looks fabulous, my husband and I are looking for a great vacation spot in September and this looks like something that would totally suit us!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    I’m a California girl, raised in Minneapolis. I visit my family in Minnesota regularly and happy to know about this fabulous getaway. When I lived there, we would always head north to a lake cabin. Looks like you went south and found this gem. Nice! Happy 4th. I’ll be headed to the ocean today on my bicycle. Yahoo!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I know – we are always heading north so it felt really weird to be vacationing “south”. 🙂 But it was gorgeous! And to the ocean on bike? YES!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    Help! Help!
    I just clicked on Wyndham vacation Rentals & Minnesota is not in the listing of places where they have vacation homes. Live in NYState & our family loves doing things like this. Looked for more info.
    Did I miss something?
    Thank you for your help :-))

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Hi Janice – sorry for the confusion, this place is not a Wyndham vacation rental, but Wyndham agreed to sponsor the post in honor of National Vacation Rental Month! You can email me for the details on this particular rental! 🙂

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    I used to work for Wyndham selling timeshare, aka vacation rentals 🙂 So happy you had an awesome experience! Growing up in MN, there is always one more lake to go to (that you may not even have known existed!) I remember going to Lake Pepin a few times growing up…so pretty! And Emerald Isle and that part of NC/SC, so pretty. Used to live there and it was truly a gift to live on that beach for a few years. Thanks for sharing your awesome trip pics!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Thanks Averie! I had no idea you worked for Wyndham! This actually wasn’t a Wyndham rental but they sponsored the post being that it’s all about vacation rentals, which I am a huge fan of. 🙂 I would LOVE to call NC beaches my home for a while! Maybe that’s a sign that we need to go back…

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Great pics. That cabin really looks like something else. I love the porch and loft bedrooms. One of the pics you had jumbled altogether had a door that looks so medieval! I want that door!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    I have been to a couple Wyndham resorts and have been very pleased. Wonderful post and photos. It is gold time when you can spend uninterrupted time with you family. I never take that for grant it—-be it just a breakfast together or something like you have just experienced.

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    The photos are positively beautiful. What an idyllic place to unwind with the people you love most. I was lucky to spend some time in a cabin near Lake Ontario some years ago….pot belly stove, canoeing, and blissful peace. I hope you all had a great time. Happy 4th from the Cradle of Liberty!

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    It looks absolutely beautiful and great pictures. My family use to rent during the summer in July. We are not this year but hopefully next year.

    Happy 4th!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    I LOVE Lake Pepin! I just got back from a long weekend there myself – my family has a summer home in Pepin, right on the lake. The Great River Road and all of it’s small towns makes the 6 hour drive from Chicago worth it! Did you get a chance to eat at the Harbor View in Pepin or grab a beer from Reads Landing? If not, definitely stop there your next trip (and I’ll be posting about my other recommendations on my blog next week.)

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looks like a gorgeous getaway. I’m a strong believer in vacations… And many of them! They are the perfect reward and boost for hardworking families 🙂 I write this from Sedona, a beautiful red rock city only two hours from home (Phoenix, AZ). 🙂

    Happy 4th weekend!

  16. Skillful Cook Logo

    Looks beautiful! In your post you mention it is in the Mississippi River Valley, but later it states Minnesota. Just thought I would bring it to your attention in case it is a mistake! Thanks for sharing!

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Good catch Shelly! I should actually double check that that’s technically what it’s called, but yes, we were in Minnesota/Wisconsin. 🙂

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      No! They were closed 🙁 but we did eat at a few other cute places and I am determined to make it back for dinner at Harbor View sometime soon!