smart spending

9 fun and funky vacation hotel stays

Ride the rails
Ride the rails

Hotel: Northern Rail Traincar Suites, Two Harbors, Minn.

Description: In the 1930s, travelers "rode the rails," or traveled for free by hopping on freight trains and catching a little shut-eye when possible. Today, there's no need to snore on the floor. Instead, snuggle into a renovated, upscale boxcar that never leaves the depot-style main building at the Northern Rail Traincar Suites.

Located about 20 minutes from Duluth, Minn., this unique hotel is set amid a quiet birch and pine forest, with easy access (no ticket required) to Minnesota's picturesque North Shore of Lake Superior.

Rates: Prices vary, but they start at $87 in the winter and $139 in the summer.

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