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Minnesota's Hungry Hippie Hostel satiates North Shore travelers

Kelly Smith, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Travel News

The candy-apple red barn sits on a hillside above Lake Superior, with panoramic views of the North Shore. On a recent fall weekend, the bright setting sun lit up the golden leaves of aspens as hostel guests arrived.

"Oh, wow," a Minneapolis woman said, gushing as co-owner Kate Keeble showed her to her room during a fall-color sightseeing trip.

Next, a St. Paul, Minn., family arrived with three kids eager for their first stay in a hostel. They were greeted by Charlie, the Keebles' mellow but curious Karelian bear dog.

This renovated horse barn outside Grand Marais, Minn., has become a hot spot in its new life as the Hungry Hippie Hostel, drawing visitors from all over the world.

Since Kate and husband Jeremy Keeble opened the Hungry Hippie on their 10-acre farm nearly two years ago, they've struggled to keep up with the growing demand for the hostel -- the first between Duluth and the Canadian border.

"It's getting busier and busier," Kate Keeble said. "It's been overwhelmingly amazing."

 

At first, the Keebles weren't sure the concept of a year-round hostel would fit in on the North Shore.

"It's not really a thing here," Kate Keeble said, adding that they initially had to educate guests on the more communal, social nature of a hostel.

To her surprise, it's turned into a not-so-hidden gem, with an estimated 4,500 guests -- ranging in age from 20 to 80 -- since opening in February 2016. Last August, they had a 97 percent occupancy.

Inside, red pins fill a world map tacked to the wall, showing that guests have come from all over. Two guestbooks are already filled up, mostly with visitors from the Twin Cities but also from as far away as France and Malaysia. The couple's Airbnb page has more than 400 reviews.

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