Lake Vermilion is an easy drive from Minneapolis/St. Paul to the south or from Eau Claire to the southeast.
From the Twin Cities, take I-35 north to the Hwy 33 exit at Cloquet. Hwy 33 is a 4 lane road which connects with US 53 (also 4 lanes) about 20 miles to the north.
From Chicago or points east, at Eau Claire, WI turn north on US 53, which remains 4 lanes, all the way to Virginia, MN.
4 miles north of Virginia, you can make the choice to continue on US 53 north to Cook and the west end of the lake, or turn right onto MN 169 to Tower and the east end of the lake.
The closest commercial airports are in Hibbing and Duluth. Cook and Tower both have airports for private planes, and there is a seaplane base on Pike Bay, next to the Tower Airport.