Ask any Minnesotan where the best place to go is on the North Shore and they will tell you it’s gotta be Grand Marais. Why? Because there are tons of things to do in Grand Marais MN. It is the gateway to all travelers headed to the BWCA for a fishing or canoe adventure.
Hikers on the Superior Hiking Trail will find this one of the first points of civilization before going south. For those sailors, the harbor is a great place to stop and regroup.
For romantics Grand Marais is the perfect small town, renting a cabin with a lakeside view makes for a great anniversary trip.
Anyone camping North of Duluth, you gotta stop there. Here is a quick rundown of everything you have to check out.
Things to do in Grand Marais MN
Grand Marias is one of those small towns I have fond memories of growing up. On our adventures to the BWCA, we’d always make a stop.
Now I’m taking my kids there to explore this amazing small town. With the Superior National Forest on one side and the lake on the other, there are an endless amount of fun things to do.
Artist’s Point in Grand Marais
Artist’s Point in Grand Marais is one of the best places in town. With it’s stunning rock formations on the peninsula along the North Shore, this a top attraction in Grand Marais.
It provides access to the shoreline along a narrow path of concrete.
This location is a favorite for sunsets, storms, and great shoreline photographs. I could easily spend hours on Artist Point just watch the waves hit the picturesque lake short. Or watching the boats come into harbor.
Make sure you have steady shoes and a good hand on your little ones because the terrain is uneven. Seriously, watch your step. This short walk will give you the best view of the lake. This is an easy hike for most.
Located blocks away from downtown Grand Marais. To get to the entrance, go past the United States Coast Guard Station. Following it along, you’ll find tide pools and rocky shores.
You can take the path all the way to the Grand Marais lighthouse. Or head the other direction and visit the pine tree-covered island.
Superior Hiking Trail
Take a hike on the Superior Hiking Trail. The Superior Hiking trail covers much of the North Shore of Lake Superior. The SHT has a 4.9-mile section of the trail starting at the Gunflint Trail Scenic Overlook.
After taking in your view of the town of Grand Marais, travel all the way to Cook County Road 58. You’ll pass the Pincushion Mountain Trail System.
Yes, there is a mountain in MN. Then on to Devil Track River gorge. It’s a steep descent down the gorge so take it easy. It’s home to some fantastic 270-degree overlooks of the area.
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Lake Superior Trading Post
Your one-stop shop for outdoor gifts and gear. The place has been built by outfitters and only sells true outdoor equipment.
Located right on the water, you won’t miss them on your way into the BWCA. Pick up a map, hat, or the water bottle you left behind at home. They also have a wide selection of shoes, clothing, packs, and other gear.
Sven & Ole’s
Sven and Ole’s has legendary pizza. They started out in the ’80s as a pop-up shop selling popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, and their mom’s homemade brownies.
But the brothers couldn’t keep things on the stand fast enough. It wasn’t long before they started the restaurant and they’ve been slowly adding on.
Famous now for their Pizza, I can personally attest to the fact that it is some of the best pizza you’ll find coming back from a week in the BWCA.
Be warned though, they are famous for their long waits during tourist season. Check their hours before planning a stop as we found they were closed on Wednesdays.
World’s Best Donuts
When they say ‘World’s Best’, they mean it. Stop in the World’s Best Donuts and get some donuts as they come fresh out of the oil.
I ended up making two stops, and you can find out why in The World’s Best Donuts in Grand Marais. You’ll see why this is one of my favorite things to do in Grand Marais.
Check their hours as they are no longer open every day. but if you can plan things right, it’s a great spot for breakfast!
The Gunflint Tavern
Filled with live music on the weekends, the Gunflint Tavern is the perfect spot to chill and relax with an excellent brew.
They use organic food throughout their menu and include dishes like New York Sirloin, Fresh Walleye Fillets, and French Onion Soup.
Oh and did I mention they also brew their own microbrews, they have a selection of wine and other specialty cocktails!
Voyageur Brewing Co Craft Beer
Hidden back behind the harbor is Voyageurs Brewing Company. Creating craft beers that match any season’s adventures. On Saturdays get a tour of the whole operation.
And if you think their proximity to the harbor is not ideal, you have ventured onto their rooftop yet. With events held up there like Pints and Poses Yoga held on the roof, you’ll have a hard time finding an excuse not to go.
Along Minnesota’s North Shore, coffee shops are hit or miss. Most towns offer some type of coffee but if you are a connoisseur of coffee, you know that not all coffee shops are created equal.
When you watch your coffee being made and the barista reaches for Hershey’s Syrup to make your drink, run, run fast. Thankfully you won’t need to worry about that happening at Java Moose.
I love Java Moose so much, when I was staying at Temperance River State Park, I got up early and convinced everyone to make a special early trip to Grand Marais just for their coffee.
There are two locations in town, one when you first arrive in a traditional store. The second is along the shore with a great view of Artist Point. This is my favorite location because of the scenic lake views, with picnic tables nearby.
Cascade River State Park
The park is known primarily for its waterfalls. They have a series of cascading falls that run through the middle of the park. If you are up for it, I highly recommend taking the trail to Lookout Mountain. It’s a 2.6 mile hike with a stunning viewpoint of the sawtooth mountains. It’s one of my top things to do in Grand Marais.
Judge C.R. Magney State Parks Mysterious Waterfall
Just north of downtown Grand Marais is Judge C.R. Magney State Park. This is home to the mysterious disappearing waterfall known as Devil’s Kettle Falls.
We’ll not be that mysterious as they recently determined it disappears into an underground waterway. But it’s still fun to see in person. The hike does have a lot of stairs, but it’s worth it! A Must see along Minnesota’s North Shore.
Looking to see Devil’s Kettle Fall For yourself? Be prepared for some serious elevation shifts. You can read my full review by clicking here.
Stock up at Stone Harbor Wildnerness Supply
Forget something for your adventure? Stop into Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply. They have everything outdoors-related you could need to make your camping trip a success.
Voyageur Brewing Company
Want a drink on the shoreline? In downtown Grand Marais you’ll find Voyageur Brewing. This establishment has some amazing food and a great atmosphere.
Check out the spectacular view from the deck seating, to enjoy live music inside the taproom. Get a tour inside and see how everything is made.
One of the best parts about Grand Marais is the appeal to everyone, including dogs. Along the harbor, you’ll find courtesy doggy cleanup stations.
And a bunch of the restaurants has curbside takeout options, including my favorite one, Java Moose. Just walk up with your pups and enjoy some hot coffee from Java Moose. Strictly cash, but when you’re talking about that kind of service who cares?
Does Grand Marais have a beach?
Yes, Grand Marais does have a rocky beach in the heart of town. But it’s not somewhere you’d like to take a dip, due to the cold Lake Superior Waters.
How long does it take to get from two harbors to Grand Marais?
It takes about 1hr and 43 minutes to get from Two Harbors to Grand Marais MN. More if you decide to make any stops along the way.
Where to find agates in Grand Marais MN?
There are five different places where rock hounds pickup Agates in Grand Marais. They are:
- Agate Beach: Located about 15 miles northeast of Grand Marais, Agate Beach is known for its abundance of agates. Look for them along the shoreline or in the water.
- Kadunce River: The Kadunce River is located just north of Grand Marais and is known for its agates. Walk along the river’s edge and look for agates in the shallow water or on the rocks.
- Temperance River: The Temperance River is located just south of Grand Marais and is another popular spot for agate hunting. Look for them in the river’s shallow water or along the rocky shore.
- Paradise Beach: This beach is located about 5 miles northeast of Grand Marais and is a popular spot for agate hunting. Look for them along the shoreline or in the water.
- Grand Marais Harbor: You can often find agates near the mouth of the harbor or along the rocky shore.
When is the Best Time to Visit Grand Marais
Summer is known as their ‘Peak Season’. Rates are going to be higher at all locations. MEA, the long weekend in October that kids get off for teacher conferences, rates spike then as well.
Also during the Ski season at Lutsen Mountain. Each season brings its own fun with new activities. Spring and Fall are the best times to hike with the least number of bugs to deal with.
Winter is great for snowshoeing and watching the lake freeze into some amazing ice formations. Summer is everyone’s favorite based on the number of people that flock to the destination.
If you are looking for a hotel or vacation rental, consider planning your trip to avoid a Saturday stay. The price per night can double on Saturday night.
On your way to Grand Portage State Park?
Grand Portage State Park is another 45 minutes north and probably the last bits of ‘civilization’ you’ll see are here. Take it all in, and get a sandwich to go at the Subway. It’s the last fast food you’ll see!
And plug in your destination into your GPS, because the signals are almost non-existent from here. Any further than Grand Portage State Park and you’ll be crossing the Canadian Border. Enjoy your drive with some spectacular views.
What are your Favorite Things to do in Grand Marais MN?
My favorite part about traveling up there is getting to stop at all the random scenic overlooks. What about you, What is your Favorite thing to do in Grand Marias MN? Don’t forget to check out the other great things to do along Minnesota’s North Shore.