Grand Marais MN

Why Grand Marais Might Just Be the Most Exciting Place You’ve Never Heard Of (Seriously)

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.

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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 its stunning rock formations on the peninsula along the North Shore, this is 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 at Artist Point just watching 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. As you continue on, you will come across tide pools and rugged 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.

Artist Point Grand Marais
Artist Point Grand Marais MN

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.

Love taking crazy weekend adventures? Get a copy of Minnesota Adventure Weekends: Your Guide to the Best Outdoor Getaways Paperback by Jeff Moravec. It’s helped me plan many adventures like these.

Lake Superior Hiking Trail Route Markers

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 have 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.

Sven and Olies

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 Best Part of the North Shore is World's Best Donuts in Grand Marais. You haven't lived until you try their cake donuts. Minnesota | Duluth | Food Tour | Northern MN

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!

Roof Top Dining
Gunflint Tavern
Tavern Food

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 you 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.

North Shore

Grand Marais is just one small town on the entire North shore. Check out other great things to do on your drive up: 28+ Stops on the North Shore’s Highway 61 – Minnesota’s Road Trip

Java Moose

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.

Java Moose

Cascade River State Park

Just before you get to town, stop at Cascade River State Park. It’s just south of Grand Marais of Highway 61. They have roadside parking for those that don’t have a parking permit already.

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.

Climb a mountain?

Cascade River State Park is amazing with so many waterfalls. I couldn’t get enough of them. For my full park review, check out: Hike Cascade River State Park: North Shore Hiking at its best

Lookout Mountain

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.

The Devils Kettle Judge C.R. Magney State Park

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.

Dog Friendly?

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 have 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 when kids get off for teacher conferences, rates spike then as well.

Also, winter is 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.

Where to Stay in Grand marais MN

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?

The entire northern Minnesota shoreline is filled with different activities. Just a few miles north is Devil’s Kettle at Judge Magney State Park and of course, Gooseberry Falls further south.

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.

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A fun trip to Grand Marais is the perfect romantic getaway on the North Shore of MN. Minnestoa | Lake Superior | Getaway

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