Grand Marais, Minnesota
Though Grand Marais is certainly “off the beaten path” it is far from undiscovered, and there is a reason why. Those who love the outdoors, and those who love dramatic scenery will find the effort of a long trip up the Minnesota coastline justly rewarded in Grand Marais. Set in the northeastern tip of Minnesota on the North Shore of Lake Superior, Grand Marais is a charming harbor town -former fur-trading post and Ojibwe settlement. With stunning scenery -both on the lake and inland- countless outdoor opportunities ranging from kayaking to ice climbing, and a thriving arts community, Grand Marais has something to offer for everyone but the mall-lover. Furthermore, the New Scenic Café –20 minutes north of Duluth- breaks up the trip north and is well worth the stop, serving fresh, creative and delightful meals with a menu that changes weekly, in a warm and vibrant setting.
We visited GM during the winter months, when there are many fewer tourists, and as far as I’m concerned, winter is the time to go. The dance of light and ice –on the lake and on the falls—was both magical and spectacular. The combination of almost supernatural beauty and the abundance of excellent hiking and skiing trails made me forget about being cold and get outside to relish the joys of winter.
Of course -as many Minnesotans have already discovered- if you are an outdoor enthusiast, Grand Marais is worth the trip in any season, and though outdoor recreation is the primary draw in Grand Marais, there is also a thriving arts community, with several galleries and music venues in town to showcase. Most notably, there is the North House Folk School, set on the lake downtown, which offers a wide variety of events and workshops. When we visited, the school was preparing for a mosaics workshop, but line-up for the “Northern Sustainability & Simple Living Symposium” made me want to make the 8 hour trek again in April – or maybe just stay.
Avg Temp in January: 23/5
Avg Temp in July: 70/51
Known for: North House Folk School
Strong commitment to local food and sustainability
Gateway to Isle Royale National Park and the Boundary Waters
Large Artists Community