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Things To Do | A Day Trip to Grand Marais


Minnesota's North Shore is bursting with adventures, and a trip to Grand Marais should be at the top of your list! This artsy harbor village is a must-visit for any North Shore getaway. Get ready to explore, eat fresh, and experience the charm that won the country's heart and has been named America’s Coolest Small Town.

Play & Explore: A good place to start is the Grand Marais Harbor. This is an ideal spot to park for the start of a walking tour around Grand Marais. Even the view from the car is worth the trip, especially when the waves are rolling into the bay or on a calm sunny day when the harbor is bustling with boats. For a better view of Lake Superior, plus panoramic city and hillside views, venture out past the former Coast Guard station to Artist’s Point or the break wall leading to the harbor lighthouse. Look for plein air artists set up along this idyllic part of the shoreline. If you’re feeling inspired, you can sign up and join us for a complimentary resort activity - the Artist Point Hike and Paint!

For another sweet little hike, we recommend the Sweetheart’s Bluff trail located right in Grand Marais. The trailhead is accessed via the west side of the Grand Marias Recreation Area Campground. This short loop, complete with an overlook, provides amazing views of the Harbor/Artist Point and Lake Superior.

Overall, Grand Marais is very walkable (albeit hilly) and every shop, restaurant, and attraction is accessible on foot for those who want to get their steps in for the day.

If you're looking for a little competitive fun the whole family will enjoy, don’t miss Putt N Pets Mini Golf. The animal friends you interact with during your round make this cute course unforgettable. Most notable are the goats that you feed via a bucket, which they pull up onto their high-rise platform. You’ll also encounter peacocks, doves, chickens, and more. 

Arts & Entertainment: As an artsy city, Grand Marais hosts many live music and theatrical performances. The Grand Marais Playhouse and the North Shore Center for the Arts host plays and music concerts year-round at the Arrowhead Center for the Arts.
Check out the Grand Marais Art Colony and the North House Folk School for art classes that are on offer. Both of these locations also host artists in residence, so be sure to check out their current works of art and projects in progress and on display. In addition, don’t miss the current exhibits at the Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery located in the heart of downtown. We also suggest a stop at the Cook County History Museum (located next to World’s Best Donuts!) The location was the former lightkeeper's residence built in 1896 and is full of interesting information about the history of the people who first made Cook County their home.  

Eat & Drink: Arrive with an appetite! Grand Marais offers choices for full-service restaurants, coffee, ice cream, brewery, quick bites, fresh fish, donuts, and food trucks. 

Shop: Grand Marais offers unique shopping options for everyone, from cute gifts, fine art, books, and clothing to outdoor and camping gear. 

*Check out the handy map created by Visit Cook County for a list and location of shops, dining, and recreation. 

Hike & Bike: For an additional outdoor adventure when visiting Grand Marais, drive up the Gunflint Trail to Pincushion Mountain (less than 2 miles). The parking lot itself boasts breathtaking views of the town and Lake Superior – perfect for a quick photo stop. The Superior Hiking Trail cuts right through the parking area. Take a moderate 4-mile round trip hike to the Pincushion Overlook for even more stunning vistas of the inland hills and the big lake. Single-track biking enthusiasts will love the challenge of the single-track trails managed by the Superior Cycling Association.