If you’ve visited Bluefin Bay then you have likely made a trip to the quaint, nearby harbor town of Grand Marais. It’s about 25 miles north of Bluefin Bay on Highway 61. The town is known for its cute shops, art galleries, live music, yummy restaurants and the harbor itself.
A trip to Grand Marais looks a bit different in the winter and even more different during Covid-19, so we wanted to make sure to let you know what to expect. We’ll start by saying that most businesses are open and we definitely recommend you go.
Next, go hungry and plan to shop! There are many tasty restaurants in Grand Marais. Whether you are looking for tacos, a brewery, pizza and burgers or just a good cup of coffee, you will find great options for meals in town. There are also wonderful art galleries and gift shops in Grand Marais and most are open year-round. It’s important to support small businesses this year and Grand Marais has many.
Lastly, we would recommend that you plan some time to go see the lighthouse. The lighthouse in the Grand Marais harbor is absolutely iconic and it’s the perfect spot for a photo op. We recommend heading out just before sunset. Be careful though! It can get pretty icy in the winter. If the walk to the lighthouse isn’t safe, you can still see across the harbor from the coast guard parking lot.
Final note. If you are reading this blog post and Covid-19 is over, we have to tell you about one more thing. Grand Marais is home to two of the coolest institutions: North House Folk School and the Grand Marais Art Colony. Plan ahead and sign up for a class or just stop by and say hi. The folks here are some of the kindest, most creative people you will ever meet! Both places host fun events, too!
We hope you find this information helpful in planning your next trip to Grand Marais.
Holiday Break at Bluefin Bay
The holiday break is a popular time to stay at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts. Because of that, we wanted to make it easy for our guests to find all of the information they need on dining, activities, etc. so we have compiled it all here for you! If you are visiting us this week, know that we are grateful you are choosing to spend this time with us and we look forward to welcoming you.
Bluefin Grille will be closed on Christmas Eve and open on Christmas Day for takeout from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. That means that Bluefin Grille will be serving breakfast on Christmas Day (!) for the first time since before the pandemic. Following Christmas, Bluefin Grille will be open for takeout December 26 – December 31st from 2 – 9 p.m.
Coho will be closed on Christmas Day and open on Christmas Eve from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Following Christmas, Coho Café will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
We’ll be having a Gingerbread House Making Contest for Christmas! Kits will be available for pickup on December 24th, while supplies last. Turn in your houses by 12:30pm on December 26th to be entered to win. First place receives a $50 gift card! Note that we do have limited quantities so first come, first served and only one kit per family please.
Our Activities Crew was able to bring back guided excursions last week, limited to 3 households. This means that we have some tours available, but they fill up quickly! Check out the available tours here.
We will also have available:
Ice Rinks (and ice skates) at Bluefin Bay and Surfside
Cross Country Skis – As of now, the trails are not groomed but that may change with the latest snowfall so check in with the activities staff when you arrive if this is something you are looking to do
Waves of Superior Spa
The Spa is open for massage appointments! Give them a call at 218-663-6888 to check availability.
Will you hit the Jackpot? Check out this new mountain bike trail in Lutsen
The North Shore is blessed with its biking trails — from the paved Gitchi Gami Bike Trail running parallel to all three Bluefin Bay Resorts and for 29 miles along the shoreline, to the adventure and thrill of off-road experiences ranging from white knuckled single track to winding backcountry roads. Oh, and fat tire biking in the winter!
But have you hit the Jackpot?
Last Fall, a new single-track bike trail in Lutsen called the Jackpot Connector Trail made its debut. The Jackpot Connector runs between Britton Peak trails in Tofte to Onion River Road and on to Lutsen Mountains. The 18-mile trail offers adventure and an outstanding ride for every skill level from beginners to advanced riders.
Riders will experience a variety of terrain as they climb over and around the Sawtooth Mountains. Entry level riders can ride certain sections of the trail, and expert riders will enjoy big climbs and some of the technical features. The ride includes several scenic overlooks and it’s a wilderness ride that’s not easily replicated anywhere in the Midwest.
Our recommendation is to know a bit about the sections of this trail in advance of venturing out. In that spirit, we’re sharing this great video where you can actually see and experience sections of the trail for yourself.
The Jackpot Connector Bike Trail was built thanks to the hard work of the Superior Cycling Association (SCA). In this video co-produced by SCA and Visit Cook County, Tim Kennedy, SCA President, provides a great overview of what to expect. See video here.
In truth, you haven’t really experienced the North Shore until you’ve done it from atop two wheels. Powered by pedals, the rugged Lake Superior coastline and jagged mountaintops take on a whole new meaning. It’s an intimate experience and a trip unlike any other. And, it’s the perfect outdoor activity during these crazy and challenging times.
Road and mountain bike rentals are included as part of your stay at any of our Bluefin Bay Resorts, and the area offers bike trails for both that meet all skill and ambition levels. Read more here on our biking page, or join a guided bike tour as part of our complimentary resort activities. Visit Cook County also has trail maps and more biking information here.
If you venture out on the Jackpot, share your adventure with us. We’d love to see your photos or video.
Fall Senior Week Specials!
The last week of August and the first part of September is an ideal time for many adults to get away midweek. The North Shore of Minnesota is a little bit quieter with kids and families back to school, the weather is perfect (warm days and cool evenings), shops & art galleries are plentiful and open, and there are many great dining and entertainment options.
Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts is pleased to offer a special discount to our Seniors during several weeks of the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons.
The Senior Weeks Special includes 20% off midweek stays of two nights or more.
Fall & Late Summer Seniors Weeks:Valid Aug. 26-30, 2018, Sunday-Thursday and Valid Sept. 4-13, 2018, Sunday-Thursday.
This offer is valid on any available lodging type for those age 60 years and older.
Offer is valid for Sunday-Thursday (midweek) reservations.
This offer is not valid with any other offer.
In addition to lots of time for relaxing and just watching the Big Lake, it’s is also a great time of year to take advantage of fun events and adventures!
Resort Activities! Take advantage of many complimentary resort activities: Wilderness Canoeing, Guided Hikes, Yoga, and Shuttles to the North Shore Winery!
Shopping! The North Shore has a very vibrant arts community and you’ll find wonderful local shops and studios with artwork, clothing, gear and North Shore treasures. Here’s a great resource for a complete list of North Shore Shopping.
Entertainment! Sit back and relax at the Bluefin Grille on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9-11pm and listen to a talented local musician while enjoying a cocktail or a bite from the late night menu. Hello, date night!
Forgive us, but we need to toot our own horn for a moment, and more importantly, say thank you to our fans and guests.
Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior has been named 2018 Best of the Lake in the overnight lodging category, as sponsored by Lake Superior Magazine. The magazine’s “Best of” award covers all lodging options from Duluth to the Canadian border and, more importantly, it’s a readers’ choice award. This is the second year in a row Bluefin Bay was chosen the readers favorite in this category!
Awards like this one – where fans and guests vote for their favorite or the best – mean the most to us because our guests’ loyalty and confidence is the best barometer of our success creating memorable vacation experiences. So, THANK YOU to all who voted for us – especially our Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts guests for your ongoing loyalty, comments and kudos over the years.
We are also excited about a few other winners from our neck of the woods.
Best Waterfall in Minnesota: Gooseberry Falls in Two Harbors and High Falls of the Pigeon River in Grand Portage
Best Local Landmark: Split Rock Lighthouse
Best ‘Locally Made’ Store: The Lake Superior Trading Post, Sivertson’s, and Joynes Ben Franklin – all in Grand Marais!
Best Walking Trail: Superior Hiking Trail…of course!
Best 1-Hour Stop Along The Route: Temperance River State Park. We couldn’t agree more! This beautiful park is a short drive or bike ride from the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts and offers incredible hiking, waterfalls and a gorgeous Lake Superior beach.
Best Brewery: Castle Danger Brewery in Two Harbors, and Voyageur Brewing Company in Grand Marais
Check out the full list here and be inspired to plan your Lake Superior getaway. We are partial to our lovely North Shore region of Lake Superior but we love how it also highlights the amazing places in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ontario. Circle tour, anyone?
Check out a complete list of awards on our website here. The entire Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts Team is honored and humbled to be deemed the ‘best’ and your “favorite,” and we strive to continually live up to those titles.
So again, thank you. We hope you’re having a great summer.
Waterfall of the Week!
When it comes to waterfalls we don’t like to pick favorites. We love them all for their unique settings and impressive displays of rushing water each spring, but the Caribou River is a waterfall hike we never miss this time of year. The Caribou Falls State Wayside is located on the border of Lake and Cook Counties and just a 15-minute drive from Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts. The parking area was greatly expanded and paved last year adding to the ease and accessibility of visiting this waterfall.
The ¾ mile long trail winds right along the beautiful cedar lined river with a couple inviting spots to hop out on rocks during the drier months. Continuing on, the trail quickly starts heading up and you will have some great views of the river gorge below. About a half mile from the parking area is a long set of wooden stairs taking you down to a breathtaking view of the 40-foot Caribou Falls. The deep canyon walls and the loud rush of the falls creates a magical and exhilarating experience. Well worth the trek back up those stairs! At the top of the stairs, you will want to continue on up the trail to the large observation deck that sits just above the falls. A perfect spot for a water and snack break as you take in the awesome view of Lake Superior and the river valley below. If you would like a longer hike, this trail also continues on to hook up with the Superior Hiking Trail.
Check out our waterfalls page for more wonderful falls to visit, maps, and viewing tips. Your waterfall tour adventure is even better when you take advantage of our Spring Fever Offer through June 14th. Enjoy a FREE night when you purchase two nights (midweek night is free)!
Spring is officially here and it’s the time of year we celebrate longer days, warm sun, rushing waterfalls, and even one last chance on the slopes or trails for spring skiing.
Got Spring Fever? We’ve got the cure. Take advantage of our Spring Fever Special and enjoy a FREE night when you purchase two nights (midweek night is free). Waterfall season is here. For best viewing stay 3 nights for the price of 2!
The Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts is pleased to offer a special discount to our Seniors during several weeks of the Spring, Summer and Fall seasons. The spring Senior Week Special is coming up April 1 and valid through May 24. This offer is valid for any available lodging type for those age 60 years and older. It’s the perfect way to enjoy all the North Shore has to offer with discounts on stays of two nights or more.
Waterfall season is almost here and it’s fair to say that the North Shore of Lake Superior has the best waterfall viewing of anywhere in Minnesota, perhaps the Midwest. Read more here.
Here are a few upcoming spring events and activities you may not want to miss:
Mountain Meltdown: April 6-8 at Lutsen Mountains. Enjoy spring skiing and a mountain bash with 10 bands, outdoor stage and a beer garden.
Spring Food & Wine Lovers Weekend: May 4-5 at the Bluefin Grille: Bluefin Bay has been hosting Food & Wine Lovers Events for more than 20 years, twice per year – in the Spring and the Fall. Each Food & Wine Lovers Weekend includes a host of activities revolving around food and wine — and of course all set against the backdrop of Lake Superior.
Kites at the Harbor in Grand Marais: May 4 will be the first annual kite festival in Grand Marais where you can view professional kite flying demonstrations and even make and fly your own!
Winter Hiking: NEW Hiking Adventures!
Here on the North Shore of Lake Superior, the winter season provides the opportunity for an abundance of outdoor activities. A favorite among locals and visitors is winter hiking on the endless trails in our area. The Lutsen-Tofte area is home to some of the most beautiful and dramatic sections of the Superior Hiking Trail.
This year we’ve added several new guided hikes to our winter activity line-up. All of these hikes will help you further explore the Superior Hiking Trail and the extensive effort to build and maintain this fantastic Minnesota gem! We’ll still have the guided hiking favorites like Oberg Mountain and Carlton Peak, but here are a few more you won’t want to miss!
LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN LOOP: This hike starts at Highway 61 and travels through gentle terrain along a multi-use trail in Cascade River State Park for just under a mile before joining The Superior Hiking Trail. Once on The Superior Hiking Trail, you will start your ascent up to the summit of Lookout Mountain. At the summit, enjoy views of Lake Superior, Sawtooth Mountains, and Grand Marais. Enter a mixed boreal forest to begin your descent and rejoin the multi-use trail. The descent offers fantastic views of Lake Superior below.
DYER’S CREEK HIKE: This hike starts at the trailhead on the east side of Cook County 1 and after a quick trek through a coniferous forest it crosses to the West Side of the road. Thick stands of fragrant Balsam/Spruce hug the corridor of the trail for 1 ½ miles until you reach your turn around point at a 40-foot A-frame bridge over Dyer’s Creek. Come check out one of the larger structures in the Superior Hiking Trail and learn how trail professionals and volunteers labored to install this magnificent structure. Head back along Two Island River, cross over abandoned railroad tracks and return to the trailhead.
SPRUCE CREEK LOOP: This hike begins on a multi-use trail and brings you by marsh wetlands before entering a thick stand of spruce and other coniferous trees. Join the Superior Hiking Trail and begin a gentle climb to the ridgeline where you will have unlimited views of the Sawtooth Mountains. A short but steep descent will take you to the beautiful Spruce Creek before climbing back uphill to rejoin the multi-use trail. The East Side of the marsh wetlands will take you around the ponds back the beginning of your hike. This hike has been known to have some moose sightings!
MYSTERY MOUNTAIN LOOP: At the End of Ski Hill Road, Lutsen Ski Village, you will begin this challenging hike by crossing over the Poplar River Gorge, with spectacular views of the ski slopes and Lake Superior. After crossing the Poplar River, begin your trek up the base of Mystery Mountain through thick Spruce Stand that converts into open stands of Maples. After 1 mile you will join the Superior Hiking Trail on the South West Flank of Mystery Mountain. Enjoy open space in the Maple Stand while you gradually gain elevation to the top of Mystery Mountain. A stop at the Poplar River overlook is a perfect way to start your ascent back to the Poplar River Crossing and the trailhead.
SUGARLOAF TO CARIBOU HIKE: This hike is a one-way hike that offers nearly 2.5 miles of ridgeline views of Lake Superior. Start out trekking through a mixed boreal forest, quickly pass through a mature white pine stand and come to the open birch stand to hike along the ridge. Cross over The Superior Hiking Trails only covered bridge at Crystal Creek and continue towards the Caribou River. Check out the gorge of the Caribou River on a bridge that was installed via Helicopter before you move onto the observation platform to take in a sweeping view of Lake Superior and if it is clear possibly the Apostle Islands. One more stop on your trek will take you to the base of the 40-foot waterfall of the Caribou River.
WILDERNESS BONFIRE ADVENTURE HIKE: Are you ready to experience the Northwood’s? Join us for a 3.5-mile hike, Beginning at Sugar Loaf and ending at Caribou Falls. Where we will stop half way at Crystal Creek to build a bonfire and have a wintery treat (S’mores & Hot Chocolate) before we head to the Caribou River where we can explore the top and base of Caribou Falls!
Holidays at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts
The stars are shining brightly during these dark skies of December, the cozy fires are ready for a winter evening, and Lake Superior’s North Shore is radiant with holiday lights and festive cheer. There are so many things to love about this time of year. Of course, a favorite activity of all is sitting by a cozy fire with a festive drink in hand and a front row seat to the show that the Big Lake puts on. Here at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, we’ve put together a list of some of our other favorite activities and events that bring us joy during the holiday season.
NEW OUTDOOR GUIDED ACTIVITIES! On December 23rd and the 30th we’ll be offering a new activity: Wilderness Bonfire Adventure Hike! Join us for a 3.5-mile hike, Beginning at Sugar Loaf and ending at Caribou Falls where we will get to stop half way at Crystal Creek to build a bonfire and have a wintery treat (S’mores & Hot Chocolate) before we head to the Caribou River where we can explore the top and base of Caribou Falls!
DOWNHILL SKIING! Downhill skiing is already in full swing in our neck of the woods. Lutsen Mountains is open daily starting on December 15th and they have reported 12 inches of snow in the last 7 days! For those who love to downhill ski and stay at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, you’ll want to book a Ski & Stay Package for the best deal. We offer FREE daily shuttles to and from the base of the mountain, frustration-free equipment rental at our neighboring Sawtooth Outfitters, and a variety of Can’t-be-beat Ski & Stay Packages.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING! Spectacular scenery, varied terrain, and abundant snow add up to some of the best cross-country skiing in the country. Trails in the immediate Lutsen-Tofte area total more than 150km and are groomed with the best available equipment. During your stay, join us on a tranquil guided trip along the Poplar River. Amongst the mountains of Lutsen, this calm section of the Poplar provides amazing views. All skill levels welcome. Complimentary cross-country skis are available in our recreation center.
KIDS ADVENTURE CLUB! Join us for a series of NEW Activities created especially to enhance your child’s Northwood’s Adventure Experience! From Finding “Fairy Stones” & creating necklaces to taking an Adventure Hike to track and identify our Northwood’s Wildlife. Also, relax with a hot cup of cocoa and at our Guest Services Building and learn all about how Northwood’s animals survive in our colder harsh climate.
DINING WITH A VIEW AND HOLIDAY SPECIALS! After a day spent outdoors head to the Bluefin Grille for a cozy dinner or apps and cocktails with the most breathtaking views available on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The Bluefin Grille will be closed on Christmas Eve but open on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve serving a full menu until 9 pm and a Late Night Menu until 11pm. Visit the Bluefin Grille page for full menus as well as a list of holiday specials you won’t want to miss!
AREA ACTIVITIES & LIVE MUSIC! The Bluefin Grille will host live musicians between Christmas and New Year’s. Visit the Activities and Events page for dates and the musician line-up. Cook County is fortunate to have a thriving music scene year-round spanning all musical genres and settings from intimate to large venues. Check out the Visit Cook County Event Calendar for live music and event happenings.
Wishing you all the joys of the season and happiness throughout the coming year.
~ Happy Holidays from all of us at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts!
New Resort Activity: December Lecture Series!
Here at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, we are always looking for new experiences and activities for our guests: those that reflect the lifestyle and opportunities unique to Minnesota’s North Shore. One new activity we’ve recently added is our December Lecture Series which we are hosting along with the owners of Grand Marais based Spirit Guiding Adventures!
The next lecture series presentation will be on Friday, December 15th. Join us for this free resort guest activity with the theme of ‘Human Powered Travel through the Winter Landscape’. Matthew Baxley Of Spirit Guiding Adventures will cover the importance of appropriate layering in sub-freezing temperatures as well as how to assess snow and ice conditions to choose the best method of wilderness travel. Learn to stay safe, comfortable and find the winter wilderness magic.
You will also have the opportunity to ask questions regarding outdoor adventures you’ve been curious about or technical questions related to gear and equipment.
Learn more about Spirit Guiding Adventures and their amazing guided trips and tours here.Whether you’re a newbie or pro, their guided adventures are geared toward any experience level. They take care of the details so you can connect with the surroundings.