Grand Marais is a charming little town with big waters at its feet and big woods at its back. This inspiring setting has drawn both artists and outdoor enthusiasts to the snug harbor village on Lake Superior. It all adds up to a fun few days of scenic hiking or mountain biking, tempting gallery browsing, and even the chance for some hands-on crafting.
The North House Folk School right in town teaches traditional northern crafts and skills. It offers hundreds of courses year-round; most are two-to-three-day workshops. The eclectic lineup includes activities such as pine needle basketry, rosemaling, wood carving, fly casting, sailing, songwriting, storytelling and much more.
North House also puts on a weekend festival of folk music, contra dancing, storytelling and craft workshops. Unplugged - The Northern Harvest, held mid-September, features music, food, a traditional fish boil, and traditional craft workmanship by guest artisans. In November, North House offers the Winterer's Gathering with lessons on winter crafts and skills; you can make your own snowshoes or mukluks.
There are a handful of galleries in town featuring local artists. The Johnson Heritage Post Gallery has rotating exhibits, while the Sivertson Gallery is known for its collection of Eskimo and Inuit art as well as paintings of area scenery. The Grand Marais Playhouse, a community theater, presents plays throughout the year.
Mountain bikers can stop at the Superior National Forest ranger station at the edge of town or at the local bike shop for maps and directions to trails. There are numerous hiking trails, as well. In town, take the half-mile trek along rocky shoreline to Artists Point. Northeast of Grand Marais, a rugged, ascending trail (there's even a long staircase) in Judge C.R. Magney State Park leads to a series of waterfalls, and an easygoing, wheelchair-accessible path at Grand Portage State Park leads to spectacular views of the highest falls in Minnesota.
There are also several hiking trails, wilderness lakes for fishing and canoeing, campgrounds, and resorts along the Gunflint Trail, which heads into the Superior National Forest from Grand Marais. For a small town, Grand Marais serves up an array of good dining options, interesting shopping, and lots of places to stay in town or nearby, from lakeside cottages to upscale condos, familiar motels to cozy B&Bs.
For more info:
Grand Marais Area Tourism Assn.