Are you looking for a list of the best things to do in Grand Marais, Minnesota?
In this article, we’ll highlight the best activities in Grand Marais if you’re just passing through, or are spending an entire family vacation there.
Whether you’re looking to explore the great outdoors, dine on local fish and handcrafted brews, or take in the area’s shops and scenes, there are literally so many fun things to do in Grand Marais, Mn.
Look no farther for the best 9 things to do in Grand Marais, with or without kids!
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Things to do in Grand Marais, MN
Grand Marais, Minnesota is a picturesque harbor village located on the world’s greatest freshwater lake, Lake Superior.
It is an artsy and quirky little town that is surrounded by natural beauty and breathtaking views of the rugged Up North landscape.
Though Grand Marais is a common stopping point on Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive and a beginning point to the Gunflint Trail, many families choose to use Grand Marais as a base for an entire family vacation.
The following things to do in Grand Marais can be experienced if you only have a few hours, an entire day, or a whole week to discover, explore, and indulge here.
1. Take In the Views at Artist’s Point
My top recommendation for things to do in Grand Marais is to spend time exploring Artist’s Point.
Artist’s Point is a peninsula in the Grand Marais harbor that is characterized by large rock formations, vivid water colors, and breathtaking views of Lake Superior.
Having gotten its name from painters who set up their easels to paint the beautiful landscape here, visitors can enjoy photo ops, watching the waves, and traversing the tide pools.
Though Artist’s Point doesn’t have a physical address to get you there, look for a large parking lot next to the Coast Guard Station in the center of town.
Signs and the flow of other tourists will direct you to the Artist’s Point trailhead.
Additional planning tip: Some areas of Artist’s Point are very narrow (no guard rails) and have water on both sides. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and have good balance if you plan on walking along the breakwater wall found there.
2. Snap Photos of the Grand Marais Lighthouse
Another one of the best things to do in Grand Marais is to photograph the iconic Grand Marias Lighthouse.
Located at the end of the breakwater wall that outlines Artist’s Point, the Grand Maris Lighthouse was built in 1922.
Similar to the lighthouse in our Duluth family vacation itinerary, you cannot climb or enter the Grand Marais lighthouse, but its presence alone adds to the panoramic beauty of the area.
Also to note is that the lighthouse is still functional and is used to guide recreational boats into the Grand Marais harbor.
Additional planning tip: Watch your footing as you make your way to the lighthouse. If you’re feeling unsafe, photograph the lighthouse from a distance while catching glimpses of the sunshine and seagulls overhead.
3. Enjoy An Unforgettable World’s Best Donut
There’s a reason why people literally line up (for 20-30 minutes!) to experience a Grand Marais World’s Best Donut.
Quite simply, they’re the best!
World’s Best Donuts in Grand Marais, MN has been in business for over 51 years; and 5 generations of bakers.
This longevity, along with its awesome and amazingly fresh homemade donuts make World’s Best Donuts a staple destination on Minnesota’s North Shore.
With seasonal and very limited hours of operation, plan ahead if you want to indulge in their famous Cake Donuts, Donut Kabobs, Chocolate Knots, or Bavarian Cream-Filled Long Johns.
Additional planning tip: World’s Best Donuts operates on a ‘when they’re gone, they’re gone’ philosophy.
Take note that they often sell out of donuts hours before closing time.
4. Feast on Local Fish
You absolutely must dine at one of the two following eateries when considering things to do in Grand Marais!
Both the Angry Trout Café and The Fisherman’s Daughter at Dockside Fish Market are well-known for their dock-to-table locally caught fish served up with delicious sides.
The Fisherman’s Daughter is open seasonally and features locally caught bluefin herring, lake trout, whitefish, and Canadian walleye, as well as smoked wild-caught fish.
The atmosphere is extremely casual here and is home to their own line of apparel.
Angry Trout Cafe is also open seasonally and is a small indoor/outdoor restaurant located directly on the shoreline of Lake Superior. The view here is unbeatable!
Angry Trout is known for its locally-grown produce, hand-harvested wild rice, homemade tartar sauce, and fresh Lake Superior fish (e.g. herring, whitefish, walleye).
Additional planning tip: Along with awesome outdoor adventure, locally sourced dining and fresh fish options are one of the many reasons to add a visit to the North Shore to your Minnesota bucket list.
5. Visit the Beaver House
A Grand Marais staple since 1964, the Beaver House is lovingly known as, “the place that sells Beaver Flicks,” and “the place with the walleye on the roof”!
Every square inch inside of the shop is covered with live bait, tackle, and handmade fishing lures (the most popular being the 3 for $2.49 Beaver Flicks) made by the owner and his 3 children.
The outside of the shop is covered in bright colors and painted murals and has a giant fiberglass walleye protruding through the front of the building.
You won’t be alone if you simply stop to take a photo or a selfie here.
Additional planning tip: For more serious shopping, don’t miss these other Grand Marais shops for local art, souvenirs, old-fashioned candy, and hand-made goods.
Here is a list of unique local shops if you have time to browse:
- Gunflint Mercantile: Souveniers, fudge shop, retro candy
- Sivertson Gallery: Original Lake Superior artwork
- Lake Superior Trading post: Gifts, books, maps, clothing, camping gear
- Drury Lane Books: Adult and children’s books, author events
- Joy and Co.: Locally made items like barn wood signs, jewelry, antiques
- Upstate MN: Minimalist artist-made goods, wall art, clothing, jewelry
6. Sample a Flight at Voyageur Brewing Company
Similar to our list of the best restaurants in Canal Park, Duluth, we are huge fans of trying out local brewpubs in the cities and towns that we visit.
Only having one day in Grand Marais is no different, and having a beer or sampling a flight at Voyageur Brewing Company is a must.
Not only does Voyageur Brewing Company have great views of the Grand Marais Harbor from their taproom, patio, and rooftop bar, but their beer has a pretty cool story too.
All of their craft beers, both seasonal and flagships, and are brewed with water from Lake Superior.
Though they don’t have a full menu here, guests can snack on cheese curds, tacos, and flatbreads while sipping their tasty brews.
7. Skip Rocks on the Beach
Lake Superior is known for its abundance of flat rocks that are perfect for rock-skipping.
The Grand Marais Harbor itself is home to a plethora of these smooth red-colored stones that have helped to make rock skipping on the Minnesota North Shore a legitimate pastime.
Slip into relaxation mode, head to the shore, and remember…the key to a good skip lies in the spinning of the rock!
8. Have a slice of Sven and Ole’s Pizza
Sven and Ole’s has a long-standing reputation of having amazing pizza and is known for developing long lines of people looking to order this Grand Marais original.
Regardless of the wait, however, this pizza is consistently reviewed as being worth the wait!
At Sven and Ole’s you order your pizza (either by the slice or by the pan) at a walk-up counter before finding indoor seating. They then call your name when your pizza is ready.
With funny Scandinavian-named pizzas like The Uffda Zah, The Haviian Zah, and The Vild Vun, experiencing Sven and Ole’s is definitely one of the tastiest (and fun!) things to do in Grand Marais.
Additional planning tip: Sven and Ole’s has ever-changing operating hours and is often closed Monday-Wednesday. It’s best to check their website or Facebook page before visiting.
9. Get Custard at Sydney’s
Along with amazing custard and wood-fired pizza, Sydney’s features a rooftop deck that tops our list of the best things to do in Grand Marais.
Once you’re done eating, adults can lounge on the deck taking in the views of Lake Superior and Artist’s Point while letting kids (who are old enough) skip rocks on the waterfront below.
Featuring shakes, malts, sundaes, and cones, servings are generous and toppings are plentiful.
Additional planning tip: Take note that prices are expensive here for both the custard and food.
Things to do in Grand Marais If You Have More Time
There are dozens of other things to do in Grand Marais if you have more time.
Local Grand Marais attractions include Putt and Pets Mini Golf and art classes at the Grand Marais Art Colony, as well as fishing, biking, and hiking with gear from local outfitters.
If looking to hear a bit further north, be sure to hike to Devil’s Kettle in Judge Magney State Park or explore your way to High Falls in Grand Portage State Forest.
Kayaking and paddleboarding on Poplar Lake and watching the sunset at Honeymoon Bluff are popular activities located west on the Gunflint Trail.
Places to Stay in Grand Marais
There are countless options for lodging along Minnesota’s North Shore ranging from large lakefront resorts to rustic Up-North lodges and quaint woodsy cottages.
If you’re looking to stay in the town of Grand Marais, however, it features modest options for accommodations including vacation rentals, cabins, hotels, and motels.
When staying in Grand Marais for 3-night or more, I recommend booking an Airbnb vs. VRBO as a unique and economical option.
If you’re looking to stay in the heart of Grand Marais for 1-2 nights only, my top recommendations for Grand Marais lodging include:
- Best Western Plus Superior Inn
- East Bay Suites
- The Mangy Moose Motel
- Cobblestone Cove Villas
People Also Ask
To spend a day in Grand Marais, write down our suggestions for what to do in Grand Marais and spend time doing each of them. Plan out which restaurants to try, where to shop, and what to explore. You’ll definitely find enough to do here to take up an entire day.
Grand Marais was a bustling fur trading station in the 1700s, and the French Canadian Voyageurs termed the settled village “Grand Marais” (“Great Marsh”). Today, it is a popular stop of the famous North Shore Scenic Drive, as well as a gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), via the Gunflint Trail.
People go to Grand Marais to experience Lake Superior, as well as to participate in outdoor activities including fishing, hiking, and biking. Grand Marais is also home to a deep and varied arts community and people come from all across the U.S. to visit the Grand Marais Art Colony.
Have you ever been to Grand Marais, MN? What was the most memorable thing that you did when visiting there?Jen
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*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*