Enjoy your vacation in Grand Marais on Superior's North Shore
A geological and cultural phenomenon, place of great beauty, good food, and a few jokes.
It's only natural, literally, that Grand Marais would be an important settlement in the development of Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior. Natural, because the town benefits from an unusual geological phenomenon: the convergence of two different kinds of volcanic rock flowing from the earth in the same place. A very hard and relatively impervious igneous stone surrounds a much more easily eroded variety. The result is that when the actions of wind and water wore away the softer inner rock, a huge bowl was formed — a ready-made natural harbor.
A harbor with history
Long before Europeans arrived, the Ojibwa were one of the largest groups of Native Americans and sometimes called the Chippewa. These people had a settlement at what is now Grand Marais, and the they made good use of the harbor for fishing from canoes in the Great Lake. The harbor at Grand Marais also proved useful during the 17th through 19th centuries for the French Voyageurs in their fur trading. The French were sailing from Grand Marais harbor when the eastern states were still British colonies.
Gateway to the Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway
The Gunflint Trail is a scenic, 57 mile long road you travel by car deep into Minnesota's forests. The trail is also the gateway into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. This is a land of thousands of lakes, perferct for packing a canoe, and be sure to pack your camera too. Make Grand Marais your home base and enjoy the comforts of a vacation cabin or vacation home in this quaint town along the shores of Lake Superior.
In later years, the town became a significant port for commerce in Lake Superior, serving communities around its shores. Along with a catch of fresh fish, today boats from Grand Marais harbor bring in something most locals and visitors alike don't give much thought to: a huge haul of Lake Superior caviar. That fact makes Grand Marais the “Fresh-Water Caviar Capital of Minnesota.” While many Americans have no taste for Caviar nor do they even notice, in dollar terms this fact is far from trivial. Tons of the rosy orange roe from Lake Superior are sold yearly in Scandinavia.
Boats, fishing and sailing on Lake Superior
One of the more interesting things a vacationer can do from this harbor is sail aboard the tall ship, Hjørdis on one of its voyages on Lake Superior. Ever wish to go swashbuckling? Now’s your chance. The schooner is the project and property of the North House Folk School in Grand Marais.
Some may prefer to get out on the lake in pursuit of fish and there are good opportunities to do just that. Captain Gary Radloff's Grand Marais Charters offers half- and full-day charters for one to six persons in a fully-equipped 24-foot Northeastern with all amenities. You'll find it docked at the marina at Grand Marais Campground. Captain Kelley Shepard of North Shore Outdoors offers all-day charters from Grand Marais on a 22-foot Bayliner Trophy with all gear provided. He also guides inland hunting, fishing and photography trips.
Cultural Capital of the North Shore
Owing to its picturesque harbor and beautiful surroundings, Grand Marais has long attracted artists. Since 1947, The Grand Marais Art Colony has been a nexus for artists and today offers classes in various media and sponsors a number of art-related events throughout the year. In the area of theater and performance art, the Arrowhead Center for the Arts stages plays in cooperation with the North Shore Music Association which stages concerts. Grand Marais is also home to the popular attraction, the North House Folk School which is dedicated to preserving and teaching traditional northern folk crafts. At the school, they also teach traditional Scandinavian and other crafts and sponsor a wide variety of events from live music to dragon boat races. And when it comes to entertainment, the North Shore has a very nice selection of theaters along the North Shore of Minnesota. People who enjoy these two times of the year where additional celebration is justified will visit Grand Marais for the annual winter and summer solstices. With all that is happening, it's fair to call Grand Marais the cultural capital of Minnesota's North Shore region.
Great food and gourmet meals
From donuts to fine dining, Grand Marais has a lot to offer in the way of food as well. In fact, some would argue that the homemade donuts from World's Best Donuts are so good, they actually are fine dining. They definitely have a devoted following. For actual sit-down gourmet meals, though, Grand Marais has several excellent options. The Crooked Spoon Café on West Wisconsin Street offers a range of entrées that changes seasonally. Gunflint Tavern Fine Food & Ales serves food and beverages and also features a variety of live musical entertainments. Built in a remodeled old fishing shanty, the Angry Trout Café offers indoor and outdoor dining for lunches and dinners right on the waterfront.
For its year-round outdoor recreation, arts and entertainment scene, fine dining and more, it's easy to see why Grand Marais is one of the North Shore's most popular vacation destinations. But wait, there’s more.
Vacation Rental Accommodations in Grand Marais
It is also only natural to want to spend extra time in Grand Marais while enjoying the forested wilderness, the Gunflint Trail, and the shores of Lake Superior. With so many things to do in Grand Marais, stay awhile and enjoy the comforts of one of our beautiful vacation cabins or vacation homes. We have over 20 rentals to choose from including 1 bedroom up to 4 bedrooms. You’ll love your vacation in Grand Marais.
Sven & Ole’s Pizza - and a good joke.
No story about Grand Marais would be complete without mentioning Sven & Ole’s Pizza. Nor would the article be complete with out talking about the Annual World Championship Sven & Ole Joke Telling Contest. But we’re not here to spill the whole bean dip about Sven and Ole's, so we'll end it here with the winning joke from a recent contest.
Ole and Lena were going to go ice fishing and Sven asked to come along. So Ole said, “Ya sure, you can come Sven.”
As Ole drove his truck out onto the very thin ice it broke in the middle of the lake and the pick-up sunk to the bottom. Ole and Lena struggled to open the doors and after a mighty fight they got out and slowly swam their way to the surface where they pulled themselves out onto the ice and then waited for Sven.
One minute passed and no Sven. Two minutes passed and no Sven. Ole looked at Lena with great worry on his face. Three minutes passed and still no Sven. By now it was apparent that Sven wasn’t going to make it. Ole and Lena were very sad until all of a sudden Sven popped to the surface gasping for breath. Sven slowly crawled onto the ice where he lay for several minutes trying to recover.
Finally Ole asked, “Sven, vat happened? Vy did it take so long for you to get to da top?
“Vell,” said Sven who was still trying to gather his wits about him, “I had trouble opening your tailgate.”