Nearly ten years ago we found ourselves up the north shore, with new sparkly wedding bands and the post-wedding vibes. Little did we know that someday we’d end up spending most of our time staring at these views (always in awe.) When we bought our lake house last year we never imagined that we’d end up spending 90% of the year, tucked away in the woods, admiring Lake Superior and watching her through every season. After one full year of life up the north shore, I wanted to document some of our faves and create a little guide for your next visit. If you find yourself up in Grand Marais, here are the top recommendations I have for you! It’s a beautiful place with beautiful people and we can attest that the slower pace of life just might suck you in!
This is a must-visit. From eclectic home goods to beautiful handcrafted clothes, unique artwork, and products that induce playfulness, this is one of our favorite spots to browse (and we never leave empty-handed!) I feel like everything within this store is a treasure and the shop-owner Kristofer has the best taste. Whether you’re shopping for yourself, someone you love, or you’re looking for a souvenir to remember your time up the shore, you’re sure to find it at UpstateMN.
Right near UpstateMN, this is another spot that we always find treasures inside. With the founder Abby prioritizing unique products and an array of items that make the best gifts, wander this shop and enjoy! From art illustrations to fun greeting cards, a kids section (that Coco loves) and a lot of Minnesota pride apparel, this shop is a gift to Grand Marais. I can look around our home and see evidence that we absolutely adore Big Lake Shop in every corner.
Be prepared to browse for a while when you step inside of the Lake Superior Trading Post, they’ve got just about everything! From puzzles to kid’s books, home decor to jewelry, hiking boots to snowshoes, and virtually anything you could possibly need while you’re up the shore, this spot is a true outfitter! They carry lines like Patagonia and Keens, so if you’ve missed the experience of actually trying things on before purchasing and you want to support local, this is the place for you!
Mmm, my mouth is already watering. This is a super fun local eatery that usually has a line out the door! With their iconic frybread tacos, it’s no wonder they usually sell out before their hours end. I am a huge fan of their quesadillas and Coco loves the tater tots and queso. This is a must-stop if you love Mexican food and want to try something new. Get there early, be prepared for a line, and know that it’s totally worth the wait!
The one and only coffee shop in town and for good reason: they make the dest drinks! My favorites? The miel latte or the maple latte with oat milk. Enjoy this cozy little stop right when you enter into town and be greeted by the friendliest of faces. While you’re getting your caffeine, snag an item from the pastry shelf (the cookies are to-die-for) and enjoy the view of the harbor. If you’re an early riser, grab a coffee and watch the sun come up over Lake Superior, it’s the perfect way to enjoy the view.
I’m not going to lie, their arugula pizza changed my life… and before you get to thinking, “Wait, arugula on a pizza?” It’s really good. With typical American fare and a menu with items like pizza, burgers, chicken sandwiches, and salads, you’re sure to find something for everyone! Our favorite option on the menu? The opportunity to buy the kitchen staff a 6-pack to thank them for the perfectly crispy sweet potato fries! This is a fun little stop with a lot of historical memories on the walls and a place that is always busy!
If you’re looking for a fun taproom with beers on tap brewed with water from Lake Superior, look no further. As a guest of Voyageur, you can enjoy the view of the Grand Marais Harbor from the taproom (complete with board games to play while you sip) or in the summer from our rooftop patio or deck. With fun and delicious appetizers and a beer menu that the enthusiasts will love, this is a fun spot to belly up to when you’re visiting the north shore.
We dined her a decade ago on our north shore honeymoon and left with a cookbook! It’s an iconic spot to visit when in Grand Marais and has the best fish in town. From fried fish to pan-cooked, you’ll get an authentic northern Minnesota meal and an incredible view of the harbor. Watch as the ducks swim on by or the sailboats enter while you enjoy your food. This is a crowd favorite and a sweet little spot to enjoy good eats and beautiful views.
Just the name alone makes my mouth water — I mean, custard? How could you not? There’s usually a line here (indicating just how delicious their offerings are!) End your evening with a turtle sundae or enjoy your entire night with Sydneys starting with their fresh wood-fired pizza (my favorite is the apple and gorgonzola, literally a weekly favorite) and finish it with a sundae or some custard. With beautiful rooftop views overlooking the lake and Artists Point, it’ll be a memorable stop on your trip.
This was a favorite of ours! The views are gorgeous at the top and the hike is pretty easy with a few more treacherous spots that are relatively easy to navigate. It’s about 5 miles roundtrip with some longer and shorter overlook options. The parking lot here is usually full because it connects to the Superior Hiking Trail but try and snag a spot and then start your hike. They expanded the trails this year and updated some of the bridges. When you get to the top, see if you can find 5 mile rock out in Lake Superior and enjoy the view!
If you’re in town, definitely take a little time to swing by Artist’s Point. It’s a beautiful little loop through a rocky, wooded area with views of Lake Superior. The sunsets are beautiful and the sound of the waves is calming. Hike, wander, or park your bum on the rocks and just relax. When you think of Grand Marais, you likely think of Artist’s Point, a peaceful little spot nestled near town!
We loved hiking along the Kadunce River! It was a beautiful hike that was slightly more challenging with the changes in elevation (or perhaps it was the two-year-old attached to my back) but the views were incredible and ever-changing. From the dense forest to the flowing water, Kadunce provided a perfect look into the beauty of Northern Minnesota. With spots to dip your toes into the water and bridges that reveal deep gulches, this is a wonderful hike heading into the woods and away from the highway!
If you’re visiting during peak fall colors, be prepared for a lot of people. Even so, it was entirely worth it. There are so many incredible overlooks and views from the lake to the forest of colorful trees! The hike itself is under three miles long and it’s a big loop, so most of the traffic is moving with you. It’s been voted one of the best hikes along the north shore thanks to it’s views and it’s easy to follow and well-maintained trail.
Owned by our dear friends who make the greatest of hosts, this spot is a must-stay if you can get on their filled calendar. Seriously, snatch up a date if one is available and prepare yourself for beautiful views of Lake Superior tucked a few miles out of town. The coziest of spots complete with local coffee and extra touches that will make your stay memorable. There’s a reason they are rated “Superhosts,” we’ve witnessed it first hand!
About 20 miles south of Grand Marais, this famous spot is sure to give you a great north shore experience. We stayed there for our honeymoon nearly a decade ago and still reminisce about our time. Strand, the restaurant on premise is delicious with a menu that will leave it hard for you to make a decision, Lutsen is an incredible destination. Next to the ski hill and access to trails, it’s a high-demand spot to stay at! With summer activities like kayaking along the shore and disc golf, you’ll be sure to create memories you’ll be talking about for years to come!
If you’re hoping to stay in town and be able to wander in for your morning coffee or enjoy a few brews at Voyageur Brewing Company, this little spot might be the perfect option for you! With access to all the local shops, grocery stores, and restaurants, it’s in a prime location to enjoy all that town has to offer! The sweetest environment that gives you the privacy you crave with the accessibility you desire, run by locals, this cottage is a great option for your visit!
Have you ever visited Grand Marais? What’s your favorite place to visit? Comment below!