We take pride in providing authentic travel recommendations based on our own experiences. We may earn a commission when you purchase a product or book a reservation. Learn more ›
Are you searching for some activities and things to do in Grand Marais? We’ve got you covered after staying an entire week in this Northern lakeside town.
After spending a week in this glorious North Shore town, I’ve compiled the best things to do in Grand Marais, including fun attractions and places to stay.
- Things to Do in Grand Marais, Minnesota
- 1. Grand Marais Lighthouse
- 2. Artist Point
- 3. Pincushion Mountain Trail System
- 4. Gunflint Trail
- 5. Historic Cook County Museum (MN)
- 6. Harbor Park
- 7. Artist Point Trail
- 8. Visit Cook County – Visitor Information Center
- 9. Superior Hiking Trail
- 10. Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply
- 11. Cascade River State Park
- 12. Grand Marais Campground & Marina
- 13. Sven & Ole’s Pizza
|Best Outdoor Activity||Cascade River State Park|
|Best Scenic Drive||North Shore Scenic Drive|
|Best Cultural Experience||North House Folk School|
|Best Art Gallery||Sivertson Gallery|
Things to Do in Grand Marais, Minnesota
1. Grand Marais Lighthouse
Address: Grand Marais, MN 55604, United States
The Grand Marais Lighthouse is a regal tower that emits a navigational light aid from its rear range light and is a popular attraction. It was created from the bill for harbor improvements at Grand Marais as an initiated project in 1879.
The lighthouse is one of the most excellent spots to visit and explore on Minnesota’s North Shore, where the vast picturesque sea is within reach. Following the breakwater, the path leads visitors to the beautiful lighthouse, a little adventure.
Lighthouses are majestic and beautiful to view from afar. The beauty of Grand Marais Lighthouse is not a view only to admire from afar but even up close. It’s a view to behold where the sky, sea, and trees meet perfectly harmoniously. The best time to visit the Grand Marais Lighthouse is during dawn or dusk when the sun casts a beautiful glow on the tower.
See Related: Best Museums in Duluth, Minnesota
2. Artist Point
Address: Grand Marais, MN 55604, United States
Artist’s Point is a beautiful scenery of jagged rock formations along Lake Superior. It’s one of the best free things to do in Minnesota. It’s a lovely destination a few blocks from Grand Marais downtown, a favorite local art scene spot for artists and famous painters in the town.
It was formed and perched billions of years ago, providing excellent access to a lovely seashore along with a narrow but spacious enough walk-through pathway where the fascinating rock formations and tide pools meet.
Artist Point is a great place for artists to get inspired by its picturesque scenery. The panoramic view of the jagged rocks and the shore is stunning, and the lively colors mixing into the mist are unique. The rock formations are also mesmerizing silhouettes. This makes Artist’s Point the best place for artists to gain inspiration and run their creativity wild.
See Related: Best Minnesota Family Vacations
3. Pincushion Mountain Trail System
Address: 1 Pincushion Dr, Grand Marais, MN 55604, United States
The Pincushion Mountain Trail System is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. The North Superior Ski and Running Club (NSSRC) established the trail system to provide a lifetime of adventure for locals and visitors alike.
With miles of trails winding through scenic forests and open meadows, the Pincushion Mountain Trail System is ideal for hiking, biking, running, and nature trips. The range of activities available caters to all interests, from mild to extreme.
In addition, the Pincushion Mountain Trail System is home to competitive and recreational events throughout the year, making it the perfect destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway.
The Pincushion Mountain Trail System has competitive and non-competitive events, but visitors who want to explore the mountain can join tours. Dogs are welcome on the trail, where dog lovers can bring their pets on a great adventure, but they must be kept on a leash.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Two Harbors
4. Gunflint Trail
This area is a popular tourist destination in all of Minnesota. The trail is 80 miles long and takes up to four days. The trail follows an old railroad grade for logging purposes initially built in the 1940s. You will find many scenic vistas and detours along this route.
Free maps are available in the local shops, and you can also purchase a more detailed map from the Grand Marais Chamber of Commerce. The trail can be accessed in many locations, so you can choose where to start, near or adjacent to numerous lakes great for canoeing, kayaking, fishing, and swimming. You should allow yourself at least three days for a trip on the trail.
This will give you plenty of time to explore all the trail offers. So pack your bags and head to this great area of Northern Minnesota for an extraordinary trip.
You should allow yourself at least three days for a trip on the trail. The trails are off-road, but you will find forest roads that can get you back to civilization quickly if needed. The area is ideal for walking, hiking, and biking. Additionally, there are many people riding horses along the trail as well. Camping is allowed, and you may have a campfire in most areas.
Countless attractive shopping opportunities are only a few miles off the Gunflint Trail. You will find a few antique shops, a glassblower shop, and an art gallery, to name a few. The trails run through Little Marais, Canyon, Deep Creek Lake, and the Gunflint Trail State Forest.
See Related: Best Indoor Activities in Minnesota
5. Historic Cook County Museum (MN)
Address: 8 S Broadway Ave, Grand Marais, MN 55604, United States
Historic Cook County (MN) is a spectacular museum in Grand Marais, Minnesota, that houses great history exhibits in a 19th-century lighthouse keeper’s residence. Preserving collections of knowledge about Cook Country and the State of Minnesota’s history is the purpose of the Historic Cook County Museum.
The Lightkeeper’s House was built in 1896 and served as the home of the U.S. Coast Guard Commander until 194. In 1966, the Cook County Historical Society acquired the property and began to use it as a museum.
The exhibition center features a range of exhibits on Minnesota’s musical heritage, Cook County military history, Lake Superior history, and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) Camp stories. The Lightkeeper’s House is a fascinating glimpse into the past that will interest visitors of all ages.
Today, the Historic Cook County (MN) is the main grand history museum of the Cook County Historical Society, containing over 50,000 collections of historical memorabilia like important documents, classic photos, and artifacts. The exhibit in this cultural institution depicts the history and development of the North Shore region.
See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota
6. Harbor Park
Address: 110 Wisconsin St, Grand Marais, MN 55604, United States
Harbor Park is among the best places to explore, tour, and witness Minnesota’s natural beauty. Situated in the picturesque town of Grand Marais, the park provides visitors many recreational opportunities, including walking, jogging, picnicking, and simply admiring the scenery.
Harbor Park is also excellent for families to enjoy quality time together. The park offers options to suit numerous interests with its playgrounds, picnic areas, and beautiful setting. Best of all, admission to Harbor Park is free.
The stunning location offers a scenic view of the beautiful Lake Superior. The perfect location for various community gatherings and a focal point for generations of residents and visitors to experience, Harbor Park also has a garden with a range of beautiful plants, green sounding, great music, and arts to enjoy.
The garden within Harbor Park is a sanctuary for artists and art enthusiasts, making the park more extraordinary and livelier. So whether you’re a local looking for a new place to explore or a visitor searching for a unique way to experience Minnesota’s North Shore, don’t forget to include Harbor Park on your list.
See Related: Things to Do in Minneapolis, MN
7. Artist Point Trail
Address: Grand Marais, MN 55604, United States
The Artist Point Trail, located near Grand Marais and Lake Superior, is a beautiful trail used for various outdoor activities like hiking and access to the beach. The course is known to be the state’s best viewpoint, providing incredible and remarkable picturesque scenery.
Every outdoor activity enthusiast will enjoy an inclusive hike at the Artist Point Trail. It is one of the most satisfying trails alongside incredible scenery and landscape views.
The Artist Point Trail, anytime time of the year, during winter or not, is a great trail to hike and see the beauty of nature, making the hike grand and unforgettable.
Even though there are many other trails nearby, this particular trail is indisputably one of the most popular for locals and tourists due to its well-known name and convenient location to make it out to Artist’s Point. For a side quest, you can book and experience the scenic Aerial Helicopter Tour over Duluth and Superior.
See Related: RVShare Review
8. Visit Cook County – Visitor Information Center
Address: 116 W Hwy 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604, United States
Cook County is a beautiful destination for tourists looking to experience a range of activities and adventures. The town of Grand Marais is situated in a beautiful location, and the tourist information center is full of helpful staff that can assist visitors with planning their trips.
There are many great places to tour around Cook County, including the stunning scenery of the North Shore, the many hiking and biking trails, and the numerous lakes and rivers perfect for fishing, swimming, and canoeing.
In addition, multiple fascinating museums and places deeply rooted in the past provide insight into the area’s rich history. Visiting the Cook Country is the ultimate trip to take in the northern part of Minnesota. Northern Minnesota’s wonderful and exciting small towns of Lutsen, Schroeder, Grand Marais, and more are the lovely places in Cook County. These communities are all gems in their own way.
Cook County is home to a range of stunning landscapes and exciting adventures. From the remarkable views of Lake Superior to the epic hiking trails, it accommodates a range of preferences to enjoy.
The events, great food, music, and other pleasing entertainment make Cook County a unique destination in Minnesota. Irrespective of your search for a relaxing getaway or an adrenaline-filled adventure, Cook County is the perfect destination.
See Related: Best Vacations for a Group of Friends
9. Superior Hiking Trail
The Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) is a wilderness route extending more than 350 miles through Minnesota’s North Shore. The SHT is about halfway between the northern and southern borders of the continental United States. The trail was built over fifteen years, from 1979 to 1994, and consisted of two loops connecting Duluth, Minnesota, to the Canadian border in northeastern Minnesota.
Along its route are portions of many federally designated wilderness areas, including the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and Quetico Provincial Park.
The SHT passes through some of Minnesota’s most beautiful scenery yet offers solitude for hikers seeking a getaway. Sections of the trail travel near a few large lakes that provide opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. In addition, the SHT provides access to a few backcountry campsites for those looking to extend their hike into an overnight adventure.
Hikers looking to experience the wild beauty of the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) can start their journey in Grand Marais. This small town on the shores of Lake Superior is the starting point for the first section of the SHT, a long-distance footpath traversing some of Minnesota’s most scenic and remote areas.
As hikers make their way along the trail, they pass by historical sites such as Hole in the Day’s Cave and ascend to Marias Pass, the highest point at 2,475 feet.
To help protect this natural area, hikers must carry out all the garbage they have packed in, and there is minimal signage along the trail. Hikers should also come prepared with a map for navigation. But, despite these challenges, the SHT is a rewarding experience for those looking to get away from it all and immerse themselves in nature.
See Related: Tettegouche State Park
10. Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply
Address: 22 1st St #818, Grand Marais, MN 55604, United States
If you are looking for a place to buy high-quality outdoor gear, Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply in Grand Marais, Minnesota, is the store for you. They offer a wide variety of supplies for different outdoor activities, along with consulting services and year-round guided tours.
No matter what level of experience you have with outdoor activities, the staff at Stone Harbor will be able to help you find the gear you need and answer any questions.
From simple fishing to more stimulating activities such as rock climbing or kayaking, you can find anything necessary for your outdoor adventures in the store.
Camping gear, fish holes, and comfortable snowshoes are some outdoor gear that can be bought in the store. Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply is a unique and great store because aside from selling wilderness necessities, they also allow customers to rent tools from the store. They have all sorts of equipment for different activities like backpacking, canoeing, and bird-watching.
You don’t need equipment to participate in these activities; the store has you covered. They provide everything you need to have a fun and safe experience in the great outdoors. So, next time you plan a trip into nature, swing by Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply first.
See Related: Best Camper Accessories
11. Cascade River State Park
Cascade River State Park is one of Minnesota’s most popular state parks. The park offers five trails that range from easy to challenging, a picnic area, restrooms, and drinking water. Cascade River is a beautiful river that runs through the park and is home to a waterfall.
The park is open all year round, but the best time to visit is when the leaves change color in the fall. Dogs are welcome at Cascade River State Park as long as they are leashless and human waste disposal bags are available at the beginning of each trail, or visitors can bring their sacks.
The park also has a few loops for mountain biking, but bikers must stay on the designated path. Cascade River State Park is outstanding for exploring Minnesota’s natural beauty.
See Related: Best Things to See and Do in Minnesota
12. Grand Marais Campground & Marina
Address: 114 S 8th Ave W, Grand Marais, MN 55604, United States
The Grand Marais Campground & Marina is a fantastic and perfect base camp for camping enthusiasts in the Grand Marais area. It’s an awesome campground with excellent access to Minnesota’s most beautiful lake, Lake Superior, and its beautiful surroundings.
Grand Marais Campground & Marina offers a range of campsites with incredible scenery and amenities. The campground includes sites on the lakeshore, in town, and at the edge of Lake Superior, each offering different levels of hiking access and excellent facilities.
All campsites have fire pits, tables, public water access, and toiletries. The showers have hot water, and Reedy Creek Outfitters provide shampoo. It also has a boat launch for those who want to explore the lake.
A comfortable tent platform also accommodates two four-person tents or one 10-person tent. Plus, biking trails galore! Hiking trails and biking trails are closed and accessible to the campground, a small side adventure to take while waiting for the sun to set.
The camping ground has all the necessities, the panoramic scenic view of Lake Superior, and an extraordinary caping experience not to miss in Grand Marais, Minnesota.
See Related: Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota
13. Sven & Ole’s Pizza
Sven & Ole’s Pizza is an absolute staple of downtown Grand Marais and even the entire state of Minnesota and is close to multiple other great restaurants and shops, such as the Angry Trout Cafe and Lake Superior Trading Post, respectively.
The pizza is delicious, and the staff is friendly. The prices are reasonable, and they have a great variety. They have unique toppings like ricotta cheese, spinach, artichokes, and basil pesto to add to any pizza.
Their specialty pizzas include ‘The Italian’ and ‘Crazy 4 Cheese.’ The pizza dough is made fresh every day, and it tastes as if it uses olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Consequently, their pizzas are healthy and delicious.
I urge anyone looking for a fantastic pizza experience to go to Sven & Ole’s Pizza in Grand Marais, Minnesota. You will not be disappointed!
Related Minnesota Guides
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.