Good things come in small packages. With a population of only 1,340 that’s nestled between the rugged Sawtooth Range and massive Lake Superior, Grand Marais was dubbed “America’s Coolest Small Town” by Budget Travel Magazine for 2015 and was named a Top 100 Adventure Town by National Geographic Adventure Magazine. The city has a fishing heritage that’s reminiscent of New England and the Canadian Maritimes, and local whitefish is a staple on most menus. Today, Grand Marais is a mainstay of summer tourism on Lake Superior's north shore, and one of the region's vibrant artist's colonies.
The deep, open waters of the greatest lake always stay cold, and their interaction with warm, humid summer air commonly makes for dramatic shoreline fogs in the area of the harbor. If that doesn’t cool you down, there is the excellent frozen custard at Sydney’s, popular with families on summer holiday.
|Great apes in the mist?|
|Cooling mists rise up to meet the Sawtooth Range in the distance.|
|Towards the village of Grand Marais, looking across the harbor from Artist's Point.|
|The lichen-covered volcanic rocks are reminiscent of the Bay of Fires in Tasmania, or is it the other way around?|
Grand Marais is a very scenic 2-hour drive northeast from Duluth, Minnesota, along State Highway 61. Only 1.5 hours southeast from Thunder Bay, it is also a popular day trip for visitors from Northwest Ontario.
First-timers may find themselves making a lot of stops, as each bend in the road opens to a better view of the shoreline or unexpected roadside treats. Be prepared for a longer trip in a magnificent landscape, 1.1 billion years in the making.