Let’s take a Minnesota winter vacation! Plan your dream winter vacation in Grand Marais, MN near Lake Superior. Make sure to pin or save this blog post to plan your next solo or family vacation in this dreamy town near Canada.

The mouth of Baptism River in Tettegouche State Park.

In this blog, you will find:

  • Nearby Winter Activities
  • Nearby Winter Hikes
  • Best Places to eat
  • Downtown Lodging Options
  • Cozy Experiences


Explore Minnesota for a Winter Vacation


First, we decided we wanted to look at lodging options near downtown Grand Marais during our Minnesota winter vacation. It ended up being a good choice since we had freezing rain trickle in followed by snow. We stayed at Best Western Plus Superior Inn and it was a great choice! Our room had a lakeside view only a few steps away from Lake Superior.

We were able to fall asleep to the sound of the waves. We also had the option of a free breakfast, giant hot tub, access to laundry area and a fitness center. Best Western Plus Superior Inn is walking distance from everything you need in downtown Grand Marais. The average rate for a double queen bed room with a lake view is $200 per night winter time.

Here are some other lodging option near downtown Grand Marais:


Next, we traveled to Grand Marais right after Christmas, so we have a good idea of which places are still open that we really enjoy. We stopped at Java Moose (closed Sunday and Monday winter time) to order a breakfast sandwich and their famous Maple Lattes (the Nordic Miel with honey is delicious too!). My kids usually get the smoothies there and a Harbor Cookie.

For lunch, we made a stop at Hungry Hippie Tacos for their famous fry bread tacos. The tacos are huge, so ordering one all by itself is very filling! For dinner, we had Angry Trout. Their white fish or salmon chowder is incredible and I usually get a grilled white fish sandwich. Their kids meals are great as well. Next door is the Fisherman’s Daughter Dockside Fish Market. They also have great fish sandwiches along with a small shop you can check out- perfect for a Minnesota winter vacation by the lake.

Other delicious downtown food options are Voyageur Brewing Company, Gunflint Tavern, Sven and Ole’s and My Sister’s Place.

Grocery stores in Grand Marais are Cook County Whole Foods Co-op (my favorite & a one minute walk from Best Western Superior Inn Plus- they have ready to go meals you can buy here too!), Johnson’s Foods and Gene’s Foods.

Other places we love trying are World’s Best Donuts (which was open for a few days around Christmas time), Sydney’s Frozen Custard and Blue Water Cafe, but they were closed during our visit.


The Grand Marais area is packed with fun winter activities and hikes for it’s visitors. First off, you can still explore the harbor area and Artist’s Point beyond the coastal guard (although it does get icy, so I urge visitors to use caution). Exploring this area during the winter time is an entirely different beauty.

Second, chase some frozen waterfalls at the closest state parks to Grand Marais. These would be High Rise Falls at Grand Portage State Park (in Grand Portage, 40 minute drive north), Devil’s Kettles Falls at Judge C.R. Magney State Park (15 minute drive North), Cascade Falls at Cascade River State Park (15 min drive south). To easily access Cascade Falls, park in the small lot off Highway 61 instead.

Third, if you love snowshoeing or cross country skiing, there are plenty of options along the North Shore. About 12 minutes north of Grand Marais there is a small parking lot off Highway 61 facing Lake Superior. You can snowshoe along the Kadunce River here as well as explore the Colvill Beach.

The Pincushion Mountain Trail system offers 25 km of looping trails. You can get access right off the Gunflint Trail and a warming station and restrooms are available. Visit the Superior National Forest Website for a map. The Great Minnesota Ski Pass is required to visit these trails. You can buy a daily $10 pass online here.

Fourth, if you like to snowmobile, the North Shore State Trail has 146 miles of trails from Duluth to Grand Marais that takes you through the Northwoods and towards Lake Superior views!

Fifth, check out the Bearskin Lodge Dog Sledding experience. Each trip is 45 minutes and they go out 6 times a day (10 am, 11 am, 12 pm, 1 pm, 2 pm and 3 pm). To make a reservation, you can call 800-338-4170. I would encourage you to consider planning a visit to see the Gunflint Mail Run Sled Dog Race which usually takes place the second full weekend of January. You can read more about this here.

Sixth, you can’t forget about a visit to Lutsen Mountain Resort if you are visiting winter time! I know I have shared a lot about the amazing activities here (the gondola still runs winter time!), so click here to plan your visit!


Next, the best time of year for saunas and hot tubs is winter time! And what better opportunity for a sauna than to experience one overlooking Lake Superior, with a campfire going outside for cool down? I booked a sauna experience with Sisu and Loyly Sauna, which is a one minute walk from our hotel.

Sessions are 1.5 hours and you can book a community or private experience. Your host will let you pick out an essential oil for the water and hand you slippers and a robe. (Please note, a swimsuit is required). You’ll also be offered tea, coffee or water (I always bring water with me).

However, there are cool down areas by the campfire or you can go inside to sit by the fireplace and read. Afterwards, you can shower at the spa (shampoo and body wash is provided). Click here to book your session!

Side note: The next cozy experience on my list is the get a massage and spa experience at LutZen Massage Studios.


Last, there is still PLENTY of great downtown shopping in Grand Marais during the winter time! Below is a list of the stores we suggest you check out for awesome winter gear, style and sweet treats!

  • Lake Superior Trading Post: This store has EVERYTHING. If you are short on time, this is a one stop shop.
  • Beth’s Fudge and Gifts: Are you looking for a sentimental gift, cozy sweater or homemade fudge? Park your car here!
  • Sweetwater Co: Perhaps the most darling store in Grand Marais, this boutique offers current styles, jewelry and an adorable photo opportunity with their vintage couch.
  • North House Folk School: Besides offering neat classes, there is also a store front where you can purchase crafts made by students. It doesn’t get more authentic than this!
  • Drury Lane Books: One of the cutest and most popular book stores on the North Shore, featuring local authors as well and a great book selection for kids.
  • Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply Gear and Clothing: They offer high quality clothing and outdoor gear as well as a rental shop and year round outdoor tours.
  • Picnic & Pine: During the summer, this cheery and bright store has herbs and flowers everywhere. Inside, they have a mix of gifts, clothes and accessories.
  • Gunflint Mercantile and Candy Company: The BEST truffles I have ever tasted exist here. The moment you walk in, you can smell the truffles! My personal favorite is the maple truffle, but they have other candy options too!
  • White Pine North: This cute shop features Boundary Waters Coffee, clothing, jewelry, gifts and purses.
A beautiful sunrise over Lake Superior we watched from our hotel room.


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