Main Street – Grand Marais, Minnesota

Grand Marais (French for Great Marsh) (map), on the North Shore of Lake Superior, has the benefit of being primarily a tourist town (the “coolest” small town in America, apparently). It’s nominal population of over 13oo belies its importance as a regional hub in the summer for tens of thousands of vacationing Minnesotans. The core of the town is only a few blocks, but it abuts Lake Superior, and so most of the downtown is within two blocks of the waterfront. There is a co-op grocery, a handful of restaurants, another handful of bars, two pharmacies (that collude on their operating hours and are incapable of actually filling prescriptions — you have been forewarned), some gas stations, as well as hotels and apartments. At the confluence of the Highway 61 running along Lake Superior and the Gunflint Trail (which connects circuitously to Seagull Lake), it is the most active place along Highway 61 between Two Harbors and Thunder Bay (and arguably, more active than the latter). It is also the County Seat of Cook County, Minnesota.

There are lots of people out and about on a Saturday afternoon. The core of downtown is south of Highway 61, and is quite walkable, with preference for pedestrian, but not much traffic between the Highway and the Lake except for people parking and unparking their cars. Sven and Ole’s local pizza (Minnesota-style, in case you were concerned about too much spice) is mobbed.

 

Can't be a respectable Main Street without pennants livening it up.

Can’t be a respectable Main Street without pennants livening it up.

Grand Marais Liquor Store, Proudly featuring local craft beers

Grand Marais Liquor Store, Proudly featuring local craft beers

Cook County WholeFoods Co-op. Twin Citizens will feel at home.

Cook County WholeFoods Co-op. Twin Citizens will feel at home.

The Grand Marais Lake Front

The Grand Marais Lake Front

Public Parking at the Grand Marais Co-op

Public Parking at the Grand Marais Co-op

Free Parking is copious in Grand Marais

Free Parking is copious in Grand Marais

Bookstore with important dog accommodation instructions

Bookstore with important dog accommodation instructions

World's Best Donuts - Grand Marais, Minnesota

World’s Best Donuts – Grand Marais, Minnesota. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

S. Bally General Blacksmithing. Horse-Shoeing Wagons Plows and Farm Machinery

S. Bally General Blacksmithing. Horse-Shoeing Wagons Plows and Farm Machinery

Historical Industrial Building in Grand Marais

Historical Industrial Building in Grand Marais


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9 Responses to Main Street – Grand Marais, Minnesota

  1. Adam Froehlig
    Adam Froehlig September 14, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    Of note: Grand Marais is also the only incorporated municipality in Cook County.

  2. Walker Angell
    Walker Angell September 14, 2015 at 9:31 am #

    Grand Marias (and North House Folk School) is one of my favorite places.

    They’re working on making it more pedestrian friendly and softening hi way 61: http://aflandarc.com/otb/gm-61cip/

    The Gitchi-Gami state trail, a protected bikeway that will extend from Duluth to Grand Marais along the lake is slowly getting filled in. http://www.ggta.org/map.php

  3. sheldon mains September 14, 2015 at 11:49 am #

    Camping in GM for two weeks– last weekend was the WTIP Radio Waves outdoor music festival– 30 acts– all but one from Northern MN or WI. Great music– all for $40 per person. Next weekend is North House’s Unplugged series– three nights of great concerts in a tent next to the harbor Much more expensive– $40 per concert . We expect great music.

    Also, Grand Marias is an official “Bike Friendly City” (League of American Cyclists)

  4. Eric Anondson
    Eric Anondson September 14, 2015 at 1:08 pm #

    “… two pharmacies (that collude on their operating hours and are incapable of actually filling prescriptions — you have been forewarned) …”

    Yeesh!

  5. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke September 14, 2015 at 1:51 pm #

    A propos… Everyone should take the Strong Towns “name that speed” quiz: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2011/8/30/name-that-speed.html?rq=grand%20marais

    Answers here: http://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2011/9/1/looking-outside-the-lines.html?rq=grand%20marais

  6. Ben Franske September 14, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    “… two pharmacies (that collude on their operating hours and are incapable of actually filling prescriptions — you have been forewarned) …” I only rarely get to Grand Marais, details please!

  7. David Levinson
    David Levinson September 14, 2015 at 5:22 pm #

    1. Pharmacy A is open Saturday morning, not Saturday afternoon. Pharmacy B is open Saturday afternoon, not Saturday morning. Both are closed late Saturday and Sunday.
    2. Pharmacy B could fill a prescription for basic antibiotics on the weekend, because [insert excuse here] “the computers were down”. We didn’t realize drugs were made out of computers.

  8. Alex September 14, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    No mention of the Charles Babcock memorial? https://gettingaroundmpls.wordpress.com/2012/01/26/traveling-in-moderation-grand-marais/

    Are there any other memorials to Charles Babcock in Minnesota (besides the legislatively-hobbled highway system of course)?

    I may be wrong, but it looks like it will survive the 61 streetscaping Walker links to above. Which is nice, because the Gunflint trail gate is a delightful hunk of kitsch.

    As long as I’m self-promoting, streets.mn has spotlighted Grand Marais before:

    http://streets.mn/2013/12/02/2013-best-minnesota-county-seat/

  9. Jon September 15, 2015 at 3:59 pm #

    That World’s Best Donuts claim is not exaggeration.