Visiting Grand Marais, MN
It is another owl irruption year in northern Minnesota, and owls are flying down from the ice-packed Canadian snow. People are seeing several kinds of owls, as mentioned in this post by photographer Paul Sundberg (scroll down past the brave souls surfing in frigid Lake Superior). So, I am inspired to write a little more about Grand Marais to accompany my Minnesota Booking Across the USA post that will be live on Feb. 25th, as part of the Booking Across the USA blog hop series which will include all 50 states.
In the past two weeks we have sighted one Great Gray Owl, 4 Eagles, two hairy woodpeckers, two downy woodpeckers, many black-capped chickadees, several Pileated Woodpeckers, and heard a Cooper’s hawk. Bird-watching is great in the northwoods.
While we live in Grand Marais, MN, and it occurs to me that not everyone does! This is a tourist town so many people visit this area. Hiking, biking, climbing, skiing, cross-country skiing, canoeing, kayaking, camping, rock hunting, and owl watching await the visitors to Grand Marais. The North House Folk School in Grand Marais has owl watching classes. I held a long-eared owl at a (cold) night program at Hawk Ridge a few years ago.
Grand Marais is a harbor town on Lake Superior, and has beautiful sunsets and sunrises. The lighthouses in the photo are hard to see, but this is view of the harbor from downtown Grand Marais. In the summer, it is a great place to practice rock skipping. The North Shore Dragon Boat Festival is held here at the end of July each year. This is a link to the Harbor Cam. Grand Marais has many local artists and so the ARROWHEAD REGIONAL ARTS COUNCIL is very important. There are many art fairs, such as the ANNUAL GRAND MARAIS ARTS FESTIVAL the second weekend annually in July. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area is not too far away, either.
There is dog sledding here in the winter, with several events such as MUSH FOR THE CURE, a sled dog FUNdraiser to find a cure for breast cancer. The mushers wear pink. The Beargrease marathon has the name of John Beargrease, as he and his brothers ran mail from Two Harbors to Grand Marais for 20 years from 1879-1899. This was before roads were available.
I was able to make this video of a Pileated Woodpecker in our yard during one winter. There are more videos of Pileated Woodpeckers on my YouTube channel, all made in Grand Marais.
There are several local children’s authors such as Betsy Bowen and Kelly Dupre. One book Betsy Bowen is known for is ANTLER BEAR CANOE, and one Kelly Dupre is known for is A RAVEN’S GIFT: A TRUE STORY FROM GREENLAND. Betsy Bowen illustrated a book about raptors at Hawk Ridge in Duluth.
Have you ever seen this bumper sticker? It is seen around the United States, and is from a pizza restaurant in Grand Marias, MN. Friends of ours have seen it in Washington state, for example. This is one of the kid-friendly attractions in this town. If you don’t have your own bumper sticker, you will be happy to know Swen and Ole’s gives one free in each box of pizza.
Grand Marais has family friendly eating establishments such as Subway and DQ, many restaurants such as My Sister’s Place, and places to eat all along Highway 61 and the Gunflint Trail. This is a link to an article about Food and Drink: North Shore Eats by Rick Nelson of the StarTribune newspaper from Minneapolis. Pie, anyone? Try the Pie Place with a full menu and a view of the harbor. Or eat at the Angry Trout (summers only) and perhaps see the local otters play for dinner entertainment. Informal dining with an outside deck is available at the Dockside Fish Market.
When you are on the North Shore, books about agates and rock collection are a must for the children. There are ample opportunities for rock collecting on the rocky shore of Lake Superior. The Drury Lane Book store has one of everything for adults, and reminds me of a library. For children, there is somewhat more of a selection.
Birch Bark Gallery has books, art, women’s clothing, music CDs, toys, and gifts.
After all the hiking and biking and climbing, some coffee or hot chocolate might be in order. The Java Moose goes all out for its customers!
Finally, a souvenir of the visit will be in order, so a visit to the Gunflint Mercantile will help with that. Fudge (all year long), truffles, hand made aprons, jams, jellies, soup mixes and so much more are available at this friendly shop.
There is so much more I could tell you. I would have to write several books to share everything. We hope you will like Grand Marais as much as we do! I’ll leave you with a photo of the rocky North Shore this winter!
Thank you so much for reading, Carolyn Wilhelm