Downtown Grand Marais, home to the famous Lake Superior and the 2 bays that form it, got its quaint name from French Settlers who termed the village Great Marsh which was once present but has also been said to mean “sheltered water area,” due to the natural break wall which served as a refuge in early centuries.
There is always something to do and see in Grand Marais and this Upper Peninsula gem of a location is a must-see stop on your travels, now all you need to do is to find the perfect places to stay in Grand Marais and this is where we come in. Finding the top spot to rest your head while on vacation is not tricky when you have all the options and information at hand, and this is why we want to show you what they are.
Best Area to Stay in Grand Marais
Nestled on the south shore of Lake Superior, this historic village has attractions and sightseeing excursions suited to every season, attractions for all ages and demographics, and accommodation options tailored for all budgets.
Whether you are looking for something to explore outdoors and be immersed in nature, or take a stroll through bespoke boutiques and enjoy the local cuisine and community, there is something that will appeal to everyone, and Grand Marais will soon become your new favorite destination to unwind and relax from the everyday stresses and work deadlines.
We will take a quick look at the various areas of Cook County working from North to South along the coastline which in itself is iconic and picturesque.
- Grand Portage – Located on the North Shore of Lake Superior, a few hours’ drive from central Grand Marais, and was once a central distribution and rendezvous point for international trades.
- Grand Marais Downtown – A buzzing hub for local and touring artists showing their flair and creativity to visitors, and one of the reasons why this town has won multiple awards for friendly and creative talents and beach destinations as well.
- Lutsen/Tofte – Situated right on the lake, not packed to capacity with tourists making it the ideal getaway escape for you and a loved one, and is great for winter activities.
Each location offers a unique and adventurous experience, and visiting the various stops along the coast is a great way to enjoy the hustle and the tranquility that the area boasts.
Thinking about where to stay in Grand Marais Michigan is an easy choice, and beginning in the beautiful northern area of grand portage will help you start your vacation off on the right foot.
Grand Portage is home to the tallest waterfall in the state with an impressive 37-meter drop which you can enjoy and marvel at on the footpath which makes up Grand portage. It stretches 8.5 miles long and sees the Pigeon River flow into what we know as Lake Superior.
Interesting fact, the name derives from a place where equipment and canoes are carried overland, a portage, and pays homage to the great fur trade that was so vibrant at the time of the Native Americans.
Top Accommodation: Rated by top stars and reviews in the area
- Courtyard by Marriott Kalamazoo Portage (3 stars, 7.7 good ratings, 8.7 for location) – A top Michigan hotel offering free Wi-Fi and parking to all guests, traditional American cuisine dinner and breakfast served from the on-site Bistro, and if the weather outside is not favorable you can still take a dip in the indoor pool. Enjoy a hot Starbucks coffee (the brand of choice) before heading out to the town center only 10 minutes away.
- Towneplace Suites Kalamazoo (3 stars, 7.3 good ratings, 8.4 for location) – couples particularly favored this location giving it a 9.2 for exclusivity so if being alone with your other half for a romantic moment is on the cards, this is the place to be. Enjoy a complimentary buffet breakfast every morning, and use the on-site pool and fitness center to stay on track with your healthy activities. Just because you are on vacation doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the amenities of a well-equipped gym.
- Lakefront Retreat on Long Lake (3 stars, 10 exceptional ratings, 8.2 booking review) – Enjoy a whole property to yourself and the family may be just what the doctor ordered, you can relax and unwind in your own space and not have to be down for breakfast or back to the property for dinner due to set times, you can come and go as you please. A view unlike any other, right on the water, what better way to wake up to start the day, or listen to the lapping water as you drift off to sleep. Everything you need for your home away while on vacation.
Top sightseeing: Rated by traveler’s favorites
- Grand Portage National Monument – Traveler’s choice award for 2022, the National Monument is not something you want to miss when visiting Grand Portage, even if you are just driving through it is well worth a stop. Learn all about the culture and the fur trade that was so prominent at the time, see ancient artifacts, and see how people of that era lived and survived.
- High Falls – Waterfalls iconic to the area will certainly be on the list, and High Falls is one of the better spots. The beauty of Mother Nature can be witnessed during all seasons and is just as picturesque in summer as it is in winter. See the spray from the water, hear the sound of the drop, there is nothing more tranquil than being up close and personal with falling water designed so well.
- Grand Portage Isle Royale Transportation Lines – The name might not be something you would initially consider a sightseeing excursion, but seeing Grand Portage from the water is a different experience. Of course, you need to dress warm and well to be out on the open waters, but with lunch on board a cruise boat, what more could you want while hearing the tales and stories of the past.
Top Attractions: Rated by traveler’s must-see recommendations
- Grand Portage State Park – This is a great way to spend half a day outdoors, with a 2-3 hours experience you can enjoy the Ojibwe tribe-managed park at its best. Even in winter when the mountainside is covered in white dust the roar of the falls never ends, stroll along the pathways and trails as you embrace nature and clear your mind. Even if you are new to the area the walks and paths are well signed along the way, but be sure to bring a rain jacket as you near the waters if you don’t want to get wet.
- Ryden’s Border Store – Not your typical stop while on vacation but a must for local and beautifully handmade trinkets and souvenirs to remember your trip by. Great prices which are always appreciated when on holiday, and a top spot to have a social media photo moment with the iconic bear. Take home something for the family and loved ones and enjoy a brilliant view while doing so.
Grand Marais Downtown
If adventure, fun-filled days and nights, and an explosion of creativity sounds like the ideal trip for you then the center of Grand Marais is where you need to be. Budget Travel Magazine voted this quaint town one of America’s coolest small towns, and that alone draws in the tourists, not to mention the Next Great adventure Award given by National Geographic Adventure Magazine, how can you afford to skip out on this experience.
Sitting nicely between Lake Superior and the Sawtooth Mountains, Grand Marais has been attracting tourists for centuries, and increasingly so as artists and musicians put down roots for several months and years here as they find their inspiration and hone their creative talents and spirit.
Top Accommodation – Rated from the lowest stars for a more affordable sleep
- East Bay Suites (3 stars, 9.1 superb ratings, 9.8 for location) – You can almost feel the water spraying mist onto you from the deck area of the property, views that are incredible, practically indescribable, and there is no better way to start the day than sipping a hot coffee and seeing the sunrise with no obstructions. Just clear ocean and the horizon. A BBQ area is available on site and all guests enjoy complimentary WI-FI and parking.
- Thomsonite Inn on Lake Superior (8.0 very good ratings, 10.0 for location) – The ultimate spot to do nothing but relax and soak up nature. Right on the water, this property has everything you need if you want like hiking and cycling which can be enjoyed nearby, or simply sit and watch the changing sky in the outdoor picnic area.
- Poplar Creek Guesthouse (9.8 exceptional ratings, 9.2 for location) – Getting away from it all is easy when you have great properties like this with a private beach area to soak up the sun in peace. Or take the bikes available on site for a slow cycle through the trees and forest area to get close to nature and enjoy the beauty firsthand. And to get your day started right, breakfast is served daily and is not for the faint-hearted with generous portions.
Top sightseeing – Rated by not to be missed by travelers
- Grand Marais Lighthouse – Initiated in 1879 this spot is unbeatable for flawless memory photos and a clear ocean backdrop that people won’t believe to be real if you had to show them. What tourists comment on when visiting the structure is that it is beautiful from far and just as much as you approach and get right up close to it. Towering over the sea, it is a great place to rest your legs and breathe in the crisp sea air.
- Artist Point – Rated 4.9 out of 5 by visitors for its beautifully jagged scenery and which is why artists and amateur painters alike flock to its shoreline to catch a glimpse of its beauty and somehow transform it into an art piece to be remembered. The variation of colors and rock formations serves as the perfect artistic inspiration.
- Pincushion Mountain Trail System – An outdoor adventurers’ ultimate excursion, and there are paths and trails suited to all skill levels so whether you like to hike to the top of the highlands or simply walk through nature, there is a pathway for you.
Top Attractions in Grand Marais Downtown
- Historic Cook County Museum – Built-in 1896 this once lighthouse keeper’s residence has over 50000 historic memorabilia to marvel at and learn about, and the history and development of the North Shore Region are beautifully exhibited and displayed throughout the museum.
- Sven and Ole’s Pizza – An out-of-the-box attraction but is a household name when it comes to great-tasting food. If you want to refuel throughout the day this restaurant is a must-stop visit. Handmade pizzas are made fresh daily and you can taste the quality of the ingredients making the pizzas mouthwateringly irresistible.
Lutsen – Tofte
No matter when or what time of the year you want to visit there is something great and fun to do and experience in Lutsen -Tofte. This area on Lake Superiors Shore offers plenty of outdoor activities and adventures. Unwind, relax, and most importantly rejuvenate along the coast, and let the quaint town of Grand Marais soothe your soul.
You may not be up for hiking and trailing every day so why not immerse yourself in the local cuisines and beverages, and taste everything from locally made to nationally hones dishes. Every pallet is catered for and you will not go hungry.
Top Accommodation: Rated by top reviews of visitors
- The Historic Lutsen Lodge (3 stars, 7.9 good ratings, 9.4 for location) – Everything a man could want for outdoor adventuring from fishing to canoeing or even a round of golf, if you enjoy the outdoors you have come to the right place. There is a pub and a spa on-site, and unlike most properties, it also has an ATM so you don’t need to worry about driving miles to find one.
- Lutsen Sea Villas (8.9 Fabulous ratings, 9.8 for location) – Often we wish we could bring our four-legged friends with us when going on vacation, well now you can. Finding a place to stay in Grand Marais with a pet is one less thing to worry about. The property welcomes furry family members and with a private beach area, your pet can run free and enjoy their holiday just as much as you do.
- Cliff Dweller on Lake Superior (2 stars, 8.9 fabulous ratings, 9.5 for location) – Situated on the edge of the Superior National Forest all guests can enjoy a balcony with a view to die for. Continental breakfast is served daily and golf in the summer or skiing in the winter is only a 5 minutes drive from the property.
Top sightseeing: Rated by traveler’s favorite activities
- Lutsen Mountain Summit Express – A mountainside gondola with breathtaking views, enjoy the color arrangements of the tree tops in autumn or take a ride up only to enjoy a thrilling ski down, great for the entire family.
- Cascade River – Great to walk or hike around the river seeing the water in various flows and strengths, you don’t need to be an expert to complete the trail and is the best way to stay fit and active while enjoying nature.
- North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum – The greatest way to see how and why Lake Superior is so sought after for fishing. Not only is the entrance fee unbeatable at just $3 for adults, but the short film available on the tour is so informative and not to be skipped. A bespoke museum that has more than meets the eye.
Top Attractions: Rated by traveler rankings
- North Shore Winery – What is a holiday if you don’t make a stop at the local brewery or winery? See and taste the local wines and ciders here and take some home with you to enjoy later. They also make for great gifts. And who doesn’t love spending an afternoon sipping locally made wine, right?
- Woodlands Spa at Caribou Highlands – Relax and unwind after a long drive or flight at the spa where hot stone massages and essential oils will be just what you need to begin your vacation feeling fresh and rejuvenated. Enjoy the ambiance and shake the stress away.
- Sawbill Canoe Outfitters – The wilderness up close and personal, and what better way than on the water, in a canoe, and soaking up the sunshine in the process. Get the family out of the hotel, and into the outdoors, and it is a great activity for the whole family to get involved in. Suitable for experts or first-timers, a must-try activity.
Visiting Grand Marais is sure to be unforgettable, travelers and tourists have raved about the essence of the community, the welcoming nature and spirit of the locals, and have mentioned they would certainly revisit the area soon.
Make this a stop on your vacation to see what you have been missing out on.