Alright. Everyone knows that vacations can be super fun. While big city explorations have been the better part of most of my destinations for the past 10 years, I was incredibly excited for this North Shore adventure. Maybe I'm getting old, or maybe Minnesota is just that awesome.
A month ago, I took a trip to NYC. While it was great seeing my friends and doing all the familiar things I love doing, I found myself missing trees, space, fresh air, anything green. Now it seems photos of landscapes are much more fun than cityscapes.
Lake Superior and the entire North Shore area are incredibly breathtaking. As a not-entirely-outdoorsy person who loves nature but is a bit ADHD and likes being clean, I found no shortage of great things to do. It helps to have a partner who says "nope" to the incline on the hiking trail when that's exactly what you were thinking.
The city can sometimes narrow your view of life- what it is all about and what's important.
Alarm clock-> Commute -> work -> computer -> ugh yogurt for lunch again -> computer -> text husband to see what he's making for dinner -> eat stir fry -> walk the dog -> hit the pillow -> repeat with the occasional Target run.
Stepping away from the rigors and sense of immediacy that always reside in the city reminded me how much I tried getting away from things like nature and slowness growing up. Sure, there were more corn fields than forests and more tiny lakes than one Great Lake, but all the same, many of us aspired to be surrounded by tall buildings and thousands of people. Maybe living in the city and having 20 choices for brunch isn't everything. However, economic development and opportunities are cool.
During our time in Grand Marais, the locals are definitely making rural and nature cool again. OMG. People didn't even lock. up. their. bikes.
How do I describe the 20-30 somethings in Grand Marais? Hipsters? Authentic Hipsters?
Hipster Authenticity Scale
Grand Marais Hipster > Minneapolis Hipster > Brooklyn Hipster
So what exactly did we do on the North Shore besides have the best time EVER?
Roadtrip from Saint Paul to Lutsen = approx. four hours.
- Lunch at Northern Waters Smokehouse for sandwiches. We stopped on the way back as well because it was so delicious. Order the Sitka Sushi Sandwich. You'll want to hug me for giving you this recommendation.
-Obligatory stop at Duluth Pack (right next door) for last minute hiking and hipster camouflage (plaid) purchases.
More road trip fun on the way:
-Scenic Drive is pretty meh in my opinion. Do this only to kill time.
-Betty's Pies World Famous is a great little place to get out get some sugar for the last leg of the trip. You probably cannot go wrong with any of the selections here- I'll go ahead and recommend the banana cream pie. Upon entering, you'll also be greeted with a sign telling you to check your firearms at the door.. so do that.
Lutsen Resort/surrounding area:
-Lutsen Resort is great because they have free activities with your stay. We kayaked on Lake Superior, roasted marshmallows over their fires and enjoyed the jacuzzi. They also offer guided hikes, stand up paddle boarding, trail runs, and fly fishing (some of which we could not do because of the weather).
-Cascade River State Park is super beautiful and has different trails with varying degrees of difficulty. There are so many state parks in the area. Get crazy and check them all out.
Grand Marais (mostly food)
-World's Best Donuts is an absolute must- especially on the day the rain doesn't let you do other things. These donuts aren't frilly or topped with bacon, they're just delicious without the 3,000 toppings. They reminded me of the small-town bakery donuts my grandma would bring us on Sundays. You should probably try them all, but we were fond of The Skizzle and the cream filled Long Johns.
-Blue Water Cafe is one of our favorites. Similar to World's Best Donuts, there's nothing fancy about this place but it does home-style food right. No small plates, just big blue ones. The biggest draw here is the broasted chicken followed by their open-faced turkey sandwich. Both are really fantastic after a day of exploring or snowboarding.
-The Angry Trout lunch was also a bit obligatory for us. You can see the boat that brings in the fish that arrives at your table and you get to order off menus with cardboard covers. There's no doubt you're eating never frozen fish.
-North House Folk School was hosting their Wooden Boat Show for Grand Marais' Summer Solstice Festival. It was neat.
-Grand Marais Lighthouse is a fun walk. Before smart phones, you could walk the tiny pathway over the water and ask things like: Do they still use this? Did they stop? Why? How did someone get out here in the dead of winter? Anyways, wear good shoes and be aware that this pathway is only one dog wide.
-Drury Lane Books is an independent bookstore that has such charm and is perfect if you forgot reading materials. A trip to the North Shore is the perfect time to read down that reading list of yours.
Tell me what you do on the North Shore! Better yet, post photos!
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