North Shore & Grand Marais Minnesota

North Shore Minnesota Road Trip

It has been far too long since we visited the North Shore in our home state of Minnesota. As with most of the country, it’s been sweltering in Minneapolis, so we couldn’t wait to feel the cool air by beautiful Lady Lake Superior. And, the best part, I got to visit my long-time friend, Sara, with Urban Wild Media. We hit the popular spots on our way to Grand Marais and found some hidden gems too.

We’ve never been to the New Scenic Cafe or the world-famous Betty’s Pies, so those were both high on our list! We enjoyed the burrata with roasted tomatoes as an appetizer from the New Scenic Cafe. The cafe is so cozy and they also have tons of outdoor seating, which is really nice when traveling with our dog, Allen. He loved all the space to walk around and stretch his legs.

Then it was off to Betty’s for some burgers. We didn’t get any pie. I know, I know, we’re crazy, but we will try it next time. The burgers were fantastic and they offer gluten-free buns. Thank you, Betty! We laughed so hard when we saw the staff wearing t-shirts that said “I’m not Betty” – I’m sure they get asked that question ALL THE TIME.

Things to Do and See on the North Shore Minnesota

We tried stopping at Gooseberry Falls along the North Shore, but it felt too busy and chaotic with the dog. So, we headed to Iona’s Beach to see the pink/red rocks (watch for Iona’s Beach at mile marker 42). Then, Sara recommended that we drive up to see the Palisade Head overlook. We are so glad that she did! It is technically in Tettegouche State Park but has its own turn-off and signage, so keep a lookout for that – it can sneak up on you. This is a definite must-do. The steep hill going up to the overlook is fun and exciting; you can either walk or drive -it’s only about 1/2 mile. The views are spectacular.

We also made a quick stop at the adorable Schroeder’s Baking Company for a root beer float.

Lodging and Restaurants in Grand Marais

We were so excited to arrive in Grand Marais, our final destination for a few days. This was the first time visiting for both of us. In fact, before this trip, the furthest we had driven up the North Shore was Lutsen. We fell in love with Grand Marais. Again, I know, I know – who doesn’t, right? We stayed at the Best Western Plus – Superior Inn. This location is excellent, everything we needed was within walking distance, and the lake views are unbeatable. Allen loved our little patio.

Hotel on the North Shore in Grand Marais, Minnesota
Artist's Point Grand Marais Minnesota
View of Artist’s Point

The first night we had trouble finding food-to-go. Across the country, the restaurants are short-staffed, so if they are slammed, don’t expect to-go food. A reminder to think ahead and be respectful, hospitality teams are working so hard and doing their best.

These are always the fun moments that I remember because we end up doing something different. The Cook County Co-op is right next to the Best Western. We went there for some snacks (local insider tip from Sara – they have the best cookies!), and then we remembered that the hotel offers a nightly happy hour with pizza, salads, and more. They even have gluten-free crusts. This pizza was delicious!!

Grand Marais Things To Do

The next day, we explored the town, and Sara took me to some of her favorite spots. Did you know that this lighthouse was constructed and first lit in 1922? There is so much history here and a lot to learn about Minnesota’s roots. I loved the views of the Sawtooth Mountains from the lighthouse. Well, I should say ALL the views. The town, Lake Superior, each direction offers a beautiful view. The town is filled with charming local shops and art galleries. Plus, so many unique historic buildings and fun murals.

Lighthouse in Grand Marais Minnesota

Of course, I had to stop at World’s Best Donuts. They have yummy gluten-free muffins and one of the best gluten-free trail cookies I’ve ever tasted. Plus, they make cute tail waggin’ dog treats! I was over the top excited when I saw that Java Moose had huckleberry lemonade. If you read my Glacier National Park blog post, you know how I feel about huckleberries. 😉

Grand Marais North Shore Minnesota

A few other favorite restaurants – Gunflint Tavern (awesome ribs and mouthwatering mashed potatoes) and Sydney’s for frozen custard (Thank you, Sara!). Next time, I want to try the wood-fired pizza at Sydney’s – it looked amazing.

Before we left the next morning, I had to get one more cup of Alakef Coffee (locally roasted in Duluth) from Java Moose and take in this beautiful sunrise over Lake Superior. I miss her and Sara already!

Next, we headed up the Gunflint Trail and stayed at Poplar Haus. We can’t wait to visit again! Read more about our Poplar Haus stay:

Visit the Cook County website for more information –

Life is short, never stop searching for what stirs your soul. ❤️

Published August 2021

©Tracy Blowers

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I'm a freelance content creator and photographer. My passion is telling stories through my photography and writing. Freelancing has allowed me to fulfill my dream of traveling alongside my freelancing husband and our rescue dog. We share our experiences on our blog offering inspiration for life and travel. We hope to stir your soul from our backyard in Minnesota to road trippin’ the US!

4 thoughts on “North Shore & Grand Marais Minnesota

    1. Hi. I love Trail Center Lodge’s restaurant on the Gun Flint Trail. I don’t know about gluten free. I usually get a greasy hamburger or a walleye sandwich, but their malts are primo.

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