I can’t tell you how many times I went back and forth about going up north for Memorial Day Weekend. It would be our first “trip” since the pandemic started and things were still feeling uneasy. After chatting with the folks at Cascade Vacation Rentals and some other Grand Marais locals, I had a better feeling in my stomach and decided to go for it and travel north. If you’re like me and was a bit nervous about your first road trip in a while make sure to check out my post on some tips for traveling during COVID.
After arriving into town late Thursday evening, we checked into our spot courtesy of Cascade Vacation Rentals and settled in for the night. We didn’t exactly know what the next day would look like for getting breakfast, coffee, etc especially with the sound and sights of road construction we noticed but we settled in still excited for the weekend. While it took a bit more planning ahead, in the end, it was the same, magical Grand Marais I’ve come to know and love.
Keep on reading about where we ate, shopped, and went during our first trip back to Grand Marais and how you can still enjoy them during this time. (It’s easier than you think) You’ve might have seen these places on my comprehensive blog post about things to do in Grand Marais, however, I’m including what you can expect if you choose to patronize these businesses during the COVID season!
Eat & Drink
Voyageur Brewery – At first Voyageur was only open for growlers, however, now they are open for seating on their patio! You do need to call ahead to make a reservation (they aren’t taking online reservations at the moment but are quick to answer the phone!) and they are doing 45 min, 1 hour, or 2-hour reservations. Enjoy a pint and their delicious cheese curds and wings! (My favorite)
Java Moose – Java moose is open daily and has TWO locations that are both open. Yes, you read that right – their outside shop located right next to Lake Superior Trading post is open for the summer! The inside shop has merchandise, beans, and food so if you’re looking for more than just a drink head there. They have their patio open too! However, if you’re looking for a quick maple latte head to their outside shop and enjoy it right on the water!
World’s Best Donuts – My favorite donut shop is open Thursdays – Mondays 6:30am until they sell out (typically around 4pm). Make sure to try their Donut kabobs – yum! 2 patrons or one family are allowed inside at a time or they have a walk-up window that works great too!
Dairy Queen – I can’t ever say no to a blizzard! Open daily, you can head inside to order (full menu available) and then wait outside and they will call out your name at their drive-thru window.
Hungry Hippie Tacos – Open Wednesday- Saturday 11-8pm (or until sold out). Take out only right now, but they have outdoor seating in front available! Head inside to order (they are quick!) and take your tacos and walk back to the beach. We grabbed an open picnic table and enjoyed the views.
Sydney’s Wood Fired Pizza – Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, otherwise open daily (but drive by to check it out) until 8pm. Full menu available but always go for the custard and pizza! A winning combo. They have a walk-up window and then take your pizza and custard to go!
Poplar Haus – Worth the drive ALWAYS! Head up the gunflint and pop in to order. You can order head or inside at their liquor store for take out and either head home or eat on their patio in the back overlooking Poplar Lake. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Blue Water Cafe – Open until around 3:30, You can order breakfast or lunch take out! We called ahead but they are allowing up to 5 people to go inside to view menus.
Grand Marais Municipal Liquor Store – Open from 11-7 the liquor store is ONLY call ahead. They are very quick and will do curbside when you arrive!
Gunflint Mercantile – Open Tuesdays – Saturday 11-5 stop here for a sweet treat while exploring! The inside is closed to the public but they have a nifty walk-up window now for the summer. Chelsea makes the most amazing truffles (maple truffle pictured above) and fudge and has so many great options! She also has ice cream on hand now and new fun specials almost daily! You can order from her website as well for curbside pickup.
The Big Lake Life – The store is open Tuesday – Saturday 11-5pm and is allowing 3-5 people in at a time, masks recommended. Check the green light to make sure you are allowed to enter or simply wait outside for the red light to turn green! They also have a walk-up window if you already know something you want or if you’re doing a local pick up.
Lake Superior Trading Post – Open daily until 5, masks required, and max 15 people in the store. Be prepared to wait in line to get in, but the wait isn’t typically too long!
Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply – Open, masks recommended – Limited amount of people but it wasn’t too busy when we popped in!
Drury Lane Books – The interior store is closed as of right now but they have a walk-up window to purchase! If you’re interested in buying a book from them, they’d be happy to help you!
Fly Box – Open regular hours! Call to see as hours may vary.
Ben Franklin – Open, but a limited amount of people. I ended up not going in here but I know they had a line waiting to get in!
Bucks Hardware Store – Open normal hours, masks required.
Grocery Stores – The grocery store are open now but masks are requires. Follow the arrows on the floor! For ease, convenience, and to avoid unnecessary stops, be prepared ahead of time and bring your own groceries!
State Parks – All of the state parks are open to explore! We checked out Cascade and Judge C Magney on our last trip. I will tell you Split Rock Lighthouse is closed to the public but you can drive down to the beach!
Putt n Pets Mini golf– Open! We didn’t get a chance to golf, but we saw it was open to the public and people were golfing.
Hiking – PLENTY OF HIKING. That is all – go do it.
Gunflint Trail – Take a drive up the gunflint – Places are starting to open up so if you’re looking for a specific spot – call ahead or research it. Lots of trails off the Gunflint too!
Kayak and Canoe rentals – Outfitters and rentals are mostly open! Stone Harbor Supply is a great resource for rentals too.
Grand Portage – As of June 8th, Grand Portage State Park is now open. However, research before you head into Grand Portage as many places are still closed off to the public.
Other places that I noticed are open *right now* (As of June 11th, 2020):
- South of the Border
- Grandma Rays
- Sven and Ole’s
- My Sister’s Place
- Harbor House Grill
- Angry Trout
Places that are scheduled to open Mid to end June:
- The Fisherman’s Daughter (formerly Dockside)
- Wunderbar Glampground and Eatery
- Upstate MN
- Gunflint Tavern
Where to Stay
I noticed SEVERAL places in Grand Marais are now open however, we love the team at Cascade Vacation Rentals – it’s so easy to book and stay! It’s really hands-free and contactless and they have a great cleaning system in place right now for the summer and beyond. They do have a new linen policy so everyone must bring their own linens and towels, but it was nice to stay in a rental rather than a hotel or motel for our first trip in awhile. They also have several rental options all along the north shore – not just solely in Grand Marais.
I hope this was helpful! I knew ahead of time to really research the places I wanted to go to in Grand Marais because I was still uncertain which places were still open, and if they were, how could I patronize their business? In the end the trip was different, but it was just as fun as any other time we’ve gone. You can see it start to pick up with people on the weekends, so know people are heading north! The town is ready to welcome you with open arms (at least 6 feet apart though) 🙂 Keep an eye on these business social pages too as I believe they will be announcing any updates as the stay safe restrictions keep changing!