Cosy looking wood-shingled beach shacks line the grassy dunes of the Lake Superior coastline in Grand Marais, standing guard against the passage of time.
In the centre of town you’ll find a Post Office Museum, an antique but still-working gas pump, and the historic Pickle Barrel House that is exactly what it sounds like.
During the era of the lumber-barons, Grand Marais was a bustling town boasting of opera houses and social clubs. Its hey-day has long passed, but after driving through miles of wilderness, coming into the quaint little town of Grand Marais still feels like entering a metropolis.
There’s one of everything you need here, and nothing more. But when you’re surrounded by some of the most stunning parks in the country, you don’t need any more than that.
Grand Marais stands at the Eastern Gate to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and is just a short drive from Tahquamenon. In warm weather, you can easily access the state’s best boating, hiking, and kayaking from here. When the temperature drops, the area transforms into a winter wonderland for cross country skiiers, snow mobilers, and ice climbers.
We used the Historic Hotel Grand Marais as our base while exploring the Pictured Rocks. It’s right in the centre of town, a stone’s throw from either the tavern or the beach, and is fully kitted out with everything you could need during your trip.
It’s effortlessly retro and fresh and Michigander all at the same time, in a way that I wish more places in the region were.
The walls are dotted with quotes from the work of Jim Harrison, who would come here to hunt and fish. The lights are crafted from old kerosene lamps and telephones. There is plaid and deer to be found, but not so much that it beats you over the head.
We walked in and immediately felt at home. Stu and Pam, the couple that run the hotel and adjacent gallery, even left chocolates and a bottle of wine out next to the guestbook for us.
The set up of the hotel is as a kind of mother-in-law suite. There are two bedrooms, the first a more feminine queen bed in blue…
…and the second a more rustic room with two twins.
Historic Hotel Grand Marais truly is a hidden gem. You can rent it by the night, week, or even month by special arrangement.
I personally loved all of the details that made this place unique, such as the herringbone walls in the bedrooms and collection of vintage coffee mugs in the kitchen. The owners, Stu and Pam, live just upstairs in case you need anything, but they’ve spent so long thinking of everything before you arrive that I doubt you will.
It just about broke my heart to have to leave Grand Marais, but for now I’ll console myself with the knowledge that I’ll definitely be back.