Being from the northern part of the country, it sometimes seems funny that we city folk have an insatiable desire to venture more north. But given any excuse to grab some hiking boots, cozy layers and a full tank of gas, we will point ourselves due north for a relaxing weekend.
Between busy work schedules, volunteering and social commitments, I've made a pact with some friends that every fall, we will take some time for quality R&R at a cabin to the north. For the past two years, we've headed to Grand Marais, MN. Just a stone's throw to the Canadian border, Grand Marais has been voted #1 place to live in the US. A quaint little town with all the necessities: coffee, donuts, ice cream, and adventure.
We've decided that what brought our group together was primarily faith and food. Any getaway weekend is incomplete without a sprawling menu of tasty eats. If the kitchen is the heart of the home, cooking together is the heart of our crew. This weekend was no exception. We nibbled on apple cider pancakes (with homemade caramel apple syrup), warm-you-up spicy chili and a full southern breakfast with cheesy grits, pecan muffins, two kinds of sausage, bacon and scrambled eggs. All topped off with the creamiest custard from Sydney's Frozen Custard.
Whether you're passing through town on route to a hiking adventure or looking for a spot to cozy up in the foggy morning, World's Best Donuts and Java Moose are a must. Finding just the right mix of small town charm and satisfying the need for daily caffeine fix, we have usually found ourselves visiting these fine establishments rather frequently during our weekend stay. On this trip, we had filled our schedule with so many tasty homemade treats, we only stopped in before we hit the road for home.
When gathering a mix of ten 20 and 30-something adults, agreeing on activities can sometimes pose a challenge. For some, R&R may mean actual rest and relaxation whereas to others it may mean strapping on those hiking boots and channeling their best John Muir; thankfully, Grand Marais has a little something for everyone!
Strolling through town, there are tons (tons for a small town, ok?) of shops to discover Northwoods art, camping/outdoor accessories and home furnishings. My favorite little spot to stop in is Upstate MN. Perfectly curated goods at very reasonable prices. I scooped up some teak spoons here last year and challenged myself to a black-to-white gradient puzzle this year. That'll be an adventure on its own.
After your fill of perusing local goods, you can easily wander out to the Grand Marais lighthouse and Artist's Point. This trip was characterized by actual rest and relaxation so we wound up soaking up the sun and sights out on the Artist's Point peninsula. Best part? You could actually see our cabin from the lighthouse!
By lunchtime, we sluggishly returned to our cabin. If not wandering through town, downing some freshly brewed coffee or whipping up some delectable grub in the kitchen, we found ourselves in a heated game of Monopoly. I can't recall the last time playing Monopoly so this was an experience. We're still kind of laughing that the majority of the weekend was spent at the kitchen table negotiating hotel deals. But it was just what we needed.
Ahh, bless the invention of AirBnB and VRBO. We found a lovely little cabin on AirBnB this year and was so surprised that it was located right in town! It housed 10 people...would I say it housed 10 people comfortably? Maybe not my go-to word, but it had everything we needed: a place to rest our head and a kitchen big enough for all of us.
We've now stayed right in town and "up the hill and through the woods." There were perks to both but I did love the ability to turn everything off and calm the mind when we were staying in the woods last year. Our cabin this year was located right next to Voyager Brewpub, which offered some great entertainment as we could see the rooftop from our cabin deck...and the reactions of the patrons when we flew the GoPro drone overhead.
All photos taken with an iPhone 6+ and edited with VSCO.
In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is SIMPLICITY.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow