If you board your boat to seek adventure, desire scenic views and quaint towns, and need friendly, familiar customer service, we’ve found the marina for you.
With the hustle and bustle of the south shore, boaters may miss the gem nestled along Minnesota’s north shore of Lake Superior. Just 50 miles from Isle Royale and the Apostle Islands, Grand Marais Marina offers adventure with rocky, rugged charm.
Parks Manager Dave Tersteeg describes the marina as neighborly, downtown, and Minnesota-nice. He tries to make everyone’s time in Grand Marais as pleasant as possible. He’s even driven boaters to the nearby laundromat.
“I’ll move boats around to fit everyone in,” Tersteeg shared. “I’m a boater so I like that kind of service when I travel.”
Grand Marais Marina is municipal. The city owns and operates the recreation area, which includes a 300-site park and campground and the marina of 30 slips, offering quality over quantity. Their 30 slips hold 22 larger boats and provide electric water and plenty of depth underneath them. The remaining eight slips contain smaller fishing boats.
Tersteeg runs the parks, but he isn’t your ordinary parks manager — he’s also the boat master.
“I have to look after everything – camping, ball fields and golf courses – the boats are like my break,” Tersteeg said. “When I need a break in my busy day I go down to the docks and hang out with the boaters. Or when someone calls for fuel, rather than sending someone of my staff, I’ll grab it just because it’s a break and I can go hang out with my people.”
Dock & Walk
“Our location right downtown is the real charm,” Tersteeg said. “You just dock and walk to all the downtown attractions.”
The appeal of the town is right at your fingertips. Walking right will lead you to their lighthouse, which is fully accessible and well-kept. Nearby sits the Lighthouse Keeper’s Museum, a cabin filled with early trapping artifacts and maritime history.
Walking left leads you on a trail to Artist’s Point, a must-see for any boaters looking for a beautiful harbor view. The lookout is a large chunk of rock that, some people say, painters visited to gather inspiration. Today, tourists look west to see the crashing waves, a beautiful mountain and the east side of Grand Marais Marina.
Grand Marais administers mooring balls to its boaters so photographers capturing the view see a classic, picturesque harbor scene.
A Tight Niche
During the day, boaters can explore the town’s attractions from fudge shops and souvenirs to a pizza parlor and the World’s Best Donuts shop. At night, bands play on the rooftops and the summer festivities commence.
Tersteeg said he doesn’t describe Grand Marais as wilderness or quiet, but a hip, summery town.
“Lake Superior is a pretty big lake, but the boating community is a pretty tight niche,” Tersteeg stated. “I see the same boats every year and the same couples; they’re sort of like my summer friends. It’s a really fun vibe because they haven’t been here for a while. So they can hardly wait to be here and they really celebrate.”
Grand Marais is the place to be during what locals call ‘the bite.’ When the lake temperature jumps from 40 to 60 degrees fish float on the surface, especially salmon. Anywhere from mid-July to late August when the water heats up, Grand Marais Marine is packed with visiting boats hoping to catch a prize.
“In the fish cleaning station, we go from emptying the gut pail once a day to morning, noon and night,” Tersteeg marveled. “So we know when the bite is on by how often we have to empty the pail.”
Along with the bite, this summer Grand Marais Marina will host its third annual Lake Superior International Race. Racing boats travel from the Minnesota marina to Thunder Bay Marina in Canada, 77 nautical miles. This race is one of the oldest annual races on Lake Superior, but the course has been changed many times over the years. Tersteeg said he loves being involved with the race.
“The atmosphere is just tremendous,” Tersteeg said. “I wish we could do it every weekend.”
With plenty to see and do, Grand Marais Marina is a destination you may never have heard of, but will soon be one of your favorite spots. This little boater’s paradise is the perfect place for your summer getaway. Even if it’s not your main destination, it’s a pit stop worth making.
“It’s a special spot,” Tersteeg said. “Grand Marais is Minnesota’s favorite little town.”
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Grand Marais Marina