The focus of Grand Marais  cultural life is the Arrowhead Center for the Arts (51 5th St. W., 218/387-1284, www.arrowheadcenterforthearts.org ). The $3.5 million complex—hosting theater, concerts, and more—has made locals proud and many other cities a little envious.
The Grand Marais Playhouse (Broadway & 5th St., 218/387-1284, www.grandmaraisplayhouse.com ) is a big part of the performance schedule, with a fall season packed with community theater favorites.
Since 1947, the Grand Marais Art Colony (120 3rd Ave. W., 218/387-2737, www.grandmaraisartcolony.org , 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Mon.–Sat.) has proved a creative haven for area artists. Housed in a white clapboard church, it offers workshops in everything from painting to glass blowing and hosts exhibitions open to the curious public.
If you plan ahead, you can combine your trip with a class at the North House Folk School (500 Hwy. 61 W., 218/387-9762, www.northhousefolkschool.org ). People come from all over the country to learn woodworking, outdoor skills, textile arts, and much more.
For nightlife your best bet is the cozy Gun Flint Tavern (111 Wisconsin St. W., 218/387-1563, www.gunflinttavern.com , 11 a.m.–1 a.m. daily), which has a rollicking round of live blues, jazz, and reggae on weekends and an open stage on Wednesdays. They keep a dozen microbrews on tap and serve wine by the glass.
You can rack your brain over a pizza during the Thursday-night trivia contest at Sven and Ole’s (9 Wisconsin St. W., 218/387-1713, www.svenandoles.com , 11 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, $3–21).
During the Fisherman’s Picnic, held the first weekend in August, the townsfolk battle it out in log sawing, rock skipping, and loon calling, while gorging themselves on fish burgers.
Field trips and speakers during the Boreal Birding Festival, held the first weekend of June, center around the returning migration.
Lake Superior gets a touch of color the last weekend of July during the North Shore Dragon Boat Festival (218/387-2372, www.northshoredragonboat.com ).