I adore all things kitsch: oversized fish monuments, festivals dedicated to seasonal crops, antique junk shops. They all speak to my inner tourist, which only seems to emerge in my home state of Minnesota.
Fall is the best season to enjoy all the kitschy goodness of the north woods, as well as the colorful chorus of changing leaves. In late September, tourists have started dying off, and the yokels can finally have a real hootenanny. I recently ventured up the shore to Grand Marais, the kitschiest of the kitschiest. It’s the North Shore’s answer to Wisconsin’s Bayfield: a Currier and Ives storybook town set against the massive blue life-force of Lake Superior.
There are organic co-ops, canoe outfitters and bait shops. Obscure art galleries, lawn decor exhibitions, and giant murals of fancy-free black bears dancing. There’s a wonderful restaurant called the Gunflint Tavern, where you can sit with a pint and ponder the meaning of life or what to order for lunch (I prescribe the walleye sandwich, by the way).
After wandering the streets and skipping rocks, you might get in your automobile and meander south on Highway 61. If it’s not too late in the day, you’ll stop at Temperance River State Park for an hourlong inland hike on the Superior Hiking Trail. You will swoon over the scenery.
I think Sven and Ole would approve.