Last year, Duluth celebrated its designation as “Best Town Ever” by Outside magazine. The splashy cover image and write-up of the port city in the September issue sparked interest in the mountain-biking, beer-brewing hometown of Trampled by Turtles.

Now Grand Marais — that other best town on Lake Superior — may take a turn on a glossy magazine cover soon.

Budget Travel has launched a contest to determine “America’s coolest small towns,” and Grand Marais is in the running. Competition is keen. There’s Pismo Beach, Calif., along the Pacific Coast; Blanco, Texas, in pretty Texas Hill Country; Berkeley Springs, W.V., where Thomas Jefferson was known to take to the waters; Chincoteague, Va., and others. 

But what’s “cooler” than Grand Marais? As I write this, thermometers up there are registering 7 degrees.

Of course we know there’s so much more than wintry weather: the rocky shoreline perfect for skipping rocks, the world’s best doughnuts (in season), hikes to Artists’ Point, interesting shops such as the Inuit-focused Sivertson Gallery, delicious restaurants like the Crooked Spoon.

If you’re a fan of Grand Marais — and don’t mind sharing the secret jewel with the nation — vote for the town at You can vote once a day through February 25.