Grandma's Marathon Challenges Runners and Motorists

Grand Marais tourism campaign offers an alternative to motorists heading north who don't want to get stuck in traffic - take the Scenic Scenic Route

Jun 17, 2010, 17:20 ET from Cook County Visitors Bureau

GRAND MARAIS, Minn., June 17 /PRNewswire/ -- This weekend, the city of Duluth, Minn. hosts the 34th Annual Grandma's Marathon – a world-class running event and kick-off to summer on Minnesota's North Shore. The event draws thousands of spectators from around the country, and its popularity presents traffic issues in and around Duluth – especially this year when the primary artery to the shore, Interstate 35, is under road construction.

Marathon organizers and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) are busy informing the public of construction zones, detours and the best travel times. State troopers are encouraging huge doses of Minnesota Nice from everyone behind the wheel. But, the Grand Marais Area Tourism Association is taking a different approach – it's offering North Shore visitors a worry-free way to travel to the shore via the Scenic Scenic Route, adding only about 35 miles to the trip and offering an opportunity to see the sights.

Visitors who follow the Scenic Scenic Route to Grand Marais (located about 110 miles from Duluth) will not only dodge downtown Duluth area and a three-mile stretch of orange cones at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, they'll explore northern Minnesota and make some unexpected discoveries. The alternative route takes travelers via Highway 33 toward Cloquet, on Highway 53 through Cotton, then to Beaver Bay. The route connects back to Highway 61 via the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway and from there it's only an hour along the rugged coast of Lake Superior to Grand Marais.

Along the Scenic Scenic Route, travelers will find the only gas station designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the iconic diner Gordy's High Hat (celebrating 50 years of hand-pattied burgers and fresh-blended shakes), and Skibo Vista, the spectacular overlook where the Laurentian Divide divides America in two. In Makinen, tourists can stop and mail a postcard to relatives in Finland, and the Toimi Schoolhouse harkens back to a time when the Finns outnumbered the moose.

"This alternate route offers an unabashed show of corny respect for the Great American Road Trip, which families routinely planned a few decades ago," said Sally Nankivell, executive director of the Cook County Visitors Bureau. "Visitors come to Grand Marais for an unhurried vacation. Now they can enjoy the process of getting here, as well as their Grand Marais destination and all Cook County has to offer."

Visit for a video that prepares travelers for the road trip, as well as an interactive map, link to MnDOT, games for the kids, a travelogue of unique, funny, and unusual places along the way, and a fall vacation giveaway.

All roads (almost) do lead to Grand Marais, and taking the Scenic Scenic Route helps travelers enjoy the total experience and leaves the racing to the marathoners.

SOURCE Cook County Visitors Bureau