GPS: 47°45'N 90°20'W
Set on Lake Superior’s rocky northern shoreline, this Minnesota outpost has some of the best of everything. Residents come together to push for renewable energy resources or protect their colorful waterfront from big-box stores. "We don’t want a run of strip malls," says local Arctic explorer Lonnie Dupre, who trains his sled dogs among the thick groves of aspen, birch, and sugar maple trees. The number of roads Dupre crosses from his house on the way to the North Pole? One: the Trans-Canada Highway.
The Gunflint Trail, a paved byway that runs straight out of town, accesses 143 miles (230 kilometers) of cross-country skiing classics in winter and a slew of singletrack in summer (www.gunflint-trail.com). Hook up with a team of huskies to sled the frozen Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness or paddle through the 1.1-million-acre (445,154-hectare) expanse when the weather warms. You can also build your own canoe, kayak, and skis at the North House Folk School, Grand Marais’s unofficial community center (www.northhouse.org).
Eat your fish fresh out of Lake Superior at the Angry Trout Café (www.angrytroutcafe.com).
The MacArthur House Bed and Breakfast's rooms are covered with large windows, many looking out onto the lake. No doilies or dollies here; rooms are clean and simple (doubles starting at $74; www.macarthurhouse.net).