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9 Reasons to See Duluth Fall Colors in Minnesota

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Duluth has an exciting combination of natural scenery and cultural attributes that are more enjoyable during fall. Read these reasons below to find out why.

Fall is one of the most alluring and absorbing times of the year in Minnesota. With nature shedding its green grandeur in rustic hues and the weather pleasant and breezy, it is a great time to plan a getaway with friends and family.

If you plan a trip later this year, consider visiting Minnesota to see Duluth’s fall colors. Duluth is a striking city with the perfect merger of outdoor recreational activities, natural attributes, and cultural experiences. The Duluth fall colors in Minnesota are one of a kind.

What is the best week for fall colors in Duluth, Minnesota?

The best week for fall colors in Duluth, Minnesota, is generally the last week of September to the first week of October. This period showcases trees transforming into vibrant red, orange, and yellow shades. Tourists during these weeks can experience breathtaking scenic views, especially with maple, ash, oak, birch, and poplar trees at their peak colors.

Reasons to Why You Need to See Duluth Fall Colors

Duluth Fall Colors from Enger Tower

When you think about visiting Duluth, your mind probably wanders toward the majestic Lake Superior, the historical artifacts, or the multitude of breweries and restaurants. All these aspects of this unique city are marvelously accentuated during fall.

By choosing the best time to visit Duluth, Minnesota, for fall colors, you’ll have the experience of your lifetime. Think about the clear waters of Lake Superior reflecting autumn hues or hiking through the scenic trails covered in different, brightly colored fall leaves.

Apart from that, you can enjoy the peak fall colors in Duluth, MN, by visiting autumn festivals and indulging in delicious fall cuisine.

Excited? There are numerous beguiling reasons you should see Duluth fall colors listed below that’ll make you pack your bags today. Keep reading to find out.

1. The Scenic Railroad at the North Shore

St Louis Bay in Duluth Minnesota shot from Skyline Drive. Railroad yards and Blatnik Bridge in Bay. Late Light
David/ Adobe Stock

One of the most best ways to see Duluth’s fall colors, this scenic railroad attracts hundreds of tourists hoping to participate in a fall color train ride in Duluth, Minnesota.

As someone who has experienced everything from rental car rides to guided tours across the North Shore, I can easily say this is a must for nature lovers.

Remember, if you’re traveling during the peak fall season, you must make your bookings beforehand to not miss out on the ride. The luxurious trains offer all sorts of amenities you would need to give you a relaxing experience viewing the amazing fall foliage.

Just sit back and admire the region’s natural scenery flying across your windows adorned with fiery autumn colors.

Moreover, if you visit around October, you can climb onto the annual Pumpkin Train Express that goes through the North Shore toward an extensive pumpkin patch that bears its bounty during the fall.

At the end of the 90-minute train ride, you can choose any pumpkin you like from the destination and use it to celebrate Halloween or make pumpkin pie!

In addition, the train ride transits towards many museums and shopping centers in the area. You can schedule other activities easily to form a perfect daily itinerary.

However, don’t forget to take an extra bag to carry your fresh autumn pumpkin with you after the ride. This trip can form a perfect day in your itinerary with a combination of sightseeing and fun activities.

See Related: Things to Do in Taylors Falls, Minnesota

2. Driving Through the North Shore Scenic Byway

Lake Superior Duluth

Realize that the North Shore is one of the best places to see fall colors in Duluth, MN. You can explore the North Shore beside the train in many other ways and indulge in the fall aesthetics.

The North Shore starts from Duluth, hugging the west shore of Lake Superior, and extends to the Canadian border. You can take the North Shore Byway and witness the splendid display of the fall palette in the towering trees surrounding the shoreline.

This drive combines the magnificent lake’s pristine waters,  making it one of the most stunning ways to see Duluth’s fall colors this year. You can drive your car or get rentals from online car rental platforms at affordable rates according to your needs.

The best time to take this ride is from late May towards the end of October (although you obviously won’t see any fall colors until at least September).

The most amazing sightseeing destinations on this road include the Sawtooth Mountains and the harbor village of Grand Marais.

3. Hiking and Biking Through the Fall Foliage

Duluth Fall Foliage

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, a hiking or biking trip will make your best weekend for fall colors in Duluth, Minnesota. The area surrounding Duluth includes a wide range of well-marked trails sporting a variety of natural environments and difficulty levels.

The popular Lakewalk along Lake Superior is among the best hikes for beginners to enjoy North Shore fall colors. The 8-mile trail is constructed with flat pavement, so you can even take your bike to explore it if you’re not in the mood to walk.

Besides that, you can plan a hiking trip solely to witness autumn colors without paying extra for accommodation. Simply log into online platforms like Nannybag and store your luggage in reputable hotels and shops.

This way, you can pick your luggage up once you’re done and head home at once. Moreover, Duluth has beautiful autumn trails for intermediate to professional hikers and bikers. You can climb up to Spirit Mountain for an adventurous fall endeavor. Or, go for a medium-level hilly hike through Hartley Park.

Whichever trail you choose for your outdoor excursions, read the specifics on travel websites or magazines beforehand. This way, you can pack the essential gear needed to tackle the hike and enjoy a hassle-free experience.

Furthermore, most of these trails offer other attractions as well. These include chair lift rides and guided tours. This way, you can plan fun autumn activities with your family while surging through the foliage!

See Related: Things to do in Duluth

4. Historical Experiences and Fall Events at Glensheen Mansion

Glensheen Mansion Duluth

The Glensheen Mansion at Duluth is known for its beautiful grounds surrounding the grand historical estate. Built between 1905-1908, the mansion attracts tourists interested in architectural heritage and Victorian/Edwardian gardens.

With more than 39 rooms to see, the mansion dives into the history of Duluth. The gardens are covered with colorful fall foliage during September and October, highlighting the estate’s beauty.

If you want to book guided car tours or full Duluth city tours, you can easily include Glensheen Mansion in your itinerary. This way, you can experience Duluth’s history against the rusty autumn color palette.

The most popular tours around Glensheen Mansion during fall include the dark history bus and Duluth brewery tours. If you don’t know about the spooky folklore related to these sites, check out popular travel magazines beforehand to include such exciting activities in your tour.

During fall, Glensheen Mansion also holds unique autumn-themed festivals and activities every year. The Great Pumpkin Hunt is the most famous festival during the season, conducted every day during late October.

During their tour, it’s a wild frenzy for adults and children searching for hidden pumpkins throughout the mansion. If you want to spend a Halloween-centered weekend with your kids, try this fall festival!

See Related: Best Small Towns in Minnesota to Visit

5. Fall Birdwatching

Hawk Ridge Duluth

For those keen on birds and wildlife, fall bird-watching is one of the best reasons to see Duluth’s fall colors this year. If you want to deviate from the enormous crowds visiting Duluth to witness fall colors, bird-watching is an amazing option.

During autumn, hundreds of birds migrate from the region to warmer climates. Locations like the Hawk’s Ridge at Skyline Parkway become prime locations for bird-watching during the fall.

Make sure to take your binoculars and camera along. They will help you to spot single flyers and mesmerizing flock formations from the ground.

These locations are only a few minutes away from Duluth’s North Shore, so you can rent a car on the spot through online platforms and move toward your destination in no time. Set against the towering orange trees and fiery fall foliage, these bird sightings are a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

6. Gondola Rides at Lutsen Mountains

Lusten Mountain MN

If hiking or driving through the North Shore trails is not for you, you can take a gondola ride through Lake Superior. Along the way, you can witness the fall colors at the height of luxury.

You can hire a guided boat tour from the Lutsen Mountains and move through the spectacular fall scenery along Lake Superior’s coastline.

Alight with the fiery fall colors, the waters display a mesmerizing kaleidoscopic reflection of the fall foliage. The gondola moves through famous landmarks along the North Shore, including the towering Sawtooth mountains covered in blazing orange.

If you love documenting your experiences to cherish as lifelong memories, the gondola ride will give you many chances to capture the warm autumn hues.

7. Exquisite Fall-Centered Art Exhibitions

Fine Arts Festival Duluth

Love for arts and artists is integral to Duluth’s cultural heritage. As a result, you will find the city dotted with amazing museums, galleries, and themed art exhibitions during your tour.

If you’re an art enthusiast, you’re in for a treat. The autumn-themed exhibitions and gallery walks are terrific reasons to see Duluth’s fall colors. The Duluth Art Institute exhibits art from multiple mediums, including sculpture, painting, and photography.

Besides that, the Downtown Art Walks organizes gallery walks on the last Friday of every month. Here, you can catch the fall exhibitions from July to October and witness the creative depictions of Duluth’s fall colors.

The best part is that these gallery walks are not just silent, boring rows of artwork. Instead, they are organized with something for everyone in mind, featuring nights filled with food, drinks, and dancing.

You can experience autumn vibes through art, drinks from local breweries, and seasonal cuisine. Considering that, the trip will give you a wholesome and immersive experience and a full tummy!

See Related: Things to do in Fergus Falls

8. Mesmerizing Duluth Waterfalls

Skyline Parkway Waterfall Duluth Minnesota

Although the cuisine, art, and architectural heritage are almost complete with the Duluth fall experience, nature remains the central attraction for fall enthusiasts. Beholding the tallest waterfall in Minnesota against the autumn foliage is an ideal reason to see Duluth’s fall colors.

Plan a trip to the famous Tettegouche State Park for many adventurous activities. You can set up a camp and light bonfires to warm you against the chilly autumn nights with your friends or family.

Additionally, you can take the trail from the High Falls to experience incomparable views of the ruddy autumn tones. One of the trail’s highlights includes a thrilling suspension bridge—additionally, the breathtaking views at Palisade Head towards the South, displaying nature at its best.

If you’re looking for more waterfalls, check out our previous post on the best waterfalls in Minnesota.

See Related: Things to Do in Lake City

9. Delicious Fall Cuisine

Whether you consider yourself a foodie or not, your fall trip to Duluth is incomplete without sampling its rich autumn cuisine. In addition, you will find the city’s beautiful restaurants teeming with fall-themed menus and unique offerings during the season.

Especially if you’re traveling with your significant other, places like the Lake Avenue Restaurant and the Ve Bene Caffe are the ideal romantic fall settings.

You can crash into the local pubs if you’re not looking for a formal date-night setting. Here, you can enjoy delicious Minnesotan comfort food and wash it with a glass of beer.

Speaking of beer, the local breweries and bars provide excellent seasonal drinks during autumn to spice up your trip.

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