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37 Best Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota

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With its dramatic location and fascinating past, Duluth, Minnesota, is the gateway to countless fun activities, no matter the season. If you’re visiting Duluth, you might not know where to start. So stick around, and let us point you toward the best and most fun things to do in Duluth. 

There are tons of exciting “mosts” attached to Duluth. Located on the westernmost tip of Lake Superior, it’s the most inland port in the world. It transports the most iron ore of any North American port. It’s even been called the most climate-proof city in America.

But enough geography lessons! What matters is that you maximize your trip by discovering the most iconic things to do in Duluth. We’ll also talk you through some of Duluth’s hidden gems.

So whether you’re headed here especially to find out what Duluth’s all about or are just passing through, you won’t want to miss these great things to do in Duluth!  

Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota

1. Glensheen Mansion

Address: 3300 London Rd, Duluth, MN 55804, United States

A visit to the Glensheen Estate, a National Historic Landmark, is one of Duluth’s fanciest things to do. This is the city’s rich history – literally.

The 39-room Jacobean-style mansion was built in 1905 by Chester and Clara Congdon with wealth from Iron Range investments. The mansion’s sumptuous wood-paneled rooms remain virtually untouched since their early-20th-century heyday.

The mansion is Minnesota’s most visited historic home and one of the best museums in Duluth when it comes to old-fashioned opulence. It sits on 12 beautifully landscaped lakeshore acres, including a gardener’s cottage and a private pier.

The pier is now home to a Duluth summer tradition – freebie Concerts on the Pier.  You’ll get the best view of the whole estate in this amazing Duluth helicopter tour.

2. Leif Erikson Park

Address: 1301 London Rd, Duluth, MN 55805, United States

Sandwiched between the cityscape and the rugged coastline, Leif Erikson Park is a beautiful place to relax. It’s also handy for the Plaza Shopping Center, should you want to grab your sandwich.

A bonus is the beach access. You can wade in the lake, but it’s usually pretty cold. And watch out for slippery rocks underfoot.

In the summer, the park also hosts movies and community concerts. You’ll cross the park if you’re tackling the 8-mile Lakewalk, one of the city’s loveliest trails. Why not stop for a bit and enjoy the view?

See Related: Things to Do in Minneapolis

3. Bayfront Festival Park

Aerial View of Duluth, Minnesota

Address: 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

You don’t need to be attending one of Bayfront Festival Park’s many events to be glad you came. With a grandstand view of the famous lift bridge, the park is a great place to watch the world – and the ships – go by. 

Kids will love the plaza for the huge, all-ages playground. Adults might enjoy All Pints North, a yearly craft brewing festival showcasing great Minnesota beer.

The park has a full program of festivals and concerts from May to October. And in winter you can enjoy ice skating and the festive lights. 

See Related: Best Things to Do in Brainerd, MN

4. Enger Park

Address: 1605 Enger Tower Dr, Duluth, MN 55806, USA

Duluth isn’t short of attractive parks, and Enger Park is one of the prettiest. Located on a site once called Grand Mountain, the park features panoramic lake views.

You can enjoy walking trails, gentle rock climbing, and a grove with thousands of daffodils. Don’t miss the serene Japanese Garden and Peace Bell. 

The park came about through the generosity of Bert Enger. Climbing the five-story observation tower built in his honor is one of the most fun things to do in Duluth – if you’re wearing comfy shoes.

During special events, the tower is beautifully illuminated. Both the park and tower are open from May 1st until the snow comes.

Next door is Enger Park Golf Course. The home of Duluth Public Golf, the course has putting and chipping greens and breathtaking views of the harbor. 

See Related: Things to Do in Lake City, MN

5. The Duluth Lakewalk

Address: The Lakewalk, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

The Lakewalk in Duluth is exactly that. As you hike, bike, or rollerblade the 8-mile trail, you’ll be treated to perfect views of Lake Superior.

The path is either paved or boardwalk, with few hills, making it super-accessible. Look out for the eight pollinator gardens frequented in summer by monarch butterflies. 

Cameras out – you’ll also pass the official Westernmost Point of Lake Superior. This is just north of Sister Cities Park, with its sculptures symbolizing Duluth’s friends worldwide. And – always useful to know – there are public restrooms nearby.

See Related: Things to Do in Hinckley, Minnesota

6. NorShor Theatre

Address: 211 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

The landmark NorShor Theatre has played an important role in the city’s history. In the early 1900s, this theater was used for vaudeville shows. Several makeovers later, seeing the stately Art Deco architecture and styling is worth visiting. 

The theater is now home to Duluth Playhouse and hosts a full program of plays, concerts, movies, and musicals. Across the road is the cozy Zeitgeist Teatro Performing Arts Theater stage, where the Playhouse puts on Underground shows. You can watch live comedy here or enjoy local beer and craft cocktails at Duluth’s only non-profit restaurant.

See Related: Best Resorts in Minnesota

7. Lake Superior Railroad Museum

Train in Duluth at Sunset

Address: 506 W Michigan St, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

Train enthusiasts are in for a treat at Lake Superior Railroad Museum. Here, you’ll see one of the country’s finest collections of railroad equipment.  The Union Depot platforms are home to a range of magnificent locomotives, cars, and cabooses spanning eight decades. 

You can sit in the engineer’s seat in a huge Mallet steam locomotive cab. Look out for the dining car display showcasing the golden age of luxury railroad travel. There are interactive exhibits, too, and as most of the space is enclosed, you can visit all year round. 

See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota

8. Take a drive to the Davidson Windmill and Eskolin Log House

Davidson Windmill and Eskolin Log House

Address: 7890 Old Hwy 13, South Range, WI 54874, United States

If you fancy venturing over the border to Wisconsin, take the 30-minute drive to the rural South Range. At the 1904 Davidson Windmill, you’ll taste the Midwest’s Scandinavian heritage. 

Jacob Davidson, an immigrant from Finland, built the mill. The mill is constructed from steel with a wooden interior and contains some impressive handmade gears.

The neighboring Eskolin Log House features complex dovetailed joints, characteristic of early Finnish construction techniques. Both buildings are now on the National Historic Register.

9. Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse

Address: 3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd, Two Harbors, MN 55616, United States

One of the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota, is to visit a lighthouse. If you don’t mind an hour’s drive north up the shoreline, Split Rock Lighthouse is one you shouldn’t miss. Perched on a 130-ft high clifftop, it commands breathtaking views over the lake.

The lighthouse was completed in 1910, sending out its 1000-watt, 22-mile-long beam to light the way for shipping until 1969. The lantern’s still fully operational and is lit during the Edmund Fitzgerald Beacon Lighting Ceremony every November 10.

You can visit the lighthouse, the keeper’s house, and the fog-signal building from June to October.

10. Visit the Bentleyville “Tour of Lights”

Bentleyville "Tour of Lights" Duluth

Address: 700 W Railroad St, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

You’ll see Bayfront Park in a different light – from mid-November through December. This is when the whole park is smothered in 5 million Christmas lights.

Bentleyville’s “Tour of Lights” is an annual feel-good festival that guarantees family fun. America’s largest free walk-through lighting display, it’s Christmas on steroids.

Any kid aged 10 or under who visits Santa receives a free knit beanie. Free snacks are available at the Cookie House, the Popcorn Factory, and the Marshmallow Hut.

There are also free shuttle buses from Downtown Duluth, including the Radisson Hotel (I love the rotating restaurant!). It’s best to book your hotel stay early to save on room rates – the event attracts a quarter of a million visitors.

In keeping with this spirit of giving, visitors are invited to donate non-perishable food and new unwrapped toys for needy families. And remember to dress for cold weather!

11. Take a Boat Ride on Lake Superior

Sunrise in Duluth, MN

Address: Minnesota, United States

Duluth is as much about the world’s biggest freshwater lake as it is about what happens on land. So, no visit is complete without some interaction with Lake Superior.

Time Out, the city’s only sailboat charter, offers a great offshore dimension to your Duluth trip. You can cruise along the beach or explore the open water alongside mighty freighters. There are half-day, full-day, and two-day tours available.  

Vista Fleet offers boat tours and dinner cruises, while Your Boat Club offers daily rentals. For more low-key boating, try a coastal kayak trip. Or if you want to bring something back for the pot, what about a charter fishing trip?

12. Go on a Craft Brewery Tour or Crawl

If you’re up for a classic Minnesotan drinking spree, you’re in good hands in Duluth. Pedestrian-friendly Canal Park, in particular, offers tons of great restaurants, bars, and craft breweries.

Check out Dubh Linn Brew Pub, a family-owned Irish pub. As well as brewing its beer, the pub has Minnesota’s largest whiskey bar. Grandma’s Saloon serves Lift Bridge Brewing Co. ales and has a Miller Hill Mall bar.

The Canal Park Brewing Company’s range of great beers includes the award-winning Nut Hatchet brown ale—Head to W. Michigan Street for the Bent Paddle Brewing Co. As well as tasty home-brewed ales, they have a great line of funky merch, perfect souvenirs for your trip.

To build your brewery tour, check out these other top breweries in Duluth, Minnesota

13. Duluth Children’s Museum

Address: 2125 W Superior St, Duluth, MN 55806, United States

A visit to Duluth Children’s Museum is one of the best things to do in Duluth if you’re traveling with kids. Minnesota’s largest children’s museum, it’s all about creative play, hands-on activities, and learning through fun.

So, kids can sit in a canoe and behind the throttle of a plane or explore the indoor adventure playground. There’s a Learning Lab where kids can learn how plants from the museum’s greenhouse become tasty snacks. And wee ones can be Little Explorers or have some downtime in the Nurture Room.

The museum is open Wednesday – Saturday, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

14. Go to the Duluth Air Show

Crowd at the Duluth Air Show
Northfield / Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Address: 2110 W 1st St, Duluth, MN 55806, United States

You don’t need to be an airplane enthusiast to enjoy the buzz of the annual Duluth Air Show. Held in July at the Duluth International Airport, it features thrilling demonstrations from powerful aircraft, old and new. There’s usually a breathtaking display by the US Navy Leapfrogs Parachute Team and a showstopper from the world-famous Blue Angels.

You’ll need to bring foldable seats, especially for kids. Ear defenders are a MUST! Bring sunscreen, too, as there’s no shade unless you have Presidential Chalet tickets. You won’t go hungry, as there are dozens of food and beverage vendors.  

Handy for the event is the Country Inn & Suites by Radisson, which operates an airport shuttle. There are also the more affordable La Quinta and the budget EconoLodge.

See Related: Best Tours in Minnesota

15. North Shore Scenic Railroad

Smoke Coming From a Train in Duluth
SoftwareSimian / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Address: 506 W Michigan St, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

A ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad is a great way of getting the most out of this dramatic region. You can lap up the glorious North Shore scenery and learn the history of Duluth’s harbor and railroads. 

Several trains a day leave from the historic Union Depot. The 75-minute Duluth Zephyr trip takes you along the shoreline and through downtown. First-class travelers can enjoy the Dome Car’s upstairs viewing area. 

The Two Harbors Turn is a 6-hour trip with a stopover at Two Harbors for lunch. Or why not party while you travel on the Pizza Party Express? Whichever tour you choose, combo tickets mean railroad passengers can get 50% off Lake Superior Railroad Museum admission tickets. 

16. Lake Superior Marine Museum and Maritime Visitor Center

Duluth Lighthouse on Lake Superior with Ship in the Distance

Address: 600 Canal Park Dr, Duluth, MN 55802

Lake Superior Marine Museum and Maritime Visitor Center are committed to preserving the area’s proud maritime heritage. Operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, it’s one of the best Duluth attractions, as it’s free to visit.

Visitors can learn all about lighthouses, shipwrecks, and the Great Lakes Basin through hands-on and interpretive displays. There are also 50 scale models and three replica ship cabins. And as the museum’s a stone’s throw from the ship canal, you can watch the real freighters up close.

17. Spend a day at the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center

Rocks and Lake View from Wolf Ridge Environmental Center
SteveBenassi / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 4.0

Address: 6282 Cranberry Rd, Finland, MN 55603, United States

Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center is a 2,000-acre campus on a ridge overlooking Lake Superior. A leader in environmental education, the center offers a fantastic range of courses connecting people with the natural world.

So there’s canoeing, snowshoeing, and rock climbing. You can tap a tree for maple syrup or make your rope. Sessions typically last 3 hours, but there are also longer courses.

If you don’t want to enroll, you can still visit the site, a 90-minute drive from Duluth. There are 18 miles of trails taking in lakes, peaks, creeks, and the Baptism River.

Watch out for moose, black bears, and North American river otters. It’s free to visit, but you must check in at the Admin. Building.

18. The St. Louis County Depot

Address: 506 W Michigan St, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

If you’re taking a North Shore Scenic Railroad ride or visiting the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, you’ll be rocking up at the Duluth Depot. In its heyday, this former rail station served seven railroads. It comprises seven cultural groups and the St. Louis County heritage hub.

You don’t need to be on trains to visit – the building is worth viewing. On the National Register of Historic Places, it’s a rare U.S. example of French Norman-style architecture. There are also free exhibitions courtesy of the Duluth Art Institute and the St. Louis County Historical Society.

You can watch shows and attend workshops or take tours of the building.  Watch out for the regular free gaming sessions and coffee drop-ins. Or, if you’re feeling brave, take a Haunted History Tour.

19. Duluth Rose Garden

Address: 15 S 13th Ave E, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

The Duluth Rose Garden is sitting on top of the Monarch Highway and just across the rail track from Leif Erikson Park. On display are 3,000 rose bushes in what must be one of the most fragrant Duluth attractions. The roses are at their best in late June – August, and watch out for the local Rose Society’s Rose Fest in mid-July.

The garden is free to enter and handy for the Duluth Lakewalk hiking trail. As well as the pristine flowerbeds, there’s also an ornamental fountain.  And you can hardly get a more romantic spot for a picturesque summer wedding than the garden’s elegant gazebo.  

20. SS William A. Irvin Museum

Address: 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

To discover more about Duluth’s role as a cargo shipping hub, hop aboard the SS William A. Irvin.  This retired lake freighter, or “Laker”, is next to Canal Park.

Launched in 1937, the boat boasted innovative design and luxury fittings. Everything’s been restored immaculately, and visitors can see the engine room, the galley, and the fancy dining room as they were in the ship’s heyday.  October visitors can investigate the boat’s creepy side on a Haunted Ship tour.

If you want to explore Canal Park, there are plenty of accommodation options available. Both Lift Bridge Lodge and Canal Park Lodge are handy for the neighborhood’s finest, including local ice cream fave, Love Creamery.

21. Aerial Lift Bridge

Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota
Jacob / Adobe Stock

Address: 601 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

The Department of Transportation might know it as Bridge L6116, but to everyone else, it’s the Aerial Lift Bridge and a powerful symbol of the city. Watching a ship go through is one of the most iconic things to do in Duluth.

Built in 1905 and modified in 1929, the bridge crosses the Duluth Ship Canal and connects Minnesota Point (AKA Park Point) with the city. It operates around the clock during the shipping season, usually starting in March, opening about 500 times a year. 

Walk along the North Pier and follow the monster “Lakers” or “Salties” (ocean-going foreign ships) as they go in and out. The plaza beside the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center is also a great viewing spot.

(Or check the live Bridge Cam!) If you want to stay right up close, pick the 2-star South Pier Inn. Bridge fans won’t mind traffic rumbling over the bridge at night, though it can disturb light sleepers.

22. Lake Superior Zoo

Adult Bear

Address: 7210 Fremont St, Duluth, MN 55807, United States

Animal lovers are promised a treat at Lake Superior Zoo. You can see a range of big cats, feed the otters, and pet the sheep and goats. You can even participate in the enrichment program and get a new toy for the brown bears. 

Altogether, the zoo is home to 150 different species. Other show stars include lemurs, grey wolves, and a red panda.

A fun way to see who lives here is on the Zoo Train. If you need to get even closer to the animals, book one of the behind-the-scenes tours.

23. Spirit Mountain Adventure Park Recreation Area

Fall Colors in Duluth, MN

Address: 9500 Spirit Mountain Pl, Duluth, MN 55810, United States

A few miles southwest of Lake Superior Zoo is Spirit Mountain Adventure Park, a recreation center promising year-round fun for the entire family. Situated high above Duluth, the adventure park has panoramic views of the city and the lake. These are even better on the park’s Spirit Express chairlift, which is open in summer and winter. 

Summer fun also includes the Timber Flyer, a 700-ft zip line. There’s the Timber Twister Alpine Coaster that reaches speeds of 26 m.p.h. If that’s just too adrenaline-pumping, have a go at mountain biking or putt-putt golf.

In winter, there’s plenty for Alpine, snowboard, and Nordic fans. Tubing Hill is open to everyone over the age of 3. The good news is that a lift takes you back up once you’ve tubed to the bottom. And on winter evenings, why not try Glow Tubing?

See Related: Best Ski Resorts in Minnesota

24. Duluth Art Institute (DAI)

Address: 506 W Michigan St #2, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

Established in the early years of the 20th century, the DAI is the North Shore‘s premier arts organization. Since 1975, its home has been the chateau-style Union Depot, where it exhibits work in three galleries and the Great Hall. If you’re interested in art, be sure to catch the latest exhibitions.

A wide range of styles and media are represented, with artists not afraid to push boundaries. You’ll see acrylics, watercolors, photography, ceramics, repurposed materials – you name it. Bottom line – Duluth has plenty of artistic talent, and the DAI does its best to showcase it!

25. Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

Hawk Closeup

Address: 3980 E Skyline Pkwy, Duluth, MN 55804, United States

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is a 365-acre nature reserve. It’s free to visit and open all year round for people to enjoy the wildlife along the 4 miles of hiking trails.

But the best time to visit is the fall, during the migrating season. On some days, you can see thousands of birds flying over. 

Hawk Ridge is one of the best sites anywhere for watching raptor migration. You’ll be able to spot migrating hawks from mid-August through November. For the best chance, come from mid-September to October, when you’re more likely to see eagles and goshawks. 

Each fall, bird enthusiasts pour in from all over the world. Book your accommodation early if you plan to visit during the “Big Days” in October. This rental has lake views and is about a mile from the Observatory. Oh, and bring binoculars.

26. Have a day at the Beach at Park Point

Park Point Beach with driftwood on Lake Superior with Duluth, Minnesota in background under cloudy sky
Edgar Lee Espe / Shutterstock

Address: 4750 Minnesota Ave, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

A combo of gritty industry, urban sophistication, and ruggedly spectacular lake vistas – that’s what Duluth‘s all about. But the world’s longest freshwater sandy beach?

It’s true, though. The skinny dune stretching southeast from the lift bridge to the ruins of Minnesota Point Lighthouse is over 6 miles long.

You can walk almost to the end of the sandspit, though many people drive as far as Park Point Recreation Area, a favorite chill-out spot for Duluthians.  There’s a public beach, sand volleyball courts, picnic pavilions, and grills to rent. 

The coolest thing is standing there with water on both sides of you. Actually, I lie. The coolest thing is the water, which rarely gets above 42 degrees Fahrenheit.

Try Brighton Beach, 7 miles up the North Shore, if you prefer a pebbly beach. Here, you can do another typically Duluth thing and hunt for agates.

See Related: Things to Do in Rogers, Minnesota

27. Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium

Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium building exterior
Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium / Facebook

Address: 1023 University Dr, Duluth, MN 55812, United States

How much of the Star Wars universe could exist? This is one of the posers the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium dares to address. To get some answers, visit the University of Minnesota campus facility. It offers a regular program of journeys through the cosmos, including a free session every Wednesday.

Other shows include live tours of tonight’s sky and pre-recorded family-friendly stargazing sessions. So why don’t you boldly go (Yes, I know – different universe) to other planetary systems, all from the comfort of the lecture hall? Check the University’s website to see the general show schedule. 

28. Fitger’s Brewhouse Brewery & Grille

Fitger's Historic District, Duluth
Fitger’s Tower in the Distance

Address: 600 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

Head over to Fitger’s Brewhouse, and you’ll be getting in touch with the city’s past. This brewpub and restaurant are in the Fitger’s Complex, now on the National Register of Historic Places

The historic brewery building also houses upscale shops and the Fitger’s Inn. You can take a self-guided tour through the complex to learn more about Fitger’s history.

The brewpub regularly wins awards for its small-batch ales, such as Big Boat Oatmeal Stout and El Niño IPA. They put their success partly down to the lake water, known to be some of the purest in the world. 

There’s food from the lake, too – freshly-caught fish smoked in-house. Or you could try the signature Wild Rice Burger. And if you don’t want a beer, nip across the hall to the Barrel House, which serves wine and cocktails.

29. Hartley Nature Center

Deer Crossing at Hartley Nature Center, Duluth, Minnesota

Address: 3001 Woodland Ave, Duluth, MN 55803, United States

You’ll find Hartley Nature Center, an environmental outreach institution, in the 660-acre Hartley Park, north of the city. Among the woods, streams, and ponds are 10 miles of mountain biking, hiking, and trail running trails.

Look out for waterfowl on Hartley Pond. You might even see signs of beaver activity along the way.   In winter, you can rent snowshoes or go Nordic skiing or fat biking. Hartley Nature Centre is also a trailhead for Minnesota’s great trails, the Superior Hiking Trail.

This runs 300 miles from the Wisconsin border, almost up to Canada. Along the way are breathtaking views of the North Shore. 

For a luxury stay about a mile from the trailhead, try The Captain’s Quarters holiday rental.

See Related: Things to Do in Lanesboro, Minnesota

30. Great Lakes Aquarium

Inside the Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth, Minnesota

Address: 353 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

Great Lakes Aquarium is where to go in Duluth to find out why Lake Superior is so Great!  Their Unsalted Seas feature explains the vital importance of the world’s large lakes. It also lets you stroke the fish in North America’s largest sturgeon touch pool.

Another touch pool lets you get up close and personal to the moon jellies in Critter Corner. You’ll also see ripsaw catfish, piranha, and an electric eel – but strictly no touching here. 

The Aquarium is housed in a funky blue and red building on the waterfront and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Look out for special events here, such as a Halloween fancy-dress day and the adults-only Night Out in the Aquarium. 

See Related: Best Things to Do in Minnesota

31. Watch the Ships

Maria G Ship Arriving into Duluth Harbor

Address: Duluth, Minnesota, United States

Something is mesmerizing about watching the floating giants enter and out of Duluth Harbor. This is one of the things to do in Duluth you can’t help doing.

To get up close, visit North Pier, perhaps with a caramel apple from the nearby Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. You can check ship movements in advance at the Harbor Lookout website.

There’s also a viewing terrace at the Great Lakes Aquarium. It’s further away but nicely at deck level. For a different perspective, drive past the docks at Connor Point on the Wisconsin side of St. Louis Bay.

Driving 30 miles up the coast to Two Harbors, you can see boats loading up with iron ore at Agate Bay. Stand at the end of the break wall, and you’re almost within touching distance.

32. Visit a Frozen Waterfall at Jay Cooke State Park

Jay Cooke State Park in Minnesota

Address: 780 MN-210, Carlton, MN 55718, United States

Anyone who’s ever seen the otherworldly beauty of a frozen waterfall will want more. Winter visitors to Duluth who need that magical fix should drive 20 miles southwest to Jay Cooke State Park. Here, there’s a swinging bridge over the St. Louis River gorge, the best place for viewing the frozen falls. 

Park at the River Inn Visitor Center Area, where you can rent snowshoes. Make sure to dress for the cold, and don’t take risks hunting for that perfect photo. The rocks here are slippery even when not wet.

Like many other Minnesota parks, this is a lovely place all year round. There are miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails. And another 25 miles takes you to Moose Lake, where you can hit the trail in a Dune Buggy Adventure.

33. Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive

Aerial View of the North Shore in Minnesota

Address: Duluth, MN 55804, USA

You’ll already be persuaded if you’ve driven from Duluth to Two Harbors to watch the ships reload or to Split Rock to see the lighthouse. The North Shore Scenic Drive is what all the guidebooks say: spectacular. So much so this 154-mile stretch of Highway 61 is officially designated an “All-American Road.” 

It’s not only the endlessly stunning views of Lake Superior. Along the way, you can access some of the Arrowhead Region’s best attractions – Gooseberry Falls State Park, Tettegouche State Park, Temperance River Park, Silver Bay, and the Gunflint Trail

And Bob Dylan enthusiasts around the world will instantly recognize the reference. If you’re a fan, make sure you come more than once so you can say Highway 61 is truly revisited. And don’t miss Bob Dylan Way in Duluth or the Dylan sculpture at Hibbing Public Library.

34. Tour Superior National Forest

Coastline of Lake Superior at Tettegouche State Park

Address: 8901 Grand Ave Pl, Duluth, MN 55808, United States

If the backcountry is calling, set your sights north-northwest of Duluth. Before long, you’ll hit the Superior National Forest – after all, there are 3.9 million acres of it.

A good intro is via the Superior National Forest Scenic Byway. It takes about an hour to drive to Silver Bay, where you can pick up the route as it winds its way to Aurora.

Also called Forest Highway 11, the 54-mile scenic drive goes deep into the forest’s heart. You’ll have access to over 400 miles of trails, and if you visit from September – October, you’ll feel like you have them all to yourself.

Some of the forest is Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), so there’s plenty of great canoeing. Look out for those Minnesotan megastars – wild rice and loons.

There are tons of campgrounds, both with and without facilities. And bird watchers will love that the forest is home to 160+ species of birds, the largest number of any national forest.

Get your passes and permits at the Forest Service website.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Forest Lake, Minnesota

35. Lake Vermilion

Lake Vermillion, Minnesota in Summer

Address: Minnesota, United States

A sprawling, watery wilderness best describes lovely Lake Vermilion, one of Minnesota’s biggest and best lakes. With 1,200 miles of shoreline and endless bays, points, and islands, the lake is the perfect location to fish. Walleye, Bass, and Muskie can all be found here – but do check MN DNR Fishing Regulations for more info.

Non-anglers are well-catered for, too. You can pet the critters at Cook’s Country Connection or visit a bear sanctuary.

There’s mini golf, a wolf center, and even a casino. As well as multiple museums, there are waterfalls, boat tours, and miles of beautiful hiking trails.

A one-stop-shop, in fact, for family fun. Speaking of which, why not call into Moosebirds? This general store in Cook covers everything, from groceries to boat hire, via fishing rods and great ice cream.  

See Related: Things to Do in Ely, Minnesota

36. Watch the Bulldogs

University of Minnesota - Duluth in Winter

Address: 1049 University Dr, Duluth, MN 55812, United States

Do you want to see some sports? You won’t see games played with more tenacity than those played by the Bulldogs, the University of Minnesota Duluth’s athletic teams. 

Both men’s and women’s hockey have Division I teams. The University also fields baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and volleyball teams. 

Hockey’s played at the AMSOIL Arena, next to the Great Lakes Aquarium. Built in 2009, the arena was designed to maximize the fan experience. So, all seats have a great view, and crucially, if you leave your seat to grab something from a concession stand, you won’t miss the action. 

And if you’re new to Minnesota, you need to know one thing. As well as being the Land of 10,000 Lakes and the State of Nice, Minnesota is the State of Hockey. That’s right. It’s a pretty big deal!  

See Related: Best Beaches in Minnesota

37. Duluth Entertainment Convention Center

The Duluth Minnesota skyline at night along the canal
Aneese / Adobe Stock

Address: 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

Duluth Entertainment Convention Center is the city’s main events and entertainment hub. Its Symphony Hall is home to the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and Minnesota Ballet. There are also two huge exhibition spaces, two hockey arenas, and two ballrooms. 

So, there may well be an event here that speaks to you. It could be a Beethoven symphony, Broadway musical, wedding show, or ice fishing expo. Check the events website to keep up to date.

Plenty of accommodations are nearby if you’re visiting for a concert, a game, or a convention. Half a mile away, Pier B Resort has Duluth’s only waterfront restaurant.

For an elegant boutique experience, try the Oliver Inn in downtown Duluth. For a budget hostel stay, there’s the Hostel du Nord.


How do I spend a day in Duluth?

If you only have one day in Duluth, Minnesota, start at Canal Park. Along with great lake views, you’ll see the Lake Superior Marine Museum, fun shops and restaurants, and the famous aerial lift bridge. You’re also handy for the SS William A. Irvin Museum, Great Lakes Aquarium, and Lake Superior Railroad Museum.

What activities can families enjoy in Duluth?

Families will have a blast at Spirit Mountain Recreation Area, an amusement park with outdoor fun all year round. For animal-loving families, there’s the Great Lakes Aquarium and Lake Superior Zoo.

Kids won’t want to miss Duluth Children’s Museum. And everybody will love a day at Park Point Beach.

What are the best outdoor activities in Duluth, Minnesota?

Lake Superior provides loads of great outdoor fun. You can take a boat tour, kayaking, or hunt for agates on the beach.

You can go biking, hiking, and trail running at Hartley Nature Center. At Wolf Ridge, there are tons of great adventure sessions to try, such as rock climbing or snowshoeing. And if you visit Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory in the fall, you’ll see thousands of migrating birds. 

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