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13 Best Things to Do in Two Harbors, Minnesota

13 Best Things to Do in Two Harbors, Minnesota

If you’re planning to travel to Minnesota’s North Shore region for the first time, you’re probably looking for things to do in Two Harbors. If this is the case, keep reading, as my list covers all of the main attractions in this popular vacation town, from picnic points to places to enjoy local food.

The lakeside town of Two Harbors is Minnesota’s vacationing goldmine. With a picturesque landscape, historical sites, and vast shorelines, you’ll easily be able to fill up a weekend with things to do in Two Harbors.

Located along Lake Superior’s North Shore, this is a popular destination for vacationers because Two Harbors was originally a port town. Tourists gravitate toward the natural beauty, docks, and sprawling shorelines. The town’s historic sites and iconic lighthouses are the most visited attractions, along with national parks and hiking trails.

If you’re en route, chances are you’ll pass through Duluth. If you’re planning a day trip out of your time in Two Harbors, check out some of the top hotels in Duluth and use the larger town as your base camp.

Two Harbors Lighthouse

TL;DR

Category Attraction
Best Outdoor Attraction Gooseberry Falls State Park
Best Attraction for Families Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
Best Hiking Trail Superior Hiking Trail
Best Scenic Viewpoint Stoney Point
Best Restaurant Louise’s Place

Things to Do in Two Harbors, Minnesota

People often miss out on so many hidden gems within this port city. If you read up on its history, you’ll learn that the town offers its own story of the past.

1. Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Split Rock Lighthouse Minnesota

Address: 3755 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd, Two Harbors, MN 55616

Split Rock Lighthouse is considered one of the most picturesque lighthouses in North America. The national historic landmark sits atop a cliff on the north shore, towering over the vast Lake Superior.

After its restoration, the lighthouse came under the protection of the Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. Since then, it has become a popular tourist attraction and one of the most visited state parks in Minnesota. The site includes three original keepers’ lodges, the oil house, the fog signal building, and the actual tower.

If you plan on visiting the Split Rock Lighthouse, it’s best to keep your whole day free. However, you can still get the most out of your visit in just a few hours by being prepared ahead of your visit.

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

This historical beacon is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the country. Even if you’re not a seasoned photographer, you’ll find that the natural lighting, the antique structures, and the unique horizon will do most of the work for you. The best vantage points are on the tramway stairway platform and the west shoreline.

Split Rock Lighthouse results from Lake Superior’s maritime history. The unforgiving waters have claimed numerous ships in its depths. This lighthouse was built in response to these tragedies, and you’ll learn a lot about the history during your visit through the Split Rock Lighthouse.

The beacon light was retired a long time ago. Yet, you can still witness the beautiful amber glow on November 10. On this day each year, they light the beacon to commemorate the devastating shipwrecks in Lake Superior.

See Related: Best Lighthouses to Visit Around the World

2. Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls State Park

Address: 3206 MN-61, Two Harbors, MN 55616

Gooseberry Falls State Park is a magnificent nature reserve along the North Shore. The North Shore encompasses some of the most beautiful lakes in Minnesota.

Here, the main attraction is the beautiful cascading streams of the Gooseberry River. The river flows into Lake Superior and is accessible through hiking trails. Built upon a whopping 1,687 acres of land, Gooseberry Falls State Park is a perfect escape into nature.

The cascade is divided into lower, upper, and middle falls. Each site is accessible through hiking trails leading from the visitor’s center. If the water levels are low, you can swim in the plunge pools at the waterfall’s base.

Gooseberry River is home to lots of trout, including brook trout, rainbow trout, and steelhead trout, and the ideal time for fishing is in the spring. Catch rates for steelhead and Brookies are exceptionally high inland. In winter, the estuaries become a hotspot for ice fishing.

Due to its natural mountainous topography, skiing is one of Minnesota’s most popular winter activities. In winter, Gooseberry Falls State Park transforms into a cross-country ski haven. It has multiple ski trails, including the top-of-the-line Gooseberry cross-country ski trail.

See Related: Best Midwest Roadtrips to Take

3. Castle Danger Brewery

Castle Danger Brewery entrance
Castle Danger Brewery / Facebook

Address: 17 7th St, Two Harbors, MN 55616

When I visited Two Harbors, I instantly had to stop at this Minnesota gem of a brewery, especially after a long road trip. Castle Danger Brewery offers an authentic taste of the region and a fantastic atmosphere to relax with locals and tourists.

Upon my arrival, the friendly staff greeted me and offered suggestions for trying their various craft beers that I couldn’t get in the Twin Cities. I appreciated the chance to sample a flight of beers, which allowed me to taste their flagship brews, like the 17-7 Pale Ale, as well as some seasonal offerings. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the classic Castle Danger Cream Ale.

I was impressed with their commitment to creating a North Shore experience by incorporating local flavors and ingredients into their beers. Between sips, I took the time to admire the taproom’s decor, which perfectly captured the region’s essence with its rustic and cozy ambiance.

As for entertainment, Castle Danger Brewery hosts events such as live music and trivia nights, fostering a sense of community and providing a fun atmosphere for all. While there, I also enjoyed their outdoor patio, which offered stunning views of Lake Superior and a comfortable space to savor the beer and company. Need I say more?

For a comfortable stay near the brewery, we recommend the Country Inn of Two Harbors. The inn offers free Wi-Fi and is near four state parks, including Gooseberry Falls (21 km away). It also features a pool with a spa and sauna.

See Related: Tettegouche State Park Travel Guide

4. Stoney Point

Stoney Point, Minnesota

Address: 1430 Stoney Point Dr, Duluth, MN 55804

Located along the stony shores of Lake Superior is this hidden gem. It is a one-mile stretch of rocky coast along the scenic North Shore. Stoney Point offers some of the most breathtaking scenes on the North Shore.

During sundown, the large stones reflect the sky’s orange and purple hues, making it look straight out of a fairy tale. As such, it offers the perfect ambiance for a small, romantic getaway.

The shore is accessible through Stoney Point Drive, off Highway 61. The drive leading up to Stoney Point is worth the visit.

No matter when you visit, taking a walk along the shore will be a wonderful experience. The long stretch of smooth, flat rocks makes it perfect for a quiet stroll.

The rocks are flat, so it’s not as challenging of a walk as you might think. If the rocks aren’t covered with ice, you can enjoy a perfect picnic by the water. During winter, the stormy waves of Lake Superior are perfect for surfing.

If you want to escape reality, you won’t find a better spot than here. There are even a few isolated ledges and cliffs overlooking Lake Superior. This will be the perfect spot for some silent meditation.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in Minnesota

5. Superior Hiking Trail

Superior-Hiking-Trail

Superior Hiking Trail is Two Harbors’ most extensive hiking trail and one of the best hiking trails in the United States. It totals over 200 miles of paved trails, starting from Duluth and traversing Canada’s border.

As the name suggests, it runs alongside Lake Superior. As such, the Superior Hiking Trail has multiple water streams, cascades, and floral life. The trail has 50 access points and connects various state parks, including the ones mentioned in this post.

This means you have a straightforward path between the most popular lakeside parks. Since the trail is so long, it has multiple campsites for long-distance hikers. Ninety-three campsites are dispersed along Superior Hiking Place, allowing you to rest for a few hours. Along the way, you’ll witness some beautiful scenery.

The trail is home to multiple species of trees. Pine, aspen, birch, cedar, and fir are among the most common tree species. It’s not typical for many floral species to populate the same area, so take it in while you can.

The area is also home to a ton of wildlife, so have your camera ready. Waterfalls, brooks, and streams will pop up occasionally throughout your trek. The trail leads to a vantage point from where you can see the full range of Minnesota’s Sawtooth Mountains.

See Related: Best Hiking Trails in Duluth, Minnesota

6. Agate Bay Beach

Agate Bay Beach and Lighthouse

Address: 1 Lighthouse Point Rd, Two Harbors, MN 55616

Having a fun beach day is the best thing to do on the weekend in Two Harbors. If you’re looking to plan a day trip with your friends, Agate Bay is one of the most popular and accessible beaches.

But it is more than just a beach. As the name suggests, it was originally a bay for freighters and other ships. Visitors can still catch these mesmerizing vessels sailing by, so Agate Bay is the perfect spot for casual boat-watching if you’re a boat nerd.

Don’t find ships to be riveting? You can do so many other things at the beach, like walk the long and wide wooden pier that leads up to a small lighthouse. People often set up camp on the pier and spend hours casting lines into the lake below.

The lighthouse isn’t nearly as impressive as the Two Harbors Lighthouse or the Split Rock, but it’s still a mesmerizing structure. Also, it is still operational, so it’s actually gorgeous to witness at night.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Red Wing, Minnesota

7. Louise’s Place

Louise’s Place

Address: 19 Waterfront Dr, Two Harbors, MN 55616

While you’re exploring Two Harbors, you will undoubtedly work up quite an appetite. Luckily, there’s a cozy and quaint little place for breakfast and lunch right downtown.

Louise’s Place is a cabin-style cafe and pantry provision store. It prides itself on its delicious, homemade food and is most famous for its freshly baked bread and homemade dessert treats. Minnesotan breakfasts are known for being hearty and heavy, and Louise’s Place stays true to this reputation.

Additionally, Minnesotan coffee has a distinguished taste that you can only find in small shops such as Louise’s Place. They also offer pantry provisions that can be delivered to your doorstep.

They provide a range of Minnesotan staples such as hot sauces, cheese, honey, condiments, kombucha, summer sausages, and organic tea. All of these items are homemade for a Minnesotan palette.

See Related: Things to do in Fergus Falls, Minnesota

8. Northwoods Pioneer Gallery and Gifts

Northwoods Pioneer Gallery & Gifts Store and Grounds
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 2821 MN-61, Two Harbors, MN 55616

No trip is complete without some obligatory souvenir shopping. The Northwoods Pioneer Gallery celebrates the crafts of local artisans. The wide selection of hand-crafted goods makes this a perfect stop for shopping in Two Harbors.

Minnesota is known for its sense of community. Northwoods Pioneer Gallery was initially made to benefit local craftspeople and unite the community. Even today, all earnings go to the original crafters.

The gallery is also a great source of culture and history. You’ll find that many artifacts on display have a rich historical significance for Two Harbors and its residents. Everything in the gallery is homemade and is equally unique.

You can find a wide selection of vintage and handmade furniture, house decorations, and clothing. Often, you can find an artisan or painter displaying their talent through the actual work process.

9. The Duluth and Iron Range Depot Museum

Iron Range Depot Museum in Two Harbors, Minnesota
Myotus / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

Address: 520 South Ave, Two Harbors, MN 55616

Duluth and Iron Range Depot Museum, housed in the 1907 Duluth & Iron Range Railroad headquarters, features exhibits showcasing the three industries that built Two Harbors and Lake County, Minnesota: iron mining, commercial fishing, and logging.

I learned about the historical importance of iron mining in Lake County as I entered the museum. The exhibits display artifacts, photographs, and information about the iron mining industry and its role in shaping the region.

In addition, the museum also introduced me to the significance of the railroad. I was fascinated by the stories, photographs, and artifacts connecting the Duluth & Iron Range Railroad to the development of Two Harbors and its surrounding areas. The locomotives outside the building offer a unique opportunity to get up close and appreciate the history of railroad transportation in the area.

The third industry highlighted at this cultural institution is commercial fishing. I learned about the traditional fishing techniques and tools used by the fishermen of Lake Superior, alongside the history of commercial fishing in the region. The exhibits also touch on the logging industry and its crucial role in Lake County’s economic development.

10. Two Harbors Lighthouse Museum

Two Harbors Light

Address: 1 Lighthouse Point Rd, Two Harbors, MN 55616

Two Harbors Lighthouse Museum is the oldest operating lighthouse in Minnesota. As such, it has witnessed much of Two Harbors’ history.

The red-brick structure is open to tourists, and lighthouse tours are self-guided. You can access parts of the main lighthouse, the Pilot House, and the Assistant Keeper’s House. The lighthouse is a small structure compared to the surrounding lush green park, which is open during visiting hours.

After you’re done with the tour, you can set up a picnic under the open sky and enjoy the sunset over the lake next to the park. This Minnesota museum has a small gift shop with exciting merchandise and unique souvenirs.

Additionally, you can find a selection of informative books written by regional experts. The original keeper’s quarters were transformed into a cozy bed and breakfast service.

See Related: Best Hotels in the Midwest | Where to Stay

11. North Shore Architectural Antiques

Northshore Architectural Antiques Building
Management / TripAdvisor

Address: 224 7th St, Two Harbors, MN 55616

If you’re big on antique architecture and collectibles, look at Northshore Architectural Antiques. This 10,000-square-foot antique store boasts a treasure trove of regional architecture from the 1850s to the 1950s. This means you’ll find many Victorian-style crafts embodying Two Harbors’ history and culture.

Minnesota’s architecture is unique to its climate. It favors a lot of wooden and iron structures. You can find many historical building elements for your next DIY home makeover.

Whether you’re looking for home decor inspirations or complete renovations, this antique store is a godsend. The homeware items range from doorknobs and window frames to columns and decorative stonework.

North Shore Architectural Antiques is more than just an antique homeware store. They indeed provide various other services alongside their inventory of antique decorative items. This includes complete deconstruction services, should you want a complete home makeover.

See Related: Best Pizzerias in Minnesota

12. Visit Silver Bay’s Black Beach

Black Beach, Silver Bay in Minnesota
Amanda12 / Shutterstock

Address: 200 W Lakeview Dr, Silver Bay, MN 55614

As I explored Minnesota’s beautiful Two Harbors area, I couldn’t help but detour to a charming spot – the Black Beach in Silver Bay. It’s a unique destination that was a true delight to discover.

I marveled at the distinct black sand covering the shoreline during my visit to Black Beach. The beach got its distinctive color due to iron ore dumped into Lake Superior, eventually forming a man-made peninsula and beach. Surprisingly, it was one of the most alluring spots along Minnesota’s North Shore.

While there, I had the chance to walk along the shoreline and capture mesmerizing photographs of the contrasting black sand against the backdrop of Lake Superior.

13. Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural Area

Virbarnt sand and skyline at Iona's Beach Scientific and Natural Area
Samantha J / TripAdvisor

Address: 3548 MN-61, Two Harbors, MN 55616

During my visit to Two Harbors, I took some time to explore Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural Area, a unique and picturesque spot on the North Shore. Located about 50 miles north of Duluth on Highway 61, this place is essential to experience for nature enthusiasts.

When I first arrived, I walked along a path that cut through a thick stand of trees, eventually leading me to the beach. As I stepped onto the shore, I was greeted by the sight of colorful stones glistening under the sun. These stones made primarily of pink rhyolite and felsite, create a stunning contrast against the backdrop of the blue water of Lake Superior.

What sets Iona’s Beach apart from other natural attractions is the unique sound these stones make when the waves roll in. The rhythmic clinking of the stones moving against each other as the water recedes creates a mesmerizing natural melody. This phenomenon earned the place the nickname “Singing Beach.”

During my visit, I took the opportunity to explore some of the nearby hiking trails, such as Hellacious Overlook, that offer remarkable views of the lake and the surrounding area. This picturesque lakeside town is ideal for nature lovers.

FAQs

What is Two Harbors, Minnesota, known for?

Two Harbors, Minnesota, a hidden gem on Lake Superior’s North Shore, is best known for its iconic Split Rock Lighthouse and thriving agate hunting culture. This quaint lakeside town enchants visitors with its rich history, mesmerizing natural beauty, and abundant outdoor activities, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring the iconic Lake Superior shoreline.

How far is Two Harbors from Gooseberry State Park?

Two Harbors is a 12-mile drive from the captivating Gooseberry Falls State Park. The journey takes approximately 20 minutes, allowing visitors to explore the breathtaking waterfalls, lush forests, and diverse wildlife that define this beloved Minnesota treasure.

What are the best hiking trails near Two Harbors, Minnesota?

The best hiking trails near Two Harbors, Minnesota, include the stunning Superior Hiking Trail, the picturesque trails at Gooseberry Falls State Park, and the serene pathways of Tettegouche State Park, particularly Palisade Head.

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