The recently designated U.S. Bicycle Route 41 (USBR 41), or the North Star Route, links together a system of bicycle trails and scenic roadways to connect St. Paul, Duluth, and Grand Portage for an epic 325 miles of riding! Like the Mississippi River Trail, this route is part of what Adventure Cycling describes as a vast network of "officially numbered and signed bicycle route[s] from your backyard to anywhere in the United States."
It's already a popular route for long-distance tourists and day-trippers alike, and an exciting way to get more people biking and exploring Minnesota, and we expect it'll continue to draw bike tourists for a long time to come. While exploring this lengthy segment of Minnesota's natural wonders, be sure to stop at these ten must-visit destinations along the way:
CHS Field, St. Paul
The major leagues might get all the press coverage, but minor league baseball is where you’ll find the real fun. Need proof? Look no further than Mudonna, the beloved pig who serves as mascot for the St. Paul Saints at CHS Field in St. Paul's Lowertown neighborhood. The field also hosts live music, and even an Internet Cat Video Film Festival (if you’re lucky enough to get tickets, that is).
Grant House Eatery & Hotel, Rush City
Every rider owes it to themselves to visit this restored 19th century tavern. In addition to offering a unique lodging and dining experience, Grant House is said to have a long history of paranormal activity. But so long as you remember to never cross the streams, you should be fine.
North West Company Fur Trading Post, Pine City
Keep the historic destinations rolling with a visit to the historic North West Company Fur Post! Reconstructed from the winter of 1804, here this living history site offers opportunities to meet a French voyageur, a British fur trade clerk, and visit an Ojibwe encampment.
Hinckley Fire Museum, Hinckley
The Hinckley Fire Museum offers a view into the wildfire of 1894, one of the largest wildfires in recorded history. The inferno reached far into the sky and changed Minnesota history forever. View artifacts that made it through the fire, learn stories of the survivors, and delve deeply into this lesser-known but incredibly impactful part of Minnesota history.
Duluth’s Mountain Bike Trails, Duluth
With more than 100 miles of mountain bike trails within the city limits, it’s no wonder Duluth is known as Minnesota’s mountain bike capital. Hit up The Duluth Experience or Day Tripper of Duluth for a guided tour of the area trails, or rent a mountain bike from Continental Ski & Bike and head out for yourself. And after a long day of riding, hit up one of Duluth’s many breweries and taprooms to rest up over a pint.
New Scenic Cafe, Duluth
About fifteen miles outside of Duluth along Scenic Highway 61, you’ll pass an understated, old-school-Americana style cafe. The modest exterior doesn’t give much away, but for those in the know, the New Scenic Cafe is one of Minnesota’s best dining experiences – and you can’t beat the view.
Tettegouche State Park, Silver Bay
For people biking USBR 41, Tettegouche State Park is a camper’s paradise. Located about 60 miles up Lake Superior's North Shore from Duluth, Tettegouche is the perfect place to set up camp after a long day of riding. If you’ve still got some energy, be sure to hit the hiking trails for unparalleled views of the Sawtooth Mountains, the High Falls of the Baptism River, and the spectacular overlooks at Shovel Point.
Lutsen Mountain, Lutsen
Traditionally Minnesota may be known for its 10,000 lakes and expansive prairie, but up along the North Shore, Lutsen Mountain has other ideas. Take the aerial gondola to the summit of Moose Mountain for a panoramic view of the North Shore, Enjoy a snack or a meal at the Summit Chalet with its expansive deck overlooking Lake Superior, and hop on the Alpine Slide for an exhilarating half mile of twists and turns back down to the base. How’s THAT for prairie land?
North House Folk School, Grand Marais
Up in the charming little town of Grand Marais, North House Folk School offers classes in traditional northern crafts and skills including: pine needle basketry, fermentation, wood carving, fly casting, sailing, song writing, storytelling and much more. Classes range from an afternoon to a three-day workshop, with seasonal programs running year-round. Or apply for the week-long work study program to take classes and stay in beautiful Grand Marais for free.
Grand Portage State Park and Monument, Grand Portage
Along the North Shore, the biggest attraction is the land itself. There are certainly many things to do along the way, but let’s be honest – you’re not headed to Grand Portage for the indie music scene. No, you’re headed there for the breathtaking cliffs and beaches, the rich Native American history, and the unparalleled riding. Experience it all when you reach Grand Portage State Park and National Monument at the northernmost tip of USBR 41. It’s worth it.