Duluth and the Lake Superior North Shore

By Explore Minnesota

Duluth is northeast Minnesota's largest city and a destination filled with attractions. It is also the gateway to the North Shore Scenic Byway, which reaches to Canada with Sawtooth Mountains and forest on one side, the vast waters of Lake Superior on the other, and spectacular views around every curve.


Duluth celebrates its seafaring history at the restored waterfront of Canal Park. The area’s cobblestone streets lead to lakefront hotels, shops, and restaurants housed in restored warehouses.

A unique aerial lift bridge rises to let massive seafaring vessels enter the harbor. It's easy to spot ships carrying the flags of countries halfway around the world. A retired ore carrier, the William A. Irvin, offers tours, and the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center tells of Great Lakes shipping and tragic shipwrecks. Get out on the water with sightseeing cruises or charter fishing.

Along the edge of the waterfront is the Lakewalk, a boardwalk for strolling, jogging, biking, and carriage rides. Nearby Bayfront Festival Park offers outdoor concerts and a creative playground. The Great Lakes Aquarium displays animals from the Great Lakes and other freshwater lakes and rivers of the world.

In downtown Duluth, check out the Fond-du-Luth Casino or visit the Depot, home to art, children’s, and railroad museums. Lodging is available at many hotels/motels, bed and breakfasts/historic inns, and other accommodations.

On the east side of town, the lakeside Glensheen Estate is open for tours of the 39-room mansion, carriage house, and formal gardens. On the western end of town, you’ll find the Lake Superior Zoo.

Other favorites include baseball with the Northwoods League team the Duluth Huskies, the lakefront Leif Erickson Park and Rose Garden, and hilltop views from Enger Park Gardens and Tower.

For those interested in trails and slopes, Spirit Mountain offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and the all-season Timber Twister coaster. Other trails can be found in Duluth parks.

North Shore Scenic Drive and Area ActivitiesNorth Shore

The North Shore Scenic Drive follows Lake Superior for 150 miles between Duluth and the Canadian border. The spectacular scenery includes seven state parks, several waterfalls, and small shoreline towns with restaurants serving local fish and produce, and unique shops and art galleries.

In Two Harbors, tour the Edna G. tugboat, the Two Harbors Light Station, and the Duluth and Iron Range Railroad Depot Museum.

Experience more shore history at the 1910 Split Rock Lighthouse, a commercial fishing museum in Tofte, and Grand Portage National Monument fur-trading post.

Lutsen Mountains is the largest ski area in the Midwest, with 87 runs on four different peaks. In the summer months, enjoy the views and slopes from a tram or an alpine slide.

With a playhouse, galleries and a folk school, the harbor town of Grand Marais is an arts center.

If you're in the mood for nature, stop at one of many trail heads and hike the Superior Hiking Trail or view one of the many waterfalls not far from the road.

Bike the Gitchi-Gami State Trail, which parallels the North Shore Scenic Drive. Or kayak the Lake Superior Water Trail with gear from a local outfitter.