Duluth is an iconic and well-known Minnesota destination and many visitors from both Minnesota and around the country make the trip there each year to enjoy all it has to offer. As one of the oldest towns in Minnesota, Duluth embraces its history and culture while showcasing their superb and beautiful location on Lake Superior. Duluth is in the northern part of the state so for many, Duluth is the “jumping off point” for trips up the North Shore or the Gunflint Trail.
One of the most popular places to visit in Duluth is Canal Park right on the shores of Lake Superior. Since it’s located on the lake, Duluth is a major shipping hub sending iron ore from the Minnesota Iron Range out to the world on freighter ships from Twin Ports. The buzz and action of the busy shipping port is a big draw for tourists and visitors.
While visiting Canal Park, you can watch huge freighter ships come in and out through the shipping canal or enjoy a meal at the famous Grandma’s Saloon.
Canal Park is lined with waterfront resorts, shops, and restaurants, making it a popular tourist gathering for people of all kinds. While you’re there, go for a walk along the shoreline on the wooden boardwalk and learn about local history of the area. Or near the lift bridge, check out the Maritime Museum to find out about all things ship related, including the shipping schedule for the next several days. If you’re shopping, be sure to check out the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace (and the best smoked salmon anywhere at the Northern Waters Smoke Haus) or the famous Duluth Pack Store for great outdoor and camping gear.
Aerial Lift Bridge
The lift bridge in Duluth is an icon – and perhaps one of the more photographed structures on the North Shore. Thousands flock here each year to catch a glimpse of the bridge action and the ships coming in or out. Located at the end of the shipping canal, the lift bridge climbs straight up 135 feet to let ships pass in or out of Twin Ports. You can walk or drive across the bridge or just watch it from the walkways along the canal. Originally built in 1905, but modified in 1929, the structure connects motorists to Park Point (a finger of land occupied by locals and a few resorts.) When the bells start to ring indicating it’s going up, visitors from all along the boardwalk run to the canal shores to watch the bridge lift and the ships or boats pass through.
Vista Fleet Cruise
Experience Duluth in a unique way from your seat on the water aboard a Vista Fleet Cruise Boat. Vista Fleet offers many touring options including sightseeing or dinner cruises to tour either the harbor or Lake Superior. Your tour guide will share plenty of local and maritime history and you’ll have the chance to see lighthouses, 1000-foot freighters, Twin Ports Harbor or the Duluth Skyline. Tours vary in length and offer concessions and a full cash bar onboard.
Great Lakes Aquarium
You can experience and explore exhibits related to all forms of marine life in this waterfront aquarium, but the focus is local (and it’s one of few aquariums that focuses on freshwater and local sea life.)
Get up close and personal with the animals and sea creatures by exploring their multiple tide pools and hands-on exhibits, or check out their local shipwreck displays and learn about the habitat of local Isle Royale.
The historic Fitger’s Inn was once a prominent Duluth brewery operating for 115 years, but now the historic site is home to a luxury hotel, three restaurants, two nightclubs, a microbrewery, shopping, and an ice cream shop. With its central location, the Fitger’s Complex is a draw for many in and around the Duluth area. The Boat Club Restaurant and Bar, found on the lower level, features a fresh seafood and steaks menu. Upstairs, you’ll find the Fitger’s Brewhouse which is a fun and inviting environment offering burgers, wings, and sandwiches. There’s also Mexican Lindo to satisfy your craving for a good Mexican meal. In the lower level shopping area, find a book store, a pet boutique, a few clothing stores, and a hair salon.
Glensheen is a historic mansion that occupies twelve acres of Lake Superior shoreline right within the city limits. Built by iron ore tycoon Chester Congdon in the early 1900s as a family home, it has 39 ornate rooms to discover and beautiful grounds to tour. The family willed it to the state in 1968 and it is now run by the University of Minnesota. Tours are offered daily so that visitors may explore the mansion and take a step back in time. The property includes a horse barn and carriage house, beautiful gardens, two creeks, and a boathouse.
North Shore Scenic Drive
The North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota is like no other. You can drive all the way to Canada if you’re up for it (but plan on four hours one way). To enjoy the North Shore just drive the route or stop to get out along the way to enjoy nature and scenic views with hiking trails, biking trails, skiing, waterfalls or anything else nature-related you might be looking for. All the way up the shore, there are many local choices for dining, resorts big and small and state parks galore.
With so much to do, it’s no wonder that Duluth is a destination so many enjoy each year. Whether you’re out on the water or enjoying it from afar, Duluth will keep you entertained and enamored all year round.