Best Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota: 12 Duluth Attractions

by Emil Backup
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Are you thinking of visiting Duluth, Minnesota this year? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Duluth. Get ready to discover these incredible Duluth attractions!

Welcome to Duluth, Minnesota, where the charm of the Midwest meets the allure of Lake Superior. A city that thrives on adventure, culture, and natural splendor, Duluth is a traveler’s paradise waiting to be explored.

If you’re looking for the adrenaline rush of skiing down Spirit Mountain, the tranquility of a sunset walk along Canal Park, or the historical intrigue of the Glensheen Mansion, there’s no shortage of unique things to do in Duluth, Minnesota which every traveler can enjoy.

Picture yourself hiking through the scenic trails of Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. This is where rare birds take flight against a backdrop of stunning landscapes. Imagine the thrill of embarking on the North Shore Scenic Drive, a journey filled with breathtaking panoramas, hidden waterfalls, and charming coastal towns. Or envision a day spent at the Great Lakes Aquarium, diving into the underwater wonders of the Great Lakes region.

From the thrill of outdoor adventures to the mesmerizing views and unique cultural landmarks, Duluth is a destination that offers a rich tapestry of experiences like no other. Dive into this guide to uncover the best things to do in this vibrant city. And let your wanderlust guide you to new adventures. Here’s everything you need to know about the best things to do in Duluth, MN.

The best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota right now.
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Best Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota: 12 Incredible Duluth Attractions

Are you ready to discover all the coolest things to do in Duluth? As mentioned previously, there’s an array of amazing activities in Duluth for everyone to enjoy. Keep reading to find out all the best destinations in Duluth, MN.

Are you looking to enjoy the beautiful shores of Lake Superior? Or would you prefer to learn more about the region’s rich heritage? Whatever you’re planning, Duluth can accommodate your needs. Here are all the best things to do in Duluth that you should know about.

1. Explore Canal Park

Canal Park stands as a testament to the vibrant spirit of Duluth. It offers visitors a delightful blend of natural splendor and urban charm. Nestled along the shores of Lake Superior, this waterfront district invites you to explore its scenic Lakewalk. This is where the soothing sounds of lapping waves create a serene ambiance. Unique shops and art galleries add a touch of creativity to the area, while opportunities for kayaking and paddleboarding provide thrilling adventures on the water.

Don’t miss the chance to witness the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge in action. This is a marvel of engineering that connects the city to Park Point. For those intrigued by the maritime heritage of the region, the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center offers fascinating insights and exhibits. Enjoy a leisurely picnic by the lake, or simply soak in the stunning views.

With its diverse attractions and picturesque setting, Canal Park encapsulates some of the coolest Duluth things to do. This makes it a must-visit place in Duluth, Minnesota, for outdoor enthusiasts, curious explorers, and anyone looking to discover unique places in Duluth, Minnesota.

The captivating beauty of Canal Park's waterfront, where Lake Superior's waves meet urban charm.
The captivating beauty of Canal Park’s waterfront, where Lake Superior’s waves meet urban charm.

2. Discover the North Shore Scenic Drive

Looking for the most exciting things to do in Duluth? Look no further than the North Shore Scenic Drive. It is an adventure that takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Duluth, Minnesota. Stretching 154 miles along the coast of Lake Superior, this scenic route offers unparalleled views of rugged cliffs, dense forests, and sparkling waterfalls.

Start your exploration at Canal Park and follow the winding road as it leads you to hidden gems like the Split Rock Lighthouse. This is a historic beacon that stands tall against the backdrop of the vast lake. Stop by the charming coastal towns along the way, each offering a unique flavor of local culture and natural beauty.

For outdoor lovers, the drive provides access to numerous hiking trails, including the famous Superior Hiking Trail. This is where you can immerse yourself in the wilderness and perhaps spot some local wildlife.

The North Shore Scenic Drive is a highlight of activities in Duluth, Minnesota. It offers a captivating experience that combines natural wonder, historical intrigue, and the joy of discovery. It’s a must-see for anyone seeking the best places to go in Duluth, Minnesota.

Embark on a journey of natural wonders along the North Shore Scenic Drive, where rugged cliffs and serene shores create an awe-inspiring landscape.
Embark on a journey of natural wonders along the North Shore Scenic Drive, where rugged cliffs and serene shores create an awe-inspiring landscape.

3. Experience Spirit Mountain’s Adventure Park

Adventure awaits at Spirit Mountain, one of the coolest things to do in Duluth for thrill-seekers and nature lovers alike. With a wide array of outdoor activities available year-round, Spirit Mountain’s Adventure Park is a playground for those looking to embrace the excitement of the great outdoors.

In the winter, the mountain transforms into a snowy paradise, offering skiing, snowboarding, and fat biking trails. The Alpine Coaster, a gravity-driven ride that winds through the forest, provides a unique and exhilarating experience.

When the snow melts, the adventure continues with mountain biking trails, zip-lining, and scenic chairlift rides that offer unparalleled views of Lake Superior and the surrounding landscape. The Adventure Park also features a mini-golf course and a disc golf course. As such, this adds a fun twist to traditional outdoor activities.

Spirit Mountain’s Adventure Park is an incredible destination that celebrates the natural beauty of Duluth and encourages visitors to explore, challenge themselves, and create lasting memories. If you’re wondering what to do in Duluth, MN, look no further than this vibrant hub of adventure.

Experience the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota at Spirit Mountain, where adventure awaits in every season.
Experience the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota at Spirit Mountain, where adventure awaits in every season.

4. Explore the Great Lakes Aquarium

Dive into the underwater world of the Great Lakes region at the Great Lakes Aquarium, one of the coolest places in Duluth that offers an immersive experience for visitors of all ages. Home to both local and exotic marine life, the aquarium provides a fascinating glimpse into the aquatic ecosystems of the area.

Wander through the freshwater exhibits, where you’ll encounter playful otters, majestic sturgeon, and colorful fish native to the Great Lakes. Don’t miss the “Shipwrecks Alive!” exhibit. This is where you can explore the mysterious world of sunken ships and the creatures that inhabit them.

For those looking to get up close and personal with marine life, the aquarium offers interactive touch pools. It allows you to feel the smooth surface of a stingray or the bumpy texture of a sea star. Educational programs and daily animal feedings add to the engaging experience. This makes it a perfect day out in Duluth for families.

The Great Lakes Aquarium showcases the rich biodiversity of the region and offers a captivating journey through the underwater realms. If you’re searching for cool destinations in Duluth, Minnesota, this aquatic adventure is not to be missed.

Dive into the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota at the Great Lakes Aquarium, where aquatic marvels come to life.
Dive into the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota at the Great Lakes Aquarium.

5. Visit the Enger Tower and Park

Standing tall over Duluth, the Enger Tower is a historic landmark that offers some of the most stunning panoramic views of the city and Lake Superior. Located within Enger Park, this 80-foot tower is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to capture the essence of Duluth’s scenic beauty.

Climb the spiral staircase to the top of the tower. From there, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking vista that stretches as far as the eye can see. From the bustling harbor to the endless expanse of Lake Superior, the view from Enger Tower is a photographer’s dream.

With beautifully landscaped gardens, including a Japanese peace garden and winding trails that lead through lush forests, Enger Park is a place of tranquility and natural splendor. It’s the perfect location to enjoy a walk, have a picnic, or simply sit and soak in the serene surroundings.

Enger Tower and Park provides one of the best places in Duluth, Minnesota to experience the city’s history and its natural charm. If you’re an avid photographer, a nature lover, or someone seeking a peaceful retreat, Enger Tower and Park has something to offer.

Rise above the beauty of Duluth at Enger Tower and Park, where panoramic vistas meet serene landscapes.
Rise above the beauty of Duluth at Enger Tower and Park, where panoramic vistas meet serene landscapes.

6. Explore the Lake Superior Zoo

If you’re wondering where to go in Duluth, MN, for a fun-filled family day, look no further than the Lake Superior Zoo. Nestled on 16 acres of beautiful parkland, the zoo is home to a diverse collection of animals from around the world. As such, this makes it a delightful destination for animal lovers of all ages.

From the playful antics of snow leopards and kangaroos to the gentle grace of the African lions, the zoo offers an opportunity to observe and learn about various species in thoughtfully designed habitats. Don’t miss the Primate Conservation Center, where you can watch lemurs and monkeys swing through the trees.

The zoo also features a petting farm. This is where children can interact with friendly farm animals, and a charming train ride that takes you on a scenic tour of the grounds. Educational programs, animal encounters, and special events throughout the year add to the engaging experience.

With its blend of wildlife exploration, interactive experiences, and natural beauty, the Lake Superior Zoo stands as one of the best places to visit in Duluth for families and animal enthusiasts alike. As such, I recommend this attraction to everyone visiting Minnesota.

Discover the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota, and immerse yourself in the magic of wildlife at Lake Superior Zoo.
Discover the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota, and immerse yourself in the Lake Superior Zoo.

7. Hike the Superior Hiking Trail

For those looking for the ultimate hiking experience, the Superior Hiking Trail is one of the coolest things to do in Duluth. Stretching over 300 miles along the ridgeline overlooking Lake Superior, this trail offers a diverse array of landscapes. This includes everything from dense forests and rugged cliffs to gentle streams and sweeping vistas.

The trail is accessible from various points in Duluth. This allows hikers to choose sections that suit their skill level and interests. If you’re embarking on a multi-day backpacking adventure or just a leisurely day hike, the Superior Hiking Trail provides a chance to connect with nature and explore the wild beauty of the region.

Don’t miss the opportunity to hike to some of the trail’s highlights. This includes the breathtaking Gooseberry Falls or the panoramic views from Ely’s Peak. Along the way, you may encounter wildlife, including deer, birds of prey, and even the occasional moose.

The Superior Hiking Trail offers an exciting journey that invites you to discover the natural wonders of Duluth, Minnesota. It’s a must-do activity for hikers, nature lovers, and anyone looking to experience the unique places in Duluth, Minnesota.

Embark on an unforgettable journey along the Superior Hiking Trail, where rugged terrain and stunning vistas converge.
Embark on an unforgettable journey along the Superior Hiking Trail, where rugged terrain and stunning vistas converge.

8. Visit the Historic Glensheen Mansion

Step back in time and explore the elegance of a bygone era at the Glensheen Mansion, one of the best places to go in Duluth, Minnesota. This historic estate, built in the early 20th century, offers a glimpse into the luxurious lifestyle of the Congdon family. They played a significant role in the region’s history.

The mansion is a marvel of architectural beauty, featuring exquisite details such as Tiffany-stained glass, hand-carved woodwork, and original furnishings. Guided tours of the mansion provide fascinating insights into the family’s life, the history of Duluth, and the significance of the estate.

The allure of Glensheen extends beyond the mansion itself. The 12-acre property boasts beautifully landscaped gardens, bridges, and trails that lead to the shores of Lake Superior. In the summer, enjoy concerts on the pier or simply wander through the gardens, taking in the tranquility.

Visiting the Glensheen Mansion is an experience that transports you to a time of elegance and grandeur. If you’re looking for unique places in Duluth, Minnesota, to explore history, art, and nature, the Glensheen Mansion is a must-see destination.

Step into the past at Glensheen Mansion, a timeless marvel nestled in Duluth, Minnesota.
Step into the past at Glensheen Mansion, a timeless marvel nestled in Duluth, Minnesota.

9. Experience the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is a haven for bird enthusiasts and nature lovers, and it stands as one of the exciting things to do in Duluth, Minnesota. Situated on a ridge overlooking Lake Superior, the observatory is renowned for its annual fall migration. It’s a spectacle that draws visitors from near and far.

From mid-August to November, the sky comes alive with the graceful flight of hawks, eagles, falcons, and other prey. Tens of thousands of raptors pass through the area, offering an awe-inspiring view that you won’t want to miss. Knowledgeable staff and volunteers provide insights, answer questions, and offer close-up views of some of the birds through spotting scopes.

The observatory also hosts guided bird walks, workshops, and special events throughout the year. They cater to both seasoned birdwatchers and newcomers to birding. Explore the trails around the observatory for hiking and nature appreciation.

The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory provides a unique opportunity to connect with nature, experience the wonder of migration, and learn about the diverse bird species that grace the region. For those pondering where to go in Duluth, Hawk Ridge is a destination that promises a memorable experience.

Experience avian marvels at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, where the skies come alive with migratory wonders.
Experience avian marvels at Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, where the skies come alive with migratory wonders.

10. Take a Ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad

All aboard for a journey into the past on the North Shore Scenic Railroad! One of the coolest Duluth things to do, this historic railroad offers a variety of scenic train rides that transport you through the beautiful landscapes surrounding Lake Superior.

Choose from themed excursions like the “Music & Pizza Train,” where you can enjoy live music and delicious food. Or, the “Fall Colors Tour,” which showcases the stunning autumn foliage of the North Shore. One of the most unique Duluth things to do for couples is to ride the “Dinner Train”, which provides an elegant dining experience as you travel along the scenic coastline.

The railroad also features special events throughout the year. This includes the popular “Day Out with Thomas” for young train enthusiasts and the “Christmas City Express” during the holiday season.

With its combination of nostalgic charm, beautiful scenery, and unique themed rides, the North Shore Scenic Railroad offers a one-of-a-kind experience that appeals to travelers of all ages. If you’re looking for places in Duluth, Minnesota, to explore history, enjoy family fun, or simply take in the breathtaking views, the North Shore Scenic Railroad is a destination you should not miss.

Journey through time on the North Shore Scenic Railroad, where vintage locomotives and picturesque landscapes unite.
Journey through time on the North Shore Scenic Railroad, where vintage locomotives and picturesque landscapes unite.

11. Wander Through Leif Erikson Park and Rose Garden

The Leif Erikson Park and Rose Garden is a beautiful place to visit in Duluth. Overlooking the stunning Lake Superior, this beautifully landscaped park is home to more than 3,000 rose bushes, representing over 100 different varieties.

Stroll through the meticulously maintained gardens, where vibrant roses bloom alongside perennial plants, herbs, and annuals. The garden’s design, with its charming pathways, fountains, and gazebos, creates a romantic setting that’s perfect for a leisurely walk or a peaceful moment of reflection.

The park also features a statue of Leif Erikson. This was the famous Norse explorer who made many interesting discoveries centuries before Columbus. It also offers access to the Duluth Lakewalk, a scenic trail that follows the shoreline. Enjoy a picnic, take photographs of the blooms, or simply relax and take in the views.

Leif Erikson Park and Rose Garden is a gem that showcases the horticultural artistry of Duluth. For those looking for cool destinations in Duluth, to escape the hustle and bustle and connect with nature’s beauty, this park and garden offer a serene retreat.

Stroll through the enchanting Leif Erikson Park and Rose Garden, a serene oasis nestled in Duluth, Minnesota.
Stroll through the enchanting Leif Erikson Park and Rose Garden, a serene oasis nestled in Duluth, Minnesota.

12. Kayak or Paddleboard on Lake Superior

Embrace the call of the wild waters of Lake Superior by embarking on a kayaking or paddleboarding adventure, one of the most exhilarating things to do in Duluth, Minnesota. The vast expanse of the lake, coupled with its stunning shoreline and hidden coves, offers a paddling experience like no other.

Several local outfitters provide rentals and guided tours, catering to both beginners and experienced paddlers. Explore the calm waters of the harbor, venture out to the rugged cliffs, or paddle to secluded beaches accessible only by water.

For those seeking a truly unique experience, consider joining a sunset or full moon paddle. The reflection of the setting sun or the silvery moon on the water creates a magical ambiance. It truly adds a touch of romance to the adventure of these Duluth best things to do.

Kayaking or paddleboarding on Lake Superior is an opportunity to challenge yourself and discover the hidden beauty of Duluth from a new perspective. If you’re looking for outdoor activities that offer adventure, beauty, and a sense of freedom, paddling on Lake Superior is a must-do experience. Hands down, it’s one of the coolest Minnesota activities.

Explore the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota, and immerse yourself in the majestic allure of Lake Superior.
Explore the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota, and immerse yourself in the majestic allure of Lake Superior.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the Best Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota:

Looking to expand your knowledge on the best Duluth things to do? Here are some common questions I get asked a lot about what to do in Duluth, MN.

Is Duluth, MN worth visiting? 

Definitely! Duluth, MN, offers a rich blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, cultural attractions, and historical landmarks. From the stunning shores of Lake Superior to the vibrant arts scene, there’s something for every traveler. Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or someone looking to explore unique places, Duluth provides a memorable and diverse experience.

What is Duluth, MN most known for? 

Duluth is most known for its strategic location along the shores of Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. It’s famous for its outdoor recreational opportunities, including hiking, kayaking, and skiing, as well as its maritime heritage. Landmarks like the Aerial Lift Bridge, Canal Park, and the North Shore Scenic Drive are iconic symbols of the city.

Experience the vibrant tapestry of Duluth, Minnesota, which offers a rich blend of natural beauty, and outdoor adventure.
Experience the vibrant tapestry of Duluth, Minnesota, which offers a rich blend of natural beauty, and outdoor adventure.

Duluth’s popularity stems from its stunning natural landscapes, outdoor activities, and cultural richness. The city offers a unique blend of urban amenities and wilderness exploration, making it a destination for both relaxation and adventure. Its harbor, festivals, museums, and scenic drives contribute to its appeal for visitors of all ages and interests.

What makes Duluth, Minnesota unique?

What sets Duluth apart is its combination of natural splendor and cultural vibrancy. The city’s location on Lake Superior provides a backdrop for countless outdoor activities, while its historical and cultural landmarks offer insights into the region’s heritage. From the architectural beauty of Glensheen Mansion to the natural wonder of the Superior Hiking Trail, Duluth’s unique blend of attractions creates a one-of-a-kind destination.

What does Duluth have to offer?

Duluth, Minnesota, is a port city on Lake Superior’s western shore. It’s known for its natural beauty, outdoor activities, and cultural attractions. Here’s an overview of what Duluth has to offer:

Natural Beauty and Outdoor Activities

  1. Lake Superior: As the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior offers opportunities for boating, fishing, kayaking, and simply enjoying the beautiful views.
  2. Canal Park: A lively waterfront area with shops, restaurants, and the chance to watch ships pass through the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge.
  3. Hiking and Biking Trails: The Superior Hiking Trail, Duluth Traverse, and other trails provide miles of hiking, biking, and bird-watching opportunities.
  4. Winter Sports: In the winter, you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, and snowmobiling in the area.

Cultural Attractions in Duluth

  1. Great Lakes Aquarium: An opportunity to learn about the aquatic life of the Great Lakes region.
  2. Duluth Art Institute: Showcases regional and national art exhibitions.
  3. Depot: A historic train station that now houses several museums, including the Lake Superior Railroad Museum and the St. Louis County Historical Society.

Historical Sites

  1. Glensheen Historic Estate: A well-preserved mansion offering tours that provide insight into early 20th-century life among the wealthy elite.
  2. SS William A. Irvin: A retired iron ore freighter turned museum that offers a glimpse into the maritime history of the region.

Festivals and Events

  1. Grandma’s Marathon: A major annual event that attracts runners from all over the world.
  2. Bayfront Blues Festival: One of the largest outdoor music festivals in the Midwest.

Shopping and Dining

  1. Local Shops and Boutiques: Explore unique local shops, especially in neighborhoods like Canal Park and Downtown.
  2. Diverse Dining Options: From fresh-caught fish to international cuisine, Duluth offers a wide range of dining options.

Scenic Drives around Duluth

  1. North Shore Scenic Drive: A beautiful drive along the coast of Lake Superior. It offers stunning views and access to parks, waterfalls, and historic sites.

What are the best times to visit Duluth, MN?

The best time to visit Duluth, MN, depends on what you’re looking to experience. For outdoor activities like hiking and kayaking, the summer months of June through August offer warm weather and lush landscapes. Fall brings stunning foliage along the North Shore Scenic Drive, making September and October ideal for leaf peeping. Winter enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other snow sports from December through February. Spring, while cooler, offers a chance to see the region come to life with blooming flowers and wildlife. With diverse attractions and seasonal events, there are unique things to do in Duluth throughout the year.

Conclusion: Discover Endless Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth, Minnesota, is a destination that captivates the heart and ignites the adventurous spirit. Boasting breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and endless opportunities for exploration, it’s a place that promises unforgettable experiences.

From the majestic shores of Lake Superior to the historical elegance of Glensheen Mansion, the city offers a diverse array of attractions that appeal to travelers of all ages and interests. Whether you’re seeking thrilling outdoor adventures, peaceful retreats in nature, or insights into the region’s rich heritage, Duluth has something to offer.

The city’s unique blend of urban amenities and wilderness access makes it a standout destination in the Midwest. The array of things to do in Duluth, Minnesota, ensures that every visit is filled with discovery, excitement, and a connection to the beauty and charm of this remarkable place.

Come explore Duluth and let the wonders of the North Shore inspire your next adventure.

Best Things to Do in Duluth Minnesota.
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