A scenic city on the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota, Duluth is a great weekend getaway or day trip, offering a wealth of things to see and do. Visit the Tweed Museum of Art, enjoy the views from Canal Park, take a tour of SS William A. Irvin, and stroll through the formal terraced gardens at Glensheen.
Best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota for families include the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, the Lake Superior Zoo and the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.
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Canal Park is the heart of Duluth, joining the fabulous lakefront with the modern, busy city’s downtown. Much of what the city has to offer is related to Canal Park, one of the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota. It is the gateway to Park Point, and it links the convention center with the Bayfront Park. It has a range of quaint art galleries, shops of all kinds, excellent restaurants, indoor and outdoor cafes, luxurious hotels, and all kinds of businesses.
From Canal Park, you can watch the Aerial Lift Bridge and giant freighters crossing the lake. You can also climb Vertical Endeavors, throw a ball at Adventure Zone, explore the art sculptures along the path, jog, stroll, bike, rollerblade, or even run a Grandma’s Marathon.
394 Lake Avenue South, Suite 314, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-722-6911
2. Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center
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The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center is a museum located on South Lake Avenue near the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth. Operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the center overlooks the entrance to the Duluth-Superior harbor and is one of the best Duluth attractions. Established in 1973, the center includes exhibits that focus on the history and operations of commercial shipping in the upper Great Lakes as well as information about the Aerial Lift Bridge.
Some of the items in the center include a three story steam engine, a pilothouse, historically accurate replica cabins, 50 scale models of ships, the historic 1901 Fresnel Lens, and much more. The center has several education outreach programs and also hosts special events.
600 South Lake Avenue, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-720-5260
3. Glensheen, The Historic Congdon Estate
© Courtesy of Glensheen
Glensheen, the Historic Congdon Estate is a historic house museum operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth and one of the best things to do in Duluth, Minnesota. Sitting on more than seven acres on Lake Superior, the house contains 39 rooms. Built in the Jacobean style between 1905 and 1908, the mansion was the home of Chester Adgate Congdon and his family.
The house is surrounded by English style landscapes and formal terraced gardens; there are also trails and a vintage pier on the lake. One hour house tours are offered and tours of the grounds are also available. The facility can be rented for dinners, parties and weddings.
3300 London Road, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-726-8910
4.SS William A. Irvin
© SS William A. Irvin/Facebook
SS William A. Irvin is a lake freighter that is located on the waterfront of Lake Superior adjacent to the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center on Harbor Drive. It was the flagship of U.S. Steel’s Great Lakes Fleet. Launched in 1937 during the Great Depression, the ship served from 1938 until 1978 carrying coal and iron ore to U.S. Steel’s ports around the Great Lakes.
The ship also contained four private luxury cabins, a dining room, and a lounge for company guests of U.S. Steel. Today, visitors can tour these beautiful spaces decorated with oak, walnut, and brass. Visitors can also see the steam turbine engine and other parts of the ship.
5.Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium
© Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium
The Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium of the University of Minnesota at Duluth was built in 1967 with a donation from Marshall William Alworth. The planetarium offers a range of one hour long public shows using the Spitz A3P Star Machine, which allows visitors to enjoy a splendid view of the night sky.
If you are wondering what to do in Duluth, Minnesota with kids, this is a great place to visit. With the GeoDeome Evolver projector, the planetarium staff takes visitors around the Solar System using Uniview software and gives them a tour of our moon or the entire Cosmos. Professional staff or volunteer members of the Arrowhead Astronomical Society present live shows. Next read: Duluth wedding venues
University of Minnesota Duluth, 1049 University Drive, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-726-7129
6. Things to Do in Duluth, MN: Lake Superior Railroad Museum
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Located at the Historic Union Depot on West Michigan Street, the Lake Superior Railroad Museum is a historic railroad museum in Duluth. Built in 1892, the depot was a busy place during most of the 20th century: at one time as many as 50 trains a day left the depot. The depot closed in 1969 and restoration began in 1973 to create a museum.
The collection includes cabooses, diesel locomotives, electric locomotives, passenger cars, steam locomotives, and much more. The museum also operates the North Shore Scenic Railroad. This is a heritage railroad that takes passengers from the depot through Duluth, Canal Park, and along the shore of Lake Superior.
Historic Union Depot, 506 West Michigan Street, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-727-8025
7. Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth, MN
© Tweed Museum of Art
The University of Minnesota Duluth Tweed Museum of Art is a teaching and art collecting institution. The seed of its collection of more than 9,000 art objects was the collection of 19th and 20th century American and European paintings donated by art collector Alice Tweed after the death of her husband. She also donated the funds for the current museum building, which opened in 1958.
The original collection and many subsequent acquisitions and gifts today represent many periods of art history and a range of cultures. The Tweed Museum of Art is now a major educational and cultural resource for Duluth and the Upper Midwest.
University of Minnesota Duluth Campus, 1201 Ordean Court, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-726-8222
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8. Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
© Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory is a nature preserve and hawk watching area located on East Skyline Parkway in Duluth. Established in 1951, the first migratory hawk watch lasted for just a few days. Later, this was increased to several months. The Duluth Audubon Society donated funds in 1972 to the City of Duluth to buy acreage at the top of Hawk Ridge; more land was purchased in 1973 and today the nature preserve is made up of 365 acres.
The observatory focuses on education and on protecting birds of prey and other migratory birds. Special programs are held at the education lecture area and the observatory also hosts hawk watching workshops.
3980 East Skyline Parkway, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-428-6209
9.Duluth Children's Museum
© Duluth Children's Museum
What better way to learn than through imaginative play. The Duluth Children's Museum, located in Clyde Park, offers a range of interactive programs and fun facilities that kids and their parents can enjoy; they can play with a robot dinosaur, dig for ancient fossils, become royalty, and even explore the universe.
Duluth Children’s Museum has a collection of 25,000 unique historical artifacts. The museum allows children to experience theater, enjoy story time, get dirty with science, and so much more. Kids come to the museum, but the museum also comes to the kids by visiting schools and organizing field trips. If you are looking for fun activities in Duluth MN with kids, this is a great stop.
115 S 29th Ave W., Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-733-7543
10.Spirit Mountain, Duluth, Minnesota
© Spirit Mountain
Spirit Mountain is an outdoor recreation area that was established in 1974, offering mountain biking, skiing, and snowboarding. Some of the slopes have views of Lake Superior and St. Louis Bay. Added in 2010, Timber Twister is an Alpine Coaster, the first in the Midwest.
Since then, several other attractions have been added: these make up the Spirit Mountain Adventure Park and include the Timber Flyer Zip Line, a nine hole mini golf course, and a snow tubing park. The Chalet on Grand Avenue houses the Riverside Bar & Grill. Programs include skiing and snowboarding lessons for various age groups.
11. Lake Superior Zoo & Zoological Society
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The Lake Superior Zoo is an indoor/outdoor zoo with animal exhibits and feedings as well as education programs. Founded in 1923, the zoo has many exhibits such as African Lion, Asian Caravan, Australia & Oceania, Nocturnal Building, Northern Territory, and Primate Conservation Center.
The Barnyard gives visitors a chance for close up encounters with several kinds of animals like goats, llamas, and sheep. The Zoo Train is a fun way for children to see the zoo. The zoo has several education programs: for adults there are behind the scene tours, and for children there are field trips and summer zoo camps.
7210 Fremont Street, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-730-4500
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Skyline Parkway is a scenic drive that overlooks Duluth and Lake Superior. Along the way, there are observation points at the steepest and highest points - these areas offer the best views for visitors to Duluth.
Some of the best observation points are Bardon’s Peak, the area east of Haines Road, and Enger Park with its five story Enger Tower, gardens, picnic areas, and adjacent golf course. There are several activities that are popular along the parkway including cross-country skiing, hiking, and picnicking.
Highlights include the Magney-Snively Natural Area, a 1,800 acre old growth forest that is popular with hikers; the scenic Stewart Creek Bridge built in the 1920s; and Thompson Hill Travel Information Center.
13.Wade Stadium, Duluth, MN
© Wade Stadium
Located at Grand Avenue and 34th Avenue W in Duluth, Wade Stadium is a baseball park and home of the Duluth Huskies of the Northwoods League. Built in 1941 from 381,000 bricks taken from the surface of Grand Avenue, the stadium is known for this brick construction and for its tall green fences.
A WPA crew removed the bricks from the street and another WPA crew built the stadium. Known as “The Wade” by fans, the stadium was named after Duluth Dukes owner Frank Wade who passed away in 1953. The stadium was also the home of the Duluth Dukes from 1941 to 1970 and 1993 to 2002.
Grand Avenue, Duluth, MN 55807, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-723-3682
14.Minnesota's North Shore Scenic Drive
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Driving from Two Harbors to Duluth and from Grand Portage to Two Harbors along the north shore of Lake Superior, you will be driving through one of the most scenic roads in the country. No wonder it is often called the All-American Road.
Besides spectacular lake vistas, you will see steep cliffs, forested hills, rapid flowing streams, and magnificent waterfalls. The 154 miles of the lakeshore comprises seven state parks. Each little picturesque town you drive through has a story to tell.
Don’t miss the Split Rock Lighthouse built in 1910, a museum of commercial fishing in Tofte and fur trading post in Grand Portage. The town of Grand Marais is a veritable arts center with galleries, a playhouse, and a folk school. Once in Duluth, check the Aerial Lift Bridge, old Depot train museum and the Great Lakes Aquarium.
15.The Duluth Depot
© The Duluth Depot
Duluth Depot is a historic train station located on West Michigan Street in Duluth. Built in 1892, it was a union station that served seven railway lines.
The style of architecture is French Norman and building materials included granite, sandstone, and yellow brick. After the depot closed in 1969 it was scheduled for demolition; however, it was saved and eventually was listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
It opened in 1973 as the St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center and is home to several organizations including the Duluth Art Institute, the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, St. Louis County Historic Society Museum, and several performing arts organizations.
506 West Michigan Street, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-727-8025
16. Hartley Nature Center, Duluth, Minnesota
© Hartley Nature Center
Hartley Nature Center is a 660 acre nature park that is made up of forests, a pond, trails, exhibits and wildlife. The nature center focuses on environmental education and is housed in a 7,500 square foot building on the north side of Hartley Park. The building contains an exhibit hall, classrooms, a library, and displays with maps and information.
There are ten miles of hiking trails in the park and some of these serve as biking paths as well. There are also cross-country skiing trails and the center rents equipment. Hartley Pond is a popular place for fishing, home to bass, perch, and sunfish.
3001 Woodland Avenue, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-724-6735
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17.Northern Waters Smokehaus
© Northern Waters Smokehaus
Northern Waters Smokehaus is a delicious gourmet deli in Duluth that has been featured on the popular Food Network series Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. The restaurant, which was opened in 1998 by Eric Goerd, is known for its high-quality sustainable salmon and whitefish entrees, which are smoked in house daily. Artisanal sandwiches served up throughout the day include the Cajun Finn, which stuffs ciabatta bread with Cajun-style salmon and scallion cream, and the Cedar's Secret, which pairs sage maple turkey breast with craisin-walnut mayo and sriracha on naan bread. Homemade sides take on an international flair, ranging from kimchi and salmon pate to vegan options like cumin slaw.
394 S Lake Ave #106, Duluth, MN 55802, Phone: 218-724-7307
18. The Duluth Experience
© The Duluth Experience
As with any city rich in history and culture, the best way to experience Duluth is with the help of some experienced and knowledgeable locals. The Duluth Experience offers guided tours that nicely mix learning, entertainment, and exercise, and they have tours for everyone.
If you are an outdoor person, check their outdoor tour that involves biking along the shore of the lake or kayaking on beautiful Lake Superior.
Duluth is known as a craft beer city, and The Duluth Experience offers a fun tour of the most popular breweries, allowing you to learn about what makes each of them special and sample their goodies. History buffs will enjoy the History Bus Tour, organized in cooperation with the local historian Tony Dierckins, Historic Glensheen Mansion of the University of Minnesota and the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.
211 East 2nd Street, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-464-6337
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19.On The Rocks Art Studio, Duluth, Minnesota
© On The Rocks Art Studio
On the Rocks Art Studio is an art gallery, a painting school, a painting studio, and a party place. This cheerful, colorful establishment in Canal Park represents a number of local artists, and it also opens its doors to anyone interested in learning how to paint. They offer step-by-step instructions and provide all required tools.
You can also just use their tools and materials and paint on your own in their warm, welcoming studio. Or you can throw a party for your friends and get painting with all of them. You can also bring food and booze and even paint your own wine glasses. The studio also has weeklong art camps for kids ages 8 to 16.
307 Canal Park Dr., Duluth, MN, Phone: 218-525-2736
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20.Va Bene, Duluth, Minnesota
© Va Bene
It is impossible to beat the location of Va Bene. This lively, warm Italian restaurant has a spectacular view of Lake Superior from practically any corner of their dining rooms, of which there are several.
Whether you are sitting inside, surrounded with warm, yellow walls, and cheerful art, or on their outdoor patios, you will have a front row view of the enormous expanse of water and sky. The food matches the wonderful atmosphere and the views; everything is fresh and made from scratch daily. They make their own sauces, breads, dressings, gnocchi, and desserts.
Ingredients are sourced locally except for what has to come from Italy – prosciuttos, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and special Italian cheeses. The menu is typical Italian and everything is made to perfection. Whatever you choose, leave some space for dessert. Their gelatos are legendary.
734 E Superior St, Duluth, MN, Phone: 218-722-1518
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21. Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth, MN
© Great Lakes Aquarium
Opened in 2000, the Great Lakes Aquarium is unusual in that it features fresh water animals and habitats ranging from the Great Lakes to the Amazon River. There are more than 200 different species of amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles in the exhibits at the aquarium. The 62,000 square foot facility includes several permanent exhibits such as the two story Isle Royale, the main exhibit; Baptism River with its trout and waterfall; Amazing Amazon with its piranha and poison dart frogs; and many more. There are also temporary exhibits and many education outreach programs.
353 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN, Phone: 218-740-3474
22.New Scenic Cafe
© New Scenic Cafe
New Scenic Café is an intimate café located on Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior, between Duluth and Two Harbors. The small building is snuggled among lush blooms, behind a magical garden full of herbs, colorful flowers and ripe vegetables. The café was opened in 1999 by Scott Graden, who has been amazing his customers with a rich, unique menu and a relaxed, friendly atmosphere ever since. The views of the lake add to the pleasure of sophisticated American fare, which includes such goodies as braised plate of ribs served with roasted squash, pomegranate, jicama, aromatic seeds, and parsley or a ham dinner with fingerling potatoes, béarnaise sauce, asparagus, and lingonberries. The most popular items on the menu are Graden’s famous fruit pies, lush and juicy, each a piece of art and incredibly delicious.
5461 N Shore Dr, Duluth, MN 55804, Phone: 218-525-6274
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23.Apostle Islands Cruises
© Apostle Islands Cruises
Apostle Islands Cruise Service is a tour company that offers cruises around the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The company owns three ships: Superior Princess, Island Princess, and Ashland Bayfield Express. All of the ships have two decks: the lower deck is enclosed with large windows and the upper deck is open air. The seats are cushioned and each ship has a snack bar and restrooms.
The Grand Tour is a three hour 55 mile narrated cruise that travels to areas along Lake Superior where guests can see lighthouses, sea caves, and wildlife. The Glass Bottom Tour allows passengers to see underwater historic artifacts including shipwrecks.
24.Fitger's Brewhouse Brewery and Grille
© Fitger's Brewhouse Brewery and Grille
What makes best craft beers is probably the topic of endless discussions in pubs the whole world over. Is it the water or the local ingredients? Fitger’s Brewhouse has award-winning lagers and ales that are handmade using carefully selected, all natural locally harvested ingredients and Lake Superior waters.
They serve their products straight from their tanks to your glass. There is no way it can be any fresher, and you will taste the difference right away. The brew house is located on the shores of Lake Superior in the historic Fitger's Complex and is a great place to spend an evening even if you are not a passionate beer drinker.
They support local and regional artists, and every Wednesday the popular Mid-week Bracer and Blues Meeting takes place. The pub food is designed to compliment the beer and is firmly Duluth – fresh, seasonal, and made with local ingredients, some of which come from their own farm. Their vegetarian options are delicious. If you are looking for romantic date night ideas in Duluth, Minnesota, this is a great place to try.
600 E Superior St., Duluth, MN, Phone: 218-279-2739
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25. Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad
© Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad
The Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad is a historic and scenic railway that follows the last six miles of the original 1870s train track into Duluth. The antique equipment includes a 1946 General Electric Center Cab engine, two restored 1912 passenger cars, and an open-air “Safari Car.”
The narrated railway tour takes one hour and forty minutes and follows the St. Louis River estuary, Mud Lake, and Spirit Lake. This allows passengers to learn about the history of the trains and the environment as well as see a variety of wildlife such as bald eagles, deer, ducks, fox, great blue herons, loons, swans, and more.
6930 Fremont Street, Duluth, MN, Phone: 218-624-7549
25 Best Things to Do in Duluth, MN
- Canal Park, Photo: Courtesy of clubhousearts - Fotolia.com
- Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, Photo: Courtesy of clubhousearts - Fotolia.com
- Glensheen, The Historic Congdon Estate, Photo: Courtesy of Glensheen
- SS William A. Irvin, Photo: SS William A. Irvin/Facebook
- Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium, Photo: Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium
- Things to Do in Duluth, MN: Lake Superior Railroad Museum, Photo: Courtesy of ccfoto - Fotolia.com
- Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth, MN, Photo: Tweed Museum of Art
- Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory, Photo: Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
- Duluth Children's Museum, Photo: Duluth Children's Museum
- Spirit Mountain, Duluth, Minnesota, Photo: Spirit Mountain
- Lake Superior Zoo & Zoological Society, Photo: Courtesy of davemhuntphoto - Fotolia.com
- Skyline Parkway, Photo: Courtesy of clubhousearts - Fotolia.com
- Wade Stadium, Duluth, MN, Photo: Wade Stadium
- Minnesota's North Shore Scenic Drive, Photo: Courtesy of AMB-MD Photography - Fotolia.com
- The Duluth Depot, Photo: The Duluth Depot
- Hartley Nature Center, Duluth, Minnesota, Photo: Hartley Nature Center
- Northern Waters Smokehaus, Photo: Northern Waters Smokehaus
- The Duluth Experience, Photo: The Duluth Experience
- On The Rocks Art Studio, Duluth, Minnesota, Photo: On The Rocks Art Studio
- Va Bene, Duluth, Minnesota, Photo: Va Bene
- Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth, MN, Photo: Great Lakes Aquarium
- New Scenic Cafe, Photo: New Scenic Cafe
- Apostle Islands Cruises, Photo: Apostle Islands Cruises
- Fitger's Brewhouse Brewery and Grille, Photo: Fitger's Brewhouse Brewery and Grille
- Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad, Photo: Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of clubhousearts - Fotolia.com
Tom's Historic Logging Camp
Tom’s Historic Logging Camp is a replica of an old logging camp located on North Shore Drive in Duluth. Situated in a wooded area of balsam, birch, pine and spruce, the camp includes a Blacksmith Shop, Bunkhouse, Cook Shanty, Finnish Sauna, Harness Shop, Horse Barn, Horseshoeing Stall, and Shoe Shop.
In addition to the buildings, the camp replicates life in a typical Northern Minnesota logging camp with original tools and equipment that rugged loggers used before the days of machines and trucks. There is also a sandwich shop and a gift shop, the Old Northwest Company Trading Post.
Children have the opportunity to feed pygmy goats, llamas, and rainbow trout.
5797 North Shore Drive, Duluth, Minnesota, Phone: 218-525-4120