Duluth is a seaport city in Minnesota and is the second-largest city on Lake Superior’s shores. It is a place like no other where the largest freshwater lake in the world meets the sky with rocky cliffs and pristine forests with miles of trails for you to explore. There is a range of activities year-round and below are listed the top ten things to do in Duluth.
10. Duluth Lakewalk
The Duluth Lakewalk has some very scenic walking and biking paths that stretch over four miles along the shoreline around Lake Superior. It extends between Canal Park and S. 60th Avenue E. near University Park. The North Shore Scenic Railroad takes a few daily trips along the Lakewalk. It offers great vistas of the big lake, attractively maintained parks and gardens, beaches for wading to cool off and rock picking, and a unique blend of separation from the noise and busyness of an urban area coupled with easy access to some of its benefits: shopping, dining, pubs, ice cream parlors, etc.
9. Aerial Lift Bridge
The Aerial Lift Bridge began life as an extremely rare transporter bridge. The bridge is a span-drive configuration movable lift bridge constructed in 1901-1905 and modified in 1929. By 1973 Americans realized how important the bridge was, inducting it into the National Register of Historic Places. Today, it can be raised to its full height of 227 feet in about a minute, and is raised approximately five thousand times per year. At water’s edge, next to the bridge, is the Marine Museum. Outdoor video monitors display the schedules of upcoming ore carrier arrivals so that fans know when they’ll chug past.
8. Canal Park
This area is a tourist and recreation-oriented district. It is largely a conversion of an old warehouse district into restaurants, shops, cafés, and hotels. Most retail shops are spread along Canal Park Drive and in the Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace. Attractions located here include a 4.2-mile long cakewalk, a lighthouse pier, the Maritime Visitor Center, the Great Lakes Aquarium, and the William A. Irvin floating ship museum. The Duluth Tall Ships Festival is one of the best summer events in the area. After assembling in the outer harbor, each ship parades through the shipping canal to the inner harbor where a number of them will be available for dockside tours.
7. Enger Park and Tower
Enger Tower is an 80-foot, five-story blue stone observation tower atop Enger Hill. Climbing the stairs all the way to the top will give you breathtaking bird’s eye view of Duluth, its Harbor, and Lake Superior. The tower was dedicated in 1939 by Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Martha of Norway. The Peace Bell Tower from Duluth’s sister city in Japan, Oh Ara overlooks a Japanese rock garden and the Superior Hiking Trail runs along the edge of Enger Park Gardens along the trail section that traverses the ridge above Skyline Drive. Admission is free and both are favorite picnic spot and tourist attractions in Duluth.
6. Glensheen Mansion
The Glensheen Historic Congdon Estate is a mansion operated by the University of Minnesota Duluth as a historic house museum. It was built for Chester Congdon and his family between 1905 and 1908. Chester Congdon went from being a school teacher in Wisconsin to being the wealthiest Minnesotan at the time of his death in 1916, worth 40 million dollars. The 7-acre estate features gardens, bridges, and the famous 39-room mansion built with remarkable 20th-century craftsmanship. On the last Friday in May, tours are free to celebrate Glensheen’s anniversary as a museum. They’re first come, first served, so come early. The ticket house opens at 9.
5. Leif Erikson Park and the Rose Garden
The Rose Garden was opening in 1965 within Leif Erickson Park, with 2,000 roses, all arranged in gently curving beds surrounding an antique horse fountain. Here it remained for 25 years and due to a redevelopment project, moved to its current location. The new Leif Erickson Park and Rose Garden reopened in 1994 with six acres of a beautiful arrangement of more than 3,000 rose bushes and other floral delights. There is a full-scale replica of a wooden Viking ship reminiscent of the type used by Norse sailors hundreds of years ago, and a whimsical stone stage with two castle-like towers on each end, along with the fountain and gazebo from the original garden.
4. Park Point
This is a seven mile long developed sand bar formed from the Nemadji and St. Louis River. In conjunction with its neighboring Wisconsin Point, it forms the longest freshwater sand bar in the world and is the city’s birthplace and quintessential beach settlement. The romantic getaway on the Park Point peninsula offers stunning Harbor views and beautiful sunsets. The dense hardwood-pine forests, red and white pine forests, and sand dune beach habitats offer an excellent opportunity for birding. Along the trail, you can see remnants of old growth forests and settler cabins.
3. Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center
This is one of those places to visit in Duluth that will leave you wanting more. Thousand-foot-long freighters pass within 200 feet of the building, underneath the Aerial Lift Bridge, which lifts up to allow them to pass through. With over 475,000 people visiting the Center annually, there are exhibits and programs on upper lakes commercial shipping, three replica cabins and pilothouse from ships, two-story steam engine, 50 scale models and lots of interactive displays. This is a place where maritime history is remembered and the area’s beauty around it is unquestioned, perfect for photographs and picnic lunches with family and friends.
2. Great Lakes Aquarium
The Great Lakes Aquarium opened in 2000 and is a freshwater aquarium that features 205 different species of fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals and habitats found within the Great Lakes region throughout the 62,000-square-foot facility along with other freshwater ecosystems such as the Amazon River. Among the permanent fixtures is the 85,000 gallon Isle Royale which extends to both the first and second floors allowing visitors to view it from many different angles. The rotating exhibits include the Masters of Disguise which is an intriguing attraction that explores camouflage, coloring, mimicry and other visual tricks and behaviors that help sea creatures and land animals hide in plain sight. This is a fun place for kids to explore the world that they normally can’t see.
1. Duluth Zoo
The Lake Superior Zoo was founded in 1923 by a West Duluth businessman, Bert Ensgard when he built a pen for his white tail deer. This helped his vision spread through the community who in turn helped him build the zoo. Today, you’ll find over 400 animals and 200 different species, the zoo train, special tours, a daily calendar of activities and much more. Be sure to check out their daily animal enrichment schedule, designed to excite both animals and visitors alike. The zoo also features picnic tables where you can pack your own picnic, a jungle playground, and a fantastic winter sliding hill.
This city is a thriving community where you can take in a show, explore nature, enjoy a meal and stay in comfort no matter if you are staying for a week long getaway for a quick weekend trip. The summers and early winters tend to be the best times to visit Duluth, as these times are ideal for outdoor activities, from swimming in one of the many beaches that surround Lake Superior to snow-shoeing and cross country skiing.