The end of summer is fast approaching, but there is still some time to escape north.
While many of the cities along Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes and bordered by Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Canada, offer plenty to do, few compare to Duluth in terms of the number of things to do per square mile. Named after French explorer Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut, the city celebrates its Norwegian, maritime and tourism history.
Whether you are looking for good food, craft beer or spirits, small-town shopping or natural beauty, Duluth has something to offer both young and old. And with Lake Superior naturally keeping the city cool, you can escape summer’s last gasps of heat and humidity.
For families, the waterfront in Duluth has plenty of appeal. The Lake Walk boardwalk follows miles of Lake Superior, is bike and pet friendly, and connects to many attractions from the Leif Erikson Rose Garden and downtown venues to Canal Park and the harbor with its popular lift bridge, beaches and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers museum.
At the museum, visitors can see a log of ships due in and out of the ports in Duluth, from small cargo barges to large international shipping boats carrying ore and grain. The museum also provides a look at the history of Lake Superior; there are presentations on the formation of the Great Lakes and the history of the shipping trade.
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The museum also highlights historic models and artifacts — from old diesel and steam engines from ships to scale models of some of the different kinds of vessels that plied the Great Lakes from the 1700s until now. For kids, there is the gift shop with souvenirs as well as interactive exhibits about living on the water and how the lock and dam system works.
Canal Park puts visitors in the heart of many North Shore attractions, and it includes shopping and an arcade. The park is also home to restaurants and craft breweries, such as Canal Brewing Company, Vikre Distillery and restaurants such as Grandma’s Saloon.
Lodging is also abundant in the park, and the boardwalk connects to downtown attractions such as Pizza Luce and the historic Fitger’s Building. It is only a short walk to beaches, an aquarium, the hockey arena, ship museums and sailboat tours of the harbor.
Throughout the year, the area is home to a number of festivals and events from Tall Ships Duluth to the Lake Superior Dragon Boat Festival. The Tall Ships festival brings in a number of sailing vessels, such as El Galeon Andalucía, a replica of a historic Spanish merchant ship from the colonial period, as well as the world’s largest rubber duck.
While the lakefront has a dense collection of things for visitors to do, the rest of the city is packed with history as well as good food. Right off of I-35 is the Duluth Grill, an organic restaurant that creates fresh dishes made with locally sourced ingredients as well as their own garden.
On the north end of the city is Enger Park, home to the tower of the same name, which provides a commanding view of the city and Lake Superior. Duluth is also the birthplace of Bob Dylan, celebrated each year by the city and the 1.8-mile Bob Dylan Way through the city’s downtown.
With even more attractions, historic sites, museums, and restaurants than can fit on this list, there is plenty to do in Duluth. And that doesn’t even include the other North Shore attractions and mom and pop businesses such as Betty’s Pies in Twin Harbors, Gooseberry Falls State Park or Split Rock Lighthouse in Silver Bay.