Located in northern Minnesota on the edge of Lake Superior, Duluth is one of the most popular destinations for visitors heading up north. While I’ve been several times throughout my life, I’ve visited Duluth twice as an adult in the past two years. It’s a fun city with lots to keep you busy!
While it’s a great starting point on a North Shore road trip, Duluth can easily merit a couple of days on its own (especially if the weather’s nice). Here are 7 things to check out in Duluth!
1. Canal Park
Canal Park is probably Duluth’s number one attraction. The aerial lift bridge is the symbol of the city—and if you’re lucky, you might just see it go up to allow a ship to pass through! (And if you’re unlucky, you’ll be sitting in a car, waiting forever to cross the bridge.) The park area is lots of fun—bike rentals, swimming on the lake, and just walking around are all good ideas. If you’re looking for an inside activity, the Lake Superior Marine Museum and Maritime Visitor Center is located right next to the bridge.
If you’re looking for food around Canal Park, I highly recommend Vitta Pizza! Make sure you get the breadsticks, you’ll thank me later. I also really liked Canal Park Brewing Company (which has a full kitchen as well as craft beer selections). My favorite part about the brewery is that you can order 4-oz beers and create your own flight for only $1.60 each!
2. Lakeside Walk
Duluth has a walk/bike trail along Lake Superior, and strolling around the lake and taking in the views is an absolute must for a visit to Duluth! I started at the Rose Gardens (which also has free parking for 3 hours, across from the Armory), which I highly recommend, and walked all the way to Canal Park. You can stop off at Fitgers en route if you’re hungry or thirsty—they have a great deck overlooking the lake!
3. The Duluth Depot
The Depot is currently home to the St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center, which houses eight organizations under the same roof. If you’re looking for Duluth museums, this is where you should go! A single ticket gets you entry to the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, the St. Louis County Historical Society, the Duluth Art Institute, and the North Shore Scenic Railroad. If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary, you can take a scenic train ride along the shore of Lake Superior—even all the way to Two Harbors!
4. Superior Street
Superior Street is the main drag in downtown Duluth. You’ll find loads of shops, restaurants, and cafes along the street! If you’re looking for shopping or eating, this is where you should head.
5. PortLand Malt Shoppe
This place is the stuff of dreams! Okay, maybe it was just really warm and I was tired from walking so much, but the malts here are unbelievable. I would walk back to Duluth for another one of these bad boys! The malt shoppe is located right by Fitgers along the lake—you can take the stairs up from the Lakeside Walk. I highly recommend the chocolate peanut butter malt. They’re open seasonally, from April to October, and cash-only.
6. Glensheen Historic Estate
If you want to get your Downton Abbey on, Glensheen is where you should go! This historic house museum was built as a residence for the Congdon family in 1908, and is currently operated by the University of Minnesota—Duluth. Classic and Full-Mansion Tours run year-round, and other tours run seasonally. Make sure to give yourself enough time to explore the beautiful grounds on the estate!
7. Enger Tower
If you’re looking for the best views over Duluth, this is where you should go! The tower is free to climb up (be warned, there are lots of stairs) and is a great lookout over the city and the surrounding area, especially the lake. It’s a winding drive up to the park, but it’s well worth it!
The Basics: Duluth has a population of about 86,000, and is one of the largest cities in Minnesota after Minneapolis/St. Paul. Situated on the North Shore of Lake Superior (the largest freshwater lake by surface area), Duluth is the second-largest city on Lake Superior (after Thunder Bay, Ontario). Duluth is a port city, with lots of ships passing through the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge.
Getting Around: There are hills everywhere in Duluth. EVERYWHERE. While some areas (particularly around Canal Park and downtown) are walkable, I’d recommend driving as your best option for transportation. Be especially careful if you’re driving a manual car on the hills. Duluth does also have a city bus system if you’re visiting without a car.
Where I Stayed: On my most recent trip, I stayed with a friend so I can’t offer accommodation advice from that trip. But last year, I stayed at the Suites Hotel (at Waterfront Plaza), which I highly recommend! Even though I stayed in an interior suite and it was a little dark (no windows so no natural lighting), I had a kitchen with a fridge, microwave, and stove that would have been great had I been wanting to cook for myself. The hotel also has an unbeatable location in Canal Park. They have a swimming pool (with a sauna), and also offer free breakfast and free parking. I also got a free drink at the restaurant with my stay. I would definitely stay here again!
Duluth is a great city to explore if you’re headed up north. While much smaller than Minneapolis and St. Paul, there’s still lots to do here—and it is a great gateway to the North Shore!
Have you ever been to Duluth? What would you add to the list?! Let me know in the comments!