12 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Duluth (with Map & Photos)

For adventure lovers looking for outdoor fun, it's hard to ruin the natural beauty and variety of four-season attractions in Duluth, Minnesota. Located along the northern shore of Lake Superior, Duluth revels in its harbor and is known as the land where the water meets the sky.

This seaport enjoys a long maritime history that visitors love to explore, and trucks still sail out to sea from here, heading for transatlantic crossings. Sitting on the westernmost point of the Great Lakes, Duluth enchants with panoramic views; wide public park system; gourmet restaurants, shops and museums; and many opportunities to enjoy the water.

1 North Shore Scenic Drive


North Shore Scenic Drive
North Shore Scenic Drive

With dramatic vistas and stunning beauty of Lake Superior at every turn, the 141-mile road along Highway 61 provides tourists with great opportunities to experience life along the lake. Start at Duluth's waterfront Canal Park and the northeast. Views along the way are captured as acres of aspen, majestic Pine Mountains, waterfalls, cliffs and beaches compete for attention.

The real fun comes from stopping at charming little northern coastal towns along the way. One-of-a-kind shops, restaurants and local flavors make each stone special. The two harbors are well worth exploring, just 27 miles north of Duluth. Hawaii's two lighthouses have been lovingly restored to their original 1891 splendor and offer visitors views of a variety of lanterns, lenses, and artifacts from Minnesota's oldest permanent lighthouse. Nearby, the Split Rock Lighthouse sits majestically off Highway 61 and is a must.

Gooseberry Falls State Park is a true all-season playground with hiking (winter) trails, picnic areas, gorgeous scenery and an impressive waterfall.

Continuing north along the trail, Lutsen is home to the Excellent Hiking Trail, otherwise known as the "Midwest Appalachian Trail". Skiing and snowboarding are the most important things to do in winter: horseback riding and BMX biking in the fall at the largest ski area in the Midwest.

The Gran Marais Art Colony is at the very northern end of the drive, where funky galleries, inspired dinners and boutiques await. Here, canoe and kayak enthusiasts experience crystal clear lake lakes along the famous Canoe Frontier.

2 Canal Park


Lake
Lake

Hugging the coastline of Lake Superior, Canal Park is the epicenter of family fun in Duluth. More than a traditional park, this popular Duluth holiday destination is Lake Walk, a promenade with hiking and biking trails that wander the waterfront, past shops and restaurants. Sit and watch the ships sail in the harbor or walk on the water to watch wonderful people. The eastern end of Lake Bay connects to Leif Erickson Park and Duluth Rose Garden, a great spot to enjoy harbor views and picnic. Be sure to see the replica Viking Erikson's Ship, a wooden sailboat that sailed from Norway to Boston and then to Duluth centuries ago. Children of all ages will love Playfront Park, the largest playground built in 1989 as a community project.

All sorts of water sports are available at Canal Park, including electric boat rentals, Seadoos, paddles, canoes and kayaks. It is also easy to arrange bike rentals and rides.

3 Aerial Lift Bridge


Aerial lift bridge
Aerial lift bridge

For over 100 years, Duluth Aerial Drawbridge has attracted visitors every day as an engineering and architectural marvel. Securing a narrow opening connecting Park Point to the Duluth mainland, the most photographed structure in Duluth operates 24/7, going up and down to accommodate trucks, freighters, sailboats and harbor excursions into the lake's main channel. Photographers get great shots just before sunset. The action doesn't end when the sun falls, however, as the bridge is especially beautiful at night, with hundreds of LED lights illuminating the structure. Take in views from nearby Canal Park and along the Lake.

Address: 601 S. Lake Ave, Duluth, MN

4 Historic Glensheen Congdon Estate


Historic Glensheen Congdon Estate vofuth
Historic Glensheen Congdon Estate vofuth

Perched atop a bluff with city and lake views, this 39-room mansion is Minnesota's most visited historic home. In the early 20th century, home to over 27,000 square feet, it was once home to Chester Kongdon, Duluth's renowned industrialist and philanthropist. Together with his wife, Clara, Kongdon provided the home with modern amenities that were wonderful for the time being. Plan extra time to traverse the carefully landscaped 12-acre estate; the gardens were created by renowned landscape architect Charles Wellford Leavitt, Jr. Guided walks are available and include real furnishings, clothing, photographs, well-preserved letters and ephemera from the Congons, allowing for a glimpse of life at the turn of the century.

Address: 300 London Rd, Duluth, MN

Official website: http://glensheen.org/

5 Great Lakes Aquarium


Great Lakes Aquarium Greg Gjerdingen
Great Lakes Aquarium Greg Gjerdingen

Adjacent to Duluth Harbor is the spectacular Great Lakes Aquarium, inspiring visitors as a hub of discovery, home to animals, animals and sea creatures representing the regional Great Lakes Basin and beyond. Guests will learn about the centuries of geological forces that have shaped the secrets of the area. Amphibians, reptiles, mammals and invertebrates are displayed - some in touch pools, allowing the tiny set to feel more friendly species. The special two-story aquarium is especially active during feeding, so keep an eye on the schedule and bystander fish such as gobies, black specks and porcupines in habitats that reflect what is found in the wild.

Address: 353 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN

Official website: http://glaquarium.org/

6 Lake Seaside Visitor Center


Lake Upper Seaside Visitor Center US Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District
Lake Upper Seaside Visitor Center US Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District


Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Duluth. This free museum in Canal Park bears witness to the lake's historic maritime history and an important role Port Duluth played in shaping the early American iron and steel industry; Freight transport in the Midwest around the world; and even the fate of the doomed freighter, Edmund Fitzgerald.Artifacts to be found here include the original 1905 Fresnel lens that illuminates the Inner Range Lightover the southern pier of the Duluth Canal, the cabins of early transport ships and detailed route maps and maps. The museum's gift shop features a one-of-a-kind lake inspired by memorabilia and history books at budget prices.

Address: 600 S. Lake Ave, Duluth, MN

Official website: http://www.lsmma.com/

7 Enger Tower


Enger Tower
Enger Tower

Built in 1939 from native blue stone as a tribute to Norwegian-American businessman and philanthropist Bert Anger, Anger's 80-foot tower sits atop Duluth's bluff. Located in Enger Park and adorned with a verdant lighthouse, the Enger Tower looms 531 feet above the lake, offering magnificent views of the city and Duluth Harbor. Visitors can climb narrow stairs to the very top, where strong winds take off and breathtaking 360-degree vistas offer unparalleled photo opportunities.

The immaculate perennial gardens welcome visitors as they stroll through the grounds. Be sure to admire and ring the Japanese Peace Bell, which was installed as a gift from Ohara, Japan, sister city of Duluth. Take time for a superb hiking trail running around the edge of the gardens. It parallels the ridge above Skyline Drive and many great photo opportunities overlooking the lake and city. Rock climbers and bouldering enthusiasts enjoy rocky short boulders off the trails adjacent to the Twin Ponds parking lot (Hank Jensen Drive) in the park. Climb with the locals Slab Boulder to the east of the park and to the Upper and Lower Walls on the west.

Official website: http://www.engertowerduluth.com/

8 Upper Lake Railway Museum


Lake Railroad Museum James St. John
Lake Railroad Museum James St. John

Next to the busy main street of Duluth is the Upper Lake Railway Museum. Housed in a historic 1892 French-style Union Station castle, the museum offers visitors an up-close look at the rolling stock and trains that helped build the region's colorful past. Steam, diesel and electric trains are on display here, as well as a three-quarter replica of Duluth's city center in 1910, the city's industrial boom flourishing. Of particular note is a rare example of a diesel engine The Great Northern 92 engine, one of 10 built between 1946 and 1947.

Address: Historical Union Depot, st. Michigan, 506, Duluth, MN

Official website: http://www.lsrm.org/Home/index.html


9 Spirit Adventure Park


Ski tourism
Ski tourism

A true four-season adventure park, Spirit Mountain is just 15 miles north of town. Winter fun includes skiing, snowboarding, tubing, Nordic trails and snowmobiling. Spring / Fall offers adventure mountain biking, alpine slides, zip lines, walking cable cars, disco golf and a giant jumping cushion for kids. Plan a weekday visit at the park for better access, and start early in the day along the shortest driving lines. Also, use the “automatic photos” taken on the Alpine Slide. Riders have the option to purchase individual photos or an entire drive of a family in action to share when you get home.

Address: 9500 Spirit Mountain Place, Duluth, MN

Official website: http://spiritmt.com/adventure-park

10 Split rock lighthouse


Split rock lighthouse
Split rock lighthouse

Less than an hour's drive north of Duluth along the scenic northern shores of Lake Superior, the famous Split Rock Lighthouse at Two Harbors is one of the most famous landmarks in Minnesota. Visitors learn about the origins of the lighthouse in 1910 and get a glimpse into the life of lighthouses. Explore four original buildings on the grounds, including the Guardian's House, Oil House, Signal Building, and Lighthouse.

Perched atop the cliffs, Split Rock is the most photographed lighthouse in Minnesota. A unique long-shot perspective found from bump to bump on highway 61, south of the lighthouse. Photographers wishing to shoot from the north find the best vantage point at the northernmost end of a hiking trail that runs along the cliffs right in front of the lighthouse. Sightseeing boats at Beaver Bay are available for those looking to get out on the water for another perspective.

Address: 3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Rd, Two Harbors, MN

11 Positive energy outdoors


Dog sledding
Dog sledding

Kayaking, dog sledding, rock climbing, sledding are all here at PEO, a unique non-profit training center that encourages people and animals to enjoy the outdoors. Advance planning is required to take advantage of this small tour operator's offerings as their day trip excursion can be booked several weeks in advance. Great for families or couples, small group sizes ensure everyone receives personalized instruction from trained PEO volunteers. Winter dog sledding is their most popular offer. Prepare for the elements as tours are scheduled for two hours but often run longer. Guests will learn how to use dogs, place them on line, and even visit them in their kennels.

Address: 4757 Datka Rd, Duluth, MN

Official website: http://www.outdooredventures.org/


12 Vista Fleet Cruises


A cruise on Lake Superior offers a different perspective of the city. There are several cruise options available including sightseeing cruises, lunch cruises, and even a pizza cruise. The tour lasts from 45 minutes to 105 minutes. Vista has two ships that operate all year round. Vista Star can accommodate 220 passengers and Vista Queen sails with a maximum of 50 passengers. Avoid long lines at the dock by booking online or using its mobile ticketing app, which allows guests to get home without stopping at their ticket counter. Cruises offer indoor and outdoor seating. Be sure to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure as they operate a tight ship sailing on schedule.

Address: 323 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN

Official website: http://www.vistafleet.com/daily-cruises-tickets/

Duluth Map