If you’re visiting Minnesota for any reason, you’ll be happy to know there is much to see and do. Duluth, MN, home to the University of Minnesota Duluth, is also full of attractions, historic landmarks, and sights worth seeing at least once in your life. There’s so much variety that you’ll be sure to find something for just about everyone.
With beautiful parks, aquariums, zoos, museums, and more — you’re going to love this northern Minnesota city. Here are 23+ amazing things to do in Duluth.
COOLEST PLACES TO STAY IN DULUTH MN
- Best Budget Hotel. La Quinta by Wyndham Duluth is highly rated at an affordable price, and features a hot tub. It’s 3.2 miles from city center, and is also rated great for families.
- Best for Families. Holiday Inn & Suites Duluth is 1.4 miles to downtown, and an 8 minute walk to the beach. It’s rated great for kids due to the suite options and low cost breakfast.
- Best Luxury Option. Pier B Resort is 3,700 feet from the beach and features the only waterfront restaurant in Duluth. It also has a gorgeous pool and hot tub right next to the water.
MINNESOTA’S NORTH SHORE SCENIC DRIVE
To really get an idea of how beautiful Minnesota is, taking a drive on the North Shore Scenic Drive is a great choice.
The scenic drive covers 149 miles of highway running from Duluth to the Canadian border. You’ll find beautiful views of Lake Superior, lush greenery, and so much more.
This drive is definitely worth the trip, even if you don’t cover the entire thing. However, if you do, it’s easy as a day trip to and from Duluth.
SPLIT ROCK LIGHTHOUSE
Located about an hour from Duluth, the Split Rock Lighthouse opened in 1909 to serve as a landmark and a beacon for ships coming into shore. This beautiful lighthouse features cliffside views and impressive Lake Superior scenery as the backdrop.
People love to come to the lighthouse for photos and a good sunset, but you’ll also love going inside to take a tour. There’s a visitor center to let you know all about the lighthouse and other history of the area, too.
For lake views you won’t find anywhere else and plenty of history, this is a stop to make.
AERIAL LIFT BRIDGE
The Aerial Lift Bridge is a sight to behold if you’re into architecture and impressive structures. This bridge was constructed in the early 1900s to make it easier for ships to cross the lake.
Some people like to drive across the bridge; others may just find a spot in nearby Canal Park to sit and watch the iron ore ships passing under the bridge as it rises and falls throughout the day.
ENGER PARK AND TOWER
Enger Park is located on the west end of Duluth, and it’s home to the 80-foot Enger Tower.
This park has several gardens for relaxing and exploring, including a Japanese-style garden that is peaceful and breathtaking all at once. Visitors who are brave enough can climb the tower to see Duluth and Lake Superior from a place that most people don’t.
If you’re not into heights, you can stay on the ground and still learn a lot about the area.
One of the many great parks in Duluth, Canal Park is located in the heart of the city and connects the lakefront to downtown. This is the gateway to Park Point, and even links Bayfront Park to the convention center.
You’ll find art galleries, shops and dining options, and plenty of businesses in the Canal Park district. This is also where people come to watch the Aerial Lift Bridge, enjoy the views of the lake, and more.
Adventure Zone and Vertical Endeavors offer adventure attractions for those who dare! You can also tour the SS William A. Irvin Museum while you’re here.
At Canal Park, you’ll find the Lakewalk, an 8-mile trail that’s paved and runs right along the edge of Lake Superior. You’ll enjoy plenty of stunning views of the lake and a stroll along the trails without having to worry about hiking or rough terrain.
The Lakewalk takes you past the Aerial Lift Bridge, shopping and dining, war memorials, Bayfront Festival Park, Leif Erickson Park, and more.
Locals love this path for daily walks, jogs, and even casual strolls. It can get a little icy during the winter months when the lake freezes, but it’s still a beautiful place to visit. It’s open year-round.
LEIF ERIKSON PARK
Leif Erikson Park is situated on the shores of Lake Superior, offering a great visit for anyone who wants a little history of the area.
The Lake Walk Trail comes through this park, so some people might stumble upon it naturally, while others may make an intentional visit to the destination. Stroll around Duluth’s Rose Garden to enjoy more than 3,000 rose bushes, or enjoy the beautiful scenery of the lake as you have a picnic in the park.
This is a great park with plenty to see and do.
LAKE SUPERIOR MARITIME VISITOR CENTER
Another great attraction on Lake Superior is the Maritime Visitor Center, which is located near the Aerial Lift Bridge in Canal Park. The museum was established back in 1973 and is known for its impressive collection of Great Lakes artifacts, shipwreck history, and more.
The exhibits are updated regularly and there are even interactive activities for people of all ages.
LAKE SUPERIOR RAILROAD MUSEUM
The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is a great attraction for those interested in railroads, trains, and the history of the railroad in the area.
The railroad museum is located in the Union Depot, which was opened in 1973 as a train station. Today, there are tons of artifacts to enjoy, along with actual trains, train cars, and even cabooses.
Adults and children alike will love this museum!
GLENSHEEN AND THE HISTORIC CONGDON ESTATE
Glensheen Mansion is the name of a 20,000-square-foot mansion built on the shore of Lake Superior in 1905. Completed in 1908, this impressive property offers majestic grounds and impressive details that are reflective of the period when the house was built.
There are 39 total bedrooms and tons of other rooms to explore in this mansion. Self-guided tours are offered throughout the day and you can call ahead about hours, guided tours, and group or event registrations.
NORTH SHORE SCENIC RAILROAD
If you want to travel back in time and get a glimpse of the area’s railroad history, the North Short Scenic Railroad should be on your list. Here, you’ll find classic engines, vintage cars, and more. You can even enjoy discounted rides if you also visit the Lake Superior Railroad Museum.
There are dinner tickets, a pizza train, and so much more. You can find schedules and tickets online, so be sure to check before you go if there’s something specific you want to see or do.
GREAT LAKES AQUARIUM
The Great Lakes Aquarium can be fun for the entire family. Here, you’ll see more than 250 species of aquatic life from all over the world. This private, non-profit destination is located on the waterfront and was opened in 2000.
There are plenty of habitats that mimic local areas, like the Great Lakes, but you can even find an Amazon River habitat here.
The Great Lakes Aquarium is the perfect family-friendly place to visit.
LINCOLN PARK CRAFT DISTRICT
If you’re into crafts and artisan goods, the Lincoln Park Craft District is a must-see. You’ll find tons of different crafters and artisans serving up locally made products and goods, just minutes from the St. Louis River.
In the Lincoln Park Craft District you’ll also find the Duluth Children’s Museum, Duluth Folk School, and plenty of brewing companies and other things to see while you’re in the area.
VISTA CRUISE OF LAKE SUPERIOR
To see Lake Superior from the water, a cruise on the Vista Cruise Line is a great way to go. The cruises are available from May to October and can help you see the best of Duluth.
Enjoy sightseeing tours, like the Duluth Waterfront Tour, or dining and specialty tours, like their late-night cocktail cruise, Sips on Superior. They also feature amazing dinner cruises, and special cruises for holidays.
GRANDMA’S SALOON AND GRILL
Grandma’s Saloon and Grill is located in Canal Park and is one of the best places to dine in the city. Since 1976, this establishment has been filled with people who enjoy the local cuisine and the feel of a small-town restaurant.
The interior is filled with collectibles and antiques, and the menu features nationally-recognized items and one-of-a-kind tastes that you’ll only find here. Stop for a bite and stay for the ambiance, or if the season is right sit on the deck and watch the lake.
Skyline Parkway is a great drive if you want to see the city from end to end. It also offers a bird’s eye view of the harbor and the shoreline, and it makes it easy to get to the best attractions in the city.
With plenty of observation overlooks along the route, you can enjoy spectacular views of Lake Superior and the St. Louis River Bay.
Along this parkway, you’ll find a mountain bike trail, bird watching spots, and more.
DULUTH ENTERTAINMENT AND CONVENTION CENTER
The Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center is located downtown Duluth just minutes from the water, and you’ll find events going on year-round at this facility.
From sports games to concerts to conventions and more, there is something for everyone. Be sure to plan ahead for big events and buy tickets in advance.
OBERG MOUNTAIN LOOP
If you want some of the best views of Oberg Lake, Moose Mountain, and Lake Superior, you’ll find them at the Oberg Mountain Loop and Trail.
This is a three-mile hike of moderate difficulty that has a lot of local and tourist traffic because of the impressive views and the ease of the hike. If you want to see the great outdoors in Duluth, this is the way to do it.
Spirit Mountain and Recreation Area is an amazing ski resort located right in Duluth. Offering awesome views of Lake Superior, it also boast the second largest vertical drop in the Midwest.
In the winter, skiing is the name of the game. With lessons, classes, ski lifts, snow tubing, and even glow tubing (where you tube at night!), you’ll never run out of things to experience here. In addition to all that snow fun, you’ll also find that fat biking is welcome here. They even have a lift that serves fat bikes on Sundays.
Restaurants, saloons, bars, and more can be found here too.
In the summer, you can find summer camps for kids, mountain biking, a disc golf course, camping, and an adventure park. No matter when you visit, Spirit Mountain is a great stop.
BRIGHTON BEACH PARK
Brighton Beach Park, also known as the Kitchi Gammi Park, offers public access to Lake Superior and has a new trail that was constructed in 2021 for pedestrians and bikers alike.
The park is popular for its unique, stone-covered beach. Tables and grills for picnics can be found here, so you can enjoy a meal while overlooking Lake Superior.
The park is open for paddlers and pedestrians and there’s plenty of space to feel like you’re enjoying the great outdoors right in the heart of Duluth.
MARSHALL W. ALWORTH PLANETARIUM
For science and educational buffs, the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium should be on your list. Located at the University of Minnesota Duluth, this destination is home to live shows every night, outer space and star-related events, and a lot of different occasions, exhibits, and things to see.
It is a full-dome theater that’s managed and operated by the university, and visitors will be able to get an impressive look at the stars in a way like never before.
LAKE SUPERIOR ZOO
Who doesn’t love a trip to the zoo? The Lake Superior Zoo and Zoological Society offers a great visit for anyone who comes to Duluth. Here, you’ll find tons of animals that you’d expect to see at the zoo, along with a Primate Conservation Center and the Barnyard, where visitors can interact with farm animals like sheep, goats, and more.
There’s also a train and you can find behind-the-scenes tours, field trip opportunities, and even summer camps at the zoo.
HAWK RIDGE BIRD OBSERVATORY
The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory offers nature watching like never before. This nature preserve is home to hawk migrations and has been in the city since 1951.
Here, guests can bird watch, take hikes to explore the area, and so much more. There are even programs designed for educational groups like schools, as well as interactive programs and more.
There are 365 acres to explore in total and you’ll learn a lot about the history of wildlife in the area.
Park Point is a great neighborhood that offers seven miles of shorefront. The views of Lake Superior are again stunning, and you’ll find plenty of other activities to enjoy.
Birdwatching is popular here, as are sports like sand volleyball. You can even go for a dip in the lake while you’re here, depending on the season.
The 7-mile neighborhood is even popular among the locals, so be sure to visit while you’re in town.
How can I spend a day in Duluth, MN?
There are so many great ways to spend a day in Duluth, MN! Visit the Great Lakes Aquarium, take a ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad, take a tour with Vista Fleet Cruises, ski at Spirit Mountain, take the kids to the Duluth Children’s Museum, or spend a day at Canal Park.
Is Duluth worth visiting?
Yes, Duluth is definitely worth a visit. Take the famous Aerial Lift Bridge to different neighborhoods offering fun restaurants, bars, and shops. You’ll love the views of Lake Superior from this fun city.
What is Duluth best known for?
Duluth is best known as being a great tourist destination in the Midwest. Home to the only all-freshwater aquarium in the United States (Great Lakes Aquarium), Duluth is also well-known for Canal Park and the Aerial Lift Bridge.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO MINNESOTA
- YOUR MINNESOTA VACATION
- ROCHESTER: 19 Great Things To Do In Rochester MN You’ll Love
- MINNEAPOLIS: 23 Things To Do In Minneapolis You Can’t Miss
WHERE TO STAY IN DULUTH
We make no guarantees of any price listed on our site. We are not responsible for content on external web sites linked from ours, including linked resources, an external blog post, any partner site, hotel property sites, or affiliate sites. We only write about places we love in an attempt to help you in your adventures, but we can’t guarantee you will love them, too.
Posts may contain affiliate links at no cost to you. Several of our trips are also compensated by the respective tourism boards for the city or state we are visiting. This never impacts how we share the destination with you – opinions are always our own and we pride ourselves on that. We do not sell links or accept unsolicited guest posts under any circumstances. Don’t even ask.
United States Copyright, 365 Atlanta Family, LLC