Duluth is without a doubt one of the most scenic places to visit in Minnesota. Yes, the Twin Cities have a unique charm and plenty of cool tourist attractions, but Duluth is one of those destinations where you can replace the busy streets of a big city with outdoor recreation and panoramic vistas.
Attractions in Duluth are plentiful. From the epicenter of Duluth downtown family fun also known as Canal Park to the Spirit Mountain Recreation Area that is ideal for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, there are many amazing things to do in Duluth MN throughout the year. Whether you wish to enjoy the great outdoors, taste homemade Minnesota dishes, or explore the rockiest beach in the country, Duluth has got you covered.
1. Canal Park
A favorite gathering place for both locals and tourists, Canal Park is a must-visit spot when exploring the streets of Duluth. This recreational area is home to numerous attractions including places like Lake Superior Marine Museum, Canal Park Brewery, Lake Walk, and many others. There are so many things to do in Canal Park. You can check out the replica of Erikson’s Viking ship, take your kids to the fabulous Playfront Park, or enjoy water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding.
Welcome to Glensheen, a 39-room historic mansion with a vast art collection and impressive architecture. Once home to Chester Adgate Congdon and his family, the house was built back in 1908 and is one of the most visited properties in the city. Guided tours of the house and the property are available and also include a visit to the beautiful formal terrace gardens and the vintage pier of the lake.
3. North Shore Scenic Railroad
If you are looking for romantic things to do in Duluth, MN, hop on the popular North Shore Scenic Railroad train excursion. This heritage railroad operates between May and December between the cities of Duluth, Minnesota, and Two Harbors and takes passengers along the shore of Lake Superior.
Join one of the fully narrated train tours to learn more about the history of Duluth harbor and admire the beauty of the majestic north woods. It’s an ideal activity for both families and couples on vacation in Duluth.
4. Great Lakes Aquarium
Located close to the harbor in Duluth, the Great Lakes Aquarium is a great place to visit when staying in Duluth with children. The Aquarium is home to a variety of species including electric eels, black crappies, porcupine fish, zebra shark, and many others.
There is also a cool exhibit devoted to shipwrecks inside the Great Lakes Aquarium. The best time to visit this extraordinary center is during feeding times.
5. Spirit Mountain Recreation Area
If you are looking for things to do in Duluth, MN in the winter season, make sure to pay a visit to the Spirit Mountain Recreation Area. This amazing adventure park offers plenty of winter activities for the whole family including snowmobiling, skiing, tubing, and snowboarding.
Spirit Mountain Recreation Area is also active and worth visiting in summer when activities like zip lines, disc golf, alpine coaster, and mountain biking are available.
6. Timber Twister Alpine Coaster
Adrenaline junkies can head out to the Timber Twister Alpine Coaster that offers alpine coaster races along an elevated track. The ride takes you down the mountain and offers spectacular views of the city, especially from the highest point of the track.
If speeding isn’t your thing, you will be happy to hear that you’ll have complete control of the carts as they are equipped with brakes. You can either ride a cart alone or in pairs.
7. Enger Tower
No trip to Duluth is complete without visiting the 80-foot Enger Tower which is situated in the popular Enger Park. The tower was built back in 1939 as a tribute to Bert Enger, a Norwegian-American businessman, and philanthropist.
Looming nearly 600 feet above the lake, the tower provides spectacular views of both the city and Lake Superior. The stairway which leads to the top is quite narrow but is definitely worth the hike.
8. Jay Cooke State Park
Located just a 20-minute drive from downtown Duluth, Jay Cooke State Park is one of Minnesota’s most picturesque state parks. Whether you wish to admire the park’s rugged landscapes and rock formations, hike along one of the many trails, or see the iconic Swinging Bridge above the St. Louis River, visiting Jay Cooke State Park is a memorable experience for the whole family. If you wish to spend the night at the park, camping for tents and RV’s is available and there are a few small cabins with heat and electricity.
9. Enger Park
Duluth is not short of open green spaces and Enger Park is one of those places that you just have to include in your Duluth travel itinerary. The park is home to many cool attractions including the Enger Tower that we mentioned before and the lovely American-Japanese Peace Bell which is a popular spot for weddings and other celebrations. There is a nice golf course adjacent to Enger Park.
10. Aerial Lift Bridge
One of the town’s most prominent landmarks, the Aerial Lift Bridge is a 69-meters high steel-made structure that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century.
The main purpose of the bridge is to connect Minnesota point with Mainland, and one of the things that make this bridge unique is the deck, which is often lifted so that the large ships can safely pass. Often compared to the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Aerial Lift Bridge is definitely one of the must-visit attractions in Duluth.
11. Lake Superior Zoo
If you are visiting Duluth with kids and wish to have close encounters with a variety of animals, make your way to the Lake Superior Zoo which was founded in 1923 by Bert Onsgar, a local businessman. The major attractions here include animals such as prairie dog, African lion, sugar glider, Flemish giant rabbit, swift fox, and many more.
If you wish to hear more about Mother Nature and the animals that live here, Lake Superior Zoo also organizes several educational programs throughout the year.
12. Brighton Beach
One of the rockiest beaches in Minnesota, Brighton Beach is a must-visit destination while staying in Duluth. The beach is located in Kitchi Gammi Park which used to be a campground for tourists but nowadays serves as a gathering spot for many locals who come here to enjoy tables and grills for picnics.
Although Brighton beach is not the best for swimming, the views of Lake Superior from this stone-strewn beach are simply breathtaking. There is also a small playground for kids nearby.
13. Duluth Children’s Museum
The last stop on this list is the lovely Duluth Children’s Museum where kids can learn about history through imaginative play. Located in Clyde Park, the museum offers many interactive programs ranging and entertainment for the little ones.
Your kids can search for ancient fossils, interact with robot dinosaurs, and explore the galaxy. If you are looking for fun activities in Duluth, the Children’s Museum is worth visiting.