December 2, 2023

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The Ultimate Travel Guide To Duluth & Things To Do

The Ultimate Travel Guide To Duluth & Things To Do

Seaport cities offer something special, and Duluth is no exception. Located in Minnesota on the north shore of Lake Superior and the westernmost point of the Great Lakes, this port city is a hub for shipping cargo around the globe. A tourist destination for the Midwest and beyond, Duluth is the largest U.S. city on the lake and the home to many unique attractions, such as the country’s only all-freshwater aquarium, a world-famous lift bridge, and Park Point, which at six miles long is the world’s longest freshwater bay mouth bar.

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And that’s not all. From museums and theaters to local breweries, restaurants, and the great outdoors, Lake Superior’s Port City is a breath of fresh air and is full of adventure and entertainment. There are many awesome things to do in the state of Minnesota, and visiting Duluth is one of them. Here is the ultimate travel guide to Lake Superior’s beautiful port city, Duluth.


What Time Of Year Is Best To Go To Duluth?

View of Lake Superior's Port City, Duluth
Photo Source: Shutterstock

View of Lake Superior’s Port City, Duluth

There really isn’t a wrong time to visit Duluth. From swimming to snowshoeing, tourists will find fun year-round. Over the course of a year, the temperatures typically range from a low of 7°F to a high of 78°F.

The summer months are riddled with lake activities, such as swimming, sailing, picnicking, or simply walking or running around the lake while soaking up the gorgeous lake views. With an average temperature of 67℉, cool breezes off the water keep visitors from getting too hot.

A driving tour around Lake Superior, with pit stops for fishing, rock climbing, hiking and kayaking is also perfect in summer.

Winter in Duluth is cold and windy, with an average daily high temperature of 33℉. The freezing weather, though, is perfect for snow sports and offers visitors a wonderful winter playground.

Related: These Beautiful Towns Are Worth Braving The Minnesota Cold To Visit

The snow and ice melt in spring, offering a peek at summer activities and a little bit of sunshine. Temperatures typically range from 47℉ to 65℉.

Arguably the most beautiful season, fall offers bright foliage, with colors peaking in late September and early October. The shades of reds and oranges decorating Lake Superior’s port city are so picturesque tourists will not want to forget their cameras.

Things To Do In Duluth

white chairs on Lake Superior's Port City, Duluth
Photo Source: Shutterstock

Lakeside on Lake Superior’s Port City, Duluth

Great Lakes Aquarium

With two floors of live animals, educational exhibits, and a beautiful waterfront view, this aquarium allows tourists to laugh, relax and explore. Check out the Amazing Amazon Exhibit, which hosts piranha, electric eels, and jungle frogs!

  • Location: 353 Harbor Drive, Duluth
  • Hours: Open daily, 10 AM – 6 PM
  • Cost: Adult – $10; Children Ages 3-17 – $16

Aerial Lift Bridge

One of the most photographed spots in Minnesota, the Aerial Lift Bridge has a clearance of 180 feet, a span length of 386 feet, and it weighs about 900 tons.

It operates 24 hours per day, and visitors and locals alike often stop to watch a huge ship enter the canal and travel under the lifted bridge.

Relax at Park Point

Park Point is a popular summer swimming destination with volleyball courts, grills, restrooms, a parking lot, and hiking trails. Explore nearby paths, start a volleyball match, take a dip in the lake, or simply lay down and read a cozy mystery.

And for tourists feeling extra adventurous, try snorkeling in the Great Lakes. Maybe it’s time to try something new!

  • Location: 45th Street & Minnesota Avenue, Duluth

Related: This Lake Superior Island Is Unique For Its Wolf And Moose Population

Canal Park

The center of activity in Duluth, Canal Park is a popular spot for great restaurants, fun shopping, and all-day entertainment. And it’s in a prime location right on the shore of Lake Superior at the gateway to Park Point.

Take a Hike

Minnesota has many popular state parks perfect for hiking, and a few are near Duluth. But tourists don’t actually need to leave Lake Superior’s port city for outdoor adventure. Duluth has over 300 miles of trails and 9,168 acres of parkland.

Cold temperatures starting in mid-fall may cause trails to be icy, which makes them slippery and dangerous.

  • The Superior Hiking Trail: This scenic but challenging 296-mile footpath starts at Jay Cooke State Park and travels through Duluth and along the North Shore. Duluth’s portion includes 43 miles and offers stunning views of Lake Superior. On average, a day hike can include anywhere between two and six miles. Level of Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging
  • The Lakewalk: This 7.5-mile (one-way) hike is a paved trail from Bayfront Park to Brighton Beach. Most of the journey is along Lake Superior. Level of Difficulty: Easy

Related: The Only Guide You Need To Finding The Mysteriously Glowing Rocks Of Lake Superior

Winter Playground

For tourists enthusiastic about winter sports and snowy landscapes, December, January, and February are the best time to visit Duluth.

Favorite activities include snowshoeing, ice-skating downtown in Bayfront Park, and skiing, snowboarding, and tubing at Spirit Mountain and Mont du Lac.

Where To Stay In Duluth

Sunset at Lake Superior's Port City
Photo Source: Shutterstock

Sun setting over Lake Superior’s Port City, Duluth

South Pier Inn

The South Pier Inn is located at the foot of the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge, this boutique hotel provides gorgeous views of Lake Superior while offering tourists a walking distance of dining, entertainment, and shopping.

  • Location: 701 S. Lake Avenue, Duluth
  • Amenities: whirlpools, fireplaces, private balconies, soft linens, plush robes, binoculars, complimentary Wi-Fi, fresh continental breakfast, and the convenient location adjacent to Canal Park puts tourists within easy walking distance of great dining, shopping, and entertainment options.
  • Cost: typically starts at $170 for 2 people in a Junior Suite—Bay View King

Fitger’s Inn

The Fitger’s Inn, is conveniently located downtown. This historic luxury lakefront hotel within the renovated 1880s Fitger’s Brewery is perfect for a special occasion trip.

  • Location: 600 East Superior Street, Duluth
  • Amenities: cable TV with HBO, pay-per-view movies, in-room coffee, complimentary newspaper, internet, 24-hour fitness center, room service, and access to three restaurants, two nightclubs, a micro-brewery, shops and a salon & day spa.
  • Cost: typically starting at $199 for 2 people for a Cityside Standard Queen.

Beacon Pointe on Lake Superior

Beacon Pointe on Lake Superior is a condo-hotel located on the North Shore, just outside Canal Park. This peaceful retreat offers stunning views of Lake Superior and Duluth Harbor.

  • Location: 2100 Water Street, Duluth
  • Amenities: pool, hot tub, sauna, fitness center, premium coffee by Duluth Coffee Company, complimentary s’mores, free Wi-Fi, complimentary rentals of bikes, games, movies, and snowshoes
  • Cost: regular nightly rate typically starts at $229 for 2 people in a Lakeside Suite

Park Point Marina Inn

Park Point Marina Inn is an award-winning resort located a mere 50 feet from the water’s edge, four blocks from Canal Park, and one block from Park Point Beach.

  • Location: 1033 Minnesota Avenue, Duluth
  • Amenities: 73-item hot breakfast buffet, complimentary shuttle to Canal Park, ship viewing pier, 24-hour fitness center, sauna, pool, hot tub, outdoor fire table, 24-hour gift shop, daily free newspapers, free DVD rental, family picnic area
  • Cost: typically starts at $116 for 2 people with 2 queen beds and a harbor view.

Solglimt Lakeshore Bed and Breakfast

Duluth’s only waterfront bed and breakfast, Solglimt Lakeshore Bed and Breakfast, is located right in Canal Park. Built in 1910, the Inn was renovated and now matches the exterior style of a late-1800s Victorian seaside cottage.

  • Location: 828 S Lake Avenue, Duluth
  • Amenities: 120 feet of unspoiled beach, porches and decks around the home, fireplaces, grand baby piano for entertainment, gourmet meals, beautiful gardens
  • Cost: typically starting at $150 per night for 2 people in the Kandinsky Loft

Ellery House

Expect warm hospitality at this historic Victorian bed and breakfast. The Ellery House is located just blocks from Lake Superior.

  • Location: 28 S 21st Avenue E, Duluth
  • Amenities: breakfast can be served in bedroom or dining room, cookies made daily, fireplaces
  • Cost: typically starting at $139 for 2 people in Lilla’s Room.

Related: Remote Getaway: Best Places To Stay On Lake Superior

Where To Eat In Duluth

View from above of Lake Superior's Port City, Duluth
Photo Source: Shutterstock

View from above of Lake Superior’s Port City, Duluth

All right

Fresh Italian food with one of the best views of the lake, this Duluth restaurant is located right above the Lakewalk. Open for lunch and dinner, Va Bene offers ample vegan and gluten-free options.

With made-from-scratch soups, fresh pasta, salads, and paninis—there’s something for everyone.

  • Location: 734 E Superior Street, Duluth

Duluth Grill

Open for breakfast or lunch, this hotspot also has a kid’s menu, fun brunch cocktails and an espresso bar. Featured on Guy Fieri’s Food Network, the Duluth Grill offers a woodsy interior and comfort foods, like banana cream pie and pot roast.

  • Location: 118 S 27th Avenue W, Duluth

Northern Waters Smokehaus

The line gets very long at this sandwich shop steps from Lake Superior. On a warm day, tourists can grab food to go and picnic at the lake.

Try the Bison Buddy Meat Sticks, the Smoked Summer Sausage, or the Cajun Finn sandwich (smoked salmon, cream cheese, and roasted red peppers).

  • Location: 394 Lake Avenue South #106, Duluth

OMC Smokehouse

This local favorite barbeque spot offers freshly smoked meats (like beef brisket, ribs, and pulled pork) in addition to tacos, sandwiches, and bowls.

  • Location: 1909 West Superior Street, Duluth

Lake Avenue

For an upscale experience, tourists can enjoy lunch or dinner at Lake Avenue. Menu items offer unique options, like Jackfruit Pizza or Jerk Pork Chops, and traditional favorites, like burgers and gumbo.

  • Location: 394 S Lake Avenue, Duluth

Where to Drink in Duluth

Fitger's Beer Sign in Duluth
Photo Source: Shutterstock

Sign for Fitger’s Beer in Duluth

Fitger’s Brewhouse

This brewpub is a Duluth favorite. With an extensive selection of traditional pub food, Fitger’s won multiple awards for high-quality small batch brew releases.

With an emphasis on freshness and flavor, their ales and lagers are brewed using only natural ingredients and crisp water from Lake Superior. They also smoke their own fish, caught fresh in the lake.

  • Location: 600 E Superior Street, Duluth

Ursa Minor Brewing

Ursa Minor Brewing has four categories of local craft beer: hoppy, sour, light, and dark. Tourists can pair their pints with a wood-fired pizza and enjoy the heated outdoor patio.

  • Location: 2415 West Superior Street, Duluth

Vikre Distillery

Tourists can taste Boreal gins inspired by the wildness of Minnesota, canned craft cocktails, whiskey, Aquavit, and Lake Superior Vodka distilled directly from pure Lake Superior water.

  • Location: 525 Lake Avenue South Ste. 102, Duluth

Canal Park Brewery

Open year-round, tourists can enjoy craft beer (and great food) with an amazing view of Lake Superior. The patio, complete with yard games and plenty of seating, is perfect for warm summer days or cold fall nights with help from a fire pit.

  • Location: 300 Canal Park Drive, Duluth

The Rathskeller

This unique location is over 125 years old. The stone walls, arched door frames, and Jazz nights give this spot a cozy and cool speakeasy vibe. The cocktail menu is extensive.

From seasonal cocktails, like an apple pie old-fashioned, to classic concoctions, like a sidecar, customers will want to taste more than one.

  • Location: 132 E Superior Street, Duluth

Minnesota Wineries near Duluth

Far from Napa Valley, Minnesota boasts several wine trails perfect for exploring in summer. While some of Minnesota’s wineries are only a quick trip from Duluth, tourists can enjoy the Minnesota scenery as they travel around the state.

Overview of Duluth and Aerial Lift Bridge in Lake Superior's Port City
Photo Source: Shutterstock

Overview of Duluth and Aerial Lift Bridge in Lake Superior’s Port City

West Duluth

West Duluth is home to many local gems, including Spirit Mountain, Lake Superior Zoo, and access points to the St. Louis River Estuary. It’s full of coffee shops, cocktail lounges, and locally-owned bookstores.

  • Neighborhoods: Bayview Heights, Denfeld, Cody, Fairmount, Fond Du Lac, Gary-New Duluth, Irving, Morgan Park, Norton Park, Oneota, Riverside, Smithville, Spirit Valley

Central Duluth

The hustle and bustle of Central Duluth offers lots of choices for eating, drinking, and shopping in Canal Park and Lincoln Park. It also provides theaters and art galleries in the Historic Arts and Theater District downtown.

And one of its most popular tourist destinations is the view of Lake Superior from Enger Tower down the 7.25-mile Lakewalk and Park Point—the world’s largest freshwater sandbar.

  • Neighborhoods: Canal Park, Central Hillside, Duluth Heights, East Hillside, Kenwood, Lincoln Park, Park Point, Piedmont Heights

East Duluth

With gorgeous views of Lake Superior, historical sites, and cute neighborhoods, East Duluth will charm tourists. It’s also the gateway to the North Shore of Lake Superior.

  • Neighborhoods: Chester Park – UMD, Endion, Hunters Park, Lakeside-Lester Park, Morley Heights/Parkview, North Shore, Woodland

Best Ways To Get Around Duluth

Busy downtown in Duluth, Minnesota
Photo Source: Shutterstock

Cars and busses in Deluth, Minnesota

Getting around Duluth is easy. Lake Superior’s Port City offers convenient parking, taxi, and bus options. However, it’s a very walkable city, and most places are just as easy to get to on two feet as they are by vehicle.

In the winter, when the weather is freezing, try the 3.5 miles of climate-controlled skywalk to stay warm.

The Duluth Transportation Center is located in the heart of downtown and is the main transit hub in the city. Here, tourists can find bus schedules, guides, and amenities such as bathrooms and water fountains.

For tourists with a car, the center has 410 parking spaces and charging stations are available for electric cars. Bicycle storage is also available.

  • Location: 228 West Michigan Street, Duluth

Additionally, the Duluth Transit Authority operates a Port Town Trolley. It loops from downtown Duluth to Canal Park and the Bayfront every 30 minutes during the summer.

  • Cost: $.50/ride. $4-day pass.
  • Hours: 11:30 AM to 7:40 PM.
  • Note: The trolley operates seasonally between June 6 and September 5.

Tips To Know

Ship entering Duluth Harbor under the Aerial Lift Bridge in Lake Superior's Port City
Photo Source: Shutterstock

Ship entering Duluth Harbor under the Aerial Lift Bridge in Lake Superior’s Port City

The Duluth Visitors Center is a great spot to find brochures, directions, and general information about Duluth. It also has a gift shop for tourists looking to bring back any souvenirs.

  • Location: 345 S Lake Avenue, Duluth
  • Hours: Thursday – Monday, 10 AM – 5 PM

Also, no matter the season—wear layers. The temperature can vary within the day. In the summer, temperatures get cooler at night. Fall and spring can be chilly, but also sunny.

And winter requires an extra level of layering. Think mittens, scarfs, warm hats, and warm winter coats.

How To Spend The Perfect Day In Duluth

Fall colors in Lake Superior's Port City, Duluth
Photo Source: Shutterstock

Fall colors in Lake Superior’s Port City, Duluth

Tourists can start their day with a walk along the sandy beaches of Park Point, the world’s longest freshwater sandbar. Soak in the views and breathe in the fresh air before heading to Canal Park for a bite to eat and some window shopping.

Anyone visiting Duluth should take their time in Canal Park, and explore all the neighborhood has to offer. Lake Superior’s port city is relaxing and not meant to be rushed.

For outdoor adventure seekers in summer, pick from one of Duluth’s many hiking trails. Or, during winter, head to Spirit Mountain for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing or downtown for ice skating.

Unwind at the end of the day at one of Duluth’s delicious places to dine or fun places to drink. The sunsets on Lake Superior are gorgeous. Make sure to grab a table by the window!

FAQ

Q: Why is Duluth so popular?

It’s proximity to Lake Superior (take a circle tour to see it all!), beautiful architecture, trendy neighborhoods and a variety of summer and winter outdoor adventures make Duluth popular.

Q: Is Duluth worth visiting?

Yes! Duluth’s small-town charm on Lake Superior attracts tourists from all over the Midwest and beyond. Duluth offers four unique seasons, stunning scenery year-round, fun attractions, outdoor adventures, and delicious restaurants. Try a Viking Expedition cruise to see the sights!

Q: What is Duluth Best Known For?

Duluth is home to the nation’s only all-freshwater aquarium, the famous Aerial Lift Bridge, trendy Canal Park, and beautiful Park Point (the world’s longest freshwater baymouth bar).