Top Things to Do in Duluth (2024)

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Take the North Shore Scenic Railroad out of Duluth on the Lake Superior waterfront / Visit Duluth

Northeast Minnesota // Duluth // Article

By Lisa Meyers McClintick

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With anarchitecturally stunning downtown, trendylakeside neighborhoodsand outdoor adventures around every turn, it's no secret why Duluth is one of Minnesota's most popular tourist destinations. Use our visitors guide to find out where to go and what to do when you're in Duluth.

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What to Do

Watching a tall ship pull into the Duluth port is an essential part of any Duluth vacation: a spectacle that’s both larger than life and a routine part of the daily rhythm in the world’s most inland port—but it’s hardly the only thing to do in Duluth.

The popularCanal Parkneighborhood adjacent to the lake is abuzz with restaurants, breweries and boutique storefronts, but reminders of the city’s origins as a major shipping hub are never far from sight: The iconic Aerial Lift Bridge rises high above the neighborhood forming a literal and figurative bridge between the city's shipping and tourism economies.

The refurbished industrial district hums with hotels, restaurants and shops such as locally made Duluth Pack, Siivii’s-Sivertson Gallery and Waters of Superior. The freeLake Superior Maritime Visitor Centerposts which ships will be heading through the canal and when, and its exhibits give visitors a feel for a wheelhouse, insight into the traveling by ship a century ago and the power of the Great Lakes.

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While there is much to see inCanal Park and downtown, Duluth’sLincoln Park Craft Districtdraws visitors as a hub of locally made products, artisans and eateries in this up-and-coming former industrial area not far from the St. Louis River. Anchor businesses include Frost River outdoor accessories,Bent Paddle Brewingwith a lively taproom,Duluth Folk Schoolwith ongoing classes and intimate concerts, and theDuluth Children’s Museum.

Sweeping views of the St. Louis River fly by while ridingSpirit Mountain’sTimber Twister alpine coaster or coasting down rugged trails. Find morestellar views driving, biking or walkingthe scenicSkyline Drive, which winds along the wooded ridge high above the city and overlooksthe big blue expanse of Lake Superior. AtHawk Ridge Bird Observatory, on the eastern end of the byway, birders gather to watch hundreds of migrating raptors and other birds soar past this natural gathering place.

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Visitors can get up close to Great Lakes ships witha tour of theWilliam A. Irvin, which is docked between Canal Park and theDuluth Entertainment and Convention Center, a hub for national concerts and tours, arts performances and University of Minnesota Duluth hockey. The Vista Fleet also offersseasonal boat tours of the harbor and lake, with stellar views of the hillside city. Head toGlensheenMansionforcreative tours of its extravagant, turn-of-the-century architecture and grounds, orto attend a community eventlike their dockside summer concert series.

For railroad enthusiasts seeking a unique tour,visit theLake Superior Railroad Museumin downtown Duluth—voted "best transportation museum in America" by USA Today readers. Inside themuseum you'll find interactive exhibits and collections of model trains, but the main attraction is the unforgettable Lakefront Ride on theNorth Shore Scenic Railroad.

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Next to the convention center, the harbor-front park rocks with events such theAll Pints Northcraft beer festival in July, back-to-backBayfront Blues FestandFestival of Sail(formerly Tall Ships Festival) in August, andBentleyville Tour of Lightsfor the holidays.

And of course, then there’s Grandma’s. Every June, thousands of competitors and their families visit Duluth to runGrandma’s Marathon, a Boston-qualifying course along the scenic shore of Lake Superior. In addition to the race, Grandma’s weekend is jam-packed with family-friendly activities and other big events.

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Where to Eat

Tasty eateries can be found throughout Duluth, from cozy coffeehouses and taprooms to family friendly, such as 16th-floor views at Harbor 360 at the Radisson. Favorite spots for visitors often include a lake view, such asThe Boat ClubatHistoric Fitger’sBrewery Complex (a mall of sorts featuring dining, retail and lodging plus the namesakebrewery),Va Bene Caffe(which taps the area’s Italian heritage) and the rooftop atGrandma’s Saloon and Grillin Canal Park.

Other destinations stand out for local products, such asDuluth Grillwith its onsite gardens,Vikre Distillerywith its Nordic-influenced handcrafted gins (and gin-and-tonic flights) near the aerial bridge, andNorthern Waters Smokehausfor its smoked fish.

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Where to Sleep

Hotel rooms can be found throughout the city, but the favorite locations for travelers tend to be along the shore with views of the lake from Canal Park or Park Point. Other cherished choices include the unique and elegant historic bed-and-breakfasts that have transformed the city’s grand mansions into romantic getaways with multicourse breakfasts.

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Lisa Meyers McClintick is a prolific travel writer for outlets including USA Today,Midwest Living, theStar Tribune and her A mom of three, she especially enjoys family travel, hands-on learning vacations, local food and farms, living historyand outdoor adventures.

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Top Things to Do in Duluth (2024)


What is Duluth most known for? ›

The Port of Duluth is the world's farthest inland port accessible to oceangoing ships, and by far the largest and busiest port on the Great Lakes. The port is among the top 20 U.S. ports by tonnage.

What is the nicest part of Duluth? ›

Congdon Park

Cultural and recreational offerings nearby include Northland Country Club, rated one of the top five golf courses in Minnesota, and the historic Glensheen mansions, one of Duluth's most visited attractions. Some of the City's highest home values are found in Congdon Park.

What makes Duluth special? ›

Duluth, MN is known for its stunning lakeside views, natural beauty, and outdoor activities. Its waterfront is a hub of activity, its trails offer spectacular views, and its parks provide peaceful spots to enjoy nature. It's also home to gorgeous sunsets and vibrant fall colors.

Is Duluth worth visiting? ›

When you come to Duluth, you understand what makes it special. From the world-famous lift bridge to charming neighborhoods filled with local breweries and restaurants, Duluth is a true original along the pristine shores of Lake Superior. Part rugged, part refined and 100% one-of-a-kind.

Who is the most famous person from Duluth Minnesota? ›

Bob Dylan, born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth in 1941, and raised in Hibbing, Minn., attended a year at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, then dropped out, assumed the name Bob Dylan, and continues to perform today. Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2016.

Why do people visit Duluth? ›

Duluth boasts a vibrant arts culture, home to art museums, performance centers, community and college theater productions and numerous festivals throughout the year. The Marine Museum, Glensheen Mansion and the Great Lakes Aquarium are some of the most visited attractions in Minnesota.

Is Superior or Duluth better? ›

Duluth is known for first-rate medical facilities; Superior has an oil refinery. Duluth has Spirit Mountain and a ski jump; Superior is flat as a turkey platter. Superior is clearly inferior to Duluth, but if you like an underdog, you have to love that town across the harbor.

Where to stop in Duluth? ›

Plan your trip with ourfree travel guides
  • Canal Park Duluth. Canal Park Duluth. ...
  • Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center. Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center. ...
  • Bent Paddle Brewing Co. ...
  • Duluth Folk School. ...
  • Duluth Children's Museum. ...
  • Spirit Mountain Ski & Recreation Area. ...
  • Skyline Parkway - Scenic Byway. ...
  • Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory.

What is the ethnic makeup of Duluth? ›

Duluth, population by race/ethnicity
Of Color10,17011.7%
Black or African American alone2,1312.5%
American Indian and Alaskan Native alone1,4071.6%
5 more rows

Why are so many people moving to Duluth? ›

"Experts have called Duluth a climate refuge because we're a place that's fairly safe from the worst effects of climate change," said Granley. She later points out that the effects of climate change are already pushing people towards Duluth, many of whom are escaping climate-impacted states like California.

What does Duluth mean in French? ›

"Duluth" means "of the lute" in French. This city's name speaks of an instrument which shined during the Dark Ages, and later faded into obscurity. Duluth is named after Frenchman explorer Daniel Greysolon, Sieur du Lhut. His title is translated "Sir of the Lute," perhaps indicating his musical ability.

What is the steepest road in Duluth MN? ›

The answer, however, according to the city of Duluth, is Fifth Avenue West between Fifth and Sixth streets, just above Mesaba Avenue. This stretch has a grade of 25.5 percent, rising by more than 100 feet over the course of a single block.

What is Duluth city famous for? ›

Duluth is known for the Aerial Lift Bridge, which spans the Duluth Ship Canal into the Duluth-Superior Harbor. People also visit Minnesota Point (known as Park Point locally), one of the world's longest freshwater sand spits, that is 6 miles (9.7 km) long.

What are the best months to visit Duluth MN? ›

The best time really does depend on what you are hoping to explore! If you want to head outside and enjoy warm weather activities such as kayaking and biking, June through September are your options. Our favorite summer timeframe is mid July to mid August. The weather is typically the most stable and warm!

How long is the Duluth Boardwalk? ›

Park Description

Duluth's Lakewalk consists of nearly eight miles of paved pedestrian and bicycle trail stretching from Bayfront Park to Brighton Beach (Kitchi Gammi Park), much of it along the Lake Superior Shore.

What is Duluth Trading known for? ›

Duluth Trading is a growing lifestyle brand for the Modern, Self-Reliant American. Based in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, we offer high quality, solution-based casual wear, workwear and accessories for men and women who lead a hands-on lifestyle and who value a job well-done.

What are some interesting facts about Duluth GA? ›

Duluth is a National Historic Landmark, and it was here that the world's first cotton gin was constructed. It is also the birthplace of the composer of such songs as “Ofrenda” and “Duluth tunes.” Much of the music of today is recorded here.

What is Duluth Grill known for? ›

Extensive variety of dishes made from scratch including vegetarian and gluten free along with breakfast all day, burgers, sandwiches, salads, homestyle entrees and soups served fresh daily. Don't miss the house made pies and locally roasted coffee. We strive for quality and believe it begins at our delivery door.


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