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Top Things to Do Along Minnesota's North Shore

By: Midwest Living | June 27, 2019

Sprawling parks and maritime marvels line the Lake Superior shore between Duluth and Grand Portage. The best way to see it all? The 154-mile-long North Shore Scenic Byway (State-61). Check out our guide for what to do, where to eat and where to stay in Duluth, Grand Marais and all along the North Shore.

Do

Aerial Lift Bridge Duluth’s 135-foot-tall bridge rises more than 20 times each day for sailboats and skyscraper-length ships traveling between Lake Superior and Duluth Harbor. Watch the action from the North or South piers or along the Lakewalk. dot.state.mn.us

Canal Park Near the foot of the Aerial Lift Bridge, Duluth’s revived warehouse district contains shops, restaurants and attractions, such as the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center and the Great Lakes Aquarium.

Glensheen Tour the 39 rooms and 7 acres of gardens of this 1908 mansion, built by a Duluth iron mining baron.glensheen.org

Great Lakes Aquarium Check out the freshwater critters (otters and gigantic sturgeon) at this Duluth aquarium. glaquarium.org

Hawk Ridge Bird Nature Reserve More than a dozen species of raptors stop here during their fall migration. Bring binoculars to see them from the trails off Duluth’s East Skyline Parkway. hawkridge.org

North Shore Scenic Railroad Interesting narrated train rides chug along Lake Superior’s rugged shore. northshorescenicrailroad.org

Park Point Beach Watch ships pass through a Duluth canal from a spot on the largest sandbar in the world—or the chilly waters off it. duluthmn.gov/parks

Spirit Mountain Zoom down the Timber Twister—an alpine slide and roller coaster combo—or take the chairlift to mountain bike runs at the Duluth area resort. spiritmt.com

SS William A. Irvin Climb aboard Duluth’s 1938 iron ore workhorse to learn about Great Lakes freighters. decc.org/william-a-irvin

Superior Hiking Trail This trail stretches more than 300 miles along the ridge above Lake Superior. shta.org

Vikre Distillery Lake Superior water goes into craft products like aquavit, a spiced Scandinavian liquor. vikredistillery.com

Eat

Amazing Grace Bakery and Cafe The motto “Be brave, be kind, don’t eat bad bread” sums up the attitude of this Canal Park spot frequented by musicians, poets and diners looking for comfort food. amazinggracebakeryandcafe.com

Clyde Iron Works Restaurant and Bar Enjoy wood-fired pizza and wood-grilled burgers in Duluth’s former steel manufacturing plant. On the main floor, diners can even enjoy a quick game of bocce ball on the full-size indoor court.  clydeparkduluth.com

Duluth Grill Local, organic, gluten-free, vegetarian? Yep, those buzzwords rule here. Even the ketchup and coffee mugs are locally made. duluthgrill.com

Grandma’s Saloon and Grill At the original location in Duluth’s Canal Park, diners sit practically at the foot of the Aerial Lift Bridge. Choose from a hearty array of salads, sandwiches and entrees. grandmasrestaurants.com

Northern Waters Smokehaus Duluth deli owner Eric Goerdt marries classic with modern, piling moist, flaky smoked salmon on a salad with Marcona almonds and wasabi mayonnaise. northernwaterssmokehaus.com

PortLand Malt Shoppe Slurp salted caramel malts while admiring Lake Superior from the Duluth Lakewalk. facebook.com

Va Bene Caffe The scent of garlic pulls diners into this cafe perched above the Lakewalk in Duluth. After homemade pasta, savor an espresso and gelato. vabenecaffe.com

Valentini’s Vicino Lago Years of experience feed the Italian menu at the family-owned Duluth eatery. valentinisduluth.com

Zeitgeist Arts Cafe Yes, the menu lists artistic compositions of fresh ingredients. But the name also refers to the Duluth venue’s movie house and black-box theater. zeitgeistarts.com

Stay

Edgewater Hotel and Waterpark A tropical-theme water park with two tube slides attracts families to this Duluth hotel.  duluthwaterpark.com

Fitger’s Inn Top-notch staff work at this stylish inn in walking distance of Duluth’s Canal Park. fitgers.com

South Pier Inn on the Canal Second-floor rooms facing the canal give the best view of ships passing under Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge. southpierinn.com

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