Exploring City: Things to Do in Duluth, MN

Unveiling the Allure of Duluth’s Waterfront

Things to do in Duluth, Minnesota, often revolve around its stunning waterfront, which serves as the city’s heartbeat. Situated along the majestic shores of Lake Superior, Duluth is not just a port city but a gateway to many outdoor activities and scenic beauty.

The waterfront is adorned by Canal Park, a bustling area filled with shops, eateries, and the iconic Lakewalk Trail. This trail offers a serene pathway for walkers, joggers, and cyclists, allowing them to soak in the panoramic views of the lake and the city skyline.

The Aerial Lift Bridge, built in 1905, is another marvel that adds to the city’s charm. This engineering feat serves as a functional bridge and a symbol of Duluth’s rich maritime history. It connects the city to Park Point Sandbar, a stretch of land that offers beautiful beaches and recreational opportunities. The bridge is a sight to behold, especially when it lifts to allow ships to pass through, a spectacle that draws crowds throughout the year.

Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth’s waterfront is also home to the Great Lakes Aquarium, an attraction that both educates and entertains. The aquarium showcases the diverse aquatic life of the Great Lakes and other freshwater ecosystems. It’s an ideal spot for families and anyone interested in marine biology, offering interactive exhibits that engage visitors of all ages.

A Kaleidoscope of Attractions and Activities

Regarding places to visit in Duluth, Minnesota, the city offers a wide range of options beyond its waterfront. For those interested in history, the Duluth Depot is a must-visit. This historic train station now serves as a museum, offering insights into the region’s railroading past. The building itself is an architectural gem, and the exhibits inside provide a deep dive into the cultural and industrial history of the area.

Outdoor enthusiasts will find no shortage of activities in Duluth. The city is surrounded by natural beauty, from rocky cliffs to dense forests. Adventure seekers can explore the numerous hiking trails, go rock climbing, or even try kayaking in the lake. In the winter, the city transforms into a snowy wonderland, offering skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing opportunities.

For a more laid-back experience, consider visiting Leif Erikson Park and Rose Garden. This beautifully landscaped area offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. The rose garden is stunning, featuring over 3,000 rose bushes and various other flowers. It’s a perfect spot for a stroll or a romantic picnic.

Duluth also has a vibrant arts and culture scene. The city is a hub for creative minds, from art galleries showcasing local talent to theaters offering a range of performances. The Tweed Museum of Art and the Duluth Playhouse are just a couple of venues where you can immerse yourself in the local arts scene.

Aerial Lift Bridge

During the shipping season, visitors can enjoy watching ships pass under the Aerial Lift Bridge. It is one of Duluth’s most recognizable landmarks. The lift-span structure is the only one of its kind in the world. It enables cargo and passenger ships to enter or exit the harbor.

It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. In the summer, it handles more than 15,000 vehicles each day. In the winter, however, it only takes a fraction of that.

Best places to visit in Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge
Best places to visit in Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

The Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge is one of the oldest lift-span bridges in the world. It was built between 1901 and 1905. It spans the Duluth Ship Canal and connects Park Point to Canal Park.

It was constructed in response to problems associated with the ferry system. For example, before the Aerial Lift Bridge, a boat had to wait hours before entering the harbor.

Great Lakes Aquarium

Located on the Duluth waterfront, the Great Lakes Aquarium is an educational facility dedicated to educating visitors about the diverse wildlife in the Lake Superior basin. The organization offers a variety of exhibits and activities that will excite and educate visitors of all ages.

The non-profit organization can receive 80% of its funding through membership and grant funding. The organization also provides outreach educational programming annually, engaging over 10,000 pre-K-12 grade students.

Places to go in Duluth Great Lakes Aquarium
Places to go in Duluth Great Lakes Aquarium

The organization is also known for its impressive online exhibits. These include the Amazing Amazon, which features freshwater creatures from the world’s largest river. In addition, the science center has many educational interactive displays, satellite tanks, a water play place, and a fully functional model of the Great Lakes.

Jay Cooke State Park

Located within the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Jay Cooke State Park in Duluth, Minnesota, is one of the top ten most visited state parks in the United States. Jay Cooke is a perfect destination for families, hikers, and campers. Whether you want to spend a day in the park or stay overnight, there’s something for everyone.

A visit to Jay Cooke State Park will allow visitors to explore the park’s history and view the area’s beauty. You can hike through rocky canyons, soaring valleys, and massive rock formations. In addition, you can take in the stunning views of Lake Superior and the surrounding area.

Things to do in Duluth Jay Cooke State Park
Things to do in Duluth Jay Cooke State Park

The park offers a variety of hiking and biking trails. You can also check out the historic swinging bridge. This suspension bridge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930s. It is one of only two suspension bridges in the state. The bridge features a 126-foot main suspension span.

Glensheen Mansion

Located on the shore of Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota, Glensheen Mansion has been a popular tourist attraction for over a century. This 39-room mansion is open to visitors year-round. It was initially constructed for the Congdon family.

Chester Congdon, the wealthiest Minnesotan when he died in 1916, was a lawyer and involved in local politics. He was influential in the opening of iron mining in the region. He was also a leader in designating land for public use in Duluth. In addition, he was a US Attorney for Minnesota.

Places to visit in Duluth Glensheen Mansion
Places to visit in Duluth Glensheen Mansion

The house was built in the Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau styles, using elements of the French style. It took three years and nine months to complete.

The property was left to the University of Minnesota-Duluth in 1977. Today, it is operated as a historic building museum. There are tours of the mansion and grounds. The grounds include paved paths, dirt walking paths, and a rocky beachfront. The grounds are open from 9 am to 4 pm during the summer. In the off-season, the settings are available on weekends.

Lake Superior Railroad Museum

Located in the Historic Union Depot in downtown Duluth, the Lake Superior Railroad Museum is a definite highlight of any visit. It features an extensive collection of train cars, locomotives, archival documents, and railroad memorabilia. It is a non-profit organization that works to preserve the history of railroading. It offers educational and interactive exhibits, as well as special events.

Best tourist attractions in Duluth Lake Superior Railroad Museum
Best tourist attractions in Duluth Lake Superior Railroad Museum

One of the most exciting aspects of the museum is its replica of the downtown Duluth of 1910. This includes a recreated turn-of-the-century streetscape and a three-quarter-scale train station. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is also home to the world’s first steam locomotive built in Minnesota. This locomotive is one of many in the museum’s collection.

Wrapping Up: Your Duluth Adventure Awaits

There’s no shortage of things to do in Duluth, Minnesota, making it a versatile destination for travelers of all kinds. From its bustling waterfront to its rich cultural offerings, the city is a treasure trove of experiences waiting to be discovered.

When it comes to places to visit in Duluth, Minnesota, the options are as diverse as they are captivating. So pack your bags and set out for an adventure that promises to be enriching and exhilarating.

Best Things to Do in Duluth, Minnesota

Places to visit in Duluth, MN:

  1. Aerial Lift Bridge
  2. Great Lakes Aquarium
  3. Jay Cooke State Park
  4. Glensheen Mansion
  5. Lake Superior Railroad Museum
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