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.
Advertisement
Grand Marais, Minnesota: Grand Marais Recreation Area
Grand Marais
| Credit: Jay Wilde

Do

North Shore Minnesota
Aerial Lift Bridge
| Credit: Jay Wilde

Aerial Lift Bridge

Duluth's 172-foot-tall bridge rises more than 20 times each day for sailboats and skyscraper-length ships traveling between Lake Superior and Duluth Harbor. dot.state.mn.us

Artists Point, Grand Marais, Minnesota
Artists Point
| Credit: Jay Wilde

Artists Point

A ½-mile hike from the parking lot at Grand Marais Harbor leads over lava rock and through forest to the scene at the end—a rocky shore and lighthouse, popular with photographers.

Boundary Country Trekking

Along with other adventure vacations, this small outfitter plans lodge-to-lodge routes on the Superior Hiking Trail, arranging accommodations, meals and shuttle service. boundarycountry.com

Canal Park, Duluth
Canal Park
| Credit: Ryan Donnell

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. canalpark.com

Cascade River State Park

Hiking or cross-country skiing trips lead past waterfalls crashing over black volcanic rock in a gorge 10 miles southwest of Grand Marais. dnr.state.mn.us

Glensheen Duluth Minnesota
Glensheen Mansion
| Credit: Andrea Ellen Reed

Glensheen 

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

Gooseberry Falls State Park 

North of Two Harbors, pull off State-61 for a ¼-mile walk to the first overlook of a series of copper-color falls. Displays at the visitors center explain the geology and history of the area. dnr.state.mn.us

Grand Portage State Park, North Shore, Minnesota
Grand Portage State Park
| Credit: Ginger Crichton

Grand Portage State Park 

A ½-mile trail and boardwalk lead to Minnesota's highest waterfall, the 120-foot-tall High Falls of the Pigeon River on the U.S.-Canada border. nps.gov/grpo

Great Lakes Aquarium

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

Gunflint Trail Scenic Byway

This two-lane road winds 57 miles inland from Grand Marais to hiking trails, fishing spots and wildlife viewing areas. Make reservations for dinner at Loon Lake Lodge, which serves a different entree each night. Gunflint Lodge offers horseback riding, ziplining and dining in Red Paddle Bistro. fs.usda.gov

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
Hawk Ridge
| Credit: Michael Furtman

Hawk Ridge 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

Jay Cooke State Park 

Hikers get a view of the St. Louis River from the swinging bridge in this trail-loaded park 20 miles southwest of Duluth. dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/jay_cooke

Lutsen Mountains

A gondola takes you to great views of Lake Superior; an alpine slide speeds you down Eagle Mountain. Eagle Ridge Resort puts you in the middle of the action. lutsen.com

North House Folk School

In Grand Marais, year-round lessons keep alive traditional crafts like basket weaving and canoe building. northhouse.org

North Shore Scenic Railroad

Interesting narrated train rides chug along Lake Superior's rugged shore. duluthtrains.com

Park Point Beach 

Swim in the clear waters of Lake Superior or just lie on the long, sandy beach and watch freighters go by in the distance. The park also includes sand volleyball courts and grills. 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

Split Rock Lighthouse, Minnesota's North Shore
Split Rock Lighthouse
| Credit: Jay Wilde

Split Rock Lighthouse 

Costumed interpreters talk about the daily life of a lightkeeper. Stairs at the 1910 lighthouse lead to lake views. mnhs.org

SS William A. Irvin

Climb aboard Duluth's 1937 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

Tettegouche State Park 

Sixty miles northeast of Duluth, lava flows, like Palisade Head, rise 300 feet above Lake Superior, while a 60-foot waterfall on the Baptism River rewards hikers. dnr.state.mn.us

Two Harbors Light Station Museum 

Tour the oldest continuously operating light station-since 1892-in the state. lakecountyhistoricalsociety.org

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

Angry Trout Cafe 

This sunny favorite on the harbor in Grand Marais is local to the core: Lake Superior fish and artisan decor in an old fish house. angrytroutcafe.com

Betty's Pies 

If five-layer chocolate pie or apple-strawberry crunch pie sound good, you've found your happy place in Two Harbors. bettyspies.com

Coho Cafe and Bakery 

Breakfasts like sourdough French toast and wild rice sausage add big flavor at a small lakeside cafe in Tofte. bluefinbay.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

Gun Flint Tavern

A diverse menu in Grand Marais showcases microbrews, organic ingredients and a mix of ethnic dishes. Live music entertains many nights of the week. gunflinttavern.com

Hungry Hippie Tacos

Large fry bread tacos drizzled with house chipotle sour cream make for deliciously filling meals in Grand Marais. Hungry Hippie Tacos on Facebook

New Scenic Cafe 

Fourteen miles northeast of Duluth, nab deli items, artisan baked goods and more at this popular stop newsceniccafe.com

Northern Waters Smokehaus 

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

Papa Charlie's North Shore
Papa Charlie's
| Credit: Courtesy of Lutsen Mountains

Papa Charlie's 

Mountain views from the deck of this Lutsen spot make a meal of barbecue ribs or chicken Florentine all the better. lutsen.com

Portland Malt Shoppe, Duluth, Minnesota
Credit: Jay Wilde

PortLand Malt Shoppe 

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

Rustic Inn Cafe

Tasty fruit pies and hot, made-to-order sandwiches satisfy at a cozy cafe 10 miles northeast of Two Harbors. rusticinncafe.cafe

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

Vikre Distillery, Duluth, Minnesota
Vikre Distillery
| Credit: Ryan Donnell

Vikre Distillery 

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

Voyageur Brewing Company 

Cheese and ale fondue pairs well with Devil's Kettle, a pale ale with pine notes. Relax on a rooftop patio with views of the Grand Marais harbor. voyageurbrewing.com

Stay

Bluefin Bay Resorts

Three resorts in the Tofte area offer a variety of accommodations, restaurants and activities such as guided hikes, canoeing and biking. bluefinbay.com

Breezy Point Cabins on Lake Superior 

Twelve recently renovated cabins just south of Two Harbors perch in a prime location on rocks at the lake's edges. breezyonsuperior.com

Caribou Highlands Lodge

In Lutsen's Sawtooth Mountains, the ski resort is an all-season destination. caribouhighlands.com

Cross River Lodge

A quiet resort along the Gunflint Trail makes a hospitable and family-friendly fishing base. crossriverlodge.com

East Bay Suites

Stay in lakeside condos with balconies and fireplaces at the edge of Lake Superior in the heart of Grand Marais. eastbaysuites.com

Fitger's Inn 

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

Grand Superior Lodge

North of Two Harbors, the resort offers amenities like kayak tours. Choose from rooms, cabins or lakefront homes. grandsuperior.com

Gunflint Lodge

All-inclusive packages draw guests to a lakefront resort at the edge of the Boundary Waters, 43 miles northwest of Grand Marais. gunflint.com

Larsmont Cottages north of Duluth
Larsmont Cottages
| Credit: Jay Wilde

Larsmont Cottages on Lake Superior

Twenty miles north of Duluth, luxurious rentals line Lake Superior. Swim in the indoor pool and unwind in the wood-fired Finnish sauna. larsmontcottages.com

Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior

Reasonable prices for the lodge, condos and cabins include kayaking, yoga, campfires, fly-fishing, stand-up paddleboarding and naturalist programs. lutsenresort.com

Poplar Haus 

Five Northwoods-theme cabins sit along the historic Gunflint Trail 30 miles northwest of Grand Marais. The on-site restaurant serves creatively prepared local fish and more. poplarhaus.com

South Pier Inn on the Canal 

Second-floor rooms with private balconies facing the canal give the best view of ships passing under Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge. southpierinn.com

For more information visit:

Visit Duluth  visitduluth.com

Cook County Visitors Bureau/Grand Marais visitcookcounty.com

Cook County Visitors Bureau/Gunflint Trail  visitcookcounty.com

Cook County Visitors Bureau/Lutsen-Tofte-Schroeder visitcookcounty.com