I traveled from Minneapolis to Duluth and around for the third time yesterday and each time I go, I find that it has something new to offer. Duluth sits on the bank of Lake superior, the largest fresh water lake in the world by surface area. It is huge and spectacular. The view of Lake Superior itself is worth a trip. Duluth could be considered the northern frontier of Minnesota as Interstate-35 ends there. But, there is an entirely new world beyond. It definitely takes more than a day to see every place in and around Duluth, so, if you were to take a day trip, I would suggest visiting 3–4 places, else, you feel like you are always in a hurry and these places definitely deserve your full attention and a peaceful mind. Start early, come late, have multiple drivers so you have a relaxing day trip. There are too many beautiful spots in northern Minnesota to cover in a day. This guide is by no means comprehensive. It is for those who want to visit Duluth from Minneapolis, have a decent trip and want to be back by end of the day. Here are some places in the order that I loved.
It is easily the most beautiful place I saw around Lake Superior and is a best kept secret. I barely a saw a soul around even during the high summer season. The best time of the day to visit would probably be the sunrise as you can see the sun come up the Lake Superior and would directly be in front from the cove beach. It has perfectly rounded, colorful pebbles I have ever seen. It is calm and serene and I could easily drive up 220 miles just to be at this place and back. The water is chilly, but good enough to swim for 5–10 minutes. I saw some people cliff jumping near by, so, if you are into that, its an added bonus.
This is the most famous spot around Duluth and is filled with tourists. The waterfalls are spectacular with views from three different spots (Upper, Middle and Lower falls). The flow is very high during Spring and will gradually slow down by the end of Summer. So, you could skip this if you are visiting before or during Fall.
Duluth Downtown Waterfront
It probably won’t be a Duluth trip if you don’t visit Duluth. There is not much in Duluth except this place and Great Lakes Aquarium. The Waterfront has a nice long pier and is a great place for a calm evening walk. The ideal time to visit would be on the return journey to grab an snack in the waterfront area, walk along the pier, feel the breeze at the North Pier Lighthouse and if lucky, see the Aerial Lift bridge go up to allow some huge ships. During winter, you could see the vast Superior completely frozen (Makes for some great pictures). Great Lakes Aquarium is good, but I would only visit if you have a lot of time to kill.
Splitrock Light house:
This Light house on the banks of Lake Superior is full of history. The place is very well maintained and has an entry fee and a guided tour. The tour is great and you actually get to know a lot about the history of Lake Superior and the economy of the region. It has spectacular views of Lake Superior from the top of Light house which you are allowed in. Its totally worth a visit.
Jay Cooke State Park:
This state park is located south of Duluth. If you were to visit this place, it would be the first place on the itinerary. The center piece of the park is a swinging bridge and the most beautiful St. Louis river beneath with dirty brown water. There are multiple trails around for a date with nature. It feels like winter wonderland during the winter.
Northern Minnesota has great history and is full of breathtaking places. There are many other places like Lutsen Mountains, Grand Marais, Boundary Waters for camping and staying over night which I would definitely recommend doing if you have more time.
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