Minnesota is full of popular tourist spots and hoppin’ “up north” destinations, and one of the best is the great city of Duluth!
If you have yet to travel to this great city, let us help you out with your itinerary! We have created an amazing list of fun things to do in Duluth, MN that is sure to please you and whoever is lucky enough to join you on your venture. So read on and start planning your visit!
Whether you’re a first-time visitor to Duluth or a returning guest, there are so many exciting and adventurous ways to experience the city! You may want to explore all the outdoor wonders of Duluth, or you may prefer instead visiting all the unique little nooks and crannies of the city. Whatever your preferences may be, there is an activity for everyone in Duluth! Our list certainly isn’t exhaustive, but if you’re planning a visit, here are our suggestions for your itinerary:
1. Take a stroll through Canal Park.
Canal Park is arguably the most visited attraction in Duluth and the reason why it has made number one on our list of things to do in Duluth.
Being the park is centrally located in Duluth, you will find many sought-after hotels that offer amazing views of the water and are located directly on the shoreline. An advantage of lodging at one of these hotels is being within walking distance to many attractions and having a guaranteed parking spot. If you’ve been to Duluth in the past, you may have experienced the heartache of having to circle the park a few times before you are able to snag a parking spot.
Just a short jaunt from the hotels, you will find many shops that offer a wide variety of souvenirs, trinkets, and jewelry, and you will also stumble across many mouth-watering restaurants to choose from.
2. Take a Helicopter Tour
Perhaps one of the best ways to see the beauty of Duluth is to see the city and surrounding areas with a bird’s eye view! Lake Superior Helicopters offers visitors a variety of aerial tours, guaranteed to take your breath away!
With rides ranging from 30 miles to 60 miles, these fantastic helicopter tours showcase Duluth’s signature landmarks, such as the Aerial Lift Bridge, Canal Park, Enger Tower, and the Downtown area. If scenic views are more your style, you can also explore the North Shore and witness stunning views of Lake Superior, the Minnesota Point and Superior Entry Lighthouses, and the world’s longest freshwater sandbar.
A helicopter tour of Duluth is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view this spectacular city from the skies!
3. Get an adrenaline rush on Spirit Mountain
Spirit Mountain is a prime destination and thing to do in Duluth as it offers activities for all ages.
In the summertime, you can soar down the mountainside and capture amazing views while riding the Timber Twister alpine coaster, zip through the woods 700 feet above the ground, or take it slow and mellow on the Scenic Chairlift.
Winter brings a whole new way to have fun outdoors. If you crave thrill and speed, then you will enjoy skiing, tubing, or even snowboarding through the white powder down the mountainside.
4. Drive through Minnesota’s North Shore Scenic Drive
For awe-inspiring views, a drive up the scenic North Shore is an absolute must!
This scenic drive offers 154 miles of breathtaking views and numerous spots to stop for a photo or to soak in the North Shore air.
Before you get behind the wheel, be sure to map out your drive and plan possible stops where you may want to hop out and go for an adventure.
Along the 2-hour route, you will find waterfalls, dramatic cliff drop-offs, sprawling hills, and (depending on the time of year) the most beautiful fall foliage that you will ever lay your eyes on.
5. Cruise the Great Lake on a Vista Cruise
There’s nothing more relaxing than the smell of crisp air upon the boat that is gliding on the largest freshwater lake in the world as waves gently rock the Vista Cruise.
Get the best of the best views of Duluth while aboard one of the elite Vista Fleet. Whether your goal is to take in the sights of the Duluth harbor, enjoy a dinner, or attend an event, Vista will exceed your expectations with its many types of cruises.
Ticket prices vary on the length and type of cruise that you will be aboard, so be sure to plan ahead, as cruises sell out fast!
6. Climb the Enger Tower
A sight that shouldn’t be missed when looking for fun things to do in Duluth is to see the Enger Tower.
Enger Tower (located in Enger Park) is a 5-story tower built in 1939 and dedicated by a Crown Prince and Princess of Norway. The tower was built in honor of Norway native Bert Enger, who came to this country to become a renowned furniture dealer. Before Enger’s death, he donated 2/3 of his estate to the great city of Duluth.
The tower’s restoration project was completed in 2011 and was dedicated by the King of Norway.
Take a water bottle and climb the 5-story tower for a view of the Duluth harbor that is 531 feet above the ground.
7. Take a tour of the SS William A. Irvin
Ahoy, there! Do you enjoy history and tourism? Yes? Then this tour of the SS William A. Irvin is for you!
The SS William A. Irvin is a freight ship that runs about 610 long. It was retired from service in 1978 and sat unused for eight years until the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center purchased it.
The 60-minute guided tour will show you what it was like for the lives of workers aboard the SS William A. Irvin from 1939 to 1978.
8. Take a trip back in time at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum
Unlike the SS William A. Irvin, your tour of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum is self-guided, and the only time requirement is that you are out by closing time!
This fan-favorite thing to do in Duluth is one of the most affordable and flexible. The majority of locomotives are indoors, and the cost of admission to the museum covers all attractions within the Duluth Depot.
This tour features a wide collection of cabooses, passenger cars, steam/electric/diesel locomotives, and also exhibits featuring different types of settings with items of the times.
9. Sink your teeth into a Juicy Lucy at The Breeze Inn
If you’ve worked up an appetite, then you simply must sink your teeth into a Juicy Lucy, Minnesota’s most iconic burger creation! And the best place for a Juicy Lucy is The Breeze Inn, which is located just nine miles from Canal Park.
Placing #6 in the Top 10 Juicy Lucy’s in the State of Minnesota, the Breeze Inn is by far the best maker of the delectable burger in the area.
The famous burger was first created in Minneapolis in the 1950s and has since become a staple for Minnesotans and visitors. In fact, former President Barrack Obama paid a visit to Matt’s Bar in Minneapolis and ordered the infamous burger.
In addition to yummy burgers, The Breeze Inn also offers a fantastic selection of local brews and homemade dishes. There’s also live music, making this the perfect spot to gather with friends and family!
10. Enjoy lunch at Grandma’s
Another thing to do in Duluth that is a no-brainer is to enjoy the iconic décor and views on the second-floor patio of Grandma’s Saloon and Grill.
On the shore of the Duluth harbor and nestled next to the Superior Lift Bridge stands this 43-year-old iconic restaurant. While Grandma’s has changed over the years since its doors first opened, 13 original items still remain on the menu to date.
11. Tour Fitger’s Brewhouse
If you’re looking for a unique taste of Duluth, then you simply must try the brews at Fitger’s Brewhouse!
The history of Fitger’s Brewhouse dates back to 1881 when the brewery, which eventually became Fitger’s, was opened. Fitger’s survived Prohibition by strategically using its resources to produce soda pops and candy bars until the end of Prohibition.
This brewery offers weekly 1-hour tours that will excite your taste buds with brew tastings and a 7oz glass to take home. Each year, Fitger’s produces over a thousand barrels of award-winning lagers and ales. These hand-crafted delights are beloved by all who visit, and with dozens of high-quality, local brews on tap, a visit to this brewhouse is something you won’t want to miss out on!
12. Stop and Smell the Roses at the Duluth Rose Garden
Nice weather is very much appreciated by Minnesotans, which is why visiting the Duluth Rose Garden is a for-sure thing to do in Duluth.
Spanning 4.5 acres through Leif Erickson Park, this stunning garden features over 3,000 rose bushes and other plants. If roses are your jam, you’ll adore walking through this sanctuary of roses! And imagine all the photo ops you’ll find!
If you’re a bride-to-be, this location might be worth checking out for your ceremony. Numerous weddings throughout the summer are held here, and (if you’re an early riser) it’s a great place to catch a glimpse of the glorious sunrise.
13. Soar Through Space at the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium
Space geek or not, a visit to the Marshall W. Alworth Planetarium is a must-thing-to-do on your itinerary.
“The sky’s the limit” phrase does not apply when you visit the planetarium because the only limitation is your imagination! The Spitz A3P star machine used by this planetarium projects the starry sky and hosts public shows on a variety of topics.
Show topic examples include Mythbusters Astronomy, Larry Cat in Space, and Europe to the Stars.
14. Visit the Lake Superior Zoo
Another thing on your must-do-thing-to-do list on your Duluth trip itinerary has to be the Lake Superior Zoo which sprawls across over 19 acres on the hillside of Duluth.
This is a great thing to do in Duluth because it is open year-round (minus a couple of days to celebrate Holidays) and offers entertainment for all ages. With over 300 animals in both indoor and outdoor sanctuaries, this spot is a must-see for animal lovers alike. There are even several behind-the-scenes experiences zoo-goers can participate in, including feeding some of the animals, visiting the animal care center, and watching Callimico monkeys paint!
15. Catch a tour with The Duluth Experience
The Duluth Experience is your personal travel tour company and is a PERFECT go-to when you are looking for something to do in Duluth but do not want to go through the hassle of seeking it out and planning it yourself.
The Duluth Experience offers tours upon tours that take you through the heights and depths of Duluth that include breweries, kayaks, history, and bus tours!
16. Dive into marine life at the Great Lakes Aquarium
If you are looking for things to do in Duluth that involve biology and sea life, then you definitely need to make sure to add the Great Lakes Aquarium to your itinerary! This aquarium is indoors, therefore, perfect for any day.
The Great Lakes Aquarium turns learning into a whole new experience by offering group overnight events, yoga, summer camp, and even sensory-sensitive activities.
17. Swim out to Uncle Harvey’s Mausoleum
This here is a super cool thing to do, and the best part, it’s free! Uncle Harvey’s Mausoleum, or ‘the cribs’ as locals call it, is a ‘ruins in water’ on the shoreline of Lake Superior and sits close to the boardwalk.
While no one knows the exact use of the mausoleum, one of the rumors is that it housed an illegal casino during Prohibition. Spectators can either walk out on the ice to tour this magnificent building or swim out during the summer.
18. Watch a vessel pass under the Aerial Lift Bridge
Many will say that the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge is the main event of Duluth sights to see.
Throughout the year, hundreds of spectators flock to the bridge when they see a vessel coming in or read the vessel schedule religiously.
The size of the ships can range anywhere from 600 feet to 1,100 feet and carry things such as iron ore, salt, and limestone. You can even watch a live camera feed of the bridge!
19. Test your luck at Fond-Du-Luth Casino
Fond-Du-Luth Casino is a multi-level casino that offers free parking, Blackjack, and an assortment of fun slot machines.
The casino offers a lot of fun promotions for your birthday, on certain days of the week, and has a rewards membership!
For a fun time with your friends, this casino is guaranteed to provide a day full of entertainment!
20. Chug through Duluth on the North Shore Scenic Railroad
Another of our favorite things to do in Duluth is to visit the North Shore Scenic Railroad.
Along with touring the railroad museum, why not top off your day with a train tour along the North Shore? Add this one to your ‘things to do in Duluth’ list!
The North Shore Scenic Railroad offers train rides year-round to please the entire family. You tour the fall foliage up the lakeside or enjoy seasonal trips such as the Terror Train, the Great Pumpkin Train, or the Christmas City Train (fan favorite).
21. Check out the original Duluth Trading Company
Go back to the roots of Duluth Trading Co. by visiting their Duluth retail store.
Over the past thirty-some years, Duluth Trading Co. has become a household name with its funny-yet-real-life solutions to many problems that are encountered by real people on-the-job.
This is a great spot to pick up a souvenir or two to commemorate your visit!
22. Sample the spirits at Vikre Distillery
Last but not least on our list of fun things to do in Duluth, MN, is to sample to the Spirits at Vikre Distillery.
Lake Superior water is what makes these spirits so smooth. This distillery was founded by two Minnesotan natives who left their secure desk jobs on the East Coast to come home and get some dirt under their finger nails by opening this distillery.
Vikre Distillery specializes in an assortment of spirits including gin, vodka, and whiskey. Luckily, Duluth is not the only city that has the privilege of enjoying the smooth taste of these spirits. Vikre spirits are sold in over 900 restaurants and liquor stores spread through two countries!
Wrapping Up 22 Fun Things To Do In Duluth, Minnesota
We hope that you enjoyed our list of some fun things to do in Duluth. If you think we missed something, leave a comment below and let us know what you like to do in Duluth!
Check out these fun Minnesota Day Trips for more fun things to do in Minnesota.
- About the Author
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Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.