Superior by name and nature, this stunning lake stretches more than 350 feet through three U.S. states and into Ottawa, Canada. A paradise for boating and fishing enthusiasts, the lake also sports long stretches of sandy beaches with waves to make you feel like you’re on the coast. Pack the kids into the SUV, hitch up your boat, strap the kayaks to the roof, and head off to your Lake Superior vacation rental. Book a cozy cabin deep in the woods and feast on freshly caught river trout, or combine city living with the great outdoors by choosing a vacation home-from-home in Duluth, Minnesota or Ashland, Wisconsin.

1. Duluth

waterfront

Located on the southwestern-most tip of the lake, the City of Duluth has all the amenities of a vibrant cultural hub along with a fabulous sandy beach. There is something for all the family. Stroll through Canal Park to visit the maritime museum and watch the aerial lift bridge in action, or spend a day with the animals at the zoo, and learn about underwater life at the Aquarium. Follow one of the many trails up into the wooded hills and enjoy far-reaching views. Take a boat out on the water to fish or simply admire the coastal views.

2. Two Harbors

lighthouse on a rock
Source: Flickr / Pete Markham

The quaint city of Two Harbors sits around 35 minutes northeast of Duluth along the lake’s North Shore. With hiking and cross-country skiing trails nearby, fishing from charter boats, ice fishing, and a challenging 18-hole golf course, this city offers something for everyone year-round. Wake up to the magnificent spectacle of the giant ships lumbering slowly across the lake, and enjoy magical sunsets as you gather round the firepit in your rental home. Keep the kids’ brains active by taking a trip up to Split Rock Lighthouse Historic Site to learn about its history.

3. Castle Danger

scenic waterfalls

A few miles up along the coast from Two Harbors is the unusually named Castle Danger. This charming burg makes an ideal rural retreat for outdoor enthusiasts. Gooseberry Falls State Park is close by for scenic rambles to the waterfalls, or follow a section of the 326-mile Superior Hiking Trail. Cyclists appreciate the proximity to the paved section of the Gitchi Gami Trail that runs from Gooseberry Falls State Park to Beaver Bay. Grab a lakeside rental to enjoy easy access to the beach where you can launch kayaks, fish, or simply spend time skimming stones with the kids.

4. Silver Bay

old man and boy with a fish

This small lakeside community is a perfect base for touring the wooded ridges and valleys inland from the lake, hiking through nearby Tettegouch State Park, and taking a trip to Lax Lake for a swim in the clear waters or to try out some shoreline fishing with the kids. The Silver Bay Country Club sports a beautiful 9-hole regulation golf course. If you fancy a break from kitchen duties, head out to the Northwoods Family Grille for a daylong breakfast or a smokin’ barbecue award-winning burger. Alternatively, pick up a pizza from Jimmy’s.

5. Finland

green forest beside the river

If you’re seeking seclusion, head out into the backwoods area around Finland, west of Silver Bay, and bed down in a cozy log cabin. Go for a vacation rental with frontage on the Baptism River to enjoy the peaceful sound of water tumbling over the rocks as you grill steaks out on the front porch.

6. Schroeder Tofte Area

kayaking on a sunset

The small side-by-side towns of Schroeder and Tofte are separated by Temperance River State Park and joined by a bike trail. Vacationing boat owners appreciate the public boat launch at Schroeder’s Taconite harbor, while outdoor enthusiasts find everything they need for memorable wilderness trips at Sawtooth Outfitters in Tofte. This year-round outfitter offers canoe, bike, and kayak rentals, ski gear and customized tours with expert guides.

7. Lutsen

winter sports on the mountain

Winter sports aficionados flock to Lutsen where the local mountains boast the tallest and largest ski area in the Midwest. Skiers and snowboarders have a choice of 92 sweeping runs, while non-skiers can enjoy fabulous views, snowshoeing, and riding the gondola. Cozy up in your chalet after a day’s fun in the snow, and get your fingers and toes tingling beside a roaring log fire. In summer, an area is a great place for hiking and biking.

8. Grand Marais

lighthouse near the lake
Source: Flickr / Andrew Smith

Located around 45 minutes from the Canadian border, the charming lakeside village of Grand Marais was voted Coolest Small Town by Budget Travel in 2015. The arts community runs workshops at the Grand Marais Art Colony and the North House Folk School. If you’re an avid reader, the public library hosts a free book exchange and also has a collection of books for sale. Local stores have everything you need to enjoy your outdoor vacation, including fishing bait, licenses, sporting goods, and outdoor clothing. If your crew doesn’t include any anglers, you can supplement the weekly grocery shop with locally caught fresh fish available at the Dockside Fish Market.

9. Bayfield and Red Cliff

sandstone cliffs
Source: Flickr / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Located on the Lake’s Wisconsin South Shore, Bayfield is a welcoming community that prides itself on offering visitors a peaceful, hassle-free vacation. Kick back on the front porch swing, and enjoy the views across the water. Take the kids for an amble along the sandy beach, or hop on a boat ride around the Apostle Islands to view the colorful sandstone cliffs and caves. If you’re feeling more energetic, head out on one of the family friendly hiking trails or visit some of Wisconsin’s best orchard and berry farms and venture out into the fields. Check the Orchard and Berry Picking schedules to see what’s in season during your trip.

10. Ashland

rays of the sun
Source: Flickr / Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Located around 30 miles south of Bayfield, the city of Ashland is a port on the Chequamegon Bay. Taking a vacation rental in this area gives you and your family all the cultural and entertainment facilities of a city along with waterfront trails and well-serviced swimming beaches. During the winter, the area transforms into a winter wonderland, with miles of well-kept trails creating a snowmobiler’s paradise and numerous opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.