Duluth is tucked away in the corner of Minnesota where the state connects with Wisconsin and Lake Superior. Considered a port city, Duluth is the perfect destination for water activities, nature experiences, and urban fun. Combine kayaking with a guided hike, and finish off your day at one of the city’s renowned eateries. Look forward to visiting a museum, then spending quality time at Park Point. Whether you like high-flying fun or educational activities, staying at a Duluth vacation rental puts you in proximity to the most exciting local attractions. Here are the top things to do when you’re in the area.
1. Visit the Great Lakes Aquarium
The Great Lakes Aquarium is a multilevel facility with several exhibits including Otter Cove, Freshwater Forest, Baptism River, Isle Royale, and Shipwrecks Alive! While part of the aquarium has exhibits covering the local aquatic system, there are also exhibits with fish from all over the world, such as the red-bellied piranha of the Amazon, and non-aquatic animals, including the tiger salamander, river otters, and fox snake. After exploring the underwater world, stop by next door at the bayfront Festival Park on the lake and see the aquatic world in the wild.
2. Stop at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum
Across the road from the aquarium is the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. Tour some of the antique locomotives on exhibit such as the William Crooks, a steam engine dating back to the 1869s. Next, hop on board one of the trains for a narrated tour of Duluth. After getting back to the museum, stop at the North Shore Scenic Railroad and the Duluth Depot located next door. The railroad has seasonal events year round. The Duluth Depot, once a hotspot for those riding the trains, is now a historic building that hosts concerts and events.
3. Climb on Board the William A. Irvin Museum
While exploring transportation, head over to the William A. Irvin, a freighter built in 1937. Although it once moved iron and ore, it now moves people for a scenic tour around the lake. If you don’t have sea legs, just take a tour of the ship. You get to see the massive cargo hold, guest lounges, living quarters, and engine room. Stop at the gift shop, and pick up a tiny freighter to commemorate your vacation.
4. Tour Glensheen
Step back into history at the Glensheen House Museum. This mansion, built in the early 1900s, includes 39 rooms and a 12-acre estate with gardens. View letters written by one of the family members, or look at a linen closet with items organized exactly as they were decades ago. After gazing at the library full of books and antique furniture, meander through the estate gardens with bridges arching over Tischer Creek and a private pier onto Lake Superior.
5. Go Wild at Lake Superior Zoo
Duluth takes its animals seriously, as you can see at the Lake Superior Zoo with its variety of exhibits. Go on an Asian caravan where snow leopards, Amur tigers, and Chinese gorals roam. Take a trip down under to the Australia and Oceania exhibits. You’ll see cuddly wallabies and koala bears. The nocturnal building is for all those creatures that only come out at night. Thanks to the adaptations, you can see them during the day. If you have kids, don’t miss the barnyard with Flemish Giant rabbits the size of dogs, silver foxes, goats, and llamas.
6. Head to the Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory
The Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory covers hundreds of acres where you can come face-to-face (or beak) with some of nature’s fiercest hunters. Grab a pair of binoculars at the visitor’s center or bring your own to see the animals in flight. Stay for one of the scheduled public programs if you want to learn more. Eagles and goshawks also migrate through this observatory. While in the area, hike up the trails for the best views of the surrounding countryside and the birds.
7. Top Spirit Mountain
One of the most popular attractions, Spirit Mountain Adventure Park, lies on the south side of Duluth. It’s a recreation area where you can go skiing, snowboarding, and tubing in the winter. In the summer, Spirit Mountain turns into a biking paradise with intense downhill biking, which you can reach via a lift. Stop at the Riverside Bar and Brill for a meal before or after your next mountain adventure.
8. Kayak to Adventure
If you still haven’t scratched that adventure itch after biking down the side of a mountain, try kayaking. The Duluth Experience offers all sorts of outdoor adventures such as kayaking on the St. Louis River or Lake Superior. The Duluth Experience has everything you need from kayaks and paddles to life vests and intimate knowledge. The St. Louis River Estuary Adventure takes you along the tree-shaded river where you can glimpse the wildlife and obtain information about the area’s natural history.
9. Explore Adventure Zone
Stop at Adventure Zone at Canal Park for your entertainment when you get tired of the outdoors. Enjoy mini golf, the batting cages, laser tag, and arcade games, and the kids can try their hands — and feet — at Vertical Endeavor’s rock climbing walls, while the youngest get to zip down the inflatable fire truck slide.
10. Take an Aerial Tour
View Duluth from above with Lake Superior Helicopters. There are several tour options available that range from a short aerial tour over the Duluth Harbor and Aerial Lift Bridge to the ultimate tour over Jay Cooke State Park, along the St. Louis River, past Spirit Mountain, and up to the Duluth Harbor. If you want to try the controls for yourself, ask about the flight training classes.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Duluth vacation rentals on Tripping.com.