Lake Superior certainly earns its name, as it stretches an incredible 350 miles long and 160 miles wide. With nearly 2,000 miles of shoreline in America and Canada, you can find many Lake Superior vacation rentals in waterside locations or in peaceful, secluded woodland alongside one of the rivers and streams that flow into the lake. Vacationing in and around Duluth, Minnesota provides ample opportunities for families to combine outdoor fun with a range of cultural activities, many of which are based on the lake’s north shore. The area around Bayfield, Wisconsin, on the south shore is great for fishing and boating. Check out this list of our favorite Lake Superior family activities to help you plan on your next adventure!

1. Take a Cruise

North Shore Cruise
Source: scenicsuperior.com

Gain a different perspective by taking a cruise ship along the Minnesota North Shore. During a two-hour narrated cruise on the Wenonah, you get to see the dock in Silver Bay where iron ore is loaded, the large ships that sail the lake, the Split Rock Lighthouse, and the towering cliffs at Palisade Head.

2. Head Out to the Beach

Beach

The lake boasts some fabulous sandy beaches, and with its size producing waves, it can feel just like being by the sea. The 6-mile sand bar at Park Point has life guards, barbecues, washrooms and picnic areas, so pack the cooler and head off with the buckets and spades for some fun in the sun.

3. Go Fishing

grilling trout by the lake

If you’re into fishing, don’t forget to pack your gear. Some of the back country cabins have spectacular riverside locations, ideal for pulling in trout from your vacation rental’s backyard and straight onto the barbecue. Sport fishing aficionados access charters operating out of Duluth and various locations along the south shore. Check licensing requirements and fish keeping regulations, as they vary between states.

4. Go Swimming

waterpark
Source: Flickr / Thomas

Away from the cool, fresh waters of the lake, families flock to The Edge water park in Duluth for hours of indoor fun on thrilling rides. Plunge four and a half stories down the Tiki Tumbler, go for a spin in Minnesota’s first ever vortex pool, or spend a lazy time floating down the 400-foot river. There is also a set of smaller slides in the Paradise Playground suitable for younger kids.

5. Go Hiking

hiking with family
Source: Flickr / Pacific Southwest Region USFWS

Duluth has 178 miles of wooded trails, so there are ample opportunities for families to strap on those walking boots, pack a picnic in the backpack, and head off into the fresh air. The Superior Hiking Trail cuts across 43 miles of Duluth, providing enviable views of the lake and passing by waterfalls.

6. Winter Wonderland

people walking in snow

In winter months, the countryside around the lake turns into a winter wonderland, with well-kept groomed ski trails. Go out in a snowmobile, or hit the slopes with snowboards and skis. Wrap up warmly and try something completely different like fat-wheel biking , skating, or ice-hole fishing. At the end of the day, snuggle up around a real log fire in your cozy cabin rental.

7. Discover Gooseberry Falls

Silky Smooth Gooseberry Falls
Source: Flickr / m01229

Gooseberry Falls State Park is famed for its easily accessible waterfalls. Located on the North Shore to the northeast of Two Harbors, this park offers riverside trails, picnic areas and opportunities for birdwatching. Call in at the visitor center to learn more about the area. Open all year round, the park is beautiful when cloaked in fall foliage and stunning when snow melts during spring and makes the river roar and the waterfalls even more glorious.

8. Climb up the Split Rock Lighthouse

Split Rock Lighthouse
Source: Flickr / Jim Sorbie

Take a trip to the Split Rock Lighthouse, and climb to the top to see the magnificent views. Call in at the visitor center to learn more about the history of this remote building, and experience life as it was in the 1920s for the keepers and their families. The stroll along the coastal trails to capture the best photographs of the lighthouse.

9. Visit the Zoo

snow leopard

Hang out with the animals at Lake Superior Zoo, where your kids can see endangered animals, such as the Siberian tiger and snow leopards. They can also hear a kookaburra laugh and meet a snake or two. Kids love the add-on experiences, such as helping the zoo keeper choose the daily toys for the Primates or watching the animals at feeding time.

10 . Visit the Otters at Great Lakes Aquarium

Otter

Another popular place to enjoy nature is the Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth. In addition to gazing in awe at amazing, colorful creatures that live under water, your kids can enjoy watching the resident river otters as they perform belly flops from the rocks or nibble their snacks. They can also sail a model boat through the lakes in the Great Lakes Water Table exhibit and practice raising and lowering the boats through the locks.