With a population of over 86,000 people, the fourth-largest city in Minnesota has a lot to offer tourists looking for affordable, scenic, and family-friendly fun. One of the top destinations in Minnesota, Duluth has some really nice parks for outdoor recreation, as well as exciting holiday festivals that allow you to experience the local life. Here are some of the best ways to experience Duluth.
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Enjoy Canal Park (Nearby Hotels)
Canal Park is a center for recreation in Duluth and a must-visit spot while you’re in town. It’s recognizable by the Aerial Lift Bridge nearby and has been converted from a warehouse district to a thriving area with shops, restaurants, and hotels. There’s a lovely lake-walk that extends over four miles long, a lighthouse pier, aquarium, visitor center, and museum here. Some popular spots to check out here include the Canal Park Brewery, the Lake Superior Marine Museum, Little Angie’s Cantina, and Grandma’s Saloon & Grill.
White Sand Beach at Park Point (Nearby Hotels)
Duluth isn’t usually the first place that comes to mind when you think of beaches, but the city has an excellent one worth visiting at Park Point. This is home to the world’s largest freshwater sandbar, stretching for about seven miles. You might just think you’ve stumbled upon the Atlantic Ocean while you’re here! From Canal Park, cross over the Aerial Lift Bridge and enjoy the summer breezes that feel like a world away from busy downtown. People swim in the water here even though it’s always a bit chilly. Open between June and October, you can also take advantage of the concessions, paved trail, picnic areas, recreation fields, and playgrounds at Park Point Recreation Area.
Tall Ships and Sightseeing Cruises (Nearby Hotels)
Duluth is also a fun place to get out on the water and take a sightseeing cruise. The Festival of Sail takes place in August and features the US Brig Niagara and Appledore V ships, as well as the world’s largest rubber duck. The tall ship event also includes three days of live music and family fun. A great way to experience the festival is to book a kayak tour that allows you to watch the tall ships pass under the bridge and get a front-row seat to all the action right on the water. Aside from the festival, you can take a sightseeing cruise between May and October on Lake Superior and the Duluth Superior Harbor, which offers professional narration and a full cash bar on-board.
Hawk Ridge Nature Preserve (Nearby Hotels)
This Minnesota destinations is also near many wonderful natural areas, including Hawk Ridge Nature Preserve. This park spans 235 acres of undeveloped land and has continually been used as a place to count hawks during their yearly migration ritual since the 1950s. Today, you can visit the park to get some exercise on the mountain biking trails and hiking trails. The Hawk Ridge Nature Preserve is open through the year, and observatory staff provide public education events in the fall season.
Experience the Christmas Season in Duluth (Nearby Hotels)
Christmas is magical time to be in Duluth, so consider braving the cold and spending some time here in December. Duluth is known as the “Christmas City of the North” and really comes to live with a night parade, express trains, ballet performances, and festive fairs. The Bentleyville Tour of Lights is a big local hit, the Glensheen Historic Estate offers holiday tours of this historic home, and the Fitger’s shopping complex is a popular holiday destination too. The Bentleyville is one of the largest walk-through light displays in America, and better yet, it’s free to visit!
Celebrate 4th of July in Duluth (Nearby Hotels)
But if you’d rather visit during the warmer time of year, the 4th of July is another magical time to visit. The Duluth Fourth Fest is Minnesota’s largest fireworks extravaganza, when locals and visitors gather at Bayfront Festival Park for fireworks, live music, and food. Admission to the festival is free, and you can bring your own lawn chairs but no outside food or coolers. You can also watch the fireworks show from Canal Park, Skyline Parkway overlooking the city, or on a boat while enjoying a cruise.
See Enger Park and Tower (Nearby Hotels)
Enger Park and Tower are also top destinations in Duluth. The tower here was built in 1939 and overlooks the harbor and the St. Louis Bay. It’s open to the public, so climb to the top for awesome views of Lake Superior. The park that surrounds the tower is filled with lots of flowers, plants, and a Japanese garden. At Enger Park on the west end of Duluth, you’ll also find hiking trials, picnic areas, restrooms, and climbing/bouldering opportunities. It’s also a lovely spot for local weddings.
Relax in Lester Park (Nearby Hotels)
Lester Park is another park worth visiting during your visit to Duluth. It’s located at the east end of the city and has over nine miles of trails between Lester River and Amity Creek for hiking and biking. If you visit in September, make sure to check out the Lester Park Rendezvous festival for entertainment, food, and crafts. In the winter, this is a nice place to go cross-country skiing.
Leif Erikson Park and Duluth Rose Garden (Nearby Hotels)
It doesn’t get much more beautiful than a rose garden in bloom, and Duluth has one with over 3,000 rose bushes and other flowers to enjoy. The Duluth Rose Garden is open between May and October along the Lake Superior shore. It’s an extension of Leif Erikson Park and also features a gazebo, fountain, and herb garden. In Leif Erikson Park, you’ll also find a replica of Erikson’s Viking ship. This is a popular park for local events, such as concerts, plays, and family-friendly outdoor movies.
Get Outdoors at Jay Cooke State Park (Nearby Hotels)
Jay Cooke State Park is located about 25 minutes southwest of Duluth and well worth the drive out to visit it. One highlight is the iconic Swinging Bridge above the St. Louis River. Hikers, cross-country skiers, and horseback riders all come here for rugged landscapes, rock formations, and beautiful hardwood forests. Camping is available for tents and RVs, and there are also a few cabins that have electricity and heat for year-around lodging.