Summer Bucket list

Duluth was made for summer in the same way suitcases were made for collecting sand, the way last minutes were made for road trips, the way June afternoons were made to stretch on forever, though they never quite seem to.

Summer goes quick, like a ship slipping through the canal. Put these stops on your summer bucket list to make some memories before the warm season sails away.

Family walking outside in the summer
Canal Park
a couple walking by the arial lift bridge

For Starters: Ship Watching in Canal Park

Of all Minnesota landmarks, none stand taller in the mind’s eye than the Aerial Lift Bridge. This iron giant lifts its suspension bridge to a staggering height of 135 feet, making some breathing room for equally huge Great Lakes freighters to roll in.

You don’t need to get a ticket to witness the show, but you do need to be punctual. Keep one eye on arrivals during your visit to get a front row seat.

For a Duluth Introduction: Enger Tower

Climb all five stories of this historic local landmark for definitive Lake Superior views. Even better, stick around and mosey about the Japanese Peace Bell Garden. This hidden gem full of Zen is another Enger Park highlight.

a couple exploring the zen garden
Two girls laughing by a waterfall

For Scenic Strolls: Lester Park

Birding, hiking, mountain biking, waterfall chasing: you can do it all on a trail near Lester Park.

For Film Buffs: Movies in the Park

Bring a blanket to Leif Erikson Park for free family-friendly Friday night movies (say that three times fast). Shows start July 12. Check out the lineup and remember popcorn.

Large group of people watching a movie in a park
a little girl feeding goats at the zoo

For Animal Adventures: Great Lakes Aquarium & Lake Superior Zoo

Where else can you cross “pet a sturgeon” off your summer bingo card? At Great Lakes Aquarium, you can explore the waters of Lake Superior without getting your socks wet.

Over in West Duluth, the Lake Superior Zoo houses more than 300 animals and 140 species, including some red pandas who just unpacked their U-Haul.

For Honest Engines: Lake Superior Railroad Museum

Without the railroad, there would be no Duluth as we know it. Step (or ride?) back into Minnesota history at this visitor favorite.

old train in the railroad museum
elderly woman walking her dog on a paved path

Smooth Riders: Lakewalk

Duluth has its fair share of technical single track. For less rock to your roll, try wheeling or walking around the Lakewalk, right next to the shores of Lake Superior. Just save plenty of time for ice cream.

Bird’s-Eye Views: Ely’s Peak

Rated “moderately challenging” on the legs but “exceptionally rewarding” on the eyes, Ely’s Peak is a 1.8-mile climb to the ceiling of Duluth. Be prepared for a bit of rock scrambling and steep grades, culminating in one epic view.

Hungry for more? Inspire your Minnesota North Shore adventure with more trip ideas plus tons of local perspectives.

two friends walking on a wooded trail
Man smiling while on a paddleboard
bird flying with the sunset in the background
kids running with a lighthouse in the background
water towers with pink flowers
Woman biking
A couple taking a selfie in front of the Aerial Lift Bridge

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