Here is a catchall of things to do on the north shore. Mile-by-mile recommendations along the North Shore Scenic Drive, an All-American Road, from Canal Park in Duluth, along the shore, through the burgs and woodlands, to the international border at Grand Portage with a taste of what to expect in Canada. This is just a sampling, get out and make your own discoveries! Note the mileage is indicated by the blue milemarker signs posted every mile along Highway 61.
|mileage from duluth's aerial lift bridge||what you'll find|
Aerial Lift Bridge
Watch gargantuan counterweights slowly descend, raising the 900-ton span of the Aerial Lift Bridge nearly 140 feet in the air to allow 1000-foot ore boats to pass into the harbor.
Learn the history of area shipping at the US Army Corps of engineers Lake Superior Maritime Museum. They list and announce all ship arrivals and departures, too. It's free!
A cobblestone beach perfect for skipping stones, agate-hunting, ship-watching and picnicking. Summer-use restrooms, too.
May I recommend 5.2 Brighton Beach, 15.0 Stony Point, 27.5 Flood Bay State Wayside, 42.6 Iona's Beach, 50.0 mouth of the Beaver River, 80.4 mouth of the Temperance River, 104 Cutface Creek, 118.7 Kadunce River Wayside and 130.1 Horshoe Bay.
McQuade Harbor Rest Area
A spanky little safe harbor with a boat launch, kayak ramp, restrooms, and walkway with tunnel out along the east breakwall, which includes three fishing platforms.
French River Fish Hatchery
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources [DNR] incubates a variety of fish here. Visitor center open weekdays, year-round.
Stop at this old landing area and dock and try some shorecasting. You can also fish the Talmadge, French and sucker Rivers. License required.
A one-mile scenic road that is ideal for wave watching on stormy days and relaxing on calm days.
A DNR-run marina, the river and beach back the little burg of Knife River, home to a few shops and excellent smoked fish.
Home of the Little Red Schoolhouse, on the National Register of Historic Places, which acts as a community hub for area residents - stop and see what's happening.
Two Harbors Lighthouse
Minnesota's only operating lighthouse; built in 1892, Two Harbors Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
From Hwy 61, head south on 6th Street for 10 blocks
Two Harbors Waterfront
Watch ships, tour the Edna G tugboat, find an agate on Agate Bay, walk the waterfront on the Sonju Trail
From Hwy 61, head south on 6th Street for 10 blocks
Gooseberry Falls State Park
A four seasons park; spring runoff, summer hiking, fall colors and wintry ski and snowshoe trails. Don't miss the exhibits, programs, firelit lobby and gift shop at the visitor center.
Iona's Beach Scientific & Natural Area
A 300-yard beach littered with pink rhyolite slabs from the nearby northern cliff; a few trails, public launch and seasonal restrooms.
Split Rock Lighthouse & State Park
Make some time to hike, tour, see and learn. Some summer evenings at dusk, they still light the light. Really want to see it lit? Each November 10th, the beacon is lit at the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial.
Stop at the wayside rest and visitor center and admire the Beaver River, Falls and Bay. Ride your to Split Rock Lighthouse and back along the Gitchi Gami State Bike Trail.
Silver Bay Marina
Watch ships being loaded with taconite, have a picnic and see if anyone caught fish.
Black Beach / Onyx Beach
Re-opened to the public in May 2015, this calm slice of shoreline gets its name from the taconite tailings [crushed rock] that makes up the beach. Owned by North Shore Mining.
Directions, shortly after the only stoplight on Hwy 61, turn south on Mensing Drive for 0.1 mile, then right on West Lakeview Rd for 0.4 miles' 2 parking areas
Drive to the top [seasonally], ooh and aah over the panoramic vistas, then look down and see if there are any blueberries to pick.
Tettegouche State Park
Walk the spur trails to Shovel Point and the mouth of the Baptism River. [Tip: clean, accessible bathrooms available 24/7. You're welcome.]
Drive north on MN Highway 1 5.9 miles to the intersection with Lake County Road 7; hop out and have your picture taken with the wooden carving of St Urho.
Take a leg-stretcher along the 1-mile interpretive nature trail that departs from the parking area.
A tiny little town used to be on the west side of the road leading down to the harbor; you can still see some of the blacktop in the weeds. Prettier views are down at the harbor and just to the east, you might be lucky and see an occasional ship unload coal for the power plant located there.
Highway 61 spans the river mid-waterfalls. while the drive-by view is nice, stop and walk the pedestrian bridge, an ideal vantage point for photos.
Hike a short way upriver to the amazing gorges, then return south of the highway and walk across the footbridge. During spring runoff or after rainy days, the river spray will mist you. Back in the day, this was the only river without a bar at the mouth, hence the name, Temperance.
North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum
Check out the relics, artifacts and photos donated by descendants of the original immigrants. In the twin-gabled red fish house replica.
Hike the Oberg Mountain Trail, which is especially beautiful during fall colors; 2.25-mile total. From Hwy 61, drive north about 2 miles on the Onion River Road.
Four seasons of fun. Besides the obvious winter opportunities on the four mountains, check out the non-snowy Alpine Slide, hiking and biking trails and the always-lovely tram ride to Moose Mountain.
Cascade River State Park
Find the cascades!
Cut Face Creek Wayside Rest
Big views from the western pullover; picnic tables and a cobblestone beach at the wayside. Just lovely!
Take in the East Bay and Harbor before ambling along the paths of artist Point. Include a walk out to the lighthouse for a different perspective of Grand Marais.
A worthy side trip! Drive, hike, photograph, dine, paddle, fish, shop, see a moose.
Five Mile Rock
Take in the wide open Lake Superior views at this landmark for early travelers, located five miles from Grand Marais.
Kadunce River Wayside
Relax, skip stones and picnic on the beach and be sure to include a hike up the river.
Judge C.R. Magney State Park
Tip your hat to Judge Magney, namesake of this park and visionary who helped establish 11 North Shore state parks and waysides. Home of the famous Devil's Kettle Falls, a 2.25-mile round trip hike on the east side of the river.
Grand Portage National Monument
Learn local culture, history and art; Pow Wow and Rendezvous Days second full weekend in August. Turn right toward Mile Creek Road and continue .75 miles.
Grand Portage State Park
All about the High Falls; take the .5-mile accessible path and boardwalk through a mixed hardwood-conifer forest to the 120-foot falls. Bring your camera.
Make your trip international - cross the border and spend some time in Canada [you will need a passport or other approved documents to cross the border].
Thunder Bay is 37 miles northeast of the border; some stops along the way include the Middle Falls Provincial Park, farm stands and pick-your-own strawberry fields, Fort William Historical Park and the 131-foot Kakabeka Falls.