My Favorite Picnic Spots on the North Shore
Smoked fish from the big lake next to the big lake, yes please.
Fresh pastries and a latte on Lake Superior, I’m in.
Snacks and a refreshing libation while listening to the waves wash ashore, sounds good to me.
Food plus nature is a mighty fine combination in my book. Especially if there is a light breeze or bit of campfire smoke to keep bugs at bay. In lieu of that, I recommend bringing bug spray and a blanket, towel, cloth to sit on. You can pack a cooler or make a few stops and put together an impromptu meal. Be sure to use one of the bags for trash [if the receptacles are full, take it back home/to your lodging].
North Shore Picnic Maps
Part of Kitchi-Gami park; Brighton Beach is is perfect for skipping stones, agate-hunting, ship-watching, wading, picnicking and lollygagging. Features summer-use restrooms, picnic tables and grills. Brighton Beach starts just past the little blue tourist info center and runs 0.8 miles to Scenic 61/Congdon Blvd.
Note North Shore beaches are pebble or cobblestone; for sand, head to Park Point In Duluth.
McQuade Harbor Rest Area is a spanky little safe harbor with a boat launch, kayak ramp, restrooms, interpretive panels, shelter and paved walkway with tunnel to the east breakwall which includes three fishing platforms. Nice spot for a picnic, shore casting, or a little leg-stretcher.
Stoney Point Road is ideal for wave watching on stormy days, lake gazing and relaxing on calm days, quiet driving, picnicking. You will find public access toward the east end of the one-mile road.
Walk from Agate Bay near the iron ore docks along a 1-mile paved walkway, the Sonju Trail, to Burlington Bay.
Agate Bay attractions include the Edna G tugboat, the Railroad Depot museum, the Two Harbors Lighthouse museum and gift shop, and working ore docks – watch ships enter the harbor, dock and load up with pellets. Skip stones, picnic and search for agates along the cobblestone beach of Burlington Bay.
For many this is the first big stop on their travels. This four-season park offers accessible trails to rushing waterfalls, plus trails to through the woods, along the river and to Lake Superior; naturalist programs, biking, fishing, fall colors, birding, skiing, plus shopping, exhibits, restrooms, and visitor info in a firelit lobby within the Visitor Center.
Split Rock Lighthouse is the most well-known visual representation of the North Shore. Have you been? The Lighthouse, part of the MN Historical Society, offers a guided tour of the lighthouse, fog-signal building, oil house and light-keeper’s house. The visitor center has gifts, exhibits and a brief video. Each November 10th, the beacon is lit at the Edmund Fitzgerald Memorial.
The adjacent state park has trails, camping, and alluring forests running down to the shoreline.
This calm slice of shoreline gets its name from the taconite tailings [crushed rock] that makes up the beach. Offering picnic tables, outhouses and both the Black Beach and an agate beach. New in 2020 is the adjacent campground.
Spread over 9300 acres, Tettegouche is a handful of overlapping parks including Lake Superior coastline, Baptism River and falls, inland lakes, hardwood forests, rugged topography PLUS 24/7 restrooms, a café and gifts, and charming fireside indoor and outdoor seating. Something for everyone!
Amazing river gorges that start a few feet inland from the highway, waterfalls, two foot-bridges, hiking, a cobblestone river mouth, camping and hiking. Hike a short way upriver to the amazing gorges, then return south of the highway and walk across the foot-bridge. During spring runoff or after rainy days, the river spray will mist you. Back in the day, this was the only river without a [sand] bar at the mouth, hence the name, Temperance.
Donated by the eldest daughter, Elizabeth, of original European settlers John and Cecilia Tofte, Tofte Park features two cobblestone bridges and a cobblestone wishing well plus a picnic site and open shelter. Have a picnic, listen to the lake, hangout. Available for rental for weddings, reunions, gatherings.
Grandview Park in Lutsen offers a pavilion with picnic tables, charcoal grills, a fire ring, a playground and room to run around. Family-friendly and open to all.
Cascade brings the river to you. A quick jaunt up well-maintained trails brings you to overlooks and a footbridge spanning the cascades [ideal photo spot]. Picnic spots are a quarter mile farther along Highway 61. If you want to ski over the river and through the woods, Cascade has amazing cross-country skiing. Feel free to snowshoe anywhere, too.
Heading northeast, just past Thomsonite Beach, Highway 61 curves left, revealing picturesque Good Harbor Bay, Seagull Rock, and, in the distance, Grand Marais. Use the pull of to admire the view and take photos. A quarter mile farther is Cut Face Creek Wayside, a nice spot for a picnic, an agate search, and skipping stones.
Artist’s Point is the island and tombolo, spit of land, that makes up the east side of the harbor including the east breakwall and lighthouse; a drop of wilderness in the lake. So inspiring! Find picnic tables along the East Bay’s cobblestone beaches.
Relax, skip stones, and picnic on the beach. The there-and-back hike follows the Kadunce River with spurs to overlooks and pools. During the warm months of summer, when the water runs low, many locals hike up the river including climbing the waterfall.
The popular hike runs cliffside high above the Brule River. After a spur to the Lower Falls, make the final climb to where the splits. The eastern flow tumbles over the High Falls while the western arm drops into the Devil’s Kettle, final destination unknown. The hike is within Judge C.R. Magney State Park.
It’s all about hiking to the 120-foot High Falls, but leave time for the exhibits, gift shop and interpretive signs in and around the Visitor Center, where you can learn about the culture and traditions of the Grand Portage Ojibwe people. Bring your camera.
Access to Grand Portage State Park is Free!
State Park Vehicle Permits are NOT required at this park.
Walk the Beach
Flood Bay State Wayside offers a nice long pebble beach. Amble, search for agates, wade, picnic, relax. The walkway to the beach goes through a wetland that is sometimes home to waterfowl, otters, and beavers. Offers a seasonal restroom.
The Mount Josephine Wayside Rest has a spectacular overlook with views of the Susie Islands below in Lake Superior and Isle Royale in the distance. Isle Royale National Park is part of Michigan. The area is open April through October, has picnic tables and outhouses, and is located on the lake side of Highway 61.
- George Morrison “Connections” Exhibit
- April 18, 2022 - September 30, 2022
- Grand Marais Art Colony June courses
- June 1, 2022 - June 30, 2022
- North House Folk School June Courses
- June 1, 2022 - June 30, 2022
- Steve Simmer Exhibit
- June 1, 2022 - June 30, 2022
- Sailing on the Hjørdis
- June 1, 2022 - August 31, 2022