Discovering Duluth: 10 Unique Things to Do in Duluth, MN


Reading Time: 5 minutes

Located on the shores of Lake Superior, Duluth, MN has plenty to offer both new residents and longtime locals. From exploring the city’s historic buildings and museums to hiking in Jay Cooke State Park or skiing at Spirit Mountain, there’s no shortage of activities to enjoy in Duluth. Whether you’re looking for apartments for rent in Duluth or are looking for a house in the city, there are exciting and interesting activities. Here are ten unique things to do for folks living in Duluth.

glensheen mansion in duluth mn

1. Visit the Glensheen Mansion

Visiting the Glensheen Mansion is an incredible experience that takes you back in time to the early 20th century. This historic mansion was built by Chester Congdon, a wealthy businessman and politician, and his family in 1908. The mansion features 39 rooms and is situated on a beautiful estate overlooking Lake Superior. During the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the different rooms and learn about the Congdon family and their impact on Duluth’s history. 

The mansion is filled with stunning architecture, intricate woodwork, and unique features like a secret staircase and a rare collection of international clocks. Overall, the Glensheen Mansion is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, architecture, or simply looking for a beautiful and educational experience in Duluth.

2. Take a scenic drive up the North Shore

Driving up the North Shore is a breathtaking experience that showcases the natural beauty of the area. The route takes you along the shore of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, and provides stunning views of rugged cliffs, rocky beaches, and dense forests. The road is lined with quaint small towns, including Two Harbors and Beaver Bay, which offer unique shopping, dining, and lodging options. As you drive further north, you’ll encounter a series of state parks, including Split Rock Lighthouse State Park and Gooseberry Falls State Park, which provide opportunities for hiking, camping, and exploring waterfalls.

3. Explore the Lake Superior Zoo

Visiting the Lake Superior Zoo is a great idea for residents looking for educational and unique things to do in Duluth. The zoo is home to a diverse range of animals from around the world, including big cats, primates, birds, and reptiles. In addition to the animal exhibits, the zoo offers numerous interactive experiences, including behind-the-scenes tours, animal encounters, and feeding demonstrations. The zoo also hosts several special events throughout the year, including holiday-themed events and educational programs for children. With its beautiful location overlooking Lake Superior, there’s plenty to do and see at the Lake Superior Zoo.

goggles hanging on skis

4. Go skiing at Spirit Mountain

Skiing at Spirit Mountain has to be near the top of the list of things to do for winter sports enthusiasts in Duluth. The mountain boasts over 20 runs, ranging from beginner to expert, with a vertical drop of over 700 feet. The resort also features a terrain park with jumps, rails, and other obstacles for those looking to take their skills to the next level. In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Spirit Mountain offers a variety of other winter activities, including snow tubing and cross-country skiing. The resort also has multiple dining and lodging options, making it a great destination for a weekend getaway or family vacation.

5. Tour the S.S. William A. Irvin

The SS William A. Irvin is a historic ship that offers a unique glimpse into the city’s rich maritime history. The ship was built in 1938 and served as a cargo vessel for the U.S. Steel Corporation for over 40 years. Today, the ship is open to the public for tours, providing the opportunity to explore the vessel’s cabins, engine room, and cargo holds. 

The ship is also home to a museum exhibit that highlights Duluth’s history as a shipping hub and showcases artifacts and photos from the city’s maritime past. The SS William A. Irvin is a captivating historical destination for anyone interested in history or maritime culture, and it provides a fascinating look into the importance of shipping and transportation to the development of Duluth and the Great Lakes region.

6. Visit the Great Lakes Aquarium

If you’re looking for an activity that provides an opportunity to learn about the diverse aquatic life found in the Great Lakes region, be sure to check out the Great Lakes Aquarium. Located in the Rice’s Point neighborhood, the aquarium features a variety of exhibits showcasing different habitats and ecosystems, including freshwater streams, Lake Superior, and the St. Louis River Estuary. You can see a variety of aquatic creatures, such as sturgeon, otters, and various species of fish, and learn about their behavior and habitats. 

The aquarium also offers a variety of interactive experiences, including touch tanks and behind-the-scenes tours, and hosts educational programs and events throughout the year. Its commitment to conservation and education makes the Great Lakes Aquarium a destination for families, school groups, and anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating world of aquatic life in the Great Lakes region.

7. Explore Canal Park

Canal Park is a bustling waterfront district that provides locals with a unique blend of history, recreation, and entertainment. The park is home to a variety of attractions, including the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge, which connects Duluth to the Park Point peninsula. You can watch as massive ships pass through the canal and under the bridge, providing a glimpse into the city’s industrial past. The park also features a variety of shops, restaurants, and galleries, as well as a boardwalk that runs along the lakefront and offers stunning views of Lake Superior. You can also enjoy outdoor recreation opportunities, including fishing, kayaking, and biking, as well as beach access and walking trails.

jay cooke state park near duluth mn

8. Take a hike in Jay Cooke State Park

Jay Cooke State Park is a stunning natural area located just outside Duluth. The park features over 50 miles of hiking trails, including the challenging Superior Hiking Trail, which offers breathtaking views of the St. Louis River and its surrounding hills. The park is also home to a variety of camping options, including rustic cabins, tent sites, and RV sites, as well as opportunities for fishing, swimming, and kayaking in the river. You can explore the park’s historic sites, including the restored Oldenburg House, which dates back to the late 1800s, and the iconic Swinging Bridge, which provides a thrilling crossing over the river.

9. Visit the Duluth Art Institute

The Duluth Art Institute is a vibrant cultural institution in Duluth, MN that offers the opportunity to explore the city’s rich artistic heritage. The institute features a variety of galleries showcasing works by local, regional, and national artists, as well as educational programs and workshops for people of all ages. The institute also hosts a variety of special events throughout the year, including artist talks, film screenings, and exhibitions featuring works by emerging and established artists. Locals can also participate in the institute’s community engagement programs, which aim to promote social justice and equity through the arts.

10. Go on a brewery tour

Brewery tours in Duluth, MN are a popular activity for anyone who enjoys craft beer and learning about the brewing process. Duluth is home to a variety of breweries, each with its own unique style and flavor. You can take guided tours of the breweries, learning about the ingredients and equipment used to produce the beer and sampling different varieties along the way. Some of the breweries also offer food options, such as wood-fired pizzas or snacks that pair well with the beer. With its vibrant craft beer scene, knowledgeable tour guides, and unique tasting experiences, brewery tours in Duluth are a must-do activity for beer enthusiasts and anyone looking for a fun and unique way to experience the city.

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

Chibuzo Ezeokeke

Chibuzo is part of the content marketing team and enjoys writing about local insights and home improvement. His dream home is a Mediterranean-style house with a large kitchen and plenty of windows.

Connect with Chibuzo
Start your home search on Redfin
Scroll to Top