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Lake Superior Island Summer

A Guide to Exploring the North Shore Minnesota

Welcome to the North Shore of Minnesota, a breathtakingly beautiful region filled with rugged cliffs, pristine forests, and stunning waterfalls. All offset by the majesty of the biggest of the great lakes, Lake Superior.

If you're looking for an escape from the bustle of city life, the North Shore is the perfect destination. This area boasts miles of untouched wilderness, crystal clear lakes, and charming small towns that offer a glimpse into the region's rich history and culture.

Whether you're an adventure seeker, nature lover, or simply looking for a peaceful retreat, the North Shore has something for everyone. From attractions to activities, communities to lodging choices, this guide will be your go-to resource for exploring the Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior.

Get ready to immerse yourself in the natural wonder of this remarkable region and create memories that will last a lifetime

Where is Minnesota’s North Shore of Lake Superior

Minnesota’s North Shore follows Lake Superior from Duluth’s Canal Park northeast along Lake Superior’s shoreline for 154 miles to the border with Canada. The road, MN Highway 61, includes 33 public spots to get out and get close to the Lake. Here you will find the best views of Lake Superior.


Learn about North Shore history and culture in the communities along and inland from Highway 61. Some communities are blink-and-you-miss-it. Two Harbors, the largest town, is Minnesota’s first iron ore port. Grand Marais, the other larger town, is home to a deep and varied arts community. In between discover delightful burgs with local shops, eating and drinking establishments, year-round trail systems, and local events. Most of the villages are centered on the big lake, with Finland and the Gunflint Trail set in the hills and forests rising up the shore.

North Shore Minnesota Attractions

The North Shore of Minnesota is a nature lover's paradise, with a wide range of natural and manmade attractions, all excellent ways to explore the area. You will want to experience Lake Superior from multiple vantage points. The lake changes with the weather, one day calm and serene, the next white-capped rollers crashing against basalt cliffs. The land that rise from the big lake’s shores is covered with public forests, ridgelines, and rivers that cascade down the hill to the lake. Inland clearwater lakes are ideal for swimming, fishing, kayaking, camping. The best way to explore the North Shore’s natural beauty is at the eight state parks. They encompass some of the most striking natural features of the area. Another beauty of the parks is their accessibility; all but one are adjacent to Highway 61. Within a quarter mile of parking, every park offers spectacular views. For a jolt of adrenaline choose ziplines, the alpine slide, ax throwing, and sled dog rides. For excitement at a slower pace, take a gondola ride, play a round of mini-golf, take a scenic train ride, go out on Lake Superior in a schooner, or take a guided snowmobile tour.

Things To Do on the North Shore Minnesota

The North Shore is all about being outside. The area supports a wide variety of activities and trail systems. Many businesses offer rentals and some guided tours to help you get the most out of your holiday. For the sightseer, choose short hikes, nearby waterfalls, the National Monument, agate hunting, the paved Gitchi Gami bike trail, a round of golf, a fall color drive, or a sleigh ride. The more adventurous can hike part or all of the 310-mile Superior Hiking Trail. Canoe the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Cross-country ski miles of trail or tackle black diamond runs at Lutsen Mountains. Ride single track mountain bike trails.

Lodging options on the North Shore

You will find a wide range of accommodation, from cozy cabins to luxurious resorts. Vacation on the shores of Lake Superior or a pristine wilderness lake. Or pick a cabin the woods or downtown lodging. Stay in a mom-and-pop motel or bed and breakfast to live like a local. Choose a vacation rental for privacy. Large resorts offer a full complement of amenities and lodge rooms to condos to townhomes. If you prefer fewer people and a personal touch, try a smaller resort. For those who prefer a more rustic experience, campgrounds on the North Shore set you in the midst of beautiful scenery – plus campfires!

Best time to Explore Minnesota’s North Shore

When to visit? Summer is peak tourism, offering a reprieve from hot weather and humidity. You will find the most festivals events from June through August. Seasonal businesses and attractions are open, too. Holidays can be busy. Weekends require minimum night stays. Fall is a gorgeous time to, with the leaves changing colors and the air crisp and cool. The fall colors are at their peak in late September and early October, offering a gorgeous backdrop. Weekends sell out in advance. Winter is a magical time on the North Shore, with snow-covered landscapes and frozen waterfalls creating a winter wonderland for visitors. The area offers a range of winter activities, including skiing, snowshoeing, and snowshoeing. Spring is the quiet time to visit the North Shore, as it arrives late. Take in some of the last skiing of the season and enjoy solitude. The waterfalls are also at their peak during this time of year, offering a breathtaking sight.

Hidden Gems and Wildlife

The North Shore of Minnesota is filled with hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path spots that are worth the extra effort. Your reward will be less-frequented waterfalls, wide-open vistas of Lake Superior, quieter lakes, darker skies, and an increased chance to spot wildlife. The northwoods are home to moose, river otters, white-tailed deer, black bear, beavers, pine martin, bald eagles, goshawks, boreal chickadees, timber wolves, and coyotes. Keep an eye out, especially at dawn and dusk, for chance sightings of wildlife. Start planning your trip today and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Check out these North Shore Favorites

framed wintry view of lake superior shoreline at grand superior near gooseberry falls
spiral waterslide and pool at americinn silver bay on the north shore
sparkling wintry lake superior and ice sheets stacked on north shore

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