where to stay on lake superior

Scenic Highway 61

This lakeside drive, Scenic 61, is part of the original Highway 61, following the 1899 wagon trail about 20 miles from Brighton Beach to the entrance to Two Harbors. It offers overlooks, access to Lake Superior, shops, restaurants and lodging. Mostly it gives the flavor of what Highway 61 was like back in the day.

If you are looking for a slower-paced drive with lots of views of Lake Superior, this is your road. Be sure to pull into the wayside rests and take the Stoney Point Road, too [details below]. Look for agates, listen to the lake, watch the waves, stop for smoked fish.

Milage starts at the Duluth Lift Bridge

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Canal Park – the Aerial Lift Bridge, the Marine Museum, the Lakewalk, sculptures and public art [like this sculpture wall], shops, restaurants, and lodging.

Enter the Lakewalk from several points in Canal Park and walk along the shore, through Leif Erikson park and the Duluth Rose Gardens and continue to Brighton Beach, on the eastern edge of Duluth; up to 10+ miles roundtrip.

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… sail through the canal and under the Aerial Lift Bridge. The gargantuan counterweights slowly descend, raising the 900-ton span of the Aerial Lift Bridge nearly 140 feet in the air to allow 1000-footers [ore boats carrying taconite pellets] and salties [ocean-bound ships] to pass into the harbor. The canal was excavated in 1871 and is a deceptive 300 feet wide and 1,650 feet long. The first aerial transfer was erected in 1905 and modernized in 1929 to what you see today. It can rise to its full height in 55 seconds.

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The Lake Superior Maritime Museum houses actual-size replicas of a ship cabin, pilothouse, and massive steam engine. Exhibits and displays include several scale ship models. They list and announce all ship arrivals and departures, too. It’s free!

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Choose the ‘Two Harbors Turn’ and ride the rails from downtown Duluth to the waterfront in Two Harbors. Hop off, have lunch, shop and board for the return trip.

Operates summer weekend leaving at 10 am and returning late afternoon.

mile 5.2

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 Road starts just past the  little blue tourist info center and connects in 0.8 miles to Scenic 61/Congdon Blvd.

Note North Shore beaches are pebble or cobblestone; for sand, head to Park Point In Duluth.

mile 10.0

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.

mile 14.3

Stop at the old Bluebird Landing beach and casting for tout and coho [salmon]. Keep an eye out for freshwater whales, too.
You can also fish the 10.8 Talmadge, 12.3 French, and 15.7 Sucker Rivers. License required.

mile 18.3

A DNR marina, the river, a Lake Superior beach, Rec Center and a few businesses add up to be the little burg of Knife River. Originally founded as Buchanan, after President Buchanan, this unincorporated village has been home to commercial fishermen for the past 150+ years. During a spring gale in April 1914, 64-mile-per-hour winds proved too much for the 239-foot steel steamer Benjamin Noble, which sank off Knife Island.

mile 21.2

A small cluster along Scenic 61, the focal point of Larsmont is the Little Red Schoolhouse. On the National Register of Historic Places, it is a community hub for area residents. Stop and see what’s happening.

Interesting tidbit: Larsmont received its name in 1914 from an early settler who was originally from Larsmo, Finland.

SCENIC HIGHWAY 61

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