**Updated : January 2024**
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Why You Need to Visit Duluth
Duluth is one of the most popular cities in Minnesota to visit for a local getaway, and for good reason. Situated right on the shores of Lake Superior, there's a truly incredible amount of unique places to eat, local places to shop, and epic things to do. Now, if you typically head up to the North Shore in the summer OR if you're heading up for Bentleyville and simply looking for some new, other things to do - let us be the first to tell you, that Duluth might just be our favorite, new winter destination in Minnesota.
Our top reason to visit Duluth? To support the local businesses and communities. Truly, there is a slew of amazing local businesses throughout the city, from Canal Park to Lincoln Park and even some places downtown, we've gathered our favorite things to do in Duluth in the winter season below. If you're looking for a place to stay we 100% recommend Enger Lofts - we stayed here on our most recent visit and were truly blown away by all the little details, cleanliness, and access to the Lincoln Park district.
9 Winter Activities Not to Miss in Duluth
1. Cedar and Stone Sauna
Ok, this is hands down our new favorite thing to do in Duluth. Having just opened a new floating sauna a few weeks ago, we were beyond excited to add this to our itinerary on our most recent visit. For 90 minutes, we enjoyed the floating sauna that has a second floor and private back deck. The entire experience in the wood fired sauna was guided - and they truly went above and beyond with new essential oils every 15-20 minutes, an herbal tea to start, a raspberry electrolyte drink to stay hydrated, and access to the cold plunge for as many times as we wanted. To us is the perfect winter activity that truly embraces the nordic side of Minnesota!
2. Glensheen Mansion
A classic activity for visitors in Duluth, even if you've visited before we highly recommend visiting again in the winter! If you time your visit just right, you'll be able to tour the mansion while it's decorated for the holiday season - meaning 27 Christmas trees throughout the estate! Currently, self-guided tours are $20 per adult.
3. Visit a State Park
Chances are, you've heard of Gooseberry Falls State Park located about 45 minutes north of Duluth. With 3 levels of waterfalls, this spot might be even more beautiful in the winter than in the summer. However, if you're looking for a more "hidden" spot to spend some time in the great outdoors, or you just don't feel like driving that far from Duluth, then we recommend checking out Jay Cooke State Park! Only 20 minutes south of Duluth, this state park is typically much less crowded for some equally as impressive views. Plus, they have a pretty fun swing bridge that doesn't require much hiking to get to - and the views over the river are beautiful, especially with a fresh dusting of snow. Not to mention, when we visited we were literally the only people there!
4. Canal Park
An area of Duluth that is probably the most visited by guests, our favorite time to visit this area is in the winter without all the large summer crowds. I'll be honest, some of the stores do tend to have shorter hours, but walking out to the North Pier Lighthouse and along the boardwalk with the fresh air really just hits different in the winter. If you're looking for some places to check out in addition to exploring the boardwalk and walking out to the lighthouse, we recommend :
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Minnesota State Parks Checklist
A complete, alphabetical checklist of all Minnesota State Parks! A printable PDF version & versatile Google Sheets version to use on the go! Instant download as soon as you purchase. :)
Minnesota's North Shore Ultimate Map
A collection of 100+ our favorite finds throughout the North Shore of Minnesota. From popular spots to hidden gems, we've got a collection of parks, hikes, seasonal attractions, and foodie spots to make your trip to the North Shore the best it can be. Available for instant access on your computer or phone - it's perfect for planning your trip ahead of time or to use in real time while on the go to see what's closest to your current location! Each of these 100+ spots comes with a unique note with best tips for visiting (or things to expect) as well as our own photos. This purchase gives you lifetime access to our North Shore Ultimate Map - including any extra stops we add in the future! (Or any price changes.)
*Once purchased, you will be sent a PDF on how to access the map and provided access to the map with the gmail you use at checkout. In order to access the map, you will need to be signed in to the same gmail/google account email you used at check out. Please allow us up to 24 hours to give your email access to the map. We also recommend downloading the Google Maps app for the easiest way to access the map via mobiles while on the go!*
5. Local Brews
Duluth is known for it's incredible craft beer scene, and during the wintertime this could be the perfect activity that lets you try something new while staying cozy and indoors. Although there's a few local craft breweries in Canal Park (like Hoops Brewing and Canal Park Brewing Company), we recommend heading towards the Lincoln Park area if you're looking to try a few new craft beer houses within walking distance of each other! We tried Bent Paddle Brewing during our most recent visit and they had an excellent sour beer - plus it was literally right across the street from our stay at Enger Lofts. Some other breweries to check out in the Lincoln Park area that we would recommend are Wild State Cider, Ursa Mining Brewing, and Duluth Cider!
6. Helicopter Tour
This is the one activity on our list that we haven't done ourselves yet, but trust us - we want to. You can choose either a 15 mile, 30 mile, or 60 mile helicopter tour which takes you along the North Shore and provides the most epic views in all of Duluth, talk about an incredible winter activity in Duluth!
7. Spirit Mountain
If you're looking to get in another popular Minnesota past time during your visit to Duluth, then Spirit Mountain is the spot for you! With skiing, snowboarding, and tubing opportunities - there's truly something here for the whole family, especially if you're looking to spend some time in the fresh lake air. They even have lessons if you're a newbie. Lift tickets for the day are $80 per adult.
8. Lincoln Park
Lincoln Park is our new favorite area of Duluth. With incredible boutique and local shopping, plenty of breweries, and an epic stay right in the center (hint hint, Enger Lofts) and some amazing local eateries, we highly recommend spending a day exploring this area the next time you're in Duluth. Some of our favorite places to eat in the neighborhood are :
9. Enger Tower
Our last recommendation if you're looking to fully enjoy Duluth in the wintertime is to make a stop at Enger Tower. The views from the tower itself as well as the surrounding park can be incredible, and on a clear day you can see the entire canal and much of Lake Superior spread out below you. It's worth noting however, that occasionally when the road is slippery the park can be closed without warning.
Watch our adventures in Duluth here!
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