If seeing super basic exhibits and a severely limited amount of animal specimens for an outrageous price is right up your alley, then by all means visit Duluth’s aquarium. If you have ever been to an average zoo or aquarium, you will agree that the Great Lakes Aquarium is an overpriced joke, setup of informational exhibits for children on a school trip.
Do... continue driving north on 61
After starting in Duluth, head north on Highway 61 toward Canada. Driving along the scenic highway is one of the most beautiful routes in the nation, with interesting natural and historic attractions littered practically every mile along the way.
By the time you visit, the roses are either long gone and dead or are withered and uncared for. Every place has a park that boasts about their wonderful rose garden and unfortunately for Duluth, the Lief Erickson park is better left off limited itineraries.
Do... tour the Split Rock Lighthouse
One of Minnesota’s defining symbols is a lighthouse mounted on the edge of a high cliff. Symbolic of the part that Minnesota’s treacherous cliffs have played in the history of shipping along the Great Lakes. Split Rock is THAT lighthouse and is a must-see to all that visit the North Shore!
3. Don’t... shop along Highway 61
There are tons of little towns and settlements that have cropped up along the highway, but majority are overpriced tourist traps. If you’re going to shop, get away from the main drag in most towns and you may be lucky enough to find that quaint gem of authentic shopping.
Do... shop at Duluth Pack
Duluth Pack in the Canal Park district near the edge of Lake Superior offers a unique shopping (and eating) experience, with its high quality canvas and leather bags, hiking equipment and country-style clothing options.
The Skyline Parkway is a winding road that gives you a few views of Duluth from above. Majority of it is overgrown with trees, weeds and bushes which limit the ability to catch an unobstructed view of the city. Additionally, Duluth is not a pretty town, full of industry, railroads and shipping remnants.
Do... visit Gooseberry Falls
Gooseberry Falls and its surrounding hiking trails are always worth the trip, no matter what time of year. To avoid the tourist crowds that tend to run amok, visit the falls on weekdays in the Fall.
5. Don’t... stay indoors
The North Shore is all about the natural attractions and the experience of being outdoors. Yes, take the scenic routes and enjoy a wonderful drive, but don’t just stay indoors or in your car!
Do... go outdoors
If you take Highway 61, you will run into countless activities that are all worth giving a go. From rock-climbing, hiking and camping to fishing, canoeing, and kayaking, the North Shore can fulfill anyone’s outdoorsy wanderlust.
Don’t camp in the typical touristy campgrounds. A rule of thumb to finding a good campground is to ignore the big flashing road signs and ask a local.
Ok! Yes, do camp. You have to camp, it’s part of the entire experience. But setup camp where other Minnesotan’s go. If you’re camping with a bunch of lost and touristy city folk, how will this experience be any different than if you drove 10 miles outside of your own cities limits and setup camp? The North Shore offers a numerous array of options for those who wish to camp within the real nature of the Northern Midwest.
Trust me, just don’t do it. It’s a silly aprox. 14-foot sculpture in the shape of a man, made out of what seems to be a large can of soup and some foil wrap.
Do... hike along Pebble Beach
After visiting the Split Rock Lighthouse, take a left to continue on through the park reserve (but remember to purchase a pass at the ranger’s station) and park at the Trail Center parking lot. Hike down toward the water’s edge and you will run into a black beach covered in credit card sized rocks. If you hike far enough around the bay you will catch a glimpse of the lighthouse on the cliffs and be able to hop onto the little Ellingson island.
8. Don’t... go to the casinos
A money and soul-sucking abyss with little-to-no entertainment or unique show value awaits at most of the casinos around the area.
Do... have a drink
Bars are a aplenty from Duluth to the Canadian border, so stop and have a drink or three. Most of the watering holes offer pint after pint of local lake-brewed elixirs that are usually worth a try.
9. Don’t... visit Superior, Wisconsin
Visiting Duluth for the first time may tease you into believing it’s larger than it really is. Once you cross the bridge over into Wisconsin, you’re in the town of Superior. Tourism and culture have unfortunately forgot about this once prosperous sea-village.
Do... cross the border
If you’ve started your trip from Duluth and made it all the way up to the international border, a perfect ending of the fun should carry on into the Canadian town of Thunder Bay. Known for its natural beauty of forests, falls and rock formations.
(Photos by © Brandon Elijah Scott / Eye & Pen)