When it comes to road trips in Minnesota, travelers have nearly endless options. You can go on a haunted road trip, a waterfall road trip, or even a trip to all of our wackiest roadside attractions. In fact, one of the state’s most gorgeous regions is also one of the easiest to plan a road trip around. The North Shore has weeks worth of attractions to offer, but this road trip will take you to some of the very best in one day. Take a look:
1. Canal Park - Duluth
As the gateway to the North Shore, you wouldn't want to go on this road trip without first stopping in Duluth. While there are things to do all over the city, we suggest sticking to the Canal Park area. If you start early, venture a little further away to Duluth Grill for a truly delicious breakfast. Or, if you start later, have an early lunch at Grandma's.
After your stomach is full, head on out to the breakwater to take in some gorgeous Lake Superior views. If you're lucky, you'll get to see the famous Aerial Lift Bridge rise to let in a massive boat.
2. Gooseberry Falls - Two Harbors
Next up is one of the most popular places in all of Minnesota. Gooseberry Falls State Park is filled with trails that take you through forests and alongside incredible Lake Superior views. But of course, the main event is the gorgeous waterfall from which the park gets its name. Some go swimming in the pool at its base, but it is equally fun to take in the beautiful view without getting wet. Whatever you decide, you can't miss this famous North Shore stop.
3. Iona's Beach - Two Harbors
Next up is a lesser known beach that is full of beauty as well as mystery. As you walk up to the pink pebbled expanse, you'll notice a musical sound as the waves crash ashore. This is all of the thousands of rocks tinkling against each other as the water moves in and out. It's unlike anywhere else in Minnesota. The quiet stop will relax you as you prepare for the next leg of your journey.
4. Split Rock Lighthouse - Two Harbors
This spot is one of the most iconic views anywhere on Lake Superior, and it's a must-see regardless of how many times you've seen it. The best views are from the road below the cliff, but visiting the lighthouse is a great way to learn about Minnesota history. Either way, make sure to stop to appreciate one of the crown jewels of Minnesota's North Shore.
5. Lemon Wolf Cafe - Beaver Bay
After all that driving, hiking, and waterfall viewing, you'll probably be hungry. While there are some famous restaurants in the area - Betty's Pies, to name one - why not try something a bit lesser known? Lemon Wolf Cafe is a lovely spot with absolutely delicious food. The menu combines fresh ingredients in new ways to bring you old favorites as well as flavorful new creations. No matter what you get, you're going to walk away with a full stomach.
6. Black Beach - Silver Bay
Our next beach stop is one of the most unusual places along the entire North Shore. The black sands are such a departure from the typical rugged rocks of the North Shore that you won't even feel like you're in the same state. The bright red rock formations along the beach, coupled with blue waters and sky, are downright otherworldly. You do not want to miss this unusual location along the North Shore.
7. Tettegouche State Park - Silver Bay
One of Minnesota's most rugged state parks, Tettegouche is full of great trails. One of the best is a short and sweet trail that leads to the second waterfall of our road trip. The 70-foot Baptism River Falls is the largest waterfall entirely within Minnesota, and it's a gorgeous way to experience the great outdoors.
8. George Crosby Manitou State Park - Finland
This lesser known state park isn't directly on Highway 61, but that doesn't make it any less worth visiting. In fact, the location means fewer crowds, which means more opportunity for you to enjoy the peace and quiet of nature. The park is largely undeveloped, so it is best for those equipped with good hiking shoes and a desire to trek through uncharted forests. If that's not you, continue on to the final destination of the road trip. But if it is, prepare for thick forests, tall grasses, and possible wildlife sightings!
8. My Sister's Place - Grand Marais
Grand Marais is a bit of a hike from Duluth, so it would be wise to book a campsite if you think you'll arrive late. There are many in the area, including plenty in the various state parks along the North Shore. But if you plan on driving back the same day, you might want to stop for dinner in this charming town. There are lots of options, but our pick is My Sister's Place. This spot is a cozy, charming taste of the North Shore, and a fantastic way to end your road trip.
If you do spend the night - or you're in town early enough - you'll also want to stop at World's Best Donuts. You won't be sorry you did - they really are the best.
What do you think? Have you been to any of these places? Would you add any to this one-day road trip? Let us know in the comments below!