Are you looking for a place to getaway this fall? Perhaps somewhere you can see the beautiful fall foliage, walk along the coastline of the largest Great Lake, and try some fabulous fares and brews? If the answer is YES, Duluth is just the place for you this fall!
There is so much to see and do here that visiting Duluth could easily be something more than just a day trip. Stay the weekend and see all the great things this Northern City and the surrounding area has to offer. This guide encompasses some of our favorite things to see and do and places to eat in the Duluth area. We hope you find it helpful and take the time to visit this fall.
First of all, lets talk food and brews. There are so many great options including Fitger’s, Clyde Iron Works, Canal Park Brewing and many more. Conveniently, our top three places offer scrumptious selections of both!
Fitger’s Inn is a historic establishment that has been around since the mid- 1800s! It is even registered as a national historic place. The brewery survived prohibition by crafting soda and candy instead of ales. Today, it is a restaurant, brewery and hotel all in one! It is located right on the coastline of Lake Superior and has trail access to the Duluth Lakewalk. There is also a mall underneath the inn with an assortment of small boutiques where you can shop for unique gifts. Inside the brewhouse restaurant is a classic take on American fare. We really enjoyed the burgers- especially the Minnesota wild rice burger and the apricot ale.
Clyde Iron Works is located in a bright, beautiful and modern remodeled historic machine factory hidden on the south side of town. As soon as we walked through the door, our mouths were watering from the pleasant aromas of their spectacular homemade sauces and doughs. We really liked the homemade stromboli and wood-fired pizzas. They have plenty of seating, and they also host events here if you are looking for a wedding venue or hosting a large party. In addition to being a great stop for food, they are also opening up their own craft brewery soon. Unfortunately, the beers weren’t ready when we stopped here last time, but we look forward to trying them next time!
Last but not least, Canal Park Brewing is another brewery and restaurant that is splendidly located right on the coast of Lake Superior. They have a lot of space indoors, but if you are visiting on one of Duluth’s rare warmer days (summer doesn’t last long up here!), Canal Park has a spacious patio right on the edge of Duluth’s harbor. Inside or outside, Canal Park features close up views of Lake Superior and Duluth’s port. We always enjoy their unique takes on American fare. We especially enjoy their fish tacos and mango habanero burger. They have an extensive craft beer selection, but our favorite is the Nut Hatchet brown ale.
In addition to excellent food and drink at Canal Park Brewery, they are also in a prime location for shopping. Along Canal Park, you will find blocks of small touristy shops where you can get stickers, postcards, t-shirts, etc. There are also some small art studios that feature prints, pottery, glass and more that are made by local artists.
Not really that into shopping? Thats OK! If you do find yourself in the Canal Park area, we highly recommend visiting the park itself. There are 2 really cool lighthouses- the Duluth North Pier and South Breakwater lighthouses- that you can walk up to and watch the huge ships sailing by on their way to and from the Atlantic Ocean. If you are interested in the big ships and want to know more about where they are coming from, going to, and what they are carrying, you can stop at the Lake Superior Marine Museum to find out all of that and more.
From the park, you will also get a great view of the famous aerial lift bridge. This bridge was built in the very early 1900s and rises over 200 feet into the air to allow boats to pass under it!
From the lighthouses, we recommend taking a walk along the Duluth Lakewalk to get some more views of the city, lake, and lighthouses. The lakewalk is about 8 miles total and the entire trail is paved making it a great option for bikes, scooters and strollers in addition to walking or jogging. If you start at Canal Park and head north, you will walk right by the Fitger’s mall and restaurant. There is also a great ice cream place called Crank and Dasher that is right off the trail if you need something sweet to continue on the lakewalk.
Another great stop is the Enger Tower. This tower was built in 1939 and can be found on one of the highest spots in Duluth. You can climb the stairs in the tower and get some beautiful views of the entire city and the surrounding area.
Heights aren’t really your thing? No worries! There are lots of other things to do here instead including picnicking, taking some hiking trails, walking through the gardens or just sitting and enjoying the nature.
If it is a bit chilly or rainy when you visit, there is a lot of indoor things to see as well. The Great Lakes Aquarium is a unique spot to spend the afternoon. You can see the local fish and learn about the ecosystem of Lake Superior. More into history than fish? Check out the Lake Superior Railroad Museum! Here you can take a step back in time and read up on the role of the railroads and how important they were in this big shipping town. You can also experience some refurbished old trains to see and feel what they were like back in the early 1900s.
The railroad museum also offers Train Excursions on the North Shore Scenic Railroad. There are quite a few different rides to choose from including a fall leaf train, short rides or all day excursions up the coast of Lake Superior, and many more. Check out their website for info on tickets and what excursions are available.
If you don’t take the train up the coast for scenic views, you can drive instead and take in the North Shore at your own pace. Along the coast is a few stops that we recommend- Betty’s Pies, Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse. Of course there are so many other beautiful places to see and countless things to do on this route, but we will focus on these three.
First up, Betty’s Pies. Pies are constantly being baked fresh here and whether you like fruity or creamy, chocolate or cinnamon, crust or crumble there is a pie here for you! They also serve food here, but we have only ever stopped for dessert. If you find a slice of pie you really like, they do sell whole pies to take home as well!
If you continue up the coast from Betty’s, the next stop will be Gooseberry Falls. This is a beautiful state park that has a huge, tiered waterfall tucked away among the trees. There is a small building here with some maps and bathrooms right at the trailhead. If you follow the trails, you will see the many falls this park has to offer. There are a few routes that are more strenuous, but there are plenty of less strenuous ones that also give great views of the falls.
Last but not least, if you continue North up the coast, you can see Split Rock Lighthouse. This historic lighthouse is perched on a cliff overlooking Lake Superior and offers beautiful views anytime of year, but is absolutely glowing in fall.
Like we mentioned earlier, there are a lot of other places to stop for arts and crafts, food and drink or scenic views with rocky beaches to dip your feet in the lake and get some great photos of the fall foliage decorating the coast.
Looking for more things to do in the fall? Check out our guide for 5 Fabulous Fall Activities in Minnesota for some other seasonal ideas.