April can be a cold month in Northern Ontario. Every year you don’t know what to expect. Will there still be snow? Will there still be ice on the inland Lakes and Lake Superior? Will it be cold and rainy? Most likely yes to all the above. It is just our reality living up North that we have long winters and more than often miss out on the warm sunshine of spring that Southern Ontario gets. Our Easter weekends are indoor egg hunts and dressing warm. This winter was no exception. Cold temperatures, snow, and rain. I needed a mini getaway! Somewhere close enough to drive to but far enough away that it feels like a vacation. I was craving to be a tourist. You know, shopping, eating good food, taking photos, and of course doing some exploring. Got it…. a weekend in DULUTH!
Don’t forget your Passports!
With the borders open for travel, Duluth was the perfect destination for us. We planned for Easter weekend as it is a long weekend with often not much to do due to weather and in a small town everything is closed. I checked the Lake Superior Circle Tour website for ideas as well as asked my co-workers for some recommendations of things to do in Duluth. I booked our trip for myself, my husband, and son. We packed our bags, hopped in our truck and off we went. We headed for the Pigeon River Border Crossing. It was very easy and comfortable to cross, even with the ArriveCAN App for COVID regulations. No problems and no traffic.
The drive from Nipigon to Duluth is easy. Once you pass the border the drive is beautiful as it is all along the shoreline of Lake Superior. The views, the waterfalls, beaches, and tunnels were all spectacular. We decided once we arrived in Duluth to check in to our hotel, unpack, then do some shopping. I was so excited to be in Duluth and be a tourist as I had only every driven through to get to Minneapolis. I am embarrassed to say that my husband and I hadn’t spend anytime in Duluth before. This Easter, we dedicated ourselves to Duluth! Here are the main highlights of our trip and what we would recommend.
Canal Park is a great place, totally geared towards tourists. It has plenty of parking and is easy to navigate. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes so that you can walk around and take in the sights, shopping, and food. There is so much to do and see it easy to spend a fun filled day or two in this area. You can ‘shop till you drop’ in Canal Park.
Watching the cargo ships come in and go under the Aerial Lift Bridge was amazing. This is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Apparently, Duluth welcomes more than 1000 ships into port every year! This was such a cool experience that really must been seen in person. The photos don’t do it justice. In person you can appreciate the sheer size of these cargo ships. My son, my husband and I all loved seeing this. We were very impressed. Honestly, I can’t wait to go back just to see this again. It will be on my list of things to do in Duluth for next trip. Be sure to take a video of the ships along with your pictures.
We went to the Great Lakes Aquarium. It was an easy walk from Canal Park to the aquarium. We spent just over an hour touring inside. The freshwater fish tank was huge. It is 2 floors tall and holds 85,000 gallons of water with freshwater fish. We liked the diving and shipwreck information. Unfortunately, the otters at the Otter Cove were not out when we went. I would have loved to see them, so we will have to go back.
We ate at Grandma’s Restaurant twice because my son loved the milkshakes and food. Grandmas is a fun place to eat. The décor is cool and there is a beautiful gift shop at the front. The service was great and we all enjoyed our meals.
We stopped in at the Canal Park Brewery for a beer. We didn’t eat because we were still full from our lunch at Grandma’s, but we were thirsty! The beers are great, you can’t go wrong with whatever you choose. I ordered the Northcoaster Light Lager and my husband ordered the Ankle Deep Pilsner. My son had an orange cream soda, which he loved because it tasted like a creamsicle and came in a glass bottle. We sat by the front windows facing Lake Superior to enjoy the view and watch people walking on the boardwalk. Some folks braved the cold and were sitting outside at the firepit in Adirondack chairs at the Brewery. It was too windy and chilly for us, inside was the way to go. The cold April weather from home followed us to Duluth…
We checked out Adventure Zone. Of course, this was my sons pick. He loved the batting cages and mini putt. The arcade had so many games to choose from. This is a place that is fun for the kids, but teens and grown ups can have fun there too! We did not eat here, but I did notice that there are plenty of tables, chairs, and benches to rest at, as well as food to order. There is a section for laser tag and a climbing wall, but we choose not to participate in that as we were getting tired out and ready to go back to the hotel for a swim.
I had never heard of the Glensheen Mansion. My co-worker Vicki recommended this tourist attraction. I am so glad she did. This was by far our favorite place that we visited. I must admit that I love history and I kind of made my son and husband tag along with me. I wasn’t sure if they would like it or not. But to my surprise they both ended up loving the Glensheen Mansion. This was such a cool place to tour, and I highly recommend it for ages 8 and up. We did the Full Tour. The fee is a bit more for this tour but totally worth it as it gets into every room and space in the Mansion. It is beautiful, well maintained and presented. There is a lot to see and read in this 39-room mansion. We soaked up all the history and were fascinated by every room.
Be sure to tour the interior and exterior. The exterior is just as impressive! There are 12 acres in total featuring gardens, bridges, creeks, picnic tables, Adirondack chairs and the gorgeous Lake Superior waterfront. Take some time to walk around the yard, trust me it is worth it.
We loved Duluth. This weekend getaway was just what we needed. We had so much fun and loved being tourists. We felt safe and welcomed everywhere we went. We plan to go back for a weekend in August or September. This way the weather will be warmer, and we will do more exploring. For a city that is a part of the Lake Superior Circle Tour, Duluth has so much to offer for couples, families, and groups of friends. There is something for everyone to enjoy!