So you’ve decided on taking the Lake Superior Circle Tour – great! Now, where to go? Which attractions to visit? We have the answers! If you’re travelling with kids, these 10 attractions for kids below are perfect for them to enjoy. Having attractions for kids planned out makes the trip more exciting for them, they’ll look forward to getting back into the vehicle to travel to the next stop. Most attractions have gift shops for them to get souvenirs to pass time from stop to stop. Plus, these stops are the perfect time to get the camera out and take some scrapbooking captures!
1. Great Lakes Aquarium in Duluth Minnesota
The Great Lakes Aquarium was established in 1998 as an educational showcase of the importance of freshwater resources, focusing on Lake Superior. The Aquarium provides the opportunity for visitors to engage with water and wildlife. There are 2 floors to browse with exhibits ranging from aquatic invaders to shipwrecks, and an otter cove. It even has a 2-story 85,000 gallon ‘Isle Royal’ exhibit that contains fish found in the Great Lakes. Be sure to check out the ‘Explorers Cove Gift Shop’ afterwards to find the perfect souvenir from your visit to the Great Lakes Aquarium. Snacks and beverages are available for purchase as well.
2. Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth Minnesota
All kids love animals! The Lake Superior Zoo is fun place for the whole family and it open year-round. So many cool and unexpected animals are in this zoo. There is a Nocturnal Building where you can meet creatures such as a two-toed sloth, a kinkajou, and a large spotted genet. Just to name a few. Wander over to the Primate Conservation Center to view the 3 lions and the endangered Snow Leopard and endangered Amur Tiger. You can have up-close encounters with education ambassador animals in the Griggs Learning Center. From snakes, lizards, and chinchillas to parrots there is something for everyone. Check out the Australian and Oceania center to view wallabies, kangaroos, reptiles, fish, corals, and reef tanks. The Safari Cage features tasty treats such as popcorn, ice cream and pizza for the kids. The Tiger Paw Gift Shop is a must for the kids to pick up a stuffy of their favorite zoo animal to be their circle tour road trip companion. This zoo day will not disappoint! Read on to find more attractions for kids.
3. Chippawa Park – Thunder Bay ON
Since 1920 people have been enjoying this park. Parks are always great attractions for kids. With a variety of day activities for families, this park has it all. Bring your swimsuits, beach toys and towels! There are 2 sandy beaches with lifeguards during the months of July and August. The shallow waters are popular for toddlers. There is a walking trail, a viewing area of the Sleeping Giant, an indoor history exhibit and a concession to get ice cream, hot dogs, fries, burgers and more on a hot summer day. Enjoy your concession treats over at the picnic table area. Every kid’s favorite part of Chippawa Park is the midway. The Amusement rides include tanks, boats, and an airplane ride for the younger kids. There are bumper cars and a tilt-a-whirl for older kids looking for a thrill. Everyone loves the historical carousel, a true classic midway ride for all ages.
4. Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay ON
This attraction brings people from all over North America. Fort William Historical Park is a heritage and cultural attraction where people can learn about the Fur Trade, the North West Company and Indigenous Culture. Visitors will get a sense of what life was like at the Fort in the 1800’s. Costumed characters, buildings, artifacts, and demonstrations will make the kids feel like they are immersed in the historical lifestyle. This is a great place for the entire family to walk and explore. Historical based attractions for kids can be enjoyed by the whole family, a great learning experience for all!
5. Panorama Amethyst Mine, Thunder Bay ON
6 km east of Thunder Bay Ontario, 500 Bass Lake Road- Amethyst is the official gemstone of the province of Ontario. Visiting the Panorama Amethyst Mine is a fantastic hands-on experience for kids. It is all above ground and in a safe outdoor area. There are plenty of interpretive panels to learn all about amethyst. Be prepared to get your hands a little dirty on this fun treasure hunt experience. Kids and adults get buckets and head over to the amethyst open pit area where the exploring begins. After you have picked your amethyst, head over to the washing table to clean the amethyst off with water and scrub brushes. You can choose which ones to keep or leave. Head into the Welcome Center gift shop to get the amethyst weighed and pay for which ones you are taking home. It is an average of $4.00 per pound. There are picnic tables for lunch, be sure to bring a water bottle, sunscreen, and a hat as it can get hot and there is little shade.
6. Canadian Bush Plane Heritage Center in Sault Ste. Marie ON
More great attractions for kids… the Canadian Bush Plane Heritage Center. The bush plane collection has 24 classic aircraft bush planes to explore. The Children’s Center section has flight simulators, arcade style gaming consoles and interactive displays. The “Wildfire 3D Theatre” is a must see. This is an intense 3D presentation packed with forest fire fighting special effects. The film tells the story of how forest fires are battles in Ontario from both the air and ground. Kids can climb the forest fire tower to see the vintage fire pumps then head over to explore the history of ‘Women in Aviation’ exhibit. The flight simulator is considered a mild thrill attraction, which kids especially gravitate towards. Next, venture into the Entomica Insectarium. That’s right folks. The #7 recommendation is located inside the Canadian Bush Plane Heritage Center.
7. Entomica Insectarium, in Sault Ste. Marie ON (located inside the Bush plane museum)
This is an insect-focused science center. There are a variety of live insects from around the world displayed in beautiful living vivarium’s. Kids will see fantastic insects such as beetles, tarantulas, scorpions and more. Families are encouraged to take photos and videos of up-close viewings of the amazing insects. Having for these attractions for kids so close makes for an easy day of entertainment!
8. Agawa Canyon Tour Train in Sault Ste. Marie ON
All Aboard! This is a 114 mile (184 km) full day train ride running everyday from June 20 to October 15, 8:00am to 6:00pm. It departs from the train depot at 99 Huron street downtown Sault Ste. Marie. This is a truly unique ‘northern wilderness’ excursion for families. What kid wouldn’t like a train ride? A GPS triggered commentary tells the story of the region. It is available in 6 languages (German, French, Mandarin, Japanese, English and Korean). This commentary touches on fur trading, the history of the Ojibway, and the vast Northern wilderness. To enhance the scenery out of your window, locomotive mounted cameras provide an engineer’s “eye-view” via flat screen monitors installed throughout the coaches. These magnificent views inspired the Group of Seven to create some of the most famous landscape paintings in Canada. You will get a 90-minute stop on this excursion to explore Agawa Canyon Park. This will give kids a chance to get off the train, stretch their legs and burn off some energy. There are picnic spots and trails. The most popular trail is the “lookout” trail that looks over the canyon on a built platform. Another popular and easy trail is the “Talus Trail” that goes by 3 waterfalls and ends up at the bridal Veil falls. Families have the chance to get some gorgeous photos and videos to capture lifelong memories. This is a must see attraction for kids!
9. Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum – North Shore of Paradise, Michigan
This museum is open seasonally from May to October. It is a very popular attraction in Michigan. Throughout this museum kids will learn all about the dramatic legends of shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. The bell of the famous ‘Edmund Fitzgerald’ is in this museum. Kids will learn all about the size of the waves, the ships and sailors that experienced the storms of the Great Lakes. Families can visit the ‘Lightkeepers Quarters’ that has the period furnishings and descriptive panels. There is access to the beach on a beautiful board walk. Kids can run, collect rocks, and dip their feet into Lake Superior. Photos of the Whitefish Pointe Light Tower are a must. This ‘iron-piled’ lighthouse was designed to withstand the winds of Lake Superior. It is the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior, having been in continuous operation for 155 years. That is a cool fact for the kids! Be sure to check out the Shipwreck Coast Museum Store to pick up a unique gift or souvenir.
10. Apostle Islands – Bayfield, Wisconsin
Bayfield is a picturesque town on the water. It is the gateway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, a chain of 22 islands. Time to get out on the water with the kids for a Lake Superior day trip boating adventure. Here are 3 options for you to choose from that consider the age of your kids, and your family budget. This is a perfect attraction for kids!
- The first is the ‘Apostle Islands Cruises’. This is a large public 2 story cruise boat that takes you on a narrated scenic tour by sea caves and lighthouses. This is appropriate for younger kids as it is only 2.5 hours, it is the most affordable and the boat has comfortable seating and plenty of room to walk around.
- The second boat excursion is ‘Dream Catcher Sailing’ if you and your family are up for a sailboat adventure. This is in the mid range budget and appropriate for older kids with a half day (2.5 hr) option or a full day (5.5 hr) trip. You and your kids can sit back and relax and enjoy the scenery or participate in the sailing with guidance from the licensed captain.
- The third boat tour is a budget splurge. This is a private boat tour provided by ‘Escape Excursions’ that gives an abundance of options for trip length and tour types. You can choose from sightseeing and enjoy the add on of a kayak or paddle board adventure at the Sea Caves. Half and full day trips are available. There are even options to stop on Islands for hikes, swimming and lighthouse viewing. The possibilities are endless.
Related Article: Circle Tour with Kids – Road Trip
The Lake Superior Circle Tour is a great family adventure! When travelling with the whole family, visiting attractions for kids is important to keep them engaged. They’ll be excited every time you stop somewhere for them to check out. They’ll also be just as excited to get back into the vehicle to head to the next attraction! Be sure to take plenty of photos, soak up the memories being built and take part in the stamp program in order to receive a certificate of completion.