26 BEST Things To Do in Canal Park in Duluth, MN
Canal Park in Duluth MN is a great place to explore for the entire family. It sits alongside the scenic Lake Superior shoreline. With lighthouses, shopping, dining, fishing, and outdoor activities, you’ll have a great time exploring the fun things to do in Canal Park in Duluth MN.
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What is Canal Park?
Officially Canal Park is just the park on Minnesota Point between Michigan street and the Duluth Ship Canal. Thanks to some great shopping and events, Canal Park encompasses more than just the public official park area. Its become one of the most popular areas in Duluth and probably the number one destination for people visiting from out of town.
Just past the lift bridge is another great strip of land called Minnesota Point. The point is filled with homes and a few quiet parks. Most people don’t make it past the lift bridge so it’s a lot of fun to explore!
For the longest time, Canal Park has been my go-to destination when visiting. From the iconic lift areal lift bridge and the lighthouse, it’s been a popular spot for photographs. The shore is a great spot to watch ships come in or just take in the sights of Lake Superior. On a stormy day, the waves become epic! It’s one of the best places in Duluth!
BEST Things to do in Canal Park in Duluth MN
Aerial Lift Bridge
Location: 601 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
The Aerial Lift Bridge in Canal Park is one of the most iconic landmarks. Spanning 386 feet and giving a 180 feet clearance when lifted, it connects Canal Park to Minnesota Point. And it’s usually the cause of any traffic on Canal Park.
The bridge is in operation 24/7 and lifts on average 26 times a day for iron ore ships, sailboats, tall ships, and excursion tour boats. In addition to vehicle traffic, it also has a pedestrian crossing too.
One of my favorite things to do in Canal Park in Duluth MN is getting to see the bridge up close and personal. You can even stand below the steel grated floor as cars pass above.
Great Lakes Aquarium
Location: 353 Harbor Dr #100, Duluth, MN 55802
The Great Lakes Aquarium has called Canal Park home since 2000. They feature animals and habitats living in the Great Lakes Basin, as well as some other freshwater ecosystems like the Amazon River.
Inside the aquarium, you’ll find a two-story 85,000-gallon exhibit of the Great Lakes. There is the largest sturgeon touch pool in North America, a play area for younger kids. They have an otter cove where you can watch them play and splash. Take a look at some of the shipwrecks from different parts of the world and how they have become part of the seascape.
This is a great museum to explore, especially with younger or school-age kids. The Aquarium is just south of Canal Park, within walking distance of the lift bridge.
Bayfront Festival Park
Location: 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
Right to the Great Lakes Aquarium is the Bayfront Festival Park. This is a great community space near Canal Park. With a big amphitheater, it’s a great place for a picnic or a concert. You’ll find most events happening in town around here.
Sit on the shoreline and watch the ships come in. It’s a view most people don’t get as they are all at the edge of the Canal. During the winter months, check out the ice skating rink.
Lake Superior Railroad Museum and the North Shore Scenic Railroad
Location: 506 W Michigan St, Duluth, MN 55802
Just west of canal park’s boundaries is the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. Because it’s just a jump over the highway, I felt amiss to not include it. You’d be doing yourself a huge disservice to skip it.
The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is a stunning building. Inside you’ll find multiple museums in one. The biggest and most impressive is the ground floors Rail Road Cars. With multiple engines sitting on their tracks, it’s like going back in time. Step on board and walk through the cars. If you have a train lover in your family, you need to check it out. We spent so much time exploring when we were there.
After exploring the museum, hop on one of their running trains. They have scenic train rides running throughout the day up the north shore of Lake Superior. Each has a different theme.
Looking to take a train ride this season. Check out these great tips and where else you can take train rides!
7 Best Scenic Train Rides in Minnesota
Location: N Pier, Duluth, MN 55802
Duluth’s Lakewalk is an eight-mile paved trail system perfect for bikers or walkers. You’ll often see runners enjoying the view of Lake Superior. The lakewalk starts at Canal Park and goes all the way to Brighton Beach. This is one of the best things to do in Canal Park in Duluth MN.
If you are looking for a shorter adventure, especially if you have younger kids, take the Lakewalk to Leif Erickson park. At the end make sure to take a peak at the Leif Erikson Park & Duluth Rose Garden from the lakewalk. It is only about 1.4 miles!
Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center
Location: 600 Canal Park Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
This always free museum is the perfect place to learn more about the history of the great lakes. Stop into the Maritime Museum and find out more. See engine parts, model ships, lighthouse beacons, and more inside. There is a lot to explore.
Or pop in to get the latest shipping schedule. They have the ship’s name and cargo information. Did you know they carry coal, Limestone, Wheat, Iron Ore Pellets, Cement, and other large items? All of the movements of the boats through the harbor are tracked and published here. It will give you a good idea of when the lift bridge may go up next.
Love Creamery Canal Park
Location: 908 W Superior St, Duluth, MN 55806
On a hot day exploring Canal Park you’ll want to cool off with some of Duluth’s local small batch ice cream! They have 16 different flavors daily, including vegan and gluten-free options! All of their baked goods come from the nearby Positively 3rd Street Bakery.
Stop in and get a Shake or Cone, or maybe even an expresso depending on the day, and take a stroll through the city.
Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
Location: 395 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
Looking for a great chocolate shop? You’ve found the right place. You’ll find all your favorite chocolate clusters, caramels, creams, melt-aways, truffles, and molded chocolates. Inside you all so find seasonal favorites like apples, fudge, and more all! All the candies are made in copper keels and cooled on a marble slab!
Hepzibah’s Sweet Shop
Location: 394 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
Just across the street from the canal is Hepzibah’s Sweet shop. Making award-winning truffles, Chocolate Ore Boats. They also have a large selection of handmade fudge that will satisfy anyone’s tastebuds! They’ve been making these delectable sweets since 1987
Duluth Pack Store
Location: 365 Canal Park Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
You can’t get more Minnesotans than this! Go anywhere in the BWCA and you’ll hear the name Duluth Pack. They are the oldest canvas and leather bag company in MN. Starting out by making huge packs used to portage gear on their canoes. Even Dorthy Molitor, the Root Beer Lady had one!
My parents got my sister and me one when we went to the BWCA as teenagers and it still looks brand new. The quality is insane.
If you don’t need a canvas bag, I highly recommend stopping in and checking out their line of outdoor gear. Everything they do is quality from their clothing, to the dog collars! Walk inside you and you’ll find out why everyone talks about them.
Sister City Park
Location: The Lakewalk, Duluth, MN 55802
Along the lakewalk is a beautiful park called Sister City Park. This park honors the four sister cities of Vaxjo, Sweden; Petrozavodsk, Russia; Ohara-Isumi, Japan; and Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Each of these is represented by beautiful gardens and artwork.
This is a great place to relax and take in views of Lake Superior.
Fly Over Canal Park in a Helicopter
Location: 4525 Airport Approach Rd, Duluth, MN 55811
What better way to explore Canal Park than by helicopter? Start with a 15-minute tour of the famous landmarks, including Enger Park and the Aerial Lift Bridge. Or take a longer tour and explore some of the beautiful places in Duluth all from above. You’ll get to see Jay Cooke State Parks’ Waterfall, Spirit Mountain Enger Tower, the Lift Bridge, Park Point Recreation Area, and the Historic Congdon Estate more commonly known as the Glensheen Mansion.
There are multiple tours to choose from. During Bentleyville Holiday of Lights and Fall Colors time, these trips fill up. Make sure to book them ahead of time.
15 Mile Helicoper Tour
30 Mile Helicopter Tour
60 Mile Helicopter Tour
Amazing Grace Cafe + Grocery
Location: 394 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
Need a quick pick me up? The Amazing Grace Cafe and Grocery is a great place to stop. They have a full Coffee Bar with expresso, tea, and baked goods. They serve made-from-scratch breakfast too.
Sit out on their patio and enjoy your morning. Because of their patio setting, it’s dog friendly too!
If you are staying at a local hotel in Canal Park, you’ll want to stop in the Amazin Grace Cafe to pick up some room essentials. They have a great selection of high-quality foods.
Location: 7243 Superior Hiking Trail, Duluth, MN 55802
If you have little ones, you need to check out Playfront Park! It is home to the largest playground in Duluth. The park has been around since 1989. Locals love it because either kid can climb on everything. It’s right next to the hotels, making it great for visitors trying to wear the kids out for the night.
Climbing ropes, rocks wall, and more. There is plenty of picnic areas along the shores of Lake Superior.
Vikre Distillery Tour
Location: 525 S Lake Ave #102, Duluth, MN 55802
Organic, Zero-Waste company, Vikre Distillery is a great addition to Canal Park. They use handcrafted Minnesota oak barrels, organic grains, and the clean cold waters of lake superior to distill their amazing spirits.
They offer non-alcoholic beverages and food as well. Well-behaved kids and dogs are allowed too!
If you have more time, do a tastings experience. You’ll get to taste 4 different spirits and learn about the entire process. This is a perfect opportunity to learn more about the process. You’ll end with a full-size cocktail or mocktail from their menu, as well as a souvenir rock glass! Make sure to reserve in advance!!
Canal Park Brewing Company
Location: 300 Canal Park Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
This locally owned brewing company has been in the industry for over fifty years. They love the north coast and the attitude runs through it in all their beers. They do a great job of balancing the complex flavors and aromas in each variety.
If you get hungry, they offer up a full food menu. From BEERBQ burger to the creamy north coaster mac and cheese. Don’t worry, they have plenty of options for kids too!
Stop in and get one of the craft brews. Or sit on the patio for a view of the lake. They are dog friendly!
William A Irvin Museum
Location: 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
Take a tour of one of the William A.Irvin. It has lasted through 40 years o the treacherous storms of lake superior and still looks in great condition. It was first launched in 1938 as part of U.S. Steel’s Great Lakes fleet. The ship hauled iron ore as well as had guest cabins lavishly designed.
On the tour, you’ll get to see the 2,000-horsepower steam turbine engine, cabin quarters, and more. In October, it is transformed into a haunted ship!
Bentleyville Tour of Lights
Location: 350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802
One of the most popular annual events in Duluth is the Bentleyville Tour of Lights. This free light show starts the last week of November and goes through Christmas. Walk through over 5 million lights, including tunnels, and trees. Parking is a small fee.
Kids will love seeing their names on the naughty or nice list and even get the chance to meet with Santa. Grab some hot chocolate and cookies, find some hot fresh popcorn or get a marshmallow to roast at their many fire pits.
Make sure to plan ahead for this as the hotels fill up!
Duluth North Pier Lighthouses
Location: N Pier, Duluth, MN 55802
Duluth Harbor North Breakwater Lighthouse is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Duluth. It’s a great place to watch the boats come in and see the lift bridge. The North Pier Lighthouse is the most commonly visited because of its ease of access.
The lighthouse is still operational and is owned by the Coast Guard. You can access it at the end of the lakewalk. The lighthouse allows people to climb up the steps and walk around it, but there is no way in. Still, the pier is a great spot to watch ships come in.
Duluth Harbor South Breakwater Outer Lighthouse
Location: S Pier, Duluth, MN 55802
South Breakwater Outer Duluth Lighthouse was lit in 1901. It’s a perfect companion across from North Pier lighthouse. It contains a keeper’s quarters and seven rooms inside.
You can access the lighthouse by crossing the Aerial Lift Bridge on foot, then walking on the sidewalk. There is no parking on that side of the bridge. There is also a light beacon near the lift bridge to help guide boats through the channel.
Minnesota has a bunch of great and easily accessible lighthouses. Even some in the Twin Cities. Check out 10 of the Most Picturesque Lighthouses in Minnesota
Minnesota Point Lighthouse Ruins Hike
Minnesota Point lighthouse, also known as Zero Point Lighthouse was built in March 1856. The Point is the stretch of land that extends out from the Duluth Lift Bridge. The sliver of water to the South is known as Superior Bay and marks the divide between Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Realizing the need to mark the entrance to the harbor, Congress appointed $15,000 to mark the entrance. They erected a tower along with the lighthouse keeper’s house.
Unfortunately, the house was not built to last. In 1893, the house was moved to the Wisconsin Point of the entrance. All that remains are the ruins of the old lighthouse. Today you can still see the tower.
Park by the Airport at the end of Minnesota Point, and walk along the Park Point Nature Trail for about 1.5 miles. If you walk all the way to the end of the Island, you can see the new Lighthouse on the Wisconsin Side.
Grandma’s Restaurant and Saloon
Location: 2202 Maple Grove Ave. Duluth, MN 55811
Probably the most well-known restaurant in Canal Park, Grandma’s Restaurant serves up family-friendly food. The restaurant has been around since 1976. Inside you’ll find antiques lining the halls, hardwood floors, and great service.
You’ll find overstuffed sandwiches and burgers, pasta, and wild rice in everything they can! The restaurant is at the end of Canal Park near the lift bridge.
Every June since 1977 Grandma’s has sponsored the Grandma’s Marathon. Starting out as a running club along the Science North Shore. It evolved into a natural event. The race starts on the Old Scenic Highway 61 and ends at Grandma’s restaurant. You can see the painted start line on the road when you drive.
Duluth-Superior Excursions Vista Fleet
Location: 323 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
Benign this close to the water, it would be a shame to not go on it. Offering sunset dinner cruises created by Bellisino’s Italian restaurants. They have narrated sightseeing tours, cocktail curses, and pizza cruises.
They’ll pass by lighthouses, ships, and more as you experience the best parts of Lake Superior and Duluth. You’ll even get to go under the lift bridge!
South Pier Inn
Location: 701 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
One of the closest places to stay is next to the bridge. You’ll get some spectacular views of Lake Superior and the Areal Lift Bridge.
Rooms are set up like townhomes, each maximizing the windows in each room to take advantage of all the activity outside. Watch ships come in from your private porch or lounge chairs beachside.
Pier B Resort
Location: 800 W Railroad St, Duluth, MN 55802
One of my favorite hotels in Duluth is the Pier B Resort. It’s located on the edge of Canal Park, making it easy to access everything, but far enough that you don’t have to stress about parking.
They have the best views of the harbor. Enjoy their Indoor Pool, Outdoor Hot tub, and lakeside patio fire pit. The resort even has 20 boat slips for rental
What I love most about the resorts is the family-friendly and dog-friendly attitude. They even have a resident dog mascot on their Instagram profile.
Where to park in Canal Park in Duluth?
There are three main lots in Canal Park. 200 Canal Park Dr, 310 Canal Park, and the Lighthouse Lot. The public parking lot is currently free for the first two hours unless otherwise noted. It is also free on the street. After that is $3 for 3 hours and $6 for up to 6 hours.
Canal Park is busy during the summer months so be prepared to try a few different lots. The lighthouse lot is the closest to shopping and the lift bridge. Parking time limits and rules are strictly enforced.
What are my favorite things to do in Canal Park in Duluth?
I absolutely love to explore the shops and shoreline of Duluth. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a great time. I love seeing what’s new in the Duluth Pack Store, visiting the lighthouses, and getting a sweet treat before heading back from our Day Trip. We love the things to do in Canal Park in Duluth MN so much that we go back a couple of times a year!