Things to do in Canal Park Duluth

26 BEST Things To Do in Canal Park in Duluth, Minnesota 2024

Canal Park in Duluth, MN is a great place to explore for the entire family. It sits alongside the scenic Lake Superior shoreline.

As a frequent Duluth visitor, I love discovering new things to do in the vibrant Canal Park area. Nestled along Lake Superior, it offers stunning natural beauty and local culture.

I’m sharing my insider’s guide to Canal Park’s top attractions and activities.

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Things to do in Canal Park in Dultuh

There are so many fun things to do. First up is seeing the lighthouses. Then there’s the great shopping. Eating at the wonderful lakeside restaurants.

You can also watch the ships come in under the lift bridge. You’ll have a great time exploring the fun things to do in Canal Park in Duluth, MN.

The full list that follows will provide more details on the top sights, activities, dining, and nightlife options. Get ready to discover the best of Canal Park.

What is Canal Park Duluth Minnesota?

Officially, the Canal Park area 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.

It’s become one of the most popular areas in Duluth and probably the number one place to visit near downtown Duluth.

Just past the iconic aerial 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 aerial lift bridge to the historic lighthouse. It has great views of Lake Superior and the lake shore.

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 and Attractions

Aerial Lift Bridge

Location: 601 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
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The Aerial Lift Bridge in Canal Park is one of the most iconic landmarks.

With a length of 386 feet and an impressive clearance of 180 feet when raised, this remarkable bridge serves as a vital link between Canal Park and Minnesota Point. Traffic on Canal Park is usually caused by this.

The bridge is in operation 24/7 and lifts on average 26 times a day for iron ore ships, sailboats, tall ships, and excursion charter 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.

Duluth Lift Bridge at night is one of the fun things to do in canal park in duluth mn.
Duluth,MN” by cursedthing is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Great Lakes Aquarium

Location: 353 Harbor Dr #100, Duluth, MN 55802
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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.

Great Lakes Aquarium in canal park duluth
Coral Reef, Great Lakes Aquarium, Duluth” by Sharon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Bayfront Festival Park

Location: 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
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Right next 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 sail past. It’s a view most people don’t get as they are all at the edge of the Canal. You’ll get easy access to lake views right there.

During the winter months, check out the ice skating rink.

Some of the most popular events happening at the park are the Bayfront Blues Festival and the Bentleyville Tour of Lights during the holiday season.

Winter in Duluth

Winter is a fabulous time to explore Duluth. Make sure to check out the amazing holiday light displays and other fun things to do.

Lake Superior Railroad Museum and the North Shore Scenic Railroad

Location: 506 W Michigan St, Duluth, MN 55802
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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 floor 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.

Minnesota Train Rides

Looking to take a train ride this season. Check out these great locations and tips for train rides in Minnesota.

Duluth Depot Railroad Museum

Duluth Lakewalk

Location: N Pier, Duluth, MN 55802
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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 lake walk 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 peek at Leif Erikson Park & Duluth Rose Garden from the Lakewalk. It is only about 1.4 miles!

Lakewalk, Duluth by Sharon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Lakewalk, Duluth” by Sharon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center

Location: 600 Canal Park Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
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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 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
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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 espresso depending on the day, and take a stroll through the city.

Love Creamery
Photo courtesy of Visit Duluth

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory

Location: 395 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
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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 also 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
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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 taste buds! They’ve been making these delectable sweets since 1987.

Duluth Pack Store

Location: 365 Canal Park Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
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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 Dorthey 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
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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
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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 Helicopter Tour
30 Mile Helicopter Tour
60 Mile Helicopter Tour

Amazing Grace Cafe + Grocery

Location: 394 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
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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 espresso, 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.

Playfront Park

Location: 7243 Superior Hiking Trail, Duluth, MN 55802
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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 walls, and more. There are plenty of picnic areas along the shores of Lake Superior.

Vikre Distillery Tour

Location: 525 S Lake Ave #102, Duluth, MN 55802
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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 tasting 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 in Winter
Photo courtesy of Visit Duluth

Canal Park Brewing Company

Location: 300 Canal Park Dr, Duluth, MN 55802
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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 burgers 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
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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!

Tour the William A Irving Ship in Duluth

Bentleyville Tour of Lights

Location: 350 Harbor Drive, Duluth, MN 55802
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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.

Canal Park, Duluth 4220 by Sharon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Canal Park, Duluth 4/2/20” by Sharon Mollerus is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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 just across the Aerial Lift Bridge on foot, then walk 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 Lighthouses

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
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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
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Being 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!

Where to stay on Canal Park?

South Pier Inn

Location: 701 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802
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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 town homes, 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
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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.

FAQ about Canal Park

How Much is Parking at Canal Park?

Parking rates in Canal Park are now 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.

There are three main lots in Canal Park. 200 Canal Park Dr, 310 Canal Park, and the Lighthouse Lot. 

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 gets shipped into Duluth?

Duluth serves as a vital port for a wide range of shipments, including iron ore, coal, grain, and general cargo. Its strategic location on Lake Superior makes it a crucial hub for maritime transportation.

Where is Canal Park?

Canal Park is situated in Duluth, Minnesota, along the shores of Lake Superior. This vibrant and picturesque area is known for its scenic beauty, recreational activities, and iconic Aerial Lift Bridge.

Which City is Canal Park In?

Canal Park is located within the city of Duluth, a vibrant and historic port city in the state of Minnesota. It offers a unique blend of natural beauty and urban charm.

What is Duluth Known For?

Duluth is renowned for its stunning location along Lake Superior, the largest of the Great Lakes. It’s also known for its rich maritime history, cultural attractions, outdoor activities, and vibrant arts and music scene.

Can You Swim at Canal Park?

While Canal Park offers breathtaking views of Lake Superior, swimming in the lake’s cold waters can be challenging due to low temperatures and potential currents. Visitors are advised to explore other designated swimming areas in warmer months.

What are my favorite things to do when I visit Canal Park in Duluth?

I absolutely love to explore the fun 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! You don’t have to be a tourist to enjoy the waterfront oasis. So, what’s stopping you? Make sure you visit canal park on your next trip up Minnesota’s North Shore.

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