Things to do in Duluth in the Winter

21 FUN Things to do in Duluth in the Winter 2024

Duluth, Minnesota is a beautiful city located on the shores of Lake Superior. The city is known for its stunning views and its many outdoor activities.

Winter in Duluth is a great time to get outside and enjoy all the winter activities that the city has to offer! From ice skating and downhill skiing to snowshoeing and ice climbing, there are plenty of things to keep you busy this winter.

Duluth is a magical town in the Winter months you don’t want to miss. I’d actually prefer to visit this time of year because you don’t have to deal with the summer months’ traffic! Here are some of my favorite fun things to do in Duluth in the Winter to get you started.

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Things to do in Duluth in the Winter

Bentleyville Tour of Lights

One of the best things to do in Duluth this winter is to check out the Bentleyville Tour of Lights. This annual event features over 4 million lights, making it one of the largest holiday light displays in the country the entire family will love.

Bentleyville is open nightly from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Eve, and it’s definitely worth a visit!

Bayfront Festival Park Ice Skating

If you’re looking for something a little more active, head to Bayfront Festival Park to go ice skating in downtown Duluth. This outdoor rink is open daily from late November through early March, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a winter day in Duluth.

Skiing at Spirit Mountain

Downhill skiing and snowboarding are also popular activities in Duluth, and there are several great places to hit the slopes. Spirit Mountain Recreation Area is the city’s premier ski resort, and it’s just a short drive from downtown Duluth.

There are also several smaller ski hills in the area, such as Chester Bowl and Duluth Heights, that are great for beginners and families.

Christmas City of the North Parade

The Christmas City of the North Parade is another must-see event in Duluth during the Holiday season. This annual parade features over 100 floats and marching bands, and it’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit.

The parade takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, so be sure to mark your calendar!

For more Holiday Inspired fun things to do in Duluth, Check out: 5 BEST Christmas Lights in Duluth MN

Hike the North Shore

If you’re looking for a great workout, hike the North Shore of Lake Superior. This is one of the most fun things to do in Duluth during winter.

There are several trails of varying difficulty, so you can find one that’s perfect for your fitness level. The north shore is always a great place to explore.

If you don’t want to drive further north, make sure to check out the great parks in Duluth. Seven Bridges Road has a great series of waterfalls.

Don’t count out Gooseberry Falls State Park. Just make sure you have ice cleats for any waterfall adventures. Gooseberry Falls stairs get covered in ice!

Little Two Harbors at Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Winter

See Related: Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Winter: A Guide to Exploring

Fat Tire Biking

Fat tire biking is also a great way to explore the North Shore, and there are several rental shops in Duluth that can set you up with everything you need.

Some of the best trails are at Spirit Mountain. They have a lift service that takes some of the work out of those hills.

You can also bike at the MN State Parks too on one of their mountain biking trails! Both Jay Cooke State Park and Split Rock Lighthouse have trails!

Dog Sledding in Duluth

For a truly unique experience, sign up for a dog sledding tour. Several companies in Duluth offer these tours, like Endurance Kennels and it’s a great way to see the city from a different perspective.

Most tours last about an hour, and you’ll get to meet the friendly sled dogs that make it all possible!

If you don’t want to participate, check out the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. This 400 miles event travels through the Sawtooth Mountains. It’s a qualifier for the Iditarod. All racers take off out of Duluth.

Lake Superior Ice Festival

The Lake Superior Ice Festival is another great event to check out in Duluth. This annual festival features ice sculptures, ice carving demonstrations, and a variety of other winter-themed activities. It’s usually held in early February, so be sure to mark your calendar!

Ice Climbing

If you’re looking for a challenging activity, try ice climbing at Gooseberry Falls. This popular spot is a great place to test your skills, and there are several routes of varying difficulty.

Be sure to dress warmly, as it can be quite cold at the falls!

Ice Climbing in Duluth
Photo Courtesy of Visit Duluth

Lake Superior Railroad Museum

For a taste of history, visit the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. This museum is housed in an old railroad depot, and it features a variety of exhibits on the history of railroading in Duluth.

It’s a great place to learn about the city’s past, and it’s also home to a working model railroad.

In December you can take a ride on their Christmas City Express Train on the North Shore Scenic Railroad. It’s a super short trip but gives the kids a taste of magic.

Lake Walk on Canal Park

The Lake Walk is another must-see attraction in Duluth. This three-mile path winds along the shore of Lake Superior, and it’s one of the most beautiful places to enjoy the views of the city and the lake.

Canal Park area is a popular spot to start the walk, and there are several restaurants and shops along the way.

You can also stop in tho the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, the SS William A. Irvin ship, or see the iconic aerial lift bridge.

Make sure to explore all the 26 BEST Things To Do in Canal Park in Duluth, MN

Duluth Canal Park in Winter
Photo Courtesy of Visit Duluth

Great Lakes Aquarium

If you’re looking for a place to take the kids, be sure to visit the Great Lakes Aquarium. This popular attraction is home to a variety of aquatic animals, including sharks, penguins, and belugas.

The aquarium also has a touch pool, where you can get up close and personal with some of the resident animals.

Glensheen Mansion

For a taste of the past, tour the Glensheen Mansion. This historic estate was once home to wealthy businessman Chester Congdon, and it’s now open to the public for tours.

The mansion is a great example of Gilded Age architecture, and it’s surrounded by beautiful gardens.

In December the halls are decorated to the mask. You’ll find Christmas trees in what feels like every room of the house as you tour the historic Congdon Estate.

Glensheen Mansion decorated for christmas
Photo Courtesy of Univerisity of MN

Tweed Museum of Art

The Tweed Museum of Art is another great place to visit in Duluth. This museum features a variety of art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and it’s a great place to learn about the city’s history. The museum is open daily, and admission is free.

Snowshoe the Superior Hiking Trail

If you’re looking for a great workout, snowshoe on the Superior Hiking Trail. This popular trail is open year-round, and it’s a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the beauty of the North Shore. There are several rental shops in Duluth that can set you up with everything you need.

Make sure you are prepared when hiking on the SHT. The trails are less identifiable and the trail crosses many rivers. You may not realize that you are crossing over frozen water and soon find yourself in a life-and-death situation.

Snowmobile Trails

Duluth is a great place to go snowmobiling. There are many trails to choose from. You can find a trail that is perfect for your skill level. You can also find trails that are open to the public and trails that are only open to members.

Duluth has so many fun family-friendly activities that can be done year-round. Make sure to start exploring! 28 Amazing Family Friendly Things to do in Duluth MN

Warm up at the Duluth Coffee Company

The Duluth Coffee Company is a great place to warm up. They embody much of what Duluth stands for.

Their mission is to source, roast, and craft coffee with integrity and intentionality. They evolve the community of coffee through accessibility and education.

Stop in for a freshly roasted cup of coffee and grab a bag of beans to take home! You can also find pastries and sandwiches.

190 Degrees Coffe and Tea

They have 190 Degrees Coffee and Tea. A new addition to Duluth that you have to try.

They’ve teamed up with local artisans in the community and created a great space!

They serve up custom blends of teas, like Ice Queen, and Misted Mountains in Days of Yore. Seriously it’s amazing. They also have Caffeine Free teas too. If you travel with a non-tea lover like myself, they got them covered with coffee!

Bent Paddle Brewing Co

The Bent Paddle Brewing Co is a great place to go for a beer. They have been brewing on the North Shore for a while now, making a name for themselves. have a variety of beers to choose from and now even some CBD/THC Sparkling Waters.

You can also do a tour of the brewery. You’ll get to peak behind the scenes and see how your favorite drink is made.

The 1 hours tour includes a history of Bent Paddle Brewing, and the brewing process and you’ll even get samples during it. When you are one, you’ll get a sample pour of your choice and a commemorative tasting glass to take home.

The Bent Paddle Brewing Co is a great place to visit if you are looking for a place to have a drink.

Best Breweries in Duluth MN
Photo Courtesy of Visit Duluth

Vikre Distillery

If beer isn’t your thing, then you’ll want to stop by the Vikre Distillery. The Vikre Distillery is a great place to go for a craft drink.

Located on Canal Park, the distillery is close to all think Duluth, including the Lift Bridge. Inside you’ll be treated to their amazing cocktails.

We make innovative cocktails from scratch, just for you. Their taste flights of their spirits, liqueurs, and canned cocktails.

They also have a small selection of food options with snacks like charcuterie ad crostini.

Vikre Distillery Interior
Photo Courtesy of Visit Duluth

Apostle Islands Ice Caves

Ok, ok, not Duluth, but it’s a short way away. Trust me, it’s worth the drive!

For a truly unique experience, visit the Apostle Islands Ice Caves. These caves are only accessible during the winter when the water in Lake Superior freezes. The ice caves are a popular spot for photography, and they’re definitely worth a visit!

What are winters like in Duluth?

Duluth winters are long, cold, and snowy. The average high temperature in December is only 20 degrees, and the average low is a frigid 6 degrees.

January and February are even colder, with average highs of only 14 and 16 degrees, respectively.

And it’s not just the temperatures that are brutal – the windchill can make it feel even colder. But despite all of that, there’s something magical about a Duluth winter.

Maybe it’s the way the snow sparkles in the sunlight or the way the ice freezes on the lake. Maybe it’s the sound of sleigh bells ringing in the distance.

Or maybe it’s just the fact that, in the middle of all this cold, you can still find warmth and happiness. Whatever the reason, Duluth winters are special. So if you’re looking for a place to escape the cold this winter, come to Duluth.

I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Does Duluth get lake effect snow?

Duluth, Minnesota is a city located on the shores of Lake Superior. The city is known for its cold winters and heavy snowfall. But does Duluth get lake effect snow?

The short answer is yes, Duluth does get lake effect snow. The city is located in the path of the prevailing winds, which blow from west to east across the lake. As the winds blow across the lake, they pick up moisture from the water and then dump it on the city as snow.

The lake effect snow that Duluth receives is typically light and fluffy. However, the city can occasionally get hit with heavier snow squalls that can dump several inches of snow in a short period of time.

While Duluth does get its fair share of snow, the city is also known for its beautiful winter scenery. The city is surrounded by forests and hills, which provide a stunning backdrop for the snow-covered landscapes.

If you’re looking to escape the cold this winter, Duluth is the perfect place to be. The city offers a variety of winter activities, from downhill skiing and snowboarding to cross-country skiing and ice fishing.

And when the snow finally melts, you can enjoy the city’s many parks and trails.

Do Ships go through Duluth in Winter?

Yes, they do! In fact, the Duluth-Superior harbor is one of the busiest in the world, and it’s open year-round.

During the winter, the harbor is used mostly for grain shipments. But it’s also used for shipping coal, iron ore, and other materials that are needed for industry.

The harbor is a very important part of the Duluth economy, and it’s a big reason why Duluth is such a great place to visit.

Where to stay in Duluth?

Duluth has some great hotel accommodations to stay at.

If you want to be close to everything my favorite location is the Pier B Hotel. It is right on the waterfront and has a great view of the Lift Bridge. You are also within walking distance to Canal Park and Bayfront. They also let your four-legged friend join you during your stay.

If you have kids I recommend staying at The Edge Waterpark. It’s got great accommodation plus they can warm up in the waterpark when you get back from your day of adventures.

Where to Stay

Duluth has amazing accommodations. Form Family Friendly with Waterparks to Romantic Destination, to pet friendly accommodations. Check out all the great places to stay by clicking here.

Edgewater Hotel Duluth Waterparks

What are your favorite things to do in Duluth in the Winter?

Duluth is a great city to visit in the wintertime. There are many different activities to keep you busy, from ice skating and downhill skiing to snowshoeing and ice climbing.

The city is also known for its stunning views and its many outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking for a fun winter vacation or a place to enjoy the outdoors, Duluth is the perfect destination.

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