I absolutely love spending time in Duluth, whether it’s a quick stop on our way to Grand Marais or a long three-day weekend, it’s always a great place to spend time. We’ve become familiar with Duluth’s popular spots, like Glensheen, OMC Smokehouse, and the Vista Fleet cruises. This time, we decided to check out all new-to-us spots! Read on for some incredible hidden gems in Duluth!
1. Vanilla Bean
Vanilla Bean is a cute and quaint cafe with locations in Duluth and Two Harbors. Here you’ll find cinnamon doughnuts, crepes, pancakes, and omelets for breakfast. For lunch and dinner, Vanilla Bean serves salads, soups, and sandwiches. It’s a quiet and relaxing space to grab a latte and start your day. I highly recommend the eggs benedict!
2. Park Point Beach
Park Point Beach is one of my favorite spots in Duluth. I’ve been surprised to learn how few people know about it. It reminds me so much of the Long Island beaches I grew up going to. My husband had never been to Park Point Beach so I wanted to show him this gem on the far eastern side of Park Point, also known as Minnesota Point. Here you’ll find sandy beaches with crashing waves, seagulls, shells, and even sand dunes with tall grasses. It’s a big difference from the rocky, ruggedness of most of Minnesota’s North Shore.
3. Wild State Cider
Duluth Cider is a well-known and popular cidery! Wild State Cider is Duluth’s lesser-known cidery, yet equally awesome. Wild State Cider has a large, sunny patio, or grab a spot inside with cool air conditioning. Their soft service ice cream is also really popular!
4. Railroad Museum
The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is an interesting place to see historic trains and railroad equipment. You’ll also learn a lot about Duluth’s history and the people who played a big role in the railroad industry’s success, like James J. Hill. There’s a lot to see and read, so plan for at least 45 minutes so you can really enjoy it all.
5. Train Tour
For a super unique experience, take a 75-minute train ride along Lake Superior’s shoreline and through the historic Congdon neighborhood. During the North Shore Scenic Railroad excursion, you’ll learn about Duluth’s history, and pass historic sites like Glensheen and Fitger’s. And for a really special experience, sit in first class, which has oversized windows for great views of Lake Superior. First-class tickets also come with two beverages and snacks.
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6. Chester Creek Park
Chester Creek Park is a 2.75-mile easy walk through the woods. It’s mostly flat with a meandering dirt trail. You may see deer, birds, and ferns. It’s a quiet escape from the busy crowds of Canal Park and downtown Duluth. Download the All Trails app before heading out for additional information on what to expect, and for suggestions on other hikes in the area.
7. Jade Fountain
Vikre Distillery is a well-known distillery and for good reason! We’ve been many times and it’s a great spot in Canal Park. If you’re looking for a lesser-known cocktail lounge, however, check out Jade Foundation. From the outside, it’s a very unassuming building and looks a little run down. Once you step inside the old Chinese-restaurant-turned-cocktail-lounge, you’ll find a ping pong table, comfy chairs and couches, a dark and moody bar space, and unique artwork. And the bartender will mix up a delicious beverage for you to take as you walk around and explore the space.
8. Howard’s Que
Howard’s Que offers some of the best BBQ along the North Shore. Located in the heart of Lincoln Park, enjoy pulled pork sandwiches, ribs, jerk chicken, mac n cheese, and coleslaw. This little hole in the wall is serving up delicious food and it’s a must-stop. Both Nic and I agreed Howard’s Que makes the best cornbread we’ve ever had!
9. Lakewalk East Beach
There are so many parks and beaches to explore around Duluth. For a less crowded beach, start at Leif Erickson Park, and begin walking along the newly remodeled Lakewalk. Keep an eye out for openings in the trees where you can pop through for incredible views of Lake Superior. We found our way over to Lakewalk East Beach and enjoyed sitting on a giant rock and searching for agates.
10. Sammy’s Pizza
There are two Sammy’s Pizza locations around Duluth, we went to the one in West Duluth, which is an open and bright space. This family-owned business first opened in 1954 and is now run by its fourth generation. They use quality ingredients and offer pizza, pasta, sandwiches, wraps, wings, and desserts. The thin crust is so light and fluffy, yet crispy. It was excellent dough!
Where We Stayed
During previous trips to Duluth, we stayed in Canal Park to be closer to the popular bars and restaurants. This time, we stayed at Enger Lofts, which is in the Lincoln Park neighborhood across the street from Bent Paddle Brewery. Our room had large windows on two sides and was so sunny and bright. Everything looked really modern and beautiful and we loved that we could walk to some of our favorite breweries and restaurants. There is also free parking on site and several gift shops and a coffee shop on the first floor of the building. The owners were also really great to work with and made planning our trip so easy.
Explore Duluth’s Hidden Gems
There is so much to experience in Duluth and we had such a blast checking out the lesser-known parks, restaurants, and cocktail lounges. For more North Shore inspiration, check out my blog posts on 14 Awesome Things to Do in Duluth, 20 Must-See Spots Along the North Shore, Best Things to Do in Grand Marais, and 10 Great Reasons to Visit Cook County!