All along the North Shore, reasons to visit here (or even move here) abound. Below is a short list of some of our favorite destinations and things to do!
Agate hunting is both art and luck. Come and look for your treasure: just please don’t take the one I’m looking for!
Arrivals and Departures of Tankers is a sport long the Shore and in Two Harbors. Even the long-term residents of the area say that they never quite get over the awe of seeing these mighty ships on the waters of the Big Lake, whether off in the distance or as they artfully navigate their way into the harbors that dot the Shore, including right here in Two Harbors.
Amicus Adventure Sailing – Whether you are a sailor yourself or just admire those who are, watching these boats is thrilling for anyone.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) – One million acres of pristine wilderness: only canoes and feet are welcome! Tap into your inner voyager, pick up a paddle, and venture into the back and lovely woods. Ely is just over an hour away!
Gooseberry Falls – an exact mere 15 miles from the Spent Dandelion sits Gooseberry Falls State Park and campground. Gooseberry Falls consists of upper and lower waterfalls that spill down the park’s gorges and trails that offer spectacular views of Lake Superior, Civilian Conservation Corp history, and abundant wildlife!
The North Shore Scenic Cruises – Hop on one of several Lake Superior Cruises, enjoying good food and great views of the cliffs, the woods, and the rocky beaches along the Shore!
Park Point Beach in Duluth claims the title of the world’s largest freshwater sandbar. Over seven miles long and 5,000 years old, it marks beauty and history.
The Superior Hiking Trail is over 300 miles, and stretches from south of Duluth to North of Grand Marais. A footpath, it is best accessed outside of winter months, though snowshoes make the icy sections doable. Hikers wander along river beds, above Lake Superior, into the woods, and beside wildlife of the richest variety.
Spirit Mountain – Four-season action awaits you at Spirit Mountain, located in Duluth. Skiing, tubing, hiking, and mountain biking are but a few recreational offerings for you no matter what time of year you visit.
Summer recreation such as hiking, biking, golfing, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and ship watching, all beckon visitors and locals alike.
Tettegouche State Park and Palisade Head display the rich geological history of the North Shore. Come learn about the lava flows and the wildlife while wandering around tangible outdoor beauty.
Winter sports – Click on the link and keep on clicking to find all sorts of information about winter sports galore along the shore: alpine skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, dog sledding, curling, skating, sliding, and cross country skiing to wake up your senses and give you all the more reason for that hot beverage, adult or otherwise.
Museums and Nature Centers
The Duluth Depot – With one stop, settle in to eight different venues to enrich your mind and your North Shore experience. Art, music, dance, theatre, history, and, of course, the wonderful trains will greet you at this landmark building.
The Great Lakes Aquarium – Located right in downtown Duluth, and within walking distance of the famous Lift Bridge and Canal Park, the Great Lakes Aquarium hosts not just a stunning freshwater aquarium, but a wealth of Great Lakes history, shipwreck exhibits, touch-tanks, and a gift shop to boot. Look ahead for daily events!
International Wolf Center – This facility located in Ely (about an hour and a half from Two Harbors) houses not only wolves, but a wealth of information and activities regarding this majestic species and its complex relationship with the environment it calls home. Respected by both wolf advocates and critics because of its balanced presentation of the facts, the International Wolf Center is a destination worthy of your time.
Lake County Historical Society – Hosting the Depot Museum, the Two Harbors Light Station, the Edna G. Tugboat, and the 3M Museum, the Lake County Historical Society web site will lead to you links and information about Lake County, its history, its present offerings, and its promising future.
North American Bear Center – Dedicated to replacing myth with knowledge, the North American Bear Center provides exhibits, activities, trails, programs, and bears themselves to those who come to visit.
Northern Shore Scenic Railroad – If you would like to have an overview of many of the attractions of the North Shore this is a great way to do it!
Split Rock Light House is a National Historic Landmark right here in Two Harbors, commemorating the critical role that lighthouses have played in the lives of those for whom Lake Superior wasn’t just lovely, but a livelihood.
Canal Park rests between shore and land, hosting restaurants, galleries, shops, and history. Worth a day’s wander in and of itself! Also visit CanalPark.com.
Spokengear – connected to The Cedar Coffee Company. Go there not only to purchase fantastic bikes and gear, but also to rent mountain bikes in the summer and fat-tire bikes and snowshoes during the winter!
Bayfront Park – You can find so many great things going on at the Bayfront Park. Concerts, color runs, festivals, the Bentleyville Tour of Lights,and so many more things can be found here year-round.
B E Nelson Design specializes in silversmithing in the Scandinavian tradition, and much of his work incorporates local agates and rocks into his art. Not only should you drop by to meet him and see his craft, but the building in which his business is housed was hand-hewn by Mr. Nelson. Scandinavian and German imported goods also show up on his shelves.
Burton Forge – Dale Burton, master forger, creates art with both form and function in his shop along Scenic 61. His rustic building yields to simple beauty inside the wooden doors!
Crossing Borders Studio Tour – This is a great way to tour all of the wonderful art studios that are located up the North Shore!
Lake Superior 20/20 Studio Art Tour – The Lake Superior 20/20 Studio Art Tour is another great way to experience the North Shore and local artists.
Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon – The longest sled dog race in the lower 48, mushers from all over the world come to Two Harbors for the send off before their 400 mile race against other sleds and against the Minnesota winter and terrain.
Fall – We’ll just go for images for this North Shore Highlight
Grandma’s Marathon, a legend from its first year held in 1977, hosts 9,000 people and more to race in the marathon, half-marathon, and 5K. The start of the Marathon is within sight of our home, and therefore within running distance, too. The marathon is held each July.
Tall Ships, an annual event from Duluth on up the Shore, features sailing from across time and origin. Magnificent to behold, the festival allows not just viewing from afar, but touring several up close, and an art fair to boot.
Two Harbors Heritage Days held in July brings out their best local artisans, musicians, food vendors, legendary car show, and, of course, the community parade.
Winter Frolic – There is a saying here that the best way to endure winter is to enter it! The Two Harbors Winter Frolic Days, held the second weekend in February every year. Curling, Chili Cook-offs, Snowmobile Races, and Bonfires are but some of the activities that throw us happily into the snow.
Bent Paddle Brewery houses itself in Duluth, uses Lake Superior waters, and “bends the tradition” of time-honored brewing techniques. Dedicated to sustainability, they also have a fine record of donating to non-profits and committing itself to justice in business and community.
Betty’s Pies (not Betty Spies) has been sweetening up the senses of residents of and visitors to the North Shore since the 50s.
Castle Danger Brewery is a hometown brew, officially begun in 2011. Brewed right here in Two Harbors, and using Lake Superior waters, the folks at Castle Danger offer a range of ales, and a patio to bring your food and drink your brew.
Cedar Coffee Company is owned by friends of mine, and they are friends of mine in part because much of my life is now spent there! Superb brews and teas, wine and beer offerings, and a menu that is diverse in cuisine and range. Attached to it is Spokengear, referenced elsewhere on this page.
Louise’s Place – Home-cooked meals, including Swedish Pancakes with Lingonberry Sauce, and home-baked breads, like cranberry wild rice, all within walking distance of the Big Lake. Offerings of local art and crafts complement the homey style!
New Scenic Cafe sits along Scenic 61, with views of the Lake…though the views of your exquisitely presented food might clamor for your equal attention! Gourmet dining in a casual environment. Delish whether lunch or supper.
Rustic Inn offers its own homemade pies and fine cuisine: Gluten Free, vegetarian, and vegan dishes are on the menu too!
Vanilla Bean, a longstanding Two Harbors Landmark, is especially famous for their vanilla coffee, their breakfasts, and their fish. Right on the main drag in Two Harbors, it’s easy to get to, but hard to leave!
World’s Best Donuts – Some people say that the landscape is the reason to go up the Shore to Grand Marais. Some say that instead, it’s the recreation. Others, the art. As for me and my house, while those are all worthy pulls to the North, it’s really all about the World’s Best Donut Shop.
General Perks of Life Along the Shore
Hwy 61 wends itself from Duluth to Grand Marais. Click on this link to learn about traveling it to taste delicacies, to see beauty, to appreciate art, or all of the above.
And, well, just Duluth.