From lush gardens and leisurely river cruises to an iconic lighthouse, there are plenty of interesting things to do in North Shore Minnesota

Trains, ships, carriage rides and art are coupled with scenic landscapes and lake views.

3 Unique Experiences on This Trip

  • Glensheen Historic Estate
  • Great Lakes Aquarium
  • Split Rock Lighthouse

Duration: 4 Days
Available: Year-round
Ideal For: All

Day 1: A leisurely river cruise in Duluth Minnesota

Afternoon arrival in Duluth and check into your hotel.

Dinner cruise aboard the Vista Star. Enjoy a plated dinner in family-style seating while enjoying stunning views of the Duluth skyline, Lake Superior and the Duluth harbor.

Day 2: View historic mansions, rose gardens, a world-famous railroad museums and more things to do in North Shore Minnesota

After breakfast at your hotel, meet your step-on guide for a two-hour City Tour. Take in the views from Skyline Drive and experience EngerDuluth Rose Garden Park and Gardens and the Rose Garden. Tour Glensheen Historic Estate, a historic mansion on 22 acres along the shores of Lake Superior. Have lunch on your own in Canal Park. Stroll the Lakewalk, shop the specialty stores, or just relax and watch the cargo ships entering the harbor.

Begin your afternoon with a tour of a variety of museums at the St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center inside the historic Duluth Depot; the Lake Superior Railroad Museum is world-famous. Next stop is the Great Lakes Aquarium, a freshwater aquarium that shows life in and around the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior.

Enjoy dinner at a group-friendly restaurant with a lake view. Finish your Duluth day with a horse-drawn carriage ride with Top Hat Carriages.

Day 3: A scenic railway journey, a historic lighthouse and more North Shore Minnesota activities

Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at your hotel before checking out.

Board the North Shore Scenic Railroad for a scenic train ride with box lunch along the North Shore of Lake Superior to Two Harbors, a community rich in history: fishing, mining, shipping, logging and trains. Next stop is Split Rock Lighthouse. Shipwrecks from a 1905 gale prompted the building and opening of one of Minnesota’s most iconic landmarks in 1910. The lighthouse has been restored to its 1920s look and features a historic museum. Stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park for a visit to the interpretive center/museum/gift shop and a view of the spectacular waterfalls from the paved walkway.

Check into your hotel for an overnight in Grand Marais. Several area restaurants with interesting names like The Angry Trout, Blue Water Café, Crooked Spoon, Devil Track Resort and Sven & Ole’s cater to group dining needs. After dinner catch a show at the Grand Marais Playhouse, or enjoy local music in eclectic downtown establishments.

Day 4: An iconic art colony, a scenic drive and more Minnesota things to do

After breakfast at your hotel and checkout, dabble in the arts at the Grand Marais Art Colony. Founded in 1947 as the state’s first art colony, 20 students were enrolled in an eight-week summer painting class. Today the Colony continues as a gateway for people to creatively explore and interpret the area’s coast and inland wilderness. There are regular presentations and classes by artisans and ongoing gallery exhibits.

The North House Folk School is an educational organization committed to enriching lives through teaching traditional northern crafts. Among the offerings are boatbuilding, traditional crafts, foods, wood-fired baking, basketry and northern ecology. Courses, programs and special events are scheduled throughout the year. Campus tours are available.

Take a driving tour of the area on the North Shore Scenic Drive from Grand Marais to the Canadian border. Take a moment to stop at the Mt. Josephine overlook; followed with a late lunch at Naniboujou Lodge, which was built as a celebrity favorite in the 1920s. Continue on your return to Duluth.

Want to continue the experience?

Continue to Ely, a principal access into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Ely is home to the International Wolf Center, North American Bear Center and some of the best professional canoe trip outfitters. The Gunflint Trail is 58 miles of paved highway with a stop at Pincushion Mountain rewarding travelers with a panoramic view of Grand Marais and Lake Superior.

If you’d like more great group travel ideas in Minnesota, check out the Minnesota Group Tour Guide and be sure to Subscribe to Leisure Group Travel to stay up to date with our latest travel news.