Top 10 Things To Do On The North Shore

Top Things to do on Minnesota's North Shore
The North Shore is an incredible, beautiful place that offers an abundance of things to do year round. From fishing to hiking to skiing to enjoying some of our fine restaurants and live music, you can find it all on the North Shore. Let’s pretend, however, that you only have a week in the summer to spend here, and want to take in as many of the highlights as possible. Here is our recommendation for the top ten things to do during your visit.

These destinations are listed by location from Duluth to the north to help make your planning easier.

  1. Gooseberry Falls State Park: With three sets of waterfalls (conveniently named Lower, Middle, and Upper Falls), plus a beautiful visitor’s center, historic Civilian Conservation Corps buildings, and a picnic area built on an old lava flow, this park has it all. Located right off Highway 61 about 13 miles northeast of Two Harbors.
  2. Split Rock Lighthouse: Operated by the Minnesota Historical Society, Split Rock Lighthouse was built in 1910 after a devastating storm in 1905 sank several ships in the area. The magnetic rock that the lighthouse is built near confused ships’ radars, causing them to move too close to shore, so the lighthouse was erected to guide ships past this point near the Split Rock River. Today, modern GPS systems have made the lighthouse obsolete, but it has been meticulously maintained and is open for visitors. Guided tours take visitors into the lighthouse, the head keeper’s house, oil house, and fog signal building, and are complete with costumed interpreters. A museum, theater, and gift shop are located near the parking lot, and the lighthouse is located within the larger Split Rock State Park, which also offers many activities throughout the year. Located right off Highway 61 about 5 miles northeast from Gooseberry State Park.
  3. Palisade Head: Located within Tettegouche State Park (but with its own parking area further up), this 200+ foot cliff towers over Lake Superior and offers one of the most spectacular views of Lake Superior. Depending on the weather, you can see Shovel Point, the Sawtooth Mountains, Split Rock Lighthouse, and even Wisconsin. Palisade Head is also a popular mountain climbing destination with over 60 climbs. Located off Highway 61, 2.7 miles northeast of the town of Silver Bay.
  4. Temperance River Hidden Falls: With several waterfalls to enjoy, including the “Hidden Falls” (appropriately named since they sit so deep in the river gorge that you can hear it better than you can see it). The hikes are fun and lead up and around Temperance River and into Carlton Peak. Parking for Temperance River State Park is available right off Highway 61 just outside of the town of Schroeder.
  5. Oberg Loop Hike: If you enjoy hiking to discover beautiful outlooks, you’ll definitely want to explore this 2.3-mile loop trail. Many visitors to the North Shore call it their favorite, and it’s easy to see why! You hike through the beautiful maple forest that harbors a variety of plants uncommon to nearby forests, and are rewarded with incredible views of Lake Superior, Oberg Lake, and the Sawtooth Mountains. To get there, go through the town of Tofte on Highway 61 for about 4.7 miles. Turn left onto Onion River Road and proceed up the road for 2.1 miles until you see the Oberg Mountain parking lot on the left.
  6. Cascade River Falls: The Cascade River is technically one large, cascading waterfall flowing to Lake Superior, with a few large drops along the way. A quick, easy hike from the Highway 61 parking lot brings you to one of the higher waterfalls along the river. Located on Highway 61, ten miles northeast from the town of Lutsen, this park offers parking right on Highway 61. View the hike.
  7. Artist’s Point: Located near the harbor in the town of Grand Marais, Artist’s Point is made up of unique and beautiful jagged rock formations. Its size might be small, but the impression it makes on visitors is big! Enjoy walking the breakwall to the lighthouse and watching the sunset or sunrise over Lake Superior. It’s an area that inspires many. To get there, take Highway 61 into Grand Marais. Turn right onto Broadway and continue down until you reach the parking lot at the end of Broadway.
  8. Devil’s Kettle Falls: Located in the Judge C R Magney State Park, the Devil’s Kettle Falls have mystified visitors and scientists alike for years. The Brule River splits in two- with one side cascading down the cliff face in a beautiful waterfall and the other half of the water flows down into a dark and mysterious hole in the rock (the Devil’s Kettle). For many years no one knew where the water went from there, but recently scientists determined, by the rate of flow, that the water rejoins the river somewhere downstream. Until that point, many urban legends surround the Devil’s Kettle, including one where locals once pushed a car into the hole, only to have it disappear and never re-emerge. This is unlikely, however, considering the falls are not accessible by road.

    To get the falls you will need to descend 200 steps (and then later ascend them to return to the parking lot) to get to the falls, but the hike is worth it to view one of Earth’s great mysteries. Judge C R Magney State Park is located off Highway 61 in Hovland, MN. Before you enter, you will need to get a state park permit from the ranger station near the park entrance.
  9. Susie Island Overlook: Just south of Grand Portage you will find the Susie Island Overlook. This overlook provides you with beautiful views of the Susie Islands to the east, Josephine Mountain to the southwest, and Lake Superior all around. The Susie Islands are a group of 13 islands located just off the Lake Superior shoreline. Once used for mining copper ore in the early 1900s, these islands are now natural preservation sites. To get there, head up Highway 61 until you enter the Grand Portage State Park. Look for the “Susie Islands” signs.
  10. Pigeon River High Falls: The Pigeon River forms the border between Canada and the United States in this section of Minnesota. The river has carved out a beautiful canyon for visitors to view and explore. The High Falls are a short hike from the Grand Portage State Park visitor’s center and are the highest waterfalls in Minnesota. A beautiful sight to behold!