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Trip Report-Family trip to Duluth

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South Dakota
Level Contributor
2,907 posts
153 reviews
Trip Report-Family trip to Duluth

Day one-Arrived. Stayed at Residence Inn. This was not in Canal Park, but it worked out just fine. Cub Foods is next door and accessible by foot path if you get a suite with a kitchenette. It is also close to many dept. stores, a mall and chain restaurants. There were only two days that we actually parked within Canal Park itself, so it wasn't a big deal to not be in Canal Park. Stocked up on groceries and went to Enger Tower after supper. Nice grounds. Wear repellent if going at this time of day. Awesome view from top of tower and kids enjoyed climbing. Other nice views also found in the park.

Day two-Took expressway up North Shore to Split Rock Lighthouse. Arrived in time for 10AM opening. Got a guided tour. Tour was brief, so kids didn't get too antsy. Tour guide was really into the tour and was very dramatic. He did his best to make it interesting. Toured all the buildings on the compound and then took trail to the lakeshore for the infamous lighthouse photo. Took the steps down and my legs felt like jelly. Took the switchback path up, and while not a piece of cake, it seemed easier than the steps. By the time we left the lighthouse, the parking lots appeared full (unless they had more I didn't see), so it's good to arrive early. Then drove down to Gooseberry Falls State Park. Took fork to the picnic area. Found about four tables slightly down the hill and to the left of the picnic shelter and had a secluded picnic with a stunning view of the lake. Kind of humorous listening to the comments from people who had hiked from the visitor center who did not know you could drive to the lake. Sat on the beach and did a bit of hiking. Drove to the visitor center and almost didn't find a parking spot. Saw all the falls and the castle wall. Enjoyed standing on the pedestrian walkway under the highway bridge. Opted not to hike to Fifth Falls as the photos didn't look that amazing and we had a preschooler in tow. Drove down to Betty's Pies. It was packed at 3PM, so we got our pies to go and sat outside. Worked well. Drove to Two Harbors. Kids and spouse did the Edna G. tugboat tour and got a private tour due to no other people present. Price was very reasonable. Then went to lighthouse compound. Not a whole lot there and I think we could have just photographed the lighthouse and left. Just my opinion, though. Took scenic 61 back to Duluth. Enjoyed delicious free supper at the hotel.

Day 3-Arrived at 9AM opening for Wm. Irving Ore Boat tour. This is one of the few things that opens at 9. Had a nice tour with an older teen guide who sounded like she was reciting from a script. She was very friendly and enthusiastic, though, so we didn't mind. Price was a great deal for Duluth (kids free with paying adult) and the tour was very interesting. One of the best things we did. We found if you park in the convention center lot, as long as there is no convention, you can drive to various parts of the huge lot and see different attractions while just paying one parking fee. Moved our car to the other end of the convention center lot and went to the aquarium. This was NOT cheap. The second floor was so-so. The first floor had better things for kids to do. The interactive model of the Great Lakes was neat. All in all, it was OK, but I probably would not return. Walked from convention center lot to the Depot. Used AAA discount. The children's museum has relocated and I would not recommend the top to floors to families with kids. They thought the art was boring. They loved the ground floor with the trains, however. The free trolley ride appears to have been discontinued. I asked an employee and she didn't think they did that anymore.

Day 4-Drove to Spirit Mtn (maybe 10 minutes south of town) and went down the Alpine coaster and the zipline. VERY spendy. The coaster was a blast and we were impressed with the safety features (been on similar attractions that didn't seem as safe). The zipline ride was too short. Despite my negative comments, we all agreed the coaster was our favorite activity on the whole trip. Went on the 45 minute Vista Fleet cruise around noon. Wanted to take the longer cruise, but thought this one was better for the kids' attention span. We got to go under two lift bridges and along the Duluth shoreline and then back into the harbor. Would have been nice to see more of the harbor, but understand this is why they have the longer tour. Then drove across the lift bridge onto MN point all the way to Park Point Park at the end. Plenty of parking, lifeguard and bath house onsite. Water obviously freezing cold but clear. I think a lot of tourists don't know this park is at the end and try to find spots on the beach closer to the Duluth end of the island. Had supper at the Duluth Grill. Very tasty, healthy food in a family-friendly atmosphere. Good service. Most desserts were $7 each, so passed on dessert.

Day 5-Drove to Canal Park. Went through free maritime museum. Pretty good museum and can't beat the price. Walked out to the lighthouse at the harbor entry and back. Stopped at the interactive fountain near Little Angie's Cantina. Ate at Little Angie's. Big portions for lunch. Left after lunch.

Sorry, didn't take the time to edit this, so I apologize for any typos.

Apple Valley...
Level Contributor
659 posts
41 reviews
1. Re: Trip Report-Family trip to Duluth

Sounds like a nice trip! Was the timing during the Tall Ships festival or whatever its called?

Level Contributor
1,363 posts
366 reviews
2. Re: Trip Report-Family trip to Duluth

It looks like you guys had a great trip! We also loved the Irwin ore boat tour, and the kids loved the Alpine Coaster. Agree with you about the aquarium too--I thought it was horribly overpriced for what little it offers.

South Dakota
Level Contributor
2,907 posts
153 reviews
3. Re: Trip Report-Family trip to Duluth

Iowagirl, we arrived the day the Ships Festival ended. I heard it was very crowded with 200 some thousand people, but that's just a rumor.

Proctor, Minnesota
Level Contributor
192 posts
63 reviews
4. Re: Trip Report-Family trip to Duluth

Thanks for the report! I also agree about the aquarium. We've been to aquariums all over the country that have way more to see for less money. Glad you were able to get up the shore, too!

5. Re: Trip Report-Family trip to Duluth

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