We explored Minnesota as part of our Great Lakes Road Trip in May-June of 2021. Our explorations included Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Northern Minnesota is all about Lake Superior and the shipping, mining, lumber and fur trading industries. It is about voyageurs and outdoorsmen: canoe paddlers, campers and traders. It is about 12,000 lakes, pictographs at the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), aerial lift bridges, the charming Stillwater on the St. Croix River, and ruins of a 130-year-old sandstone quarry along the Kettle River. It is about Frank Lloyd Wright gas stations, railroad museums, and famous football players such as Bronko Nagurski. It is about Dorothy Molter, aka the Root Beer Lady.
In Duluth, we watched the James R. Barker, the first 1000-foot class vessel constructed entirely on the Great Lakes in 1976, pass through the Aerial Lift Bridge, which spans the Duluth Ship Canal. The 1,000-ton central span rises 138 feet like an elevator to let ships enter the harbor. We saw a huge collection of rolling stock at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. And returning to Duluth after our exploration of the North Shore, we enjoyed a seaplane ride over the largest and busiest port on the Great Lakes, with views of the Aerial Lift Bridge and the surrounding metro area. To top it all off, we had dinner at Bridgeman’s, a mid-century modern diner complete with a Friday night fish fry and a raspberry hot fudge wonder.
Here are my top ten favorite experiences of northern Minnesota:
10) hiking the Quarry Loop Trail at Banning State Park
9) Split Rock Lighthouse State Park
8) dinner at the iconic Bridgeman’s in Duluth
7) Stillwater, the charming self-proclaimed “Birthplace of Minnesota”
6) Voyageur’s National Park and the Arrowhead Lodge
5) Palisade Head on the North Shore
4) Tettegouche State Park
3) Duluth and the Aerial Lift Bridge: watching the huge cargo ships go through the bridge
2) Canoeing on Hegman Lake in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)
1) Seaplane tour of Duluth with Beaver Air
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