Top 10 Places to Enjoy Fall on Minnesota's North Shore

No season shorts travelers on stunning scenery along Minnesota's North Shore, but it's hard not to favor fall with its golden birch leaves and cool nights. Here are our picks for the best places to experience fall from Duluth to Grand Marais.

North Shore Two Harbors, MNGooseberry Falls, waterfall into lake

1. Gooseberry Falls State Park

The scenic falls on the Gooseberry River, great hikes and easy-to-find agates on the lakeshore make Gooseberry Falls State Park one of Minnesota's most beloved spots. Here, you can connect to the paved 14.6-mile section of the Gitchi-Gami State Trail for biking and in-line skating to Beaver Bay.

2. Park Point

Grab sandwiches and picnic fixings at Northern Waters Smokehaus in DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, cross the Lift Bridge, and head out onto the 7-mile-long sandbar known as Park Point. If you want to stay on Park Point, plan ahead to get a room at the charming Solglimt Bed and Breakfast.

Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory raptor release autumn 2011. HRBO Education Director Debbie Waters releasing red-tailed hawk.
Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory. Michael Furtman

3. Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

This spot is legendary for its thousands of hawks and other birds riding the thermals above Lake Superior and Duluth's Skyline Drive as they migrate south. Check the website for workshops and demonstrations.

4. Spirit Mountain Adventure Park

Craving a few thrills? You don't have to wait for the snow to fly to enjoy the downhill action at Spirit Mountain. Try the Timber Twister coaster ride, head for a family-friendly two-seater zipline or take the chairlift to mountain bike runs ranging from easy rollers to adrenaline-pumping black-diamond drops.

Lutsen Mountains in fall
Lutsen Mountains. Ginger Crichton

5. Lutsen Mountains

For dramatic fall colors, head slightly inland via the Lake Superior Hiking Trail or Superior National Forest roads (look for fall color tour signs near Tofte). Then ride the Lutsen Mountains tram over the Poplar River and 1,000 feet up to the peak of Moose Mountain. Stroll to the Magic Mountain overlook, take a hike, then relax at the Summit Chalet facing Lake Superior.

6. New Scenic Cafe

On the scenic drive hugging Superior's shore, you'll find the perfect spot to dine about 8 miles north of Duluth. At Scenic Cafe, sample seasonal fare such as pistachio-crusted goat cheese salad, curried blue mussels, smoked salmon or a blackberry cream cheese tart. If it's warm, sit outdoors among flowers and herbs.

7. Two Harbors

Stroll the breakwater and enjoy watching the behemoth "Lakers" loading up with iron ore. Leave time to check out the scenic lighthouse that doubles as a four-room bed-and-breakfast.

Bluefin Bay
Lisa Meyers McClintick

8. Bluefin Bay

Guests at Bluefin Bay and at nearby Surfside on Lake Superior can sign up for kayaking lessons and guided trips. Get a fresh view of the shoreline and admire how remarkably clear Lake Superior is-to its bottom of volcanic rock.

9. Palisade Head

Turn at the Palisade Head sign for a steep uphill drive and exhilarating cliff-top views of the shoreline, fall colors and picturesque Shovel Point in nearby Tettegouche State Park.

North House Folk School
Ackerman + Gruber

10. Grand Marais

If you want a lasting souvenir of a magical fall getaway, a number of galleries here capture local beauty in a variety of mediums. You can also take a hands-on class in everything from knitting to boatbuilding at North House Folk School. Crave something simpler? Stroll pretty Artists Point at the tip of Grand Marais Harbor and snap a photo of your version of a stacked-rock statue on the shoreline ledge.

For more information: Visit Duluth or Explore Minnesota.

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