Welcome to America’s heartland, home to the Great Lakes, a rich Native American culture and dinosaur fossils alike. Whether you’re in the mood for metro or you’re looking to get away from it all, these itineraries are packed with something for every member of your road crew. Click through the gallery to find your new favorite journey.
Hug the Shore: Duluth to Grand Marais, Minnesota—110 miles
This Lake Superior-side tour will take you from marvelous metro to one of pristine shoreline, all in a little over 100 miles. Start your trip in Duluth, Minnesota (about two hours north of Minneapolis/St. Paul). Before you get your motors running, take some time to explore this port town, especially Downtown and Canal Park. Canal Park’s crown jewel is the famous Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge and it’s also where large ships come through to load at the docks. It’s home to the Lake Superior Maritime Museum and the mission!). Just across the grass from the museum you’ll find an archway indicating the Duluth Lakewalk, an 7.5 mile long walking, biking and strolling path that you can stomp along any time of the day. For a bite to eat hit up Lake Avenue located inside the Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace—also home to local’s favorite for sandwiches, Northern Waters Smokehaus which you can take for the road. The iconic Grandma’s Saloon is also nearby, a great bet for kids with plenty to look at, games to play and an extensive upscale-diner menu. Before you leave Duluth don’t miss the Duluth Depot, the former center for train travel in the area that is now a major hub for arts including the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, which features massive engines (many of which kids can climb in); train tables; a hobo-sign scavenger hunt; replica turn-of-the-century buildings and even a replica movie theater. As you head north, stop Glensheen an epic mansion on 12-acres of gorgeous waterfront property that offers public tours and breathtaking views of Lake Superior. If you’re looking for overnight accommodations in Duluth, check out the Edgewater Hotel & Waterpark or the Radisson Hotel Duluth Harborview.
About 27 miles north of Duluth, you’ll find Two Harbors. Snag a photo with the giant rooster and grab a souvenir at Weldon’s Gifts before heading up the road toward Gooseberry Falls State Park (one of the state’s best waterfalls) and the Joseph N. Alexander Visitor Center. A little farther up 61, you’ll also find Split Rock Lighthouse, an iconic lighthouse and history museum, and one of the most photographed on Lake Superior. Hop back on scenic 61 and keep climbing north. Consider an overnight stay at Lutsen Resort . Just miles shy of Grand Marais, the 1885 built Scandinavian log lodge is big on charm and great for families of all sizes. While you’re there head across the road and up Lutsen Mountains for a sightseeing excursion in the enclosed gondola. Between Lutsen and Grand Marais, you’ll find several state parks and hiking trails to explore, many with rushing waterfalls and breathtaking views. Grand Marais is a charming town, right on Lake Superior. It offers plenty of lodging, and is known for its artists—so keep your eyes and ears open for art around every corner. Other highlights include a walk to the lighthouse, browsing in Drury Lane Books, pizza at Sven & Ole’s, and a visit to the Grand Marais Art Colony. Click here to check out their workshops before you go. Nearby, the North House Folk School serves up classes for the older kids including blacksmithing!
photo: kkmarais via flickr
What’s your favorite Midwestern road trip? Tell us about it in the comments section below!