Situated on the westernmost end of Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world, Duluth's international harbour is filled with ships and the city bustles with sailors and the arrival of new wares. Although miles from either coast, Lake Superior is connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the St Lawrence River. The authentically restored waterfront can be explored along the Lakewalk Trail, or the scenic Skyline Parkway drive above the lakeshore on the bluffs, which affords magnificent views of the city and harbour.
The city itself is quiet, yet there is much to see and do in Duluth. Because of its location, it has always been a busy shipping port, and there are enough antique shops, cafes, restaurants, and other diversions. The city's two universities ensure the bars and pubs are always bustling during the semester. Kids will enjoy the Great Lakes Aquarium and the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, while adults will enjoy the well-preserved house and grounds of the Glensheen Mansion.
The spectacularly scenic Minnesota State Highway 61 (North Shore Scenic Drive) follows the shore of Lake Superior for 160 miles (257km) from Duluth to the Canadian border, its precipitous cliffs interspersed with pretty little harbour towns, charming shops and restaurants, waterfalls, and beautiful lake-view picnic sites.
The Split Rock Lighthouse is popular for hiking, picnics, and photo opportunities. There are several state parks and hiking trails along the way, including the long distance Superior Hiking Trail, and the unspoilt beauty of immense Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness that draws canoeists from around the world to its pristine lakes and streams. 40 miles (64km) north, Gooseberry Falls State Park has excellent walking trails.
Duluth is roughly two and a half hours' drive from Minneapolis, the nearest major city and airport. The best time to visit Duluth is in autumn, when the fall foliage is truly spectacular. Winters can be unforgivingly cold, while late summer provides idyllic weather for enjoying the spectacular scenery.