Duluth, Minnesota is one of the best places in the state of Minnesota to visit, with so many great things to do and places to see.
Right in Duluth, you’ll find Canal Park, an adorable part of the city, right next to Lake Superior’s shoreline.
From eating at delicious restaurants to shopping in local stores and watching the ships sail by, there is plenty to do for everyone.
In this post, I’ll highlight 14 of the best things to do in Canal Park that will fill your itinerary and create the perfect day trip from many Minnesotan cities.
Things to Do in Canal Park
Below you’ll find some great ideas for activities in Canal Park to fill your day in all of Minnesota’s seasons.
1. Watch the Ships Pass Under the Bridge
The Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth is one of the most iconic places to visit, and you really can’t visit the city without seeing it.
And right down in Canal Park, you’ve got the perfect view of it.
The bridge connects the city of Duluth and Minnesota Point, a small piece of land that juts out into Lake Superior.
Stand down in the park and watch as the bridge lifts to allow the large cargo ships to pass by.
Over 900 ships travel underneath the bridge each year, so you’ve got a pretty darn good chance of seeing one.
It’s impressive to watch the large, 1,000-foot ships navigate under the 138-foot bridge.
If you click here, you can find the schedule for when the ships will be passing by.
2. Window Shop Downtown
Canal Park is a really great place to find some local goods and support local shops in Duluth.
On the Main Street, Canal Park Drive, you’ll find several little shops to head into and check out what’s up for sale.
A few of the small shops to check out include I Love Duluth, Duluth Pack Store, and Global Village.
Supporting local, especially during the holiday season, is one of the best things you can do, and it’s sure made easy in Canal Park.
3. Walk the Lake Walk
The Lakewalk is an almost 8-mile, paved trail that skirts the edge of Lake Superior from Bayfront Festival Park to Brighton Beach.
It’s the perfect path to walk, bike, run, rollerblade, or do any other sort of activity down.
There’s nothing more relaxing than strolling along Lake Superior, listening to the sound of the waves crashing into the shore.
After starting in Bayfront Festival Park, the path passes Canal Park and heads up towards Brighton Beach.
About 1.5 miles later, you’ll pass the popular Leif Erickson Park, where you’ll see the rose gardens in the summer.
Then the trail continues until you reach the end.
You can feel free to go as far or near as you’d like, and then turn back around to head back toward wherever you parked your car.
4. Let the Kids Play at Playfront Park
Right in Bayfront Festival Park, you’ll find Playfront Park, the perfect place to allow the kiddos to release their energy.
With swings, climbing structures, slides, and more, young children will have a great time taking a break from shopping, eating, and whatever else you’re doing.
This is Duluth’s largest playground! There are also a few more up the North Shore, where you’ll find plenty to do with kids.
The park is open year-round, so you can take your kids to play any time of year.
Parking is free, but you’re only allowed to stay for up to 2 hours.
5. Walk Over the Aerial Lift Bridge
If you spent some time watching the ships cross under the Aerial Lift Bridge, you may be wondering if you can cross it.
And in fact, you can cross it, either on foot or by car.
Many people enjoy crossing it on foot because it’s such a different experience from just watching it from Canal Park.
On the other side, you’ll find Minnesota Point.
This is an area located on a peninsula out of Duluth with places like Park Point Recreation Area.
If you want to visit any of the areas on the other side of the bridge, plan to drive your car across.
At night, the bridge lights up, creating a spectacular view out into Lake Superior.
6. Visit the Lake Superior Maritime Museum
Located right down by Lake Superior and the Aerial Lift Bridge is the Lake Superior Maritime Museum.
This small museum features interesting information and exhibits about the history of Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes.
You can learn about the ships passing through and the history of the lighthouses in the area.
If you want to see more of the area, you can take part in their free, self-guided cell phone tour, which you can learn more about here.
The museum is always free to visitors, making it the perfect place to visit, especially on a rainy day.
7. Play at Park Point Beach
Park Point Beach is one of the most popular swimming beaches near Duluth, located on Minnesota Point, on the other side of the Aerial Lift Bridge.
Visiting the beach gives you the chance to experience crossing the bridge and seeing this lesser-visited portion of Canal Park.
It’s definitely a unique experience to get to swim in one of the largest freshwater lakes in the country.
Many people love this beach because it has a nice sandy area for kids to play in and adults to relax on.
There are sand volleyball courts and grills to cook up some lunch on those hot summer days.
8. Grab Dessert at Love Creamery
You can never go wrong with grabbing some dessert for either yourself or the entire family.
There are plenty of great places to go in Canal Park including Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Coldstone Creamery.
But Love Creamery takes the cake for the best place for ice cream in Duluth.
They make hand-crafted, small-batch, delicious ice cream made with locally sourced ingredients.
Only the highest quality ingredients are used in their ice cream, which is what makes it so delicious.
As soon as you walk in the shop, you’ll know that you’ve made the right choice because you’ll see how adorable it is and you’ll smell the delicious dessert.
Grab a cone and continue walking around Canal Park to continue your day.
9. Play at Adventure Zone
What could be more fun for a kid than playing virtual reality, winning in arcade games, and shooting each other with lasers?
At Adventure Zone, your kiddos can release their energy in a whole new way.
For the big kids, enjoy batting cages, laser tag, a virtual reality arena, a large arcade, and more.
Even the littles will enjoy playing at Adventure Zone in their Kids Cove, which features tunnels, slides, climbing areas, and more.
It’s located right on Canal Park Drive, making it the perfect spot to run to after feeding the kids all of that ice cream at Love Creamery.
10. Visit the William A. Irvine Museum
You won’t visit Canal Park without noticing the huge, red ship sitting on shore, right next to Bayfront Festival Park.
The William A. Irvine ship sailed on Lake Superior for 40 years, hauling coal and iron ore, before being placed in its permanent home.
Today, you can take tours of the ship to learn all about the now-retired Freightliner.
Along the tours, there are staff to teach you the history of the ship and also help direct you to your next destination.
When October rolls around, the William A. Irvine becomes haunted, and you’re invited to visit.
The Haunted Ships is Duluth’s best haunted house, where you really can’t be too sure whether the doors slamming and screams are part of their act.
11. See the Duluth North Pier Lighthouse
Found right on the shore in Canal Park is the Duluth North Pier Lighthouse.
This lighthouse is very easy to get to and is worth the visit while you’re in town.
You can reach it right from the shore of Canal Park and walk up to it to see how tall it is.
This is also another great chance to get out on Lake Superior and see her mighty waves as they crash to shore and around the lighthouse.
Watch out for the rumored Lake Superior whales out there! 😉
Things to Do in Canal Park in Winter
Since Minnesota sees plenty of snow each year, things happen a bit differently in the winter months.
Some of the things accessible in the summer aren’t so available anymore, so they make up for it in different ways.
12. Visit Bentleyville
One of the very best things to do in Canal Park in the winter is visit Bentleyville.
What once started as a small light show in someone’s backyard has since become a huge light display, taking up all of Bayfront Festival Park.
With over 3 million lights glowing and gleaming with holiday spirit, this activity is great for those of all ages.
Bundle up and come on down to the free walk-through event, where you can indulge in hot cocoa and cookies as you walk by.
The kiddos can meet Santa and take photos with other characters such as snowmen and Santa’s reindeer.
All of this happens from mid-November, when Santa flies in and makes his entrance, until the day after Christmas.
13. Go Ice Skating
One of my favorite winter activities is ice skating, and it can be done right in Bayfront Festival Park, right next to Canal Park.
The ice rink typically opens in early January and is open as long as it’s cold enough to hold ice.
There is a warming shack next to it with skate rentals for those who don’t have their own pair.
There’s really just something about skating on a rink that overlooks the beautiful, massive Lake Superior.
14. Watch a Hockey Game
There’s no doubt about it that Minnesota is known as the State of Hockey, so what would a post be without recommending a hockey game?
The Amsoil arena is located just down the street from Canal Park and is home to the University of Minnesota Duluth’s men’s hockey team.
The team has won several championships in their years and has sent multiple players to the NHL.
It’s great fun to watch them get competitive and play out on the ice, so be sure to grab a ticket, a bucket of popcorn, and enjoy the show.
You can find the schedule for the UMD Bulldogs here.
Where to Stay Near Canal Park
There are dozens of hotels in the Canal Park area, so it can be tough to choose the best one.
But you’ll need somewhere to rest your head at night, so I found a few great options for you.
Canal Park Lodge — This beautiful lodge is located right on the shores of the lake and features free breakfast, a hot tub, and a balcony with beautiful lake views. You can even choose a room with a private jacuzzi to relax in.
South Pier Inn — Situated right at the base of the Aerial Lift Bridge, this hotel is just a short walk from the beach and has an outdoor fireplace to watch the ships go by.
Beacon Pointe — This luxury resort features multi-bedroom condos with complimentary rentals of snowshoes, bikes, and movies. Plus, free s’mores!
Where to Eat Near Canal Park
Along with things to do and places to stay, there are so many great places to grab either lunch or dinner in Canal Park.
Here are a few delicious options for you to choose from!
Best Time to Visit Canal Park
Canal Park can be visited any time of the year, because many of the best activities are open year-round.
But if you’re looking to avoid Minnesota’s brutal winters, then you should probably plan a visit during the summer months.
June through September are great months to visit with everything being clear of snow and ready for exploring.
You’ll have warm weather, sun, and plenty of things to keep you busy.
October is always a fantastic choice because the leaves are starting to change color and make for a beautiful site around the lakeshore.
Here are just a few frequently asked questions regarding Canal Park to make your visit just a little bit easier.
Where is Canal Park?
Canal Park is located in downtown Duluth, Minnesota, right on the shores of Lake Superior.
It stretches from the area around Bayfront Festival Park to the area around Fitger’s Inn.
It’s home to the iconic Aerial Lift Bridge and Minnesota Point.
It’s home to many shopping stores, delicious restaurants, outdoor places to explore, and museums to learn in.
Which City is Canal Park In?
Canal Park is located in the city of Duluth, Minnesota.
What is Duluth Known For?
Duluth, Minnesota is a pretty touristy destination in northern Minnesota, right on Lake Superior near the Wisconsin border.
It’s well known for being the gateway to Minnesota’s North Shore as well as being one of the best places to see one of the Great Lakes.
Duluth is also home to the nation’s only all-freshwater aquarium, which teaches about Lake Superior and freshwater marine life.
Can You Swim at Canal Park?
If you head on over across the Aerial Lift Bridge, you’ll find Park Point, one of Duluth’s most popular swimming beaches.
This is the best place to go swimming near Canal Park.
It has a sandy beach, sand volleyball nets, and a great place to get in the water.
How Much is Parking at Canal Park?
Parking in Canal Park is typically by street meter and can vary in price, but is usually charged for every 15 minutes or by the hour.
There are also some public parking lots around the area that range in price from $1 per hour to $10 per day.
Wrap-Up: Things to Do in Canal Park
With so many beautiful places to visit in Duluth, it’s no wonder that so many people love paying a visit to Canal Park.
This beautiful area has plenty of things to do, whether you’re 2 years old or 90 years old.
I hope that you’re able to use this list of things to do in Canal Park to plan the perfect day or weekend trip.