Consider taking a special trip to Minnesota if you’re looking for fall foliage that rivals the renowned greenery of Vermont and Maine. While many people travel east to see the changing of the seasons, the northern hemisphere is a hidden jewel where fall appears twice. There are two distinct fall foliage spectacles to behold along Minnesota’s North Shore, which follows the majestic Lake Superior between Duluth, Minnesota, and the Canadian border. The first is the colorful tapestry of maple trees adorning the mountains, and the second is the elegant aspen and birch trees that grace the shoreline.
A Mesmerizing Journey Along the North Shore Scenic Byway
Take a breath-taking journey along the 154-mile North Shore Scenic Byway, which runs along Lake Superior’s edge from Duluth to Grand Portage, close to the Canadian border. The U.S. Department of Transportation has conferred the renowned title of “All-American Road” on this gorgeous journey.
You’ll be enthralled by the beauty of the shores of Lake Superior as you travel this picturesque path. Here, waves crash against craggy cliffs, and cascading waterfalls tumble into the immense lake’s broad surface. Along the route, you’ll pass an incredible collection of eight state parks and little seaside communities known for their fresh fish and picturesque lake views. The crisp embrace of fall adds to the charm and makes an alluring call to
Unveiling the Wonders of the North Shore Scenic Byway
At Duluth, which is home to North America’s largest freshwater estuary, your journey begins. This 12,000-acre wetland wonder is in the process of being restored and attracts both kayakers and canoers. For those drawn to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a feature of the North Shore, take a detour at Two Harbors, Minnesota, and then go north.
The charming Kelsey Beach with its pebbly shoreline can be found after passing via Two Harbors on the beautiful byway. In this picture-perfect setting, you may have a delicious slice of pie from Betty’s, a well-known neighborhood restaurant. The route continues through Gooseberry State Park and Split Rock Lighthouse State Park, where you may visit the famous Split Rock Lighthouse, which is a well-known and frequently photographed landmark.
You can reach Tettegouche State Park, home to some of Minnesota’s most magnificent waterfalls, after a short drive from the lighthouse. The park welcomes you to get some exercise on the trails that follow the cliffs or to take the Cascade Trail to the mesmerizing Cascades Waterfall. The journey continues as it passes through Temperance River State Park and Caribou Falls State Wayside before arriving at Lutsen. This small town, famous for its ski resort, is transformed into a paradise for mountain lovers in the summer and the fall. Get an aerial view of the lake from the Summit Express gondola, go mountain biking, or try the adrenaline-pumping alpine slide.
The journey’s high point is a stop in Grand Marais, a lovely coastal town brimming with culinary attractions.
Choosing the Ideal Resting Places
Although while you can travel the entire route in a few hours, spreading out your adventure over many days will allow you to fully appreciate the North Shore’s splendor. Choose between coastal elegance at Fitger’s Hotel in Duluth or the comfort of Solglimt, a five-room bed & breakfast with access to Lake Superior beach.
At Grand Marais, relax at The Mayhew Inn midway through your journey. A must-experience local gem, this lovely inn’s large rooftop terraces offer stunning views of the bay and the Gunflint Trail.
You can stop at a lot of campgrounds along the way.
Savoring Culinary Delights Along the Way
Visit Lake Superior Brewery while you’re in Duluth. The smashburger at this establishment, which was recently rebuilt in 2022, is a local favorite. It now provides an enlarged menu and a new location.
The New Scenic Café, a quaint restaurant with Scandinavian influences that offers lakeside views and a private garden setting, can be found farther down the walk. Enjoy Betty’s Pies’ renowned choices if you’re north of Two Harbors, close to Kelsey’s Beach. This famous pie refuge has been enticing tourists with its delicious concoctions since 1956. In addition to pie, they also provide breakfast and lunch.
Discover two outstanding culinary spots in Grand Marais. Although the Angry Trout Cafe encourages guests to enjoy indoor-outdoor lakefront eating, the Fisherman’s Daughter serves delicious “dock-to-table fish + chips” and a variety of fish-based delicacies.
Choosing the Perfect Moment for Exploration
Fall is the best season to travel the North Shore Scenic Byway since the weather cools and nature is at its most colorful. Usually, the magnificent maple trees of the Sawtooth Mountains go through their transition first, reaching their pinnacle beauty between mid-September and early October. The golden aspens and graceful birch trees stake their claim to a moment in the spotlight between late September and mid-October along the shoreline of Lake Superior, where your adventure primarily takes place.
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