Minnesota is a seriously gorgeous state, bursting with huge pine forests, rolling hills, and rocky cliffs. On our second day in Duluth, we decided to do the North Shore Scenic Drive, a beautiful drive along Highway 61 on the edge of Lake Superior. The drive stretches from Duluth all the way to the Canadian border and is full of old lighthouses, cute coastal towns, waterfalls, and secluded beaches.
There are many great things about the North Shore route, among them the fact that there is something to pull over and look at at least every ten miles. Travelers can stop and look at their leisure…or just keep driving; there is no right way to go about it.
We chose Stony Point Beach – just a few minutes outside of Duluth – as our first stop. It’s calm, mostly secluded, and a great place to hunt for agates -a popular pastime in the area.
Once we’d gotten our fill at the beach, we drove another ten miles to the cozy town of Two Harbors to check out the lighthouses and walk along the pier. There were also dozens of adorable shops and restaurants along the way, though we made time for only one: Betty’s Pies.
I wasn’t particularly hungry that early in the morning, but I’ve always been a huge fan of pie, so I wasn’t about to pass up this stop on the itinerary. Betty’s offers a huge range of delicious flavors, though my personal favorite was the plain blueberry; the blackberry peach with the crumble topping was a close second.
Next up was Gooseberry Falls State Park, a good place to do a little hiking and burn off the pie we had just eaten. The park boasts several beautiful waterfalls and miles and miles of trails.
After some hiking and splashing around, we moved on to the next stop, which was my personal favorite: Split Rock Lighthouse.
We loved this spot so much that we ended up staying a couple of hours, walking along the pebble beach and enjoying the views of the pine-covered Ellison Island in the distance. After a nice picnic, we walked up the cliff to get a look at the beautiful little lighthouse for which the area is best known.
Our final stop was the Black Beach at Silver Bay, though it was by no means the end of the route along Lake Superior. I so wished my family had had their passports on them so we could have crossed into Canada. Perhaps next time!
The beach was not so much black as it was a dark reddish color, but it was still a decent beach. I particularly enjoyed climbing the rocks and admiring the view down below.
It was a wonderful way to spend the day, and while at the time I had wanted to go a little farther along the highway, I was later grateful to have returned when we did because we got back to our hotel just in time to avoid the crazy thunderstorms and flash floods.
I don’t often miss having a car, but after this little road trip, I’m thinking I’m going to have to rent them more often on our trips so we can do more scenic drives – Minnesota was so lovely!