Free Things to do on the North Shore

two men sitting atop a mountain

If you’re looking for an afternoon or a whole week filled with fun on a budget, you’ll want to be sure to check out our list of Free Things to Do on the North Shore below:

  1. Look for Agates. Search the shores of Lake Superior, or gravel roads, for agates. Agates are banded ornamental stones typically associated with volcanic rock. Lake Superior agates are marked by their unique red bands created by oxidation of the iron in the rock
  2. Hike the Superior Hiking Trail. The SHT is top-rated in the country and the known as one of the top 10 trails in the world. There are 224 miles of the trail that crisscross Minnesota meaning you’re never far from a section.
  3. Visit a new waterfall. Waterfalls dot much of the North Shore so finding one is not a problem. The best time to watch the falls is in May or April when the water levels are the highest. The rushing falls are truly a beautiful sight to see. Find a checklist of North Shore waterfalls here.
  4. Attend a naturalist program. Many centers and organizations like Sugar Loaf Cove Nature Center offer free programs and activities to all that come. Topics are variable in location as well as subject matter but usually spark the interest of all ages. There have been past programs for nature journaling, local geology, spiders, and bird banding. Find an event calendar to the Sugar Loaf Cove Nature Center here.
  5. Swim at a nearby lake or river pool. Many think that Lake Superior is too cold to swim in but there are plenty of inland lakes and river pools around. Popular lakes include Mink Lake and Caribou. The most popular rivers are Cascade and Temperance River.
  6. Watch the sunset or rise: Get up and watch the sunrise on the beautiful North Shore! You won’t be sorry.
  7. Listen to live music: Most restaurants have live music weekly and some even daily. Some hot spots include Castle Danger Brewery (Two Harbors), Bluefin Grille (Tofte), Papa Charlie’s Saloon & Grill (Lutsen), Cascade Restaurant & Pub (Lutsen), Voyager Brewing (Grand Marais), Wunderbar (Grand Marias), The Gunflint Tavern (Grand Marais).
  8. Gaze at the stars: Because the North Shore has so little light pollution it makes it the perfect place to gaze into the night and look for some constellations. Take a blanket and some snacks then go enjoy the night.
  9.  Birdwatching/wildlife viewing: Because of Lake Superior’s great size the North Shore has become a funnel for many types of birds. You can find all varieties of birds in marshes, forest, and the rocky shore.
  10. Visit a library: Find a local library to read a book or enjoy a program (music, weekly storytime, etc). This can be a perfect activity for the whole family on a quite or rainy day.
  11. Go for a walk. Put on some comfy shoes and walk along the Gitchi-Gami State Trail. This trail runs for many miles along the North Shore and provides the perfect evening walk or spin with the family location with plenty of scenic overlooks to look forward to.
  12. Visit a local farm or craft market. In the summer the North Shore is alive with all sorts of craft markets and locally made goods being sold including Grand Marias (Municipal Parking Lot, 10 N. Broadway Ave), Two Harbors (Thomas Owens Park) and Duluth (1324 East Third Street).