Just two hours north of the Twin Cities is Duluth, a city rich in history, scenery and attractions right on Lake Superior. I know it well, as I grew up and attended college there. It’s still “home” in many ways for me, but over the years it’s also really grown as a tourist destination with new hotels, places to visit, an expanded lake walk and so much more.
My family was invited by MustSeeDuluth.com to visit and experience their 3-attraction pass, which includes admission to the Vista Fleet, North Short Scenic Railroad, and Great Lakes Aquarium. The pass is $36 for adults and $18 for children, and is like getting admission to 3 attractions for the price of 2. These are all big, popular attractions, so it’s a great way to enjoy some of the best highlights in Duluth, and it’s DEFINITELY worth it for the savings alone.
As part of our stay in Duluth, kids and I were given a room at the Inn on Lake Superior, which was amazing. We had a King Bed Suite with Sofa Sleeper, and a beautiful view of Lake Superior. We enjoyed s’mores outside, swam in their indoor pool (they also have one on their rooftop!), and had a big hot breakfast, all of which was included in our stay. We didn’t want to leave!
Read about our hotel stay in my Inn on Lake Superior review here.
Then we enjoyed our 3-attraction passes!
The Vista Fleet
First we went on a Vista Fleet cruise of the Duluth harbor.
The Vista Fleet is the Northland’s longest and only running harbor cruise company, and there are various cruises available, including sightseeing cruises, dinner cruises, and group tours.
The MUST SEE DULUTH pass includes a narrated 1 hour and 45 minutes sightseeing cruise: the “Grand Sightseeing Tour.” If you don’t have the MUST SEE DULUTH pass, the cruise is regularly $25 per person, and the tours are offered at different times each day in the summer. We went on a morning cruise in June. It was on the Vista Star (there’s also the Vista Queen and the Vista King).
There were several levels – the lower 2 levels are indoor, and the 3rd level is outdoor. You can also go outside on the 1st level.
The 1st level has concessions with drinks (including alcoholic), snacks, ice cream and souvenirs.
During the cruise, we went from level to level, as we listened to the narrator talk about the area. It was a perfect day, and it was so fun going under the Aerial Lift Bridge. There were plenty of photo opportunities (when our hair wasn’t blowing around in the breeze!)!
The narrator (or “captain”) did a great job keeping everyone entertained while giving us a lot of interesting information about the area.
Overall it was a fun cruise and we all enjoyed seeing the area from the water!
The North Shore Scenic Railroad
My son LOVES trains, so we were excited to go for a ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad next! Our passes included a 1 hour and 30 minute Lester River narrated excursion. Called the “Duluth Zephyr” trip, it’s offered at 12:30pm and 3:00pm each day in the summer, and is popular with families.
There are different train cars you can sit on with seats facing both way. The trip goes up to the Lester River Bridge and back (which is not far from where I grew up!). It’s narrated with interesting information along the way, as notable landmarks and sights are pointed out.
You can get up and move from car to car during the ride, so we went to the Concessions car for snacks. Actually, we went more than a few times to get another snack and another drink… There are also open-air spots to stand and look out along the way. (And yes, there are restrooms on the train.)
Prices of the concessions.
When we got to the Lester River Bridge, the train stopped to reset for the trip back. It also stopped for about 15 minutes to change the tracks, which was an ideal time to get up and walk around.
Overall, the North Shore Scenic Railroad was a hit with my kids! (My daughter’s doll liked it too…)
Great Lakes Aquarium
The Great Lakes Aquarium is the newest attraction of the three that are a part of the MUST SEE DULUTH pass. It opened in 2000 and is located right on the Duluth waterfront.
There are two levels with live animal displays and interactive exhibits.
On the lower level, by the entrance, there is a sitting/eating area where you can bring in your own food (which we did for lunch), and a gift shop.
Both levels have so much to explore! There wasn’t just fish and undersea life, but there were birds, reptiles, turtles and snakes. But of course, there were all kinds of fish including sharks, rays, seahorses, jellyfish and so much more.
Plus you could touch some animals. We pet some horseshoe crabs and bamboo sharks!
We watched a sturgeon feeding and you could gently touch the fish from above. We saw scuba divers in the tanks, live demonstrations, a shipwreck area, and a play area for kids.
We had a BLAST at these three attractions, and now have many memories from our trip to Duluth.
Visit MustSeeDuluth.com for information about their 3-attraction pass!
Plus, read my review of our visit to Glensheen Mansion in Duluth!
(Disclosure: We were given free passes and accommodations to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine.)