Yes, summer’s conclusion means it’s back-to-school for many families, but don’t fret because we’re rapidly approaching the prettiest season of the year: autumn. Unlike most Midwest regions, northeastern MN is a year-round haven for families, couples, and groups as each season has its own distinctive appeal. Every autumn, thousands of eager travelers flock up the North Shore to observe and capture the most vibrant MN fall colors. This breathtaking stretch of Lake Superior coastline is best known for Split Rock Lighthouse, Gooseberry Falls, and Duluth’s Canal Park, but there is so much hidden beauty aching to be discovered by savvy travelers who have a thirst for exploration and adventure!
Vivid MN Fall Colors near Superior Shores Resort
Superior Shores Resort remains an idyllic North Shore lodging destination thanks to our convenient location in-between Duluth and two of the top-rated state parks in the country. But don’t forget our first-rate amenities, splendid on-site dining, and rustic yet modern lake-view accommodations! Luckily for you, we’re just a short day-trip from an array of quintessential MN fall colors, which is why we pieced together a sample two-day itinerary for avid “leaf peepers.” To ensure that your visit to Two Harbors, MN, is nothing short of flawless, remember to consult the DNR’s fall foliage tracker.
8 a.m. – Cedar Coffee Company
Start your much-anticipated northern MN fall foliage expedition with a steaming cup of joe at Cedar Coffee Company right here in Two Harbors. Order a mocha latte and a breakfast sandwich or fresh-baked scone to-go as you’ll want to forgo the mildly-congested Highway 61 late-morning surge of traffic.
9:45 a.m. – Cascade River State Park
The 75-mile drive from Two Harbors up to Lutsen is among the prettiest in the country! You’ll observe colorful, subtly-ascending mountains on the left and the vast, sapphire-blue Lake Superior on the right. Park your car along Highway 61, and stroll along Cascade River State Park’s short stretch of the Superior Hiking Trail. Cascade River features five small yet unquestionably beautiful waterfalls in just a half-mile. Some of the most vibrant peak fall colors in MN can be discovered at this hidden, roadside gem.
10:45 a.m. – Caribou Lake
Despite providing leaf peepers with a sprawling, utterly-gorgeous view of the Superior National Forest, the brief, steep hike to the Caribou Lake overlook (as seen in the picture on the right) is rarely traversed. This awe-inspiring overlook can be accessed from the aforementioned Superior Hiking Trail—simply park along Caribou Trail (County Road 4) near White Sky Road where you’ll discover a small gravel parking lot. The deep wilderness trail is accessible across the county road.
11:35 a.m. – Oberg Mountain
The highlight of day one will likely be Oberg Mountain! What once was a secluded hidden gem only known by locals has blossomed into one of the top-rated attractions along the North Shore. Oberg Mountain’s many overlooks feature the most colorful fall foliage in the Midwest as you’ll witness a jaw-dropping meld of amber, crimson, marigold, and emerald. The photo atop this article captures the quintessential MN fall colors along this moderately-challenging 2.6-mile loop.
Noon – Picnic
After trekking up to Oberg Mountain’s peak, set up for a mountaintop picnic! There are several overlooks with ample space for a picnic. Throw down a light blanket, take out your afternoon goodies, and devour a well-deserved lunch with breathtaking North Shore fall colors as your backdrop.
2:15 p.m. – Split Rock Lighthouse
Yes, even the cramped overlook underneath Split Rock Lighthouse provides glorious, sprawling views of the North Shore’s colorful coastline. But the main event at this popular state park is Pebble Beach and Ellingson Island (as seen in the photo to the right). Skip rocks into the shallow water, “snap” pictures of the lighthouse, and hike along the back edge of serene Ellingson Island.
3:45 p.m. – Gooseberry Falls State Park
Gooseberry Falls is widely considered the best state park in the state because of its dramatic, gushing waterfalls. But this unmissable attraction also features the prettiest MN fall colors near Superior Shores Resort. We recommend basking near the main falls before strolling along the Gooseberry River down to Agate Beach where you’ll be greeted by tranquil Lake Superior!
6 p.m. – Kamloops Restaurant & Lounge
By now, you’re likely famished. Luckily, Kamloops Restaurant & Lounge is only a few short strides (or drive) from your suite. Kamloops’ completely revamped menu features classic, crowd-pleasing Minnesota eats, such as walleye fingers, tater tot hotdish, and meatloaf. Pair your meal with a refreshing local ale from Castle Danger, Bent Paddle, or Earth Rider—we also have a wide selection of top-shelf whiskey!
8 p.m. – Beach Bonfire
Gather around a crackling beach bonfire (weather permitting) to roast marshmallows, stargaze, and share stories of the day’s most visually-appealing MN fall colors. Remember to bundle up as temperatures drop once the sun fades behind the forestry.
9 a.m. – Kamloops Restaurant & Lounge
Start day two with a hearty breakfast back at Kamloops Restaurant & Lounge. The lounge is typically lit by early-morning sunshine which creates a calming effect during breakfast time. We recommend trying the fully-loaded breakfast skillet, buttermilk pancakes, or build-your-own omelet!
10:50 a.m. – Hartley Nature Center
Hartley Nature Center, a large preserve north of the University of Minnesota Duluth, is ideal for couples looking for a late-morning stroll underneath colorful forestry (as seen in the photo on the right). There are several trails and loops in this expansive park—we recommend wandering near Hartley Pond for an hour before heading to your next stop.
Noon – Chester Park
Chester Park remains one of the most popular dog-walking and jogging destinations in the city, but it’s also a splendid mid-day stop for those aiming to observe cascading waterfalls and, yes, some of the most brilliant MN fall colors. Walk along Chester Creek all the way to Burrito Union and back, which equates to a mostly-flat, 2.5-mile walk.
1:20 p.m. – Canal Park Brewing Company
Take a short break from the crisp outdoors with a light lunch and a pint craft beer at Canal Park Brewing Company. This sleek, lakefront brewpub is a hip, family-friendly establishment with a full lineup of award-winning ales and scrumptious handhelds. The crab cakes, fish tacos, coconut shrimp, and classic “Juicy Lucy” burger pair well with a tall glass of Lake Haze!
2:45 p.m. – North Shore Scenic Railroad
Hop aboard The Duluth Zephyr for a 75-minute ride along the North Shore Scenic Railroad where you’ll observe quintessential Duluth fall colors from the comfort of a vintage, well-maintained train. The Duluth Zephyr chugs through downtown and Congdon Park’s lush wilderness before striding along vast Lake Superior.
4:45 p.m. – Enger Tower / Skyline Parkway
The best vantage point of the city can be obtained at Enger Tower, a five-story fortress that was built in 1939. From atop Enger Tower, visitors can gaze toward Lake Superior, Canal Park, Spirit Mountain, and up the shore. We also recommend taking a short stroll along the grounds to observe the Japanese gardens, which include a peace bell from Duluth’s sister city (Ohara, Japan). After visiting the tower, park your car on Skyline Parkway. This cliffside road is a quiet, serene place for a late afternoon walk. Joggers, dog-walkers, musicians, and painters frequent this winding road to escape the city noise.
6:30 p.m. – New Scenic Café
Treat yourself to an elegant dinner at one of the finest restaurants on the North Shore: Old Highway 61’s New Scenic Café. The plate presentation, locally-sourced ingredients, and mouthwatering flavors at New Scenic Café are all spectacular. Pair your miso sea bass, seared sea scallops, or seared duck breast with a bottle of award-winning vino.
8:20 p.m. – Private Jacuzzi
Cap off a perfect day along the North Shore with a well-deserved soak in your private Jacuzzi tub. We also have an indoor hot tub, sauna, and pool in our Main Lodge and Burlington Bay. As one of the top-rated romantic getaways in MN, we’re expecting a full house this fall. So, remember to book today by giving us a call at 800-242-1988. And don’t forget to consult the up-to-date MN fall color map before your arrival.