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Minneapolis to Niagara Falls-Road Trip!

A friend and I have two weeks to drive from Minneapolis to Niagara Falls and back to Minneapolis. So far the only motel we’ve booked is 3nights in Niagara on the Lake. We are totally open to suggestions for “must-see/must do” along our drive through Canada along Lake Superior and back - most likely on the US side. Thanks in advance!!

Posted by
4371 posts

If you like history, check out Historic, Fort Williams. It is a living history museum and quite nicely done. All the provincial parks around Lake Superior are lovely. We camped so I don't have any hotel recommendations. I recommend the "maid of the mist" boat tour. We saw Niagara Falls from the U.S. because our kids didn't have passports. (We went around Lake Superior before the passport requirement)

Posted by
6511 posts

Are you planning to drive up and around Lake Superior or along the south shore through WI and MI or both? If going up and around the lake I would obviously recommend a night in either Duluth or somewhere along the North Shore - Two Harbors, Silver Bay, Grand Marais - depending on how far you are driving the first day. Then a stop at Kakabeka Falls near Thunder Bay Ontario. If you are going that way, check out this website about the Lake Superior Circle Tour. We did this trip several years ago and loved it. Not sure when you are going but it's especially nice in Sept/Oct for the Fall colors.

Coming or going along the South shore of Lake Superior the Upper Peninsula of MI is gorgeous as is the WI part of the shoreline. Good stops with scenic areas and things to do are Mackinac Island, Marquette, and the Keweenaw Peninsula from Houghton to Copper Harbor all in MI, then Bayfield and the Apostle Islands in WI. Also if you have time for the detour to Green Bay WI and up the Door County Peninsula before heading back to Mpls.

I've done all the drives more than once having lived in Mpls most of my life. If you know your route and what towns you may like to stay in and what types of things you like to see and do, we might be able to give you more specific suggestions and recommendations. For instance, one of my favorite places to stay on the North Shore is Naniboujou Lodge near Grand Marais - I love it but it's not everyone's cup of tea.

Posted by
16 posts

I did this road trip 10 years ago, and have very fond memories! If you have not yet done the drive along MN north shore of lake superior, it's absolutely gorgeous. You have to stop in Duluth and have lunch or dinner at Grandma's restaurant, stop at as many state parks as possible between Duluth and Grand Marais and do the short hikes to the waterfalls. My favorite place to stay on the north shore is at Cascade Lodge, but the Nanaboujou Lodge is also fascinating. You should definitely stop in Grand Marais and visit Artist's Point.
We stopped in Toronto and enjoyed looking around the city and going up the CN tower. On the drive back along the southern shores of the Great Lakes, there are plenty of interesting places to visit, depending on your interests. If you like roller coasters you might enjoy a day at Cedar Point in Sandusky, OH.

Posted by
16941 posts

What time of year? I just did this (one way). Green Bay to Manitowoc, then the SS Badger ferry to Ludington, MI. Then across Michigan to Flint, then Port Huron and over the Blue Water Bridge to Sarnia, Ont. then to Hamilton and Niagara Falls.
The Badger does one crossing daily until October 14. Its the last coal fired steam passenger ship in service. Crossing takes 4 hours, plus a 1 hour time change crossing the lake.
http://www.ssbadger.com/trip-planner/

Posted by
5 posts

Thank you all for the suggestions! Our time of travel is 9/15-9/30. We did book our first night in Duluth and looking forward to eating at Grandma’s!

Posted by
3709 posts

along our drive through Canada along Lake Superior and back - most likely on the US side

This is ambiguous, do you mean driving out on the Ontario side of Lake Superior and then back on the US side of Lake Erie? Or driving each way along the South Shore of Lake Superior? Note that none of Lake Superior is directly on the way to Niagara Falls.

Assuming you mean to take the much longer drive along the North Shore of Lake Superior, these items:

Split Rock Lighthouse https://backcountrygallery.com/wp-content/uploads/ngg_featured/Split-Rock-Moonrise.jpg

Pallisade Head https://www.northshoreimages.com/Galleries/LakeSuperior/Lake-Superior-Shore/i-SzdrTTM

Grand Portage NM https://www.nps.gov/grpo/index.htm

In addition to Kakabeka Falls, Ouimet Canyon https://www.northernontario.travel/northwest-ontario/ouimet-canyon-one-of-ontarios-natural-wonders

Cedar Point in Sandusky is recommended for the roller coaster enthusiast, they have 17 or 18.

the WI part of the shoreline

This is the least pretty part, except for the Apostle Islands stretch and south of Bayfield.

Naniboujou Lodge near Grand Marais -- I love it but it's not everyone's cup of tea.

An inside joke.

Posted by
6511 posts

Okay Tom, I'm ignorant, what's the inside joke about Naniboujou Lodge? If you don't want to say here, you can PM me, I'm curious.

Posted by
3709 posts

It's just that it's known for serving high tea, that's the only reason I know people stop there.

Posted by
6511 posts

Thanks Tom, I didn't know that. I only know that it was a wonderful peaceful place to stay on the shore of Lake Superior and that the breakfast in that fabulous dining room was to die for.

Posted by
334 posts

Make sure to take the old highway 61 from Duluth to Two Harbors instead of the expressway (also 61l). Northeast of Two Harbors you will come to the Silver Creek Tunnel. You can park and walk the paved path that is where the old highway ran pre tunnel days. The view of the lake is stunning from that trail.

Posted by
6511 posts

A couple of more suggestions if you take old Hwy 61. If you like smoked fish you have to stop at Kendall's Smokehouse - best smoked fish I ever had, we had to stop there every time we drove the North Shore. Another good treat is Betty's Pies on Hwy 61 between Duluth and Two Harbors - yummy.

Posted by
334 posts

I'm not a pie lover, but people rave about Betty's! It is northeast of Two Harbors, though. It moved many years ago (maybe when they made the expressway?).

Posted by
6511 posts

Mnannie, thanks for the correction about Betty's Pies, I had the location wrong.

Posted by
5 posts

So many great suggestions - I’ll definitely be checking the forum as we make our way north into Canada and along Lake Superior! We do have the first night (Saturday) booked in Duluth and tentative reservations for the following Sunday, Monday, Tuesday nights in Niagara-on-the-Lake. From there we have a few days to return to Minneapolis for a flight back to Denver on Sunday (9/30) evening.

Posted by
5 posts

So many great suggestions - I’ll definitely be checking the forum as we make our way north into Canada and along Lake Superior! We do have the first night (Saturday) booked in Duluth and tentative reservations for the following Sunday, Monday, Tuesday nights in Niagara-on-the-Lake. From there we have a few days to return to Minneapolis for a flight back to Denver on Sunday (9/30) evening.