North Shore

Exploring Lester Park

This past weekend, Little One and I explored Lester Park, which is one of my favorite parks in Duluth. It is often overlooked by tourists and has more of a local vibe. Due to this, it is not normally crowded and there is plenty of space for activities. I know there are many trails I have not yet explored in the park (future blog posts?). For my trip this time I stuck close to the rivers and checked out the beautiful waterfalls pictured below. Of course, we also played on the play ground!

Lester Park features two rivers – Lester River and Amity Creek. Both have amazing views and a host of waterfalls. When entering the park from the parking lot, you must walk over a beautiful stone bridge. The bridge is also a part of the historic past of Duluth.

Activities

There are so many activities to take part in. You can enjoy hiking, water falling, and biking. There are also picnic areas with grills, a delightful play ground, and ball area. The play ground features a couple slides, a ‘rope bridge’-like structure, and plenty of climbing opportunities. There is a rock wall feature that the kids can climb that has little wilderness animals carved into it. Very cute!

During the winter, there are many groomed trails for cross country skiing. Head to the Duluth parks website for updates on grooming and trail conditions. There is also a large open area that would be great for snow shoeing or making a snowman.

There is so much to do in this park, I highly suggest you check it out!

Getting There

Lester Park can be found at 61st Avenue East & Superior Street in Duluth. You can find out more information about Lester Park on the Duluth Parks website. You can reach Lester Park via the Lakewalk trail. If you’re taking the trail, once you cross the river take a left and head up the road a bit to the park entrance. If you take a right off the bridge it will take you down to Brighton Beach, which is also a fabulous park.

This is a little shorter post then I normally write, but I just had to share this little gem on the North Shore. Have you ever been to Lester Park? What did you think?

For more North Shore adventures, check out my post on Gooseberry Falls and Lutsen Mountain.

Exploring Lester Park River stream
Waterfall
Moss
forest path
Exploring Lester Park, water fall and bridge.

Lutsen Fall Adventure

Lutsen Fall Adventure

I know it is still August, but fall is fast approaching the North Shore of Lake Superior (yay!). This area is gorgeous all year long, but fall is really when it shines. The trees are in the process of changing colors and are lit up in brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds. Things tend to slow down a bit, and there are less people visiting, which makes it the perfect time for a Lutsen fall adventure.

These are my top spots to take in along the amazing North Shore. This is the kind of list that would be different for everybody, so use this as a guide for more exploration!

Where to go

The small town of Lutsen is home to all season resorts and fun activities. In the summer it hosts hiking, canoeing, golfing, and alpine sliding, just to name a few. In the winter there are many different types of high quality cross country ski trails to traverse, as well as many ski and snowboarding runs spread out over several (small) mountains. There are also numerous resorts and restaurants open year round, as well.

Lutsen Mountains can be found 90 miles up the shore from Duluth, then a left off Hwy 61 up Ski Hill Road. On the way from Duluth you will pass through Two Harbors, Beaver Bay, Silver Bay and Tofte, among other small communities. Being a less than two-hour drive, this is an easy day trip from Duluth.

The Gondolas

Something you must do when visiting Lutsen Mountains is to take a trip in the gondolas up Moose Mountain. As someone who hates heights, I did find the thought of going up in the gondola a bit daunting. However, I found that during the ride up it was best for me to have my back to the cliff. Riding down was the opposite – it was best to be facing the cliff. What helped my anxiety the most was that the views were stunning. It really took my mind off the height. The gondolas are a really good size and can fit multiple people. Our group included myself, my husband and Little One in our hiking stroller.

Lutsen Fall Adventure
The Top of the Mountain

Upon departing off the gondolas at the top of Moose Mountain, the Summit Chalet has a restaurant and restrooms. The chalet has a delicious grill-style food service and has an amazing deck that looks out onto Lake Superior! 

There are also trails and awesome lookouts on top of the mountain to enjoy. Please note that we found that the stroller was very difficult to navigate in certain areas and we really would have been better off with a carrier back pack.

The Cost

The round trip gondola ride costs $24 per adult, children aged 6-15 is $16 (little ones 5 and under are free), and seniors 65+ are $20. I recommend checking the website, though, because of all the different passes and combos to choose from. I know that it can be a bit pricey for some adventures, but it really is worth it. There are ways to get to the top of the mountain (around 1000 feet above Lake Superior) via the Superior Hiking trail, so if hiking up mountains is your thing, give that a try instead!

You can find more information on their website https://www.lutsen.com/summer/summit-express-gondola/

There so many amazing places to witness the amazing fall views on the shores of Lake Superior. Generally speaking, the Lutsen Mountain experience is one of my favorite attractions along the North Shore. Have you been to Lutsen? Share your experience in the comments below!

Check out my post about Gooseberry Falls here!

5 Tips for Visiting Gooseberry Falls with Kids

5 Tips for Visiting Gooseberry Falls with Kids

The summer season is fast approaching so I thought I would share with you one of my favorite places on the North Shore – Gooseberry Falls. Gooseberry Falls is a Minnesota state park that is located 40 miles north of Duluth on Hwy 61. It has three main waterfalls and one more that requires a hike into the park, but most visitors just visit the big three. The park also hosts many other trails for hiking and biking, as well as beaches on Lake Superior. Here are my 5 tips for visiting Gooseberry Falls with kids.

My husband and I used to drive up to Gooseberry on a whim and spend time at the park, but it takes more planning now that we have a little one (like everything when kids are involved!). So below are my top 5 tips for visiting Gooseberry Falls with kids.

Tip #1 Getting Started

Gooseberry Falls is an awesome place and you will probably spend more time there than you would have anticipated. With that in mind, pack water and snacks just to be safe. There are not spots out on the trails to refill water bottles or purchase snacks so bring your own. Just be sure to take every thing that you bring in out of the park again…remember, no littering! Also, there are lots of stairs in the park and on a hot summer day you can become dehydrated very easily. The visitor center is by the parking lots if you would like to fill water bottles before you get started. Another thing to consider is the weather. If you aren’t familiar with Lake Superior, it can be noticeably cooler than even a couple miles inland. Prepare for you and your little ones by packing an extra layer or two.

Tip #2 Plan for the Littles

Gooseberry is great for people of all ages and as far as water-falling on the North Shore, it is very accessible. The parking lots are easy to navigate and the visitor center is large and accommodating. The trail to the upper falls is nicely paved and easy to access via stroller or wheel chair. However, that is only to the upper falls – there are four in total. If you would like to visit the other waterfalls, a stroller is not going to work. I suggest a carrier for the little ones if you would like to do more exploring on the trails or falls. There is a lot to see at Gooseberry and a good carrier could make your trip that much more enjoyable!

Tip #3 Before you Hike…

As I said before, there is a visitor center near the parking lot. This is one of the only areas in the park where there are restrooms (there are also some down by the beach and campground but none along the falls). So be sure that everyone in your party uses the facilities before you start. I guarantee that if you only kinda have to go and you get to the falls and hear the thousands of gallons of water rushing over the cliffs, your kinda-have-to-go will change into a need-to-go!

Tip #4 Events

As mentioned, there is a fantastic visitor center at Gooseberry. For example, they have a section that is a dedicated education center. There is much to learn about the geography of the area and the plants and animals that call the park home. Gooseberry also offers many special events for learning at the park (you can check out their full calendar of events here). There is something for all levels of interest, including guided hikes, birding, interesting special programs, and geocaching.

Tip #5 Safety

I hate to bring down the mood with safety but it should be a serious consideration when out in the forests. Most accidents should be able to be avoided if the safety rules are followed. Gooseberry has signs posted that indicate warnings and risks – read them, follow them, and ensure everyone in your party follows them. There can be some real dangers in the park, so they are there for a reason. One of the biggest rules that I see people disregarding all the time is playing in the water. Because the river has some very strong currents, little kids could very easily be swept away. Stay out of the water in non-designated swim areas. These areas are also liable to change, so if you visit one year to the next the park may update these due to the ever changing nature of the river.

Also pay attention to warning signs at the beach. Lake Superior is obviously a very large body of water that is unpredictable. Things to be especially aware of are postings regarding rip tides and E. coli in the water. You can find more information on rip tides here and here. Though they are not an everyday occurrence, it is best to be informed!

I have one last safety note to pass on: be cautious on cliff edges because it’s easy for anyone to fall. But another is that the rock edge may not be stable and rock slides can (and do) occur, potentially endangering others. It is best to stay back from the edge and enjoy the view.

I sounded very much like a concerned mom in that last tip. But then again I am a mom so I guess if the hat fits, right?

5 Tips for Visiting Gooseberry Falls with Kids

Bonus Tips

My first tip is that it can get really busy during the day. Shoot for visiting early in the day and/or early in the evening.

Second tip – Gooseberry is family friendly, and that includes our four legged friends! Be sure that your pet can handle being around many people and keep them leashed at all times. Also clean up after your pet…it should be a given but some people don’t do it.

I hope with these tips you can have a fun family vacation at Gooseberry Falls. It is one of my favorite places on the North Shore and definitely worth checking out!

Let me know if you have any comments or questions. I would love to hear about your adventures at Gooseberry, so leave a comment below!

See more post here.