Though it only takes about three hours, the breathtaking drive along Lake Superior is an unforgettable experience that’s well worth an afternoon. You’ll see cliffs and beaches, waterfalls and mountains, and enjoy awesome opportunities for shopping, dining, and culture as well.

Beginning in Duluth and spanning 142 miles, the North Shore Scenic Drive includes seven state parks and lots of quaint towns along the way.

Before you get too far along, make a stop at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center, which offers a glimpse into the history of the area through interesting artifacts and exhibits. The best part is that admission is always free!Lake Superior, Minnesota

Outdoorsy types head to the Superior Hiking Trail, which boasts nearly 300 miles of trails that appeal to all skill levels. The trails are designed to be conducive to both day hikes and longer backpacking excursions, and from May through October, a shuttle makes stops at the various trailheads to make transportation easier.

Check out the only lighthouse in the region — and the only operating one in the state — in Two Harbors. The striking red brick structure is the perfect spot for photo ops along your drive.

Gooseberry Falls

Gooseberry Falls State Park is popular stop at all times of the year, as it offers hiking and snowshoe trails, a cozy fireplace in the visitors center, and a gift shop with souvenirs. There are plenty of places to camp and picnic, too.

In he mood to marvel at some falls? Grand Portage State Park, right before the Canadian border, is home to the High Falls, an astounding 120 feet tall. While they’re the main attraction, there is also a beautiful conifer forest to explore, too.

Grand Portage State Park Waterfall

When you’ve tired of the great outdoors, there’s lots of fun to be found in Grand Marais, a bustling village with restaurants, boutiques, lodging, and nightlife. Grab a bite at the Crooked Spoon Cafe, which is loved by locals, or start your day with the cinnamon sugar or jelly variety at World’s Best Donuts, a spot that lives up to its name. Admire the masterpieces and handiwork at the Grand Marais Art Colony. This building, established in 1947, showcases the creations of local painters, jewelry makers, and crafters of all kinds.

To help with your planning, you can find a full mile-by-mile guide of the drive on the North Shore Visitor website.

North Shore Waterfall in Minnesota