Split Rock Lighthouse ~ Two Harbors, Minnesota

One of the highlights of our trip on Minnesota’s North Shore was visiting Split Rock Lighthouse. Andrew is a huge fan of lighthouses (despite his fear of heights). Split Rock Lighthouse is located within Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. If you are visiting the lighthouse and paying for a tour, there’s no need to get a state park pass for the day as it is included in the price of your tour.

When you arrive at the lighthouse area, they have a large parking area and a large visitor center that houses restrooms, a gift shop, and small museum. We quickly bought our tour tickets and had about 15 minutes before the tour went out, so we took time to browse the museum exhibits. One of my favorite exhibits had four different light samples you could watch and you had to figure out which light belonged to which lighthouse.


Our tour begin on an outcropping of rock that was the location materials were brought in for the lighthouse and the keeper’s houses. They also gave the history of the lighthouse and why there was a need for one in that particular area.


From there the tour moved to a set of benches that sit just to the side of the actual lighthouse. From there you can see all the buildings that still sit on the grounds. Our guide gave us the history of all those buildings and told us what each of their purposes was. After that we were free to browse all the buildings on our own.

Because of it’s remote location, there were several keepers houses located on Split Rocks property. They all were constructed the same and furnished in the same way so no one could be jealous of the others. They also came with indoor plumbing, another draw to the area despite its remote location. We decided to tour the keeper house they have open first.

Next we went into the Fog Signal building. This building now houses various display boards talking about the history of the area.

The final stop was the lighthouse itself. You can climb the stairs to the top. It’s actually a rather small lighthouse since it makes up for it’s lack of height due to it’s location on a high cliff.

If you continue back in front of the keeper’s houses, you can take a walk way down to the beach to view the lighthouse from the bottom of the cliff. Be prepared! It’s a lot of stairs down and you have to take them all back up to get back to the visitor center after climbing down, but the view is worth it! this picture below was still taken just a little way down the stairs.


We had a great morning at Split Rock Lighthouse and it’s one of our favorite lighthouses we’ve ever had the chance to visit.

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Two Harbors Lighthouse ~ Two Harbors, Minnesota

As we made our way up the North Shore to our lodge, we made another stop along the highway–Two Harbors Lighthouse. My GPS on my phone was a bit spotty, so we turned off the main highway sooner than necessary, but still managed to find our way down to the lighthouse. They have signs along the main drag that will point you in the right direction. (Note: if you are traveling along the North Shore, this will be your last “bigger” town before Grand Marais. The North Shore is mainly filled with small towns that maybe have a gas station and some type of family restaurant.)

Two Harbors Lighthouse is made up of 4 parts. The first is the visitor center/gift shop. This is where you can purchase your tickets to tour the lighthouse and lighthouse grounds. The second is the Light Tower- the rest of the Lighthouse is now a bed and breakfast, so the only part of the building you can explore is the light tower itself. The third is the assistant keeper’s house, and the fourth is the Frontenac Pilot House.

After purchasing our tickets, the tour is self-guided. We began by visiting the Frontenac Pilot House. The pilot house is from an old tugboat and they have several displays inside detailing boats and shipwrecks that occurred in the area.


Since the Pilot House sits near the edge of the cliff side, you can get some nice views of Lake Superior from inside the pilot house.

After spending a little time in the pilot house, we made our way to the light tower. There were a few sets of stairs to climb, but it’s pretty minimal given this is a smaller light tower. When you reach the final set you can peek up at the light above. This is still maintained by the coast guard.

There were several porthole windows you could look out on your way up or down the stairs. Andrew had some fun with that!


Our final stop on the tour was the assistant keepers house. The inside is furnished to appear as it would have when a keeper lived there, plus they also had an exhibit on shipwrecks inside another room.

As we walked back towards the visitor center, I got a picture of the back to show the fog horns that would sound if it was too foggy for the light to be seen.


If you want to just view the lighthouse for free, you can actually take a path in front of the visitor center down along the cliffs by the lake. This allows you to look back up towards the lighthouse and also gives some great picture opportunities by the lake.

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5 Lighthouses in One Morning ~ Duluth, Minnesota Area

Our first morning on our Minnesota North Shore Trip was a busy one! The night before I had learned of the Wisconsin Point Lighthouse from a map in the Super 8 Superior. After looking at reviews on TripAdvisor, it seemed worth a visit, although many said that the Minnesota Point Lighthouse was much more picturesque. We figured we would take in both, as well as the 3 harbor lights found in Duluth’s Canal Park.

It was a very cold morning as we set out for Wisconsin Point. It is just to the east of the town of Superior. It’s basically a one lane paved road down to the lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is quite a ways off from shore. Not sure if you can walk out to it or not, but we opted to just look from the shoreline.


They also had a sign detailing the history of Wisconsin Point.


After this we chose to head out to Minnesota Point as suggested by so many on TripAdvisor. To access Minnesota Point, you have to drive over the Canal Park bridge in Duluth and head as far out on the point as you can. This will take you to Park Point Recreation Area. Park as close to the sea plane airport as possible to access the trail to the left of the airport.

There is no sign indicating how long the trail is so we just meandered for quite some time. I figured we were on the hunt for something similar to the Wisconsin Point. Boy was that wrong!


Needless to say, I’m not sure why this one is considered more picturesque, given it’s half a lighthouse and surrounded by a fence. We’ve made a goal to visit any lighthouse we can so I’m glad we still saw it, but I’m not sure it was really worth the hike.

Following that we headed back to Canal Park to access the other three harbor lights. Parking in a lot by Canal Park cost us $5 for I believe three hours. We parked and took a walk out to the Duluth South Breakwater Outer Light first. Well, we actually viewed it from the walkway to the North Pier Light.


As we continued on we walked right up to the North Pier Light.


After walking around the base of the North Pier Light, we turned back towards the Canal Bridge. The Duluth South Breakwater Inner Light is just to the east of the bridge. It was pretty frigid down by the water so I took a picture from a distance.


If you want, you can cross the Canal Bridge to get closer to both South Breakwater Lights.


The Canal Park area offers lots of shopping and restaurant options, as well as lodging. We could have easily spent the majority of the day down there, but will save it for another trip to Duluth. We did choose to eat at Old Chicago before heading further up the North Shore. On our way back to the car we also spotted this fun little “park/walkway.”


The Duluth area, especially the Canal Park area, really has a lot to offer. I strongly suggest checking it out if you have the chance!

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