Plan the Ultimate North Shore Road Trip through Lake County, MN this summer and be wowed by its ancient cliffs, hidden beaches, and stunning vistas. It’s home to iconic parks, quaint towns, and expansive wilderness. It’s where people go to watch the ships and savor a perfect slice of pie. Cozy up in lake view lodging. Or take off into the woods by foot, bike, or boat. It’s a dream for fishing, hunting, boating, and paddling — from the Boundary Waters to the big lake.
This is Lake County. The place to get away, get together, or just get after it. It’s an exhilarating mix of stunning natural beauty and classic up-north charm. Whether it’s for the week, weekend, or just one incredible day to remember. And whether you’re a family, couple, or solo adventurer, we’re here to steer you in the right direction on the highway and off the beaten path.
Highway 61: North Shore Scenic Drive
Founded by loggers and copper miners, this charming former mining town sits along the shoreline of Lake Superior along scenic Highway 61. Stop and check out Russ Kendall’s Smokehouse for some smoked fish, cheese, and snacks, and head over to the Great Lakes Candy Kitchen to indulge in sweet treats – the kids will love the agate lollipops!
Visit the Knife River Beach to relax in the sand, picnic, or rockhound for agates. Explore the nearby marina and see the docked sailboats or charter a fishing trip on the big lake for salmon, lake trout, or whitefish.
Just before you get to Two Harbors, the Larsmont area is home to Larsmont Cottagesand the Ledge Rock Grille which specializes in locally-sourced cuisine. For a quick bite, stop at Larsmont Trading Post, which offers a bistro-style menu and hand-crafted food and gifts. Nearby, the Burton Forge & Gallery features hand-forged ironwork using functional and unique designs.
Iona’s Beach Scientific and Natural Area (Pink Beach)
At Iona’s Beach you’ll find beautiful beach walks, fishing, and photo ops. Kids often enjoy cliff jumping off the small ridge near the beach. Park in the adjacent Twin Points Protected Access (boat launch) and hike a short distance to see the pink rhyolite slabs polished by waves into flat pebbles or “shingles.”
A seven-mile section of the Superior Hiking Trail leads to Gooseberry Falls. Hike to Wolf’s Rock for a gorgeous view of Lake Superior and the Superior National Forest. Heading north, take a left on Lake Co. Road 106 (West Castle Danger Rd.) and travel about 2.4 miles to find parking and the trailhead.
Check out the Beaver Bay Agate Shop to explore various agates and gifts or stop for an ice cream treat at the Big Dipper Ice Cream Shop.
Then head up Lax Lake Road to find the Beaver Bay Wayside where you can view the Beaver River Falls, or continue a bit further up the road to the new Superior Hiking Trail trailhead. You can take a short hike along the Beaver River. The waterfall drops 300 feet in a series of cascades and falls above the Highway 61 bridge, finally entering Beaver Bay.
One of the most unique beaches along the North Shore, Black Beach earns its name from the fine black sand that resulted from taconite tailings discarded in Lake Superior decades ago. The beach is a popular destination for swimming, picnicking, and relaxing with gorgeous views of the rugged Lake Superior Shoreline. Nearby, the Black Beach Municipal Campground offers 49 sites situated on 14.5 acres and nestled around a wooded landscape with direct access to hiking, biking, and ATV trails.
Additionally, play the new Black Beach Mini-Golf Course, which features a cool replica of Split Rock Lighthouse.
For family fun on the North Shore, explore the North Shore Adventure Park, featuring ten zip lines, six challenge courses, and a “little climbers” park for 3- to 6-year-olds.
Visit LovinLakeCounty.com to uncover more must-see stops on your North Shore road trip.