Top 8 North Shore Motorcycle Destinations

By Odyssey Resorts
Ride Lake Superior an epic motorcycle tour!

The website Motorcycle Roads rates routes across the country and the Incredible North Shore Tour was rated number one in Minnesota. Those of us who spend a lot of time on the North Shore are not surprised. Between the soaring cliffs, smoked fish shops, unique artwork, and tree-lined winding beaches, it’s no wonder the North Shore beat out 20 other routes throughout the state.

Directions are simple, as you simply start in Duluth and take Highway 61 all the way up to the Canadian border. Here’s a brief rundown:

1. Duluth

This city of 85,000 people is known for its trails, microbreweries, and motorcycle apparel company Aerostitch, which makes high end riding suits and other accessories. Visit their retail center at 8 South 18th Avenue West from 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday or 8 am to 2 pm Saturday (Saturdays are April to October only). Duluth also has a Harley-Davidson Sport Center, which is always worth a stop.

Cruise along the Skyline Parkway Scenic Byway, with a road that switches back starting at Spirit Mountain, and snakes through the Duluth hillside, and plenty of scenic views of Duluth and Lake Superior as well as some fantastic waterfalls in spring.  Some of our favorite spots to scope out along the way are Creek Bridge, Enger Tower, Chester Park, Seven Bridges Road, and Brighton Beach to finish the Duluth section of a motorcycle road trip.


2. Breezy Point

To get to Breezy Point Cabins, take Scenic Highway 61, skipping the four-lane expressway, so you’ll get to journey along the Lake Superior shoreline.

Since the original publication, Odyssey Resorts has added several other lodging options suitable for motorcycle road trips and one-night stays.
Check them out before proceeding onward to learn more about other North Shore motorcycle destinations. Grand Superior Lodge, Mountain Inn at Lutsen, and East Bay Suites have lodging accommodations for those looking to ride and relax on the north shore.

Part of a group or motorcycle club looking for a place to rest? Let us know and reach out to us to plan your trip.


3. Two Harbors

A quaint, old-fashioned small town with a nice walkable beach area. The beers from Castle Danger Brewery are worth stopping for and the breakfasts at the Vanilla Bean (Swedish pancakes with lingonberries! Wild rice porridge!) are too. Though both on the same stop might be a little heavy.

If you want something a little lighter, get off Scenic 61 and head off track to Cedar Coffee Company (red maple) as you can stretch your legs and sit outside on cozy picnic table.


4. Gooseberry Falls

You’re actually passing by SIX state parks so consider this a stand-in for the others. The falls are tremendous and the hiking is great, but what makes these stops special are those helpful workers and plaques that can turn a “what the heck am I looking at” into a “here’s exactly what you’re looking at.”


5. Split Rock Lighthouse

I know we said Gooseberry stood in for all the state parks, but we have to mention that the lighthouse is incredible.

Pull over at the wayside rest, Split Rock Lighthouse Overlook, which is accessible from Highway 61. To get to the iconic “postage stamp” view head into the park, make your way to the trail center, and hike out to the Little Two Harbors Trail.

Don’t skip Hellacious Overlook as you get back on the road and head north through just past Silver Bay.


6. Tofte/Schroeder

Now you’re getting into the hilly region. The views get stark here in the best way. You can almost feel the taconite oozing out of the ground. When you swoop by ore docks or through tunnels, as you will at various points on the route, you’re connecting to the area’s history.


7. Grand Marais

If you haven’t been to Grand Marais, think of a cross between Portland and Alaska—a lot of arts and music, but a lot of guys who live in the woods and make snowshoes too. It’s a pretty neat way of life where old school ways of life meet new ideas about sustainable living and find that not a whole lot separates them. Artists’ Point and the North House Folk School are good places to get a feel for the town. Not interested in living in a yurt? Just enjoy a bite at World’s Best Doughnuts or 218 Days supporter, Hungry Hippie Tacos and check out the shops downtown before hitting the road again.

If you’ve chosen to stay at East Bay Suites, you’ve made it home for a while. Now, you can carefully plan your next route as you have a couple of options on how to proceed towards the Canadian Border.

8. The Canadian Border

Plan a stop at Grand Portage State Park to experience the highest falls in Minnesota.

If you bring your passport, you could really make this an adventure by checking out the sights in Thunder Bay. It’s a winding but pretty drive up the Canadian side of the lake. Thunder Bay is cleaning up its old image and becoming more international, but still has a “big pickup trucks and Finnish pancakes” flavor to it (aka not what you think of when you think of Canada).

Or just enjoy the far north feel. Something about international borders makes for a great sense of possibility and even in a country as big as ours, it’s nice to know we’ve still got neighbors. Turn around, head back (hopefully for a second night at Breezy Point) and enjoy the drive. Option 2 for those looking to cruise near the Canadian Border can head up the historic Gunflint Trail, a long and winding 57-mile paved road. Must stop and dine experiences include the Trail Center for a burger and malt. For dinner, Poplar Haus’ restaurant (duck wings and a negroni) cannot be beat up on the Gunflint Trail.

Taking a motorcycle can be a spur of the moment adventure or a carefully planned North Shore road trip as part of the Lake Superior Circle tour as you drift around the Edge of Wilderness National Scenic Byway. Let our helpful agents help you make planning your pitstops easier.

Photos:

Two Harbors Minnesota by Randen Pederson licensed under CC-BY 2.0

Pigeon River High Falls by Sharon Mollerus licensed under CC-BY 2.0

This article was previously published on 6/25/2018 and revised on 5/28/2024.

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