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Five things to do in Canal Park

A freighter enters the harbor underneath Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge in October 2010.

Watch a ship go under the Aerial Lift Bridge

When one of the massive "lakers" passes under the Lift Bridge, everyone takes notice. Built as long as 1,000 feet and over 80 feet high, they serve as wonderful accents to Lake Superior's view when they are anchored far off the shore. In person, however, they are unfathomably huge. Their deep, baritone horns rattle windows miles away, and the Lift Bridge's own higher-pitched horn is nothing to scoff at, either. Check in at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center located at the foot of the Lift Bridge for details on the lakers' arrival times, and plan accordingly.

Eat a sandwich from Northern Waters Smokehaus

One of the best-kept secrets in an area that doesn't have many, Northern Waters Smokehaus makes the best sandwiches in Duluth. They're made from locally caught fish and smoked on location. The shop is located on the first floor of the Dewitt-Seitz building, and is literally a hole in the wall -- the whole shop can seat maybe a dozen people. Luckily, there's a large deck right outside that is great for people-watching on a nice sunny day.

Jump off of Uncle Harvey's Mausoleum (at your own risk)

In 1919, an enterprising businessman named Harvey Whitney tried to build a sand-and-gravel hopper outside of the harbor as a way to get around the shipping bottleneck. Inclement weather and poor design shut down this venture after a few winters, but its legacy lives on as a popular swimming site in the

summer. Watch (and snap photos of the divers) from the Lakewalk or, if you're feeling adventurous, put on your bathing suit and join the crowd in jumping off of the cement structure. But be warned: the water is very cold in that part

of Canal Park, so make haste on the swim out -- and authorities don't

necessarily endorse the idea.

Spend a day relaxing on Park Point beach

Nothing is better than spending a beautiful day at the beach, and Park Point just happens to be the largest freshwater sandbar in the world. Park Point offers all of the soft sand and endless blue that an ocean view does, without the sting and taste of saltwater. There are four general areas on Park Point:

  • Franklin Park - This is commonly referred to as the "first beach" or the Tot Lot, because of the playground adjacent to the parking lot. It's located a few blocks past the Lift Bridge and has a small, usually crowded, parking lot. This section of the beach is usually the most crowded, but is also the most convenient.
  • Park Point Recreation Area - This area starts at 40th Ave. and offers the most amenities of any of the locations. There's a huge parking lot, volleyball nets, grills, green space and, at times, a lifeguard on duty. This location is best if you have a large group but it will be crowded, much like Franklin Park.
  • St. Andrews - Located almost exactly halfway between Franklin Park and Park Point Recreation Area, this is where to park if you want to avoid the crowds. Park on the street across from the church and follow the trail leading behind it. The trail quickly turns from dirt to dune, and here you will find the same sand and view as everyone else, minus the crowds.
  • End of Park Point - All the way down, past the airport, you can hike to the very tip of the world's largest freshwater sandbar. This journey is a combination of hiking and beach, so bring sturdy shoes and look out for the poison ivy, which is everywhere if you don't stick to the trail.

    Skip rocks below Leif Erikson Park

    Stroll a little more than a mile down the Lakewalk and you'll find yourself in Leif Erikson Park. There's a large green space that is great for sunbathing, tossing a Frisbee, or reading a book. If you're looking for a secluded spot in the middle of it all, take the trail beneath the pavilion down to the lake. If you head about a hundred yards back towards Canal Park, you'll find yourself on a secluded, rocky beach brimming with rocks perfect for skipping. Enjoy a different view of the Lift Bridge, as well some peace and quiet right beneath the Lakewalk.

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