Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center

Written by K. Hart at
Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center entrance
diver suit
ship at Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center
museum display


Did you know there's an immersive Lake Superior experience that won't get you wet? This is, of course, the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center.

Operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the center has been educating visitors about the maritime history of the Great Lakes since its opening in 1973. The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center showcases the importance of commercial shipping in the region's development.

The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center was established in Canal Park, which was significantly different from the bustling tourist hub it is today. Over the years, the center has grown and evolved, providing insights into the history and operations of upper Great Lakes commercial shipping. 

Exhibits at the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center display the scope, history, and technical accomplishments of the Great Lakes shipping industry.

In 2023, the center celebrated its 50th anniversary, and this golden jubilee was commemorated with special events and activities.

The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center offers free exhibits, models, replicas, and tours demonstrating the history of maritime activities in the area. 

It is recognized as the most visited marine museum on the Great Lakes, with its comprehensive displays and interactive programs.

Fun Facts & Cool Features 

One key feature that makes the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center stand out is its focus on the Aerial Lift Bridge. 

This iconic structure, located adjacent to the visitor center, plays a significant role in the shipping activities of the region. The center provides detailed information about the bridge, including its operations and significance in facilitating commercial shipping.

The visitor center also hosts a variety of exhibits and programs on Upper Lakes commercial shipping. These displays offer an in-depth look at the industry, from the types of vessels used to the goods transported. 

Visitors can learn about various aspects of maritime life, such as the challenges sailors face and the technological advancements that have shaped the industry over the years.

Apart from these exhibits, The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center also boasts a collection of models and replicas. These miniatures offer an up-close look at the vessels that sail the Great Lakes.

Another cool feature of the visitor center is its commitment to community engagement. It regularly hosts events and activities, such as celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2023, which draw in crowds and foster a sense of community around the shared maritime heritage.

The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center is a treasure trove of information and insight into the sailing and shipping history of the Great Lakes. Its comprehensive exhibits, interactive programs, and community events make it a must-visit destination in the Twin Ports area.  

Getting There 

Here are the step-by-step driving directions to the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center when you're in Twin Ports, Minnesota:

  • Get on I-35.
  • Take exit 256-B from I-35.
  • Continue straight onto Lake Avenue/Canal Park Drive.
  • After three blocks, turn south towards the Aerial Bridge and Ship Canal on the shore of Lake Superior.
  • Address: 600 S Lake Ave, Duluth, MN 55802.


The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center offers free admission. However, donations are appreciated to maintain the exhibits and support the center's educational programs.

Prices are subject to change; check their website for updates.

Local Tips

  • Don't miss the chance to learn about the Aerial Lift Bridge, located next to the visitor center.
  • If you're a maritime enthusiast, check out the center's ship models and replicas collection.
  • While photography is allowed, flash photography may not be permitted in certain museum areas.
  • Check the visitor center's calendar for any special events or activities during your visit.
  • Don't forget to bring a jacket. Even in the summer, it can get chilly near the lake.


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