Family Vacation Critic Favorite

Canal Park Lodge

250 Canal Park Drive, Duluth, 55802, MN

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With its rich brick red and spring green colors, this 2007 116-room hotel is the first Canal Park property many Duluth vacationers see as they reach the Canal Park exit to Minnesota’s beloved stretch of Lake Superior nestled between downtown and the canal that leads to the world’s most inland shipping harbor.

Guests check in, and may never go farther than a 15-minute walk. With the lake yawning like an ocean out the back door, and streets bustling with restaurants, boutiques and a brewery out the front, staying put is part of the appeal for many.

They stake out a spot on the patio near the evening campfire, kick back on their balcony and spend hours riffling through the beach rocks in search of an agate and ultimate skipper.

The hotel taps Duluth’s boomtown years when mansions were built for industrial and business giants, adding stained-glass accents to windows in the two-store lobby and choosing an elegant, but comfortable Arts and Craft style for furnishings. There’s a sturdy dose of lodge décor, as well, with a stuffed goose flying overhead, mounted fish and a bearskin on the wall.

While many travelers continue west up the North Shore, the hotel uses images from photographer Craig Blacklock to bring the best scenery into guestrooms and public spaces with shots of fall colors in the Lake Superior National Forest, spring wildflowers, and the rugged coastline.

You’ll find guests using the public spaces of this hotel far more than most. Guests grab a leather couch in the front lobby, grab a cup of coffee and warm up by a large stone fireplace. To the left of the check-in, the breakfast dining area fills quickly in the mornings, when food is hot and sunlight streams through the two-story windows. In the evenings, guests gravitate to the back of the hotel, where a spacious seating area faces the lake and is where a cash bar sets up and complimentary evening appetizers are served at 5:30.

All in all, it’s a hotel comfortable enough and so perfectly located, guests may find it hard to leave — especially with a fire crackling on the patio, the sapphire expanse of Lake Superior, and the lull of waves to cap off an evening.

Our Editor Loves

  • Indoor pool onsite
  • Complimentary hot breakfast daily
  • Near Lakewalk

Family Interests

  • Beach
  • Bicycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Museum/Cultural
  • Skiing
  • Water Sports

Family Amenities

  • Connecting Rooms
  • Cribs
  • DVD
  • Free Breakfast
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Onsite Dining
  • Pool
  • Refrigerator

Room Information

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Each room comes with a coffeemaker, mini-fridge and microwave for parents who want to assemble easy snacks or meals in their room. They also have 39-inch high-definition LCD TVs, cable channels, an alarm clock and WHAT bath accessories. Most standard rooms come with a combination shower and tub, while suites have walk-in showers.

Canal Park Lodge has five ADA-accessible rooms with support bars and seats in the tub, plus two rooms with roll-in showers. Rollaway beds and cribs are available.

Standard Rooms
Standard rooms include two queen beds or a king bed, which usually comes with a sofa sleeper. These face either the lake or the city. Some also come with a balcony or ground-level patio.

Corner Suites
The corner location of these suites makes them more spacious and more fun with the addition of a patio or balcony. Suites have 39-inch high-definition TVs in the bedroom, plus a 42-inch TV in the living room. These suites are on either end of the hotel, facing toward the canal or toward the Duluth skyline.

Middle Suites
These suites have a lakeside view with a patio or balcony, two TVs, and a separate bedroom with a king bed and whirlpool.

Adjoining Rooms
If families are bigger than six people and require more sleeping space than two queen beds and a rollaway, the hotel has some double-queen rooms that adjoin rooms with a king bed. The king-bed rooms also have a pullout sofa and would fit a rollaway if needed.


Trip for 20th anniversary

by Kari S

We loved our stay at this hotel. Great location, clean room, loved the breakfast choices, great choices, amazing view and nice size bathroom with extra deep tub/shower. Great pool and hot tub. Hotel employees took care of us and are very welcoming!

Great stay

by WoodMom000

Looking for comfort and and awesome continental breakfast this is the place. One of the best hotels with a great breakfast, caribou coffee, omelets, waffles and the usual cereal, muffins and such. Lake views are awesome and your just far enough away that you dont get an ear deafening blast from the bridge or ships yet still being able to see

Family Activities

The indoor pool can hold up to 47 people and starts at 2 feet 10 inches on the shallow end. There are about seven tables for families to sit at, along with stand-alone chairs and live plants from ferns to Norfolk pine as décor. Children under 14 need to swim with an adult's supervision. Pool opens from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. with an extra hour -- 11 p.m. to midnight -- for adults only.

There isn't a designated arcade, but a handful of games, including hunting and racing games, a bowling game and a claw pit for prizes, can be found in the pool area.

Games and Movies
The hotel offers board games that can be checked out and children's DVDs for parents in need of downtime.

Front Lawn and Patio
During warm weather, the patio, which was expanded in 2014, fills with families who gather by the gas fireplace or kick back while kids run and play or dig through rocks on the shore looking for favorites.

Because the fireplace is gas, roasting marshmallows is not an option, but the hotel puts out cookies in the lobby in the afternoon, offers a cash bar and complimentary appetizers starting at 5:30 p.m. and has coffee and hot water for drink mixes, such as hot apple cider, cocoa or cappuccino, which can be enjoyed on the patio.

Canal Park Lodge sits along the Lakewalk that runs from Bayfront Festival Park (southwest of the hotel and by the Great Lakes Aquarium) to Fitger's and beyond. The Lakewalk also accesses downtown with pedestrian bridges that cross over Interstate 35.

Family Dining

Hot Breakfast
The hotel offers a daily hot breakfast that includes eggs such as omelets you sprinkle with a choice of toppings, meat such as bacon or sausage, and the always-popular cheesy hash browns from 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Kids who prefer sweet entrees can make waffles, toast bread or bagels, grab mini-muffins or donut holes and have a choice of fresh fruits and Trix yogurt. The hotel also has a few cereals, instant oatmeal, hot cocoa and juices. A few high chairs are available for toddlers.

Evening Appetizers
The hotel brings in an appetizer such as nachos, boneless chicken wings or jalapeno poppers from Bellisio's Italian Restaurant each evening at 5:30 p.m. and lasting until the food is gone.

Planning & Tips

All About the Extras
Packages and Promotions
The hotel offers close to a dozen add-on packages -- everything from a Canal Park Brewery growler or charter fishing packages to discounts for Canadian guests or a pizza add-on for hungry families who don't want to fuss with going out after a day of travel.

If you're going to any of the big attractions, such as the Great Lakes Aquarium, Adventure Zone, or Duluth Children's Museum, ask at the desk for discounted tickets.

Canal Park parking can be highly coveted during summer and festival weekends, but parking in front of the hotel is free for guests. There is a covered area for motorcyclists, as well.

The Art of Smart Timing
If you want to score a room during high season, which runs June through October, you need to call two to three months in advance. That's especially true during the many festivals and events, such as Grandma's Marathon, Bayfront Blues Festival and the North Shore Inline Marathon. For even bigger events, such as the Tall Ships, which come every two to three years, rooms need to be booked a year ahead. Guests also need to stay a minimum of two nights on the weekend.

It's worth the planning with summer and early fall offering the most idyllic days to be along Lake Superior and enjoy activities such as biking, paddling and boat rides.

Early November, which is often the storm season that famously sunk the Edmund Fitzgerald, can also be a time to sneak better deals if you are content to watch the weather out the windows, enjoy a hot breakfast, a pool and restaurants that deliver dinner to the door.

Late November and December stay busy with holiday events, and then off-season rates kick in January through April. Mid-January through late February tend to be the best for good snow conditions and winter sports. It's also a good time to watch for ice formations along the shore.

Getting There
Duluth International Airport offers non-stop service from five major cities and is 6 miles or about 14 minutes from the hotel. Car rentals are available at the airport through Avis Rent-A-Car or Budget Rent-A-Car.

Several taxi services operate in the city, with most charging about $20 for transportation from the airport.

Skyline Shuttle provides 12 daily shuttle services between Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Duluth hotels, which is a 2.5- or three-hour drive. Fare can run $42 to $69 per person for one-way or round trip, but they can fluctuate with fuel prices. Discounts are offered for additional family members.

If you're traveling by car and arriving from the south, stop at the Thompson Hill Welcome Center (exit off Interstate 35 to 8525 West Skyline Parkway) for great views, a bathroom break and regional tourism information.

While on Interstate 35 heading north to Duluth, there are several state parks that are worth a short detour if the kids need a break:
-Moose Lake State Park's Agate and Geological Interpretive Center for rock lovers.
-Jay Cooke State Park with a swinging suspension bridge across the thundering St. Louis River for adventurers.

Getting Around
Anyone staying at Canal Park Inn can walk to at least a dozen restaurants within 10 to 15 minutes, along with shops, the Maritime Museum, Great Lakes Aquarium, William S. Irwin, Vista Fleet sightseeing dock, and Bayfront Festival Park. It's also an easy walk downtown or a slightly longer to Fitger's, a former brewery converted into a hotel and shopping complex. Bikes are handy, too, or there are places to rent them near the Maritime Museum and Canal pier.

Duluth does have buses to most places in the city. Families can also hop aboard the Port Town Trolley that runs between downtown, Canal Park and Bayfront Festival Park every half an hour between 11:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. from the first week in June through Labor Day.

For Mom and Dad
If parents are able to sneak away from the kids for a bit, have a date night at Lake Avenue Restaurant and Bar in the nearby DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace building or at Canal Park Brewing next to the hotel. Drink connoisseurs won't want to miss a stroll toward the Aerial Lift Bridge for appetizers and fragrant handcrafted cocktails using locally made gins at Vikre Distiller.

Canal Park Lodge also offers an in-room massage package through Royal Treatment Therapeutic Massage. Options range from relaxation or pregnancy massages to deep tissue and raindrop therapy with essential oils.