As you drive along Duluth’s Skyline Parkway, you will see something unusual as you look down towards Lake Superior. In the central part of Duluth, just across the Aerial Lift Bridge, is a long strip of land. Park Point is the world’s longest freshwater sandbar (more than five miles long) that stretches out into the largest freshwater lake in the world!
Park Point is mainly residential with a majority of older homes and a smattering of newly built monsters. No matter the size of the home, they’re all accentuated with Million Dollar views. With the exception of the few blocks closest to the bridge, only Minnesota Avenue travels the length of the point. The houses’ manicured yards line the road on the lakeside and when land permits, homes are on the harbor side. On the lakeside, the sandy beach of Lake Superior runs the length of the peninsula.
A few miles down the point, once past all the homes, you’ll find a large recreation area with a massive sandy beach area that’s great for swimming and relaxing, a playground, and Park Point Beach House. Then, after a bend in the road, Minnesota Avenue ends at Sky Harbor Airport and its one runway. At the airport, the secluded Minnesota Point Walking Trail begins and runs parallel to the lone runway. The trail then meanders all the way to the tip of the peninsula, passing 200 year-old red and white pines along the way. It is a perfect and unique hike, with birds and wildlife in abundance. Very few people, including Duluthians, even know about the secluded trail!
Park Point is extremely popular in the summer, with the public beach open the day after school is out until Labor Day. A lifeguard is on duty daily from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm during this stretch. The recreational fields are used for softball games and a game of sand volleyball is always being played. Pavilions can be rented for special occasions such as family reunions and weddings. Some tourists enjoy taking the leisurely drive down Park Point to view some of the truly diverse architecture in the city. It is a very bustling place in the summer, so when you plan to visit Park Point, allow yourself plenty of time.
Another thing you will encounter on the Minnesota Point Walking Trail is the ruins of Duluth-Superior’s first lighthouse, The Minnesota Point light tower. The tower is still standing, although 20 feet shorter than the original 50 feet it stood. It was built in 1858; however, both the station and tower were in need of repair constantly during the 25 years it served mariners. The site was then reused and the Duluth Buoy Depot was built in the early 1900s. The Depot didn’t last long; but survey photos taken in 1905 show that the tower had already begun to crumble!
Three miles from the bridge and a mile from the present day beach house on Park Point, the White City amusement park opened in 1906. On the first day it opened, even though only a dance pavilion was erected, between 10,000 and 15,000 people attended. Later, a small railroad was built and added to the park; the steam locomotive was considered the smallest in the world. Also added were an automated baseball game, a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, boating facilities, picnic grounds and waterslides. There were also stage shows featuring acrobats and burlesque-type performances! The original bandstand can still be seen because it was incorporated into one of the older homes along Minnesota Point. The amusement park had a good run for a couple years, but in 1909 it shut down.
If you wouldn't mind staying on this interesting piece of land the next time you visit Duluth, be sure to check out the Vacation Homes on Park Point.
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