15 really, really, really fun things you can only do in Superior, Wisconsin

Sunset over Wisconsin Point on Lake Superior.

Looking for a fresh, original Wisconsin getaway? Superior is known as an affordable lodging basecamp for exploring a region bursting with inspiration. Wild woods, rivers and lakes—including that greatest of the greats, Lake Superior—are all right here. And so are a lot of really fun, really unique things to try, anytime of year, at places bursting with historic charm. Down-to-earth people. And loads of character. Whether you’re looking for good times with family, friends or solo, the original Twin Port has some tricks up its sleeve that are sure to bring a smile. Here’s a list to get you started.

1. Land at the Richard I Bong Memorial Center

Explore the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center, which honors America’s veterans, to see a rare P-38 Lightning World War II fighter plane, military vehicles and other extraordinary artifacts. Stories and events at this unique center, near Barker’s Island, offer a deeper sense of what it means to serve and sacrifice. And you’ll get a glimpse into the life of the Air Force’s “Ace of Aces,” Dick Bong, Superior’s most famous son and a revered pilot in American history.

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2. Roll into the World of Wheels

Roller skating? You bet yer bell bottoms: it’s easy to have a wheely good time together at the World of Wheels roller rink and arcade. Whether you drop off the kids, roll as a family, or come for adult nights. It’s genuine quirky-retro fun in a really 1970s way. Plus, snacks!

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3. Savor some sweets

You can’t miss the colorful murals outside of Sweeden Sweets or the goodness inside. Sit at an old-fashioned ice cream bar for hand-crafted treats and an experience that’s authentically sweet. With homemade chocolate, fudge, ice cream and waffle cones, the shop overflows with nostalgia and some surprising flavor twists. Want to play around? Keep the fun going across the street at LevelUP. It’s one of a handful of local stores dedicated to gaming, comics and collectibles that “let you get your geek on.” no ice is ever entirely safe. Always be cautious and get the ice report before heading out. These local shops can share the latest info, as well as offer tips and any fishing supplies you need.

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4. Tour a whale of a ship

Tour the last of the whaleback freighters, from pilot house to cargo holds, at the SS Meteor Maritime Museum on Barker’s Island. The SS Meteor, built-in 1896 in Superior and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was among an innovative class of ships whose cigar-shaped steel hulls rode low with cargo as they crossed the Great Lakes. The seasonal museum also features exhibits on Twin Ports shipbuilding history and Great Lakes shipwrecks.

While on Barkers Island, home to concerts and big events, you can play a round of mini golf. Swim the beach. Rent a stand-up paddleboard. Or even charter a sailing or fishing trip at Barker’s Island Marina.

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5. Tiptoe back in time at Fairlawn Mansion

Built in 1889, Fairlawn mansion exhibits recall the elegance and prosperity of Superior’s early boomtown days as a Victorian residence. In this case, for the wealthy, influential and philanthropic Pattison family. The Fairlawn Museum also highlights the mansion’s unique 42 years as a children’s “home” to 2,000 children in need of care and shelter. The exhibits and oral histories of past residents tell the story of those important but little-known years.

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Three young people are enjoying a fire on the beach at Wisconsin point. The guy is skipping rocks in the water and their black dog is just hanging out.

6. Experience Lake Superior’s Wisconsin Point

Few waterways inspire quite like the vast and spectacular Lake Superior. The largest freshwater body in the world and greatest of the Great Lakes, it’s what created the city of Superior. And it’s why so many people come here, again and again, to feel refreshed and renewed. A top spot to experience the endless horizon and powerful moods of the big lake: Wisconsin Point. Here, you can stroll miles of beach during any season on one of the world’s largest freshwater sandbars. Go birding in an old-growth forest. Walk the rocks to a century-old lighthouse. Wade in the waters. Search for rare rocks and beach glass. Or just relax, smell the fresh lake air and listen to the sounds of rippling waves. It’s the stuff that makes vacation feel like vacation.

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7. Get your thrift on

Vintage lovers and bargain hunters know Superior is a place to dig in. Spend a day thrifting, junk hunting and exploring the many antique, vintage and thrift shops. For unique finds and the best deals, start here: 

Thrift: Earth Exchange, Salvation Army Thrift Store, Goodwill 

Antiques: Antiques on Belknap, Allouez Antiques, Superior Pickers

Vintage: Angie’s Closet

More: Junk and Disorderly, Seller’s Auction

8. Fish, stroll and play in Billings Park

This hidden gem offers something for the whole family. Let loose in the Billings Park playground or enjoy the quiet beauty of the accessible trails beside the St. Louis River. Kick back in the picnic areas and take advantage of a fire circle overlooking the water. 

To get on the water, go just down the road to the Arrowhead Public Boat Ramp and fishing pier to explore the St. Louis River estuary or continue on into Lake Superior. It’s a stunning spot for views of Duluth, Minnesota across the bay. 

Note: It’s easy to confuse the neighborhood of Billings Park with this actual city park. And for that matter, another nearby multi-use park—the Superior Municipal Forest, the third largest city forest in the United States.

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9. Meet for a Main drag show

Superior has a reputation for being a welcoming, inclusive community and an LGBTQIA2S+ friendly destination. That includes hosting some really fun drag shows. A big fab one happens annually at the Main Club during the Labor Day weekend Pride Festival. But you can catch shows and drag bingo events all year long at the Main and the Superior Flame Nightclub. For the weekend breakfast crowd, the Spirit Room in old City Hall hosts an occasional delicious Drag Brunch while supporting nonprofit causes. Check their calendars for upcoming events.

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10. Drop into a dive bar

For a taste of the culture and pulse of this historic port city, you gotta visit a local bar. Some say they’re “all dive bars” here in northern Wisconsin. Depends on your definition. Vintage signage, wood-paneled walls, authentic 1970s booths and beer art tend to trend divey. As does the welcoming, come-as-you-are attitude. (Of course, wearing Viking gear in a Packer bar might test that theory.) How to dive in? Superior’s got more than you can possibly choose from in one visit. Sample a bunch on Tower Avenue. From taverns and sports bars to cabarets and more. Many spots combine pub grub with liquid libation. The Anchor, featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, offers a sense of our sailing past, plus salty banter and burgers. In the East End, get grub at Gronks and the Choo Choo. Really, that’s just the very tip of the iceberg. 
For something fancier, try the Spirit Room for cocktails and tapas. For brewpubs, the Thirsty Pagan Brewery and the Cedar Lounge, the tasting room for Earth Rider Brewery. For even more options, go here.

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A painting of an older-type sailboat with five sails in wavy water with blue and gold clouds.
Courtesy Superior Public Library

11. marvel at historic murals

Stroll the Superior Public Library to view 35 murals by Carl Gawboy, a renowned artist, scholar and member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. The murals depict local history in painted stories—from the Ojibwe story of the beginning of the earth to 20th-century milestones like the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald. The 729-foot ship departed from Superior’s Allouez Bay iron docks on a beautiful day, November 9, 1975, only to sail into one of the worst storms ever to occur on Lake Superior. The Fitz was the largest and most recent shipwreck on the big lake they call Gitchigammi, taking the lives of 29 mariners. 
Want more murals? Local artists have covered numerous businesses with lively paintings. How many can you find while exploring the town? Take the quiz.

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12. Find four-season fun at Mont du Lac Resort

Overlooking the St. Louis River on the western fringe of Superior and Wisconsin, Mont du Lac Resort evokes a sense of being in the mountain foothills—with year-round affordable fun for the entire family. Come for skiing, snowboarding and ski instruction. Shred the terrain park or try some incredible snow tubing. The Trophy Lodge and Base Lodge offer food, brew and live music. Can’t make it in the winter? Come in the summer and fall for the mountain bike trails, river tubing, 18 holes of disc golf, alpine slide, waterpark and 3-D archery range. There are plenty of lodging options on-site, with facility rentals for weddings, reunions and groups. It’s also a spot for special events like Red Bull Crashed Ice racing and Bowfest.

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13. Delve into history: Fire and Police Museum

Get a sense of how people served the community a century ago at The Old Firehouse & Police Museum. Built in 1898, the building is the last of Superior’s 19th-century fire halls and offers a unique peek at the evolution of fire engines—from horse-drawn rigs and pump steamers to early ladder trucks. The building is open for seasonal, self-guided tours and is also home to Wisconsin’s Police & Fire Hall of Fame. It’s one of a handful of spots in “Old Town,” the East End neighborhood of Superior, that tell a story of a bygone era.

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14. Sup at our supper clubs

For an iconic Wisconsin experience, you gotta eat at a Superior supper club. Here, you can savor the flavors of surf and turf near the shores of a great unsalted sea (that’d be Lake Superior) ribs, order the Friday fish fry, or sample a relish tray and breadsticks as part of the meal. Whatever you order, expect a hearty serving of genuine old-school charm. While here, be sure to sip on a Wisconsin Old Fashioned—the state’s favorite classic craft cocktail.

Some uniquely Superior spots: the Dreamland Supper Club, Eddies, Hammond Steak House

15. Play bingo at the Belgian Club

Feeling lucky? Drop by the Belgian Club for an authentic local experience: Bingo Thursday. Doors open at 5pm, early birds play at 6pm and the regular session starts at 7pm. Ask how to get in on winning the progressive pot. What’s with the name mean? The Belgian Club was founded in 1914 as a social space for the many Belgian immigrants in the Allouez neighborhood who wanted a spot to read, talk, play games and connect as a community. These days, folks of all ethnic backgrounds are invited to do just that.

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Bonus! be amazed by accordians

Where do you go for one of the largest and most historic collections of accordions on the planet? Gotta be A World of Accordions Museum, with its 1,300 accordions of all shapes, sizes, colors and designs. Housed in a stately old church, the internationally renowned museum and Harrington ARTS Center also features technicians’ training, research libraries and performances by world-class artists in its 800-person concert hall.

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Where does the fun start for you?

Tell us your favorite season and reason for being in Superior. What unique spots would you add to this list?

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