An older man and his grandson examining an old world war two plane.

Tours & Museums

Step back in time

Dive deeper into a historic Wisconsin town.

These museums offer a close-up look at everything from the heyday of Great Lakes shipping, lumber and mining exploits to World War II aviation, accordions and more.

An older man with his arm around his grandson, looking at World War Two memorabilia.

Land At The Bong

America’s “Ace of Aces.”

Explore the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center, which honors America’s veterans, to see a rare P-38 Lightning World War II fighter, 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 give a glimpse into the life of the Air Force’s “Ace of Aces.”

The ramp leading up to the SS Meteor Museum. The Museum is the old whaleback ship.

A whale of a ship

The last of the whaleback freighters.

Explore the pilot house, cargo holds and more 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.

The Fairlawn mansion illuminated by the sun.

Fairlawn Museum

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.

Tour the harbor 

Get close to the water with a stand up paddleboard tour around Barker’s Island or out to Wisconsin Point Lighthouse. Get in touch with the ecology of the estuary at a free museum. Or get on board a tour boat in Duluth for a Twin Ports harbor cruise of the world’s largest freshwater port.

View of Barkers Island. There are four buildings and the Meteor whaleback ship reflecting off the lake.
A closeup of a man holding a red accordian.

A World of Accordions 

 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.

Mural painting by 
Gawboy depicting ships in a harbor.
An illustrated The Edmund Fitzgerald ship plowing through waves at dusk.

Painting our past

Stories of Superior history

Stroll the Superior Public Library to view 35 murals by Carl Gawboy, 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.

More murals

Local artists have covered numerous businesses with lively, lovely artworks. How many do you notice while traveling the town?

History of the Twin Ports name

Prior to 1910, the combined cities of Superior and Duluth were called the Twin Ports at the Head of the Lakes, which was quite a mouthful so the Duluth News Tribune and local commercial clubs announced a contest to create a nickname for the two cities so closely related. The prize? A $10 gold piece.

More Tours & Museums

The Old Firehouse & Police Museum

Fire-fighting has always been tough work. Get a unique peek at the evolution of fire engines—from horse-drawn rigs and pump steamers to early ladder trucks—at the Old Firehouse, built in 1898, and Wisconsin’s Police & Fire Hall of Fame. Seasonal, self-guided tours.

Douglas County Historical Society

Located in historic Swedish Vasa Hall, the Douglas County Historical Society offers exhibits, community programs and history-based theater on its renovated stage.

Solon Springs Historical Museum

Moved from the country to its current site, the John Beck Log Home has been restored with early 20th century furnishings and houses old ledgers and maps, photos and artifacts. Open weekends in the summer.

Gordon-Wascott Historical Museum & Depot

Explore the Gordon area’s historic ties with the railroad, lumber, mining and fur trading eras of old. The museum, Soo Line Depot and a one-room schoolhouse are open in the summer. For a real high, visit one of Wisconsin’s only remaining fire towers that’s open to the public. Check the calendar for events before you go, or rent the cabin at the foot of the Gordon Fire Tower for a chance to experience history with breathtaking views. 

The Davidson Windmill and Eskolin Log House

The unique 1904 Davidson Windmill, on the National Historic Register, served local farmers milling flour and cracking cattle feed. Constructed using local materials, its handmade gears are an engineering marvel. Adjacent to the mill in South Range, the Eskolin Finnish Log House represents the region’s early Finnish construction with its complex, dovetailed joints. Tours available through the Old-Brule Heritage Society.


Glensheen Mansion, perched on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Duluth, is the most visited historic home in Minnesota. The 7-acre estate features gardens, bridges and the famous 39-room mansion built with remarkable 20th century craftsmanship, telling the story of the Twin Ports region. 

CAF warbirds 

Love aviation history? Visit the Lake Superior Squadron’s Armed Forces Museum at the Bong Airport to see more artifacts and the work of CAF volunteers restoring vintage planes at the Bong Airport, including a PBY-6A Catalina “Black Cat” flying boat and the OY-2 “Carin’ Belle” transport plane.

The Holden Fine and Applied Arts Center

The Center at the University of Wisconsin, Superior, hosts theater performances, art exhibits and recitals. Named after Holden, from Holden Insurance Company and his wife, Lucille, who helped to finance the building. The 237-seat Manion Theatre is named for Professor Emeritus O. Gayle Manion, who taught at UWS from 1952-1983. John Webb, whose name graces the recital hall, was a music professor from 1945 to 1973.

Lake Superior Estuarium

The Lake Superior Estuarium is a gateway to the headwaters of the Great Lakes. Beautiful interactive displays tell stories of the St. Louis River Estuary, Lake Superior, and the communities on their shores. The exhibit hall includes a play area for young children, maps to orient you to the largest estuary on Lake Superior, and information to help you get out and explore.

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