This is not aimed directly at only Duluth and really not a huge deal. Rather it is just an observation I've made from coming up this way for years. Many restaurants will make a big deal about "Fresh Lake Trout," and charge you like it is lined with gold. You automatically get this romantic vision of a fisherman on Lake Superior pulling up to a dock and handing over his catch of the day.
Just like Florida, some of the fish and seafood (while still very good) comes from food services elsewhere and is marked up to tourist rates. Unless they specify that it comes DIRECTLY from Lake Superior, it may not be such a big deal if you are looking for genuine local food. If this matters to you, ask your server. If not, then enjoy your meal anyway. You may wish to know this bit of information if you are interested in eating the "local" dishes.
I thought the Aquarium was great with all fresh water species plus a river otter, freshwater stingrays, and their room of Africa but I thought it was it was expensive. $10 to go through it and $3 for parking but they do have AAA discounts.
Fun Alternatives: Canal Park.
In the summer, the "Canal Park" area comes across as a touristy place. There are lots of cutesy places to buy inexpensive reproductions of lighthouses, keychains attached to maps of Lake Superior, and special Duluth commemorative spoons. You can take a ride in a horse-drawn buggy, or buy cotton candy from a streetside vendor. I imagine that on weekend afternoons the place is pretty crowded.
OK - I just don't really get what all the hoopla is about. I mean, it's a fabulous lighthouse and all - but it only provides maybe 5 minutes of entertainment before it starts getting old....
Unique Suggestions: If you go - snap your photos - or paint your picture - and leave....
Fun Alternatives: Stick your camera out the window while driving by and snap the photo on the go.
Canal Park is the tourist ghetto of Duluth with all that entails. While there are some very nice places there, a lot of it is very overpriced or tacky. It gets pretty crowded in the summer and forget even trying to go down there during Grandma's Marathon weekend (usually the third weekend in June).
Of course, you need to see the Aerial Lift Bridge and watch a big ore boat or salty go through the canal while you are around, but don't get sucked in by Grandma's overpriced fare.
Unique Suggestions: Taste of Saigon and Amazing Grace are good restaurants and decently priced. Waters of Superior is a premium art shop which is pricey, but worth it. Northern Lights Book Shop is a good local shop with regional interest.
Fun Alternatives: Visit downtown Duluth, right across the bridge.
The Depot. It's filled with tourists but still worth the crowds. The Trains in the basement are very interesting, and if you choose to shell out some cash you can take the pizza train which takes you up the north shore about 30 miles and comes back, and they serve you pizza hence the name pizza train.(another pic of the bridge)
Canal Park. You haven't been to Duluth until you've been to canal park. There are alot of little shops and other neat stuff all around this area.
The Wisconsin Dells are not too far from Duluth. It's a bit hokey, but as a kid, I loved it! This is a picture of Stand Rock at the Dells.