Prettiest North Shore Beaches

June 10th, 2020

The 3 Prettiest North Shore Beaches

Minnesota’s jagged North Shore will likely never be known as a “prime” beach destination, as there’s little to no velvety sand or warm lake water. That being said, this particularly enticing 145-mile shoreline is a magnet for photographers, agate hunters, picnickers, and paddlers. It’s as if Lake Superior itself replaced quartz sand and temperate water with dazzling agates, picturesque isles, tall waves, and dramatic cliffs—don’t forget about those crimson, 600-foot-long boats that subtly motor to and from the Twin Ports. North Shore beaches typically appeal to those who value exploration and serenity during all four seasons.

The Best North Shore Beaches | Year-Round Beauty

Even amid winter’s frostiest afternoons, many of Minnesota’s most beautiful North Shore beaches allure hundreds of locals and tourists. The seasonal contrast is stunning. Since we’re rapidly approaching summer’s official arrival, we’re going to focus solely on the warmest days of the year. It’s worth noting that Cascade Lodge is within an hour’s drive of the Shore’s finest beaches. But don’t forget that our lodge is also a stone’s throw away from Lake Superior. If you stroll across historic Highway 61, you’ll discover a quiet, metamorphic rock beach that sprawls in both directions. Without further ado, here are the three prettiest North Shore beaches near Lutsen, MN.

Black “Onyx” Beach

The sleepy, oft-overlooked taconite mining town of Silver Bay is home to Minnesota’s most unique beach. Onyx Beach gains its color from taconite tailings, which is unfortunate environmentally, but it does create quite the aesthetic. Upon arrival, you’ll immediately notice the pitch-black sand, iron-stained island, and weathered driftwood. The south shore leads to the taconite plant, so most visitors strut northward. The beach’s massive island is incredibly steep, so please don’t attempt to climb. Onyx Beach is, however, a spectacular locale for a mid-day kayak or canoe trip along the shoreline during low tide.

Pebble Beach | Ellingson Island

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park’s Pebble Beach, home to breathtaking Ellingson Island, is yet another diamond in the rough. Most visitors frequent this world-famous state park because of the historical significance, on-site hiking trails, and guided lighthouse tours. However, the rocky beach that lies south of the towering lighthouse is a sight to behold. The crescent beach is prime real estate for rock-skipping. Depending on the direction you take, you can climb onto the island for a one-of-a-kind view of Split Rock, or you can stroll under the lighthouse itself.

Kadunce River State Wayside

Most travelers utilize Kadunce River’s wayside stop for a brief bathroom break en route to another destination. However, a hidden beach (as well as a tranquil, one-mile trail) can be discovered nearby. The trail leads to a jaw-dropping gorge, waterfall, and even some caverns. If you cross Highway 61, you’ll also unearth a serene agate beach, a place that rarely sees foot traffic. It’s the ideal spot for an afternoon picnic, sunbathing, or a kite-flying session.

Honorable mentions include Iona’s Beach (agate heaven), the mouth of the Beaver River (in combination with a trek to the roadside waterfalls), and Horseshoe Bay in Hovland. We know a thing or two about North Shore beaches, so don’t hesitate to ask our staff about their favorite hot spots and hidden gems.

The Ultimate Lake Superior Lodge


Cascade Lodge, home to the most popular cabins on Lake Superior, is ideally situated near the quintessential small town of Grand Marais, MN, as well as the on-site Cascade River State Park. Thus, you’ll only be steps from countless hours of hiking, birding, and waterfalling. Judge C.R. Magney State Park (home to the mysterious Devil’s Kettle Falls), and Oberg Mountain are a short distance away from Cascade Restaurant & Pub’s patio. To learn more about our various North Shore cabins and classic Grand Marais lodging, please give us a call today at 218-387-1112 (or check availability online).