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South Pier Inn on the Canal 2.5

Duluth, Minnesota, United States

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Review Summary

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  • Free continental breakfast
  • All rooms have water views: either harbor or canal
  • All rooms have private balconies
  • Free parking and free breakfast
  • Free high-speed Wi-Fi
  • Whirlpool tubs in all suites


  • No elevators
  • No hot food at breakfast
  • No gym
  • Some guests complain of old mattresses

Bottom Line

Located right next to Duluth's iconic Aerial Lift Bridge, in the picturesque Canal Park on Lake Superior, the South Pier Inn on the Canal is a charming, family-run hotel that draws couples and families for weekend getaways. All rooms and suites -- each with a private balcony -- overlook Lake Superior or the harbor's shipping canal and large windows let in plenty of natural light. The fireplaces and whirlpools in many suites make them feel like cozy mini apartments. Breakfast is free but there is no hot food served and no fitness center on site. Parking is free -- a boon in the popular Canal Park area -- and excursions can be booked at the front desk.

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Quiet and scenic small hotel with New England coast-inspired architecture

While business travelers are certainly welcome at The South Pier Inn on the Canal, its location and atmosphere is best suited to couples, small families, and small groups of friends. The views of Lake Superior and the prime location in Canal Park make it a popular choice for a relaxing weekend.

The building itself is grey shingle, reminiscent of coastal New England houses; the winds off the lake create a weathered effect. The high-ceilinged lobby is small and bright, with large windows looking out onto the harbor and the iconic bridge, black-and-white photos on the walls, and a fireplace surrounded by brown leather sofas, where guests can congregate. The similarly bright and cheery breakfast room is just off the lobby, and never gets too busy.


Next to Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge, in Canal Park

The South Pier Inn on the Canal is located right on Lake Superior in Duluth, Minnesota’s fifth-largest city and one of its most picturesque. The impressive Aerial Lift Bridge, under which cargo ships pass regularly, is just out the front door the hotel; you'll be able to hear the ships' horns, although not too loudly. The hotel is in Canal Park, surrounded by other hotels and tourist-catering restaurants, and is within walking distance of the Great Lakes Aquarium and Duluth's downtown strip. The Duluth International Airport is about a 20-minute drive away. The hotel offers free parking; you'll want a car to explore some of Duluth's historic neighborhoods and the surrounding area.


Lake-view rooms and suites, all with private balconies, some with fireplaces

Rooms at the South Pier Inn on the Canal are primarily suites, but even standard rooms have private balconies; all overlook either the canal or harbor, so all rooms have water views. Suites also have a fireplace, whirlpool tub in the bedroom, and microwave. The large windows, high ceilings, and leather chairs all contribute to the feeling of a cozy home away from home, although the desk and light-wood furnishings feel disappointingly reminiscent of a chain hotel (still, they're plenty attractive for the price). All rooms have flat-screen TVs, DVD players, free bottled water, and coffee- and tea-making facilities.


Basic features, including free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast

The South Pier Inn on the Canal is a simple, family-run hotel, so it’s not too surprising that there is no fitness center or spa, or, indeed, many other amenities. A continental breakfast is free, but there are no hot dishes. Rooms come with free bottled wire, and coffee is available for free in the lobby. Parking is free and usually isn’t a problem, as there are enough spaces for guests. Wi-Fi is also free. The property also has 400 feet of private shoreline.

Due to the somewhat isolated and cozy feel, many couples vacation here; there is a “Romance Package” that includes a fruit basket, box of chocolate truffles, a red rose in a vase, white slippers and candles. The hotel also offers discounted prices for two adults visiting the Historic Glensheen Estate or the Great Lakes Aquarium and three other attractions. 

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701 S Lake Ave, Duluth, Minnesota 55802-2401, United States


(218) 786-9007

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