This Summer-only Lakefront Train Runs Along Lake Superior's Shores — With a Domed Glass-ceiling Car for Stunning Views

The Duluth Zephyr is a fan-favorite, with daily rides, great views, and a historic, glass-topped Dome Car.

<p>Courtesy of Duluth Trains</p>

Courtesy of Duluth Trains

The start of summer in Duluth, Minnesota, is heralded by the opening of local trails, the return of waterfront patios, and the first, brave people to hit the beach. It is also when The Duluth Zephyr begins its daily journey up the shoreline of Lake Superior, providing riders with city and lake views on the North Shore Scenic Railroad.

This year, the 75-minute train ride starts on May 11, running daily through mid-October. Guests hop aboard the train at the Duluth Depot, a historic railroad station built in 1892. From its start in downtown Duluth, the train runs directly along the lakefront toward the city of Two Harbors, passing through the wooded neighborhood of Congdon Park and Tischer Creek before turning around for its return journey to the depot.

The North Shore Scenic Railroad may be a tourist route now, but for 100 years, the rail corridor connected the isolated city of Duluth with America’s expanding rail network. Travelers on The Duluth Zephyr are treated to a taste of what was, along with slightly more modern perks — including the option to purchase a ticket in the first-class, SkyView Dome Car.

The Dome Car, which was introduced to train passengers in the late 1950s, brings riders back to the Golden Age of railroading — a time when traveling by train meant traveling in style.

Guests in The Duluth Zephyr’s SkyView Dome Car sit on the upper floor of the car under a dome of curved glass. From behind the large, rounded windows guests can experience the panorama of Lake Superior and the rolling green of Duluth hill country without obstruction. Below the upper seating area on the lower level is a dining lounge with two bathrooms. Travelers with a SkyView Dome Car ticket are treated to complimentary drinks and individual charcuterie served by a dedicated attendant.

<p>Courtesy of Duluth Trains</p>

Courtesy of Duluth Trains

In addition to the Dome Car, The Duluth Zephyr has standard coach seating. The coach-class concession car has light snacks, in addition to Pepsi products, juice, water, beer, wine, and seltzers available to purchase.

Tickets on The Duluth Zephyr are $22 for Coach and $44 for the Skyview Dome Car. All passengers in the Dome Car must purchase a $44 ticket, including babies — but children ages 2 and under ride free in coach. Kids ages 3 to 13 are $11 in coach.

The coach cars on The Duluth Zephyr are wheelchair accessible, but there are no accessible bathrooms. (The Dome Car is not wheelchair accessible.) Reservations on this route are recommended, but not required.

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