Duluth is a Northern Minnesota town close to our hearts. Both of us have siblings who went to school at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and we have both participated in Grandma’s Marathon. My older brother even married a Duluth native, and my first niece was born there so it is a sentimental spot for us. But it is also insanely cool for anyone who hasn’t been there yet (and those who have because it seems like we find ourselves coming back for more). Located about 150 miles from Minneapolis, Duluth is situated on the shores of Lake Superior. It is the largest port (by volume) on the Great Lakes, and it is known for the Aerial Lift Bridge that lets some 1,000 freighters enter the harbor every year.
Canal Park is where most of the action for visitors is in Duluth. It is full of hotels, restaurants, and shops all within easy walking distance. We can personally recommend the Inn on Lake Superior as a great place to stay in Canal Park. We have also stayed right across the lift bridge at the Solglimt Bed and Breakfast, where we enjoyed a night in a funky room called Kandinsky’s Loft. We aren’t really that into the B&B scene, but we were totally amused when our fellow guests asked us during breakfast if the winter of 1975 was bad where we lived too. Since that predates our existence by 8 years, we weren’t quite sure how to answer. But Solglimt was a great location directly on the beach allowing us to walk right along the shore and to Canal Park. A little further from Canal Park in East Duluth, we’ve also stayed at the Edgewater Resort and Waterpark, which is perfect if you’re traveling with kids.
Canal Park adjoins the lift bridge and provides a relaxed atmosphere amidst incredible scenery. The Duluth Lakewalk is a boardwalk along the lake that provides 4.2 miles of walking paths to take in the sights.
And from almost everywhere in Duluth, there are breathtaking views of Lake Superior. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world. And the Duluth area does offer a few beaches but be warned that the average water temperature is 40 degrees. So let’s just say it is pretty darn chilly for those of us that are warm-blooded.
Besides its world famous marathon, Duluth has an array of activities for visitors, and it is perfect for families. There is a lot of outdoor fun to be had with charter fishing, sailboat rides, canoeing, kayaking, bicycle rentals in Canal Park, and downhill skiing in the winter. There are also some educational ventures like the Great Lakes Aquarium, the historic turn-of-the-century Glensheen Mansion that offers tours, a scenic railroad that still offers rides using steam-powered locomotives, and the William A. Irvin, a freighter from 1937 that moved iron as part of U.S. Steel’s Great Lakes Fleet.
And as if that weren’t enough, there are some great events throughout the year including the Bayfront Blues Festival, a dragon boat festival, art fairs, and a music and maritime festival where tall ships sail into the Duluth Harbor for visitors to tour. And there are lots of good places to grab a bite to eat. Canal Park is full of good eats, but one stop a little bit off the beaten path for a treat is the Portland Malt Shoppe, which has amazing shakes and malts to enjoy on a warm day.
And there is plenty of shopping for those needing some retail therapy. You certainly won’t find any Gucci or Chanel stores here, but there are many gift shops with unique local goods. One of our all time favorites is the Duluth Pack. They are known for their high-quality canvas and leather packs and bags that are handmade in Duluth and come with a lifetime guarantee. They also sell a lot of other outdoor gear. But there are plenty of other shops with items for the home, artwork, and even a neat specialty kitchen shop. Many of these can be found in the DeWitt Seitz Marketplace in the heart of Canal Park.
And a random fun fact about Duluth is that Bob Dylan was born there in 1941. He’s traditionally thought of as being from Hibbing, Minnesota, but he did spend the first 6 years of his life in Duluth. The city has since dedicated a Bob Dylan Way in his honor. And as a funny aside, check out this sign in one of the neighborhood parks.
Yep, they mean business. Consider yourself warned squirrels and birds. And there you have it. A little peek into what Duluth has to offer. If you are looking for a fun weekend getaway close to home this summer (or anytime of year really), Duluth is where its at. Since Mount Rainier is our big trip this summer, we probably won’t be heading out for too many weekend getaways, but what about you? Do you have any fun weekend excursions planned? We’d love to hear what you are up to.