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Duluth, Minnesota: A Review August 13, 2006

Posted by fajita in Duluth, family, General, Lake Superior.

If you travel to Minnesota, your are going to be tempted to go to the Mall of America. And yes, you would have a good time there, but just 2.5 hours North on I-35 is treasure of a town named Duluth. Situated on a large hill descending down into Lake Superior, it is considered by some to be the San Francisco of the Midwest. Above is the lift bridge where ocean (yes ocean) ships arrive daily via the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence seaway. On the right is one of millions of beautiful places along Lake Superior.

If you do go to Duluth, you will want to get to know the city a bit. Take the brunch cruise on the Vista Star. It’s a 90 minute tour cruise with a delicious brunch. At $28 a head it is a steal. It not only gives a great view of the city of Duluth as it sprawls down the shore, it also tours the harbor and gives you a great view of where iron ore, various grains and coal arrive and leave.

When you work up the need for a cold treat, you will go to the Portland Malt Shop and to no other place. It can stand toe to toe with any and every malt shop in the world – period. And when you get hungry, you might be tempted to go to Red Lobster or one of the chain restaurants, but don’t. Go to the Lakeview Coffee Shop. It’s the only coffee shop I know of that serves grilled shrimp, wine, Mediterrainean Pizza, and of course, coffee. They will probably play Beatles music if there is no live music and you can just sit at a window seat and look over Lake Superior. Think ocean. It’s huge with waves and you can’t see across it. Watch the ocean cargo ships come in. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a 1000 footer.

If you go to Duluth and don’t hang out in Canal Park for at least  hours, you’re an idiot. In fact, you ought to just book your room at Hawthorn Suites. It’s a brick warehouse type building completely deone really cool. When you’re at Canal Park, you will buy something Minnesotan. Don’t resist, just let the Nordic flow take you away – u betcha.

You will also buy some chocolate that you won’t soon forget. You might want some coffee if the evening gets cool. Caribou Coffee might feel really Minnesotan, but go to the Blue Note Cafe instead. Odds are you’ll get some free live music, good coffee, and they’ll make you a meal if you want them to. They have very good raspberry hot chocolate if that is your thing.

It’s kind of surprising how many places have live music. Who thinks of Duluth as a music town? Well, people need to find this music treasure. The Bayfront Blues Festival in August will be a good intro to the music scene in Duluth.

Finally, the boardwalk. Beginning in Canal Park and ending miles up the shore, the boardwalk (which is well lit at night) extends along the rocky Lake Superior shoreline treating walkers to an indulgent view of Lake Superior. Want to get off that walk and get your feet wet? Go ahead. Throw some rocks in the water, wade in, heck, fish if you want to. The boardwalk has made miles of the shore even more accessible than before.

Want a great summer vacation? Duluth! 



1. Chris - August 14, 2006

Did you connect with Bret & Kathy? Man…seeing these pictures really make me home sick. Thanks for sharing.

2. LW - August 14, 2006

Now that I see some of the scenery, I don’t blame you for leaving Arkansas, at least NE Arkansas, anyway.

3. fajita - August 14, 2006

Chris, didn’t get time to see B & K, but the short trip was wonderful. I have always wanted to live in Duluth. Now I am at least 2.5 hours from it.

LW, it’s wonderful place. Each season brings with it a new and awesome kind of beauty. Winter can be harsh, but if you know how to play in the snow and find a way to get warm, it’s all good.

4. Marc Anderson - August 16, 2006

I recommend South Pier Inn. Kristi and I stayed there last summer and you are right next to the pier watching the ships. Beautiful town and I’m still looking for a way to move there!

I remember sailing on my father’s boat in Duluth with you, Jay, and Pat.

5. fajita - August 16, 2006


I had reservations for South Pier and then Gail got sick and had to cancel. Blues Festival was the next week and everything was booked – had to settle.

What does Kristi think about frigid weather?

One word of advice: Make sure your gas line doesn’t freeze in your car while traveling – people don’t tend tp pick up hitchhikers at 30 below zero. 🙂

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