Get up off that couch and make your way over to the desk you have all your tax documents you have stacked on. “I’ll get to it later” you’ll say. Pick up the phone and tell your best friend to get his things packed because Duluth is calling your name! It’s now time to plan an amazing adventure your family will never forget this summer.
I have some tips for planning your unforgettable Duluth vacation this summer…
Plan a new experience during your next visit to Duluth! perfectduluthday.com
1. Step ONE: Plan
Convince your significant other to get over to Duluth. Or zip over on your own! Whether you are coming from Alberta, Canada or Tampa Florida, Duluth is bound to take your breath away!
Check out what time works best for you. I’d recommend the June – August period myself as the most comfortable time.
Staying at the Merryweather Inn Bed & Breakfast, Sampling Minnesota-made brews, listening to music, and enjoying a summer day by the lake. I’ve had my pilot’s license for over twelve years now and I’ll take you for a flight around the area for free with your stay!
Big event weekends – like Grandma’s Marathon at the end of June – are crazy busy in town and hotels are hard to come by unless you’re planning way in advance… like a year in advance. Which brings me to another tip: once you have some dates figured out, get your accommodations squared away. The hotels in Canal Park book up pretty fast during the summer – especially on weekends – and typically run a bit on the more expensive side. Consider booking Canal Park hotels during the week and avoiding the weekend. You’re likely to get better deals and have more availability to choose from.
Duluth Hostels & Unique Lodging Options
Looking for a even more unique lodging experience? Our friends at Hotel Pikku offer a personalized stay in their three suite hotel that happens to be located in the Lincoln Park Craft District. The folks at Hostel Du Nord have created an “affordable and stylish” hostel experience in the heart of Downtown Duluth – the first of its kind in our city.
Guided brew tours are a fun way to sample the local craft beer scene. Image: The Duluth Experience.
Duluth Bed And Breakfast Options
Duluth has some absolutely amazing historic Bed & Breakfast options to choose from. The Historic Inns of Duluth has a great listing of the various B&B’s around town. Enjoy some hospitality at the Merryweather Bed & Breakfast offer a variety of Duluth Experience room packages and enhancements for your stay. These folks understand the true essence of hospitality and what it means to experience a truly unique vacation in Duluth.
Ok. So now that you’ve got your accommodations at Merryweather, it’s time to focus on the excursions. After all, you didn’t go on vacation to sit in your hotel, hostel, or b&b. This is your chance to have some fun, explore Duluth, and seek out new experiences. One of the best ways to really enjoy your vacation is to immerse yourself in activities that connect you to new experiences and perspectives. We know that experiences are the true key to happiness… it’s science… and the idea that helped start The Duluth Experience!
Downtown Duluth’s HART District
Duluth has a vibrant arts and culture vibe in the Historic Arts & Theater District. Locals call it “The HART”. There’s the newly restored NorShor Theatre which is now home to the Duluth Playhouse and they have an impressive performance lineup in store for us this summer. The HART is also home to Blacklist Artisan Ales where our friend Brian Schanzenbach has crafted a wonderful variety of Belgian-inspired brews that are unique to the North Shore Craft Beer Scene. Stop by Duluth Coffee Company where our friend Eric Faust and his team carefully roast single-source green beans to create the perfect cup of coffee – or stop in later in the evening to see if they’re serving beer from their taps inside the roastery.
Our friends at Zeitgeist Arts Cafe serve up amazing food, craft cocktails and support Duluth’s vibrant art scene. Grab dinner and a few drinks before seeing a film at their small, independent cinema. If you’re looking for live theater entertainment, Zeitgeist’s 120-seat performance theatre is home to the iconic Renegade Theater Company as well as a variety of other artistic programming year round. I spend a lot of date nights at Zeitgeist… it’s a great asset to the community.
Eric Faust samples a cold-press coffee beer with a Duluth Experience tour group. Image: The Duluth Experience.
Lincoln Park’s Craft District
If you’re into locally made products and locally grown food, you’ll want to spend some time in Duluth’s Lincoln Park Craft District. Located west of Downtown Duluth, Lincoln Park has a strong “craft-epreneur” legacy that is experiencing a resurgence from a new wave of young energy and unique business ideas. You’ll definitely want to feast on some deliciously smoked meats at OMC Smokehouse. I recommend the brisket and the duck fat fries.
Check out Duluth Pottery and visit with our friend and potter, Karin Kraemer. Make sure to visit our friends at Frost River where local sewers craft hand-made canvas packs, bags and accessories that embody the Northwoods aesthetic. Finally, cap off your visit with a few cold brews at Bent Paddle Brewing Company, Ursa Minor Brewing, and Lake Superior Brewing Company.
Fun and unique experiences can be found in the Lincoln Park Craft District. Image: The Duluth Experience.
3. Get Off The Beaten Path
Duluth has something for all types of travelers. Canal Park is a nexus for a variety of activities and has everything from museums to restaurants, breweries to beaches. But guess what? There’s a lot of adventure outside of Canal Park too. Here are five of our recommendations for a unique Duluth summer vacation:
- Hike Minnesota Point. Drive over the Aerial Lift Bridge and continue to the end of the Park Point. Park at Sky Harbor Airport and look for the trailhead kiosk on the lake side of the airport building. This hike is approximately 5 miles round-trip but offers a bunch of side exploration – including the ruins of Zero Point Lighthouse, an old-growth pine forest, and the south entry. This is a great adventure that’s easily accessible for all skill levels.
- Paddle the St. Louis River. The lower St. Louis River is a beautiful flat-water experience where you can explore picturesque coves and inlets, find a secluded beach for a picnic, or do some wildlife watching. Join our guided St. Louis River Kayak Adventure and we’ll provide everything you need for the day – kayaks, paddles, life jackets, lunch, transportation to/from the launch, and one of our amazing Duluth Experience guides!
- Explore Skyline Parkway. This scenic byway meanders along Duluth’s ridgeline from the far northeast end at Seven Bridges Road to the far western end located beyond Spirit Mountain. The route is a must – especially given its amazing views of Lake Superior, The City of Duluth, and The St. Louis River Estuary. Plus there are numerous parks and hiking trails along the way. Be sure to stop at Enger Tower and climb up to the top.
- Discover Duluth’s Rich History. Duluth has an amazing story that goes back to the early Native Americans who settled in the St. Louis River Valley which teemed with an abundance of fish, game, and wild rice. Learn about the birth of the fur trade, the arrival of European explorers, and the economic booms and busts that made Duluth what it is today. There are a variety of museums, historic homes, and tours that will connect you to Duluth’s epic story and our History & Sightseeing Bus Tour connects their stories in a comprehensive and fun tour experience. It’s the best way to learn some of the stories from Duluth’s past and gain a meaningful context for the city we know and love today.
- Pedal The Duluth Traverse. Duluth is one of 6 cities (in the world) that have a Gold-Level Ride Center designation from The International Mountain Bicycling Association. Folks from around the nation are traveling to Duluth to explore the forested trails that comprise The Duluth Traverse – a 100+ mile network of purpose-built, single-track mountain bike trails. Our Guided Duluth Traverse Mountain Bike Adventure provide a super accessible way to explore the trail with local guides who know the terrain. We provide the bikes, helmets, snacks, water, and we even handle transportation to the trail head where you’ll pedal hand-picked routes that fit your skill level.
The Duluth Traverse is known as a world-class trail system. Photo: Visit Duluth.
4. Live Like The Locals
Nowadays, with a bit of research, you can tap into a true local experience when you travel. Given its amazing music scene, small art galleries, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants, Duluth has a bunch of local joints that most visitors overlook. A good resource for discovering the events that are on tap during your visit is the Perfect Duluth Day events calendar. This is a super way to keep up to date on the latest and greatest events around town.
Another great option is to work with a local specialist – like me! Seriously though, using a local guide to help plan your itinerary can save you time and make sure you get pointed in the right direction. Local experts, like our guides here at The Duluth Experience, specialize in the quality of the experience, the nuances, and itineraries. We take great pride in making sure you get solid recommendations that are tailored to your interests.
Reach out to us and let us know how we can help… and if you’re on one of our tours just be sure to ask your guide for some local advice. Afterall, our mission is to connect you with the great City of Duluth!
5. Jump in the Lake
This one is pretty self explanatory. Yes, it’s cold. But trust me, you won’t regret it. The beach – yes, we have a beach in Duluth – can add a great dynamic to your visit and give you a chance to warm up after your swim.
Check out Park Point Beach for weather updates, lake conditions, and safety guidelines. Be safe, have fun, go jump in the lake!
Thanks for taking the time to check out these tips for making the most of your Duluth vacation this summer. I hope you find some value in the recommendations. Let us know how we can help.