Duluth, MN

Looking for a weekend trip in Minnesota? Try Duluth and the North Shore. It is a beautiful place to visit all four seasons during the year. I have been there during the Summer and Winter and I am hoping to make it up to the shore for Fall this year.

The best part of going to the North Shore is that you can find so many different things for free. For my recent trip, the most costly expense was gas and then food. Not that the food was expensive, I just kept eating. 🙂

One of the first stops we made when we got into town on Friday was Lake Avenue (called Lake Ave by the locals).  A cozy restaurant located by the famous smoked salmon shop in Canal Park.  It is a great place to get a drink with friends, with a really great late night menu. Below is the Mixed Olive Bruschetta ($5 on late night). It was good and I wished I would have eaten a meal here and had a few cocktails. They have a great beer list as well. Next time I am going to try a concotion that was suggested by a server there, Crispin Cider with a shot of Ginger Liqueur. You know it is a good restaurant when the servers stay after their shift to eat a meal and suggest different items because they have eaten it before. Lake Ave has music as well. Check the schedule on their website.

Going camping? I did!  It is a great cheap way to travel the North Shore. The best way to do it is to have friend that have camping equipment. Thanks to everyone in Duluth that so graciously borrowed your equipment to me. Our Saturday started off with a trip to the local Co-op which had lots of choices for camp food and a great breakfast selection (Vegan Mocha Chip Muffins). We made a stop at a beach, the picture at the beginning of this post is from that spot and spent the afternoon waiting for the sun to go down a bit. We chose a site that was at the turn off for Wolf Ridge and had to hike about a mile or so in with water.  Pack light and bring bug spray. We ran into some Boy Scouts who were preparing for a hiking excursion in New Mexico and took in the beautiful views (see picture below).

If you don’t camp or like to glam-p. There are several places you can find a room and lots of vacation rentals on VRBO. I would suggest staying in either the North Shore or Duluth. That way you can have enough time to experience each place. If you have more than a weekend I would travel to Duluth and then to the North Shore or the other way around.  You could also try what we did where we started our trip with a day in Duluth and went up to the North Shore for a night and then back to Duluth. It made the drive much shorter. Below is the view from our campsite.

On Sunday, we headed back to Duluth and on the way we did a few scenic stops. It is really easy to do, when you are driving up from Duluth or down from the North Shore you can just turn off where the signs say. The picture below is from Palisade Head one of the most popular places on the route. Really, all you should do is make sure you have enough time to make this relaxing drive and stop along the way for things that look interesting.  I am not one for gift shops, but next time I make the trip up the shore I want to stop in Castle Danger at the new brewery that they have going there.

When we got back into Duluth we headed to Park Point to swim in Lake Superior. I cannot express on here how much I love to go swimming there. I feels like you are in the ocean in Minnesota. This year the water is pretty warm and it felt good to get in and cool off. There is quite a bit of debris on the beach left over from the flooding but it didn’t bother anyone and helped with creating some shade. I unsuccessfully tried my hand at paddle boarding, lets just say my middle name is not grace.

The next day we went to my new favorite spot to get a meal in Duluth. Thank goodness I was in Duluth with some friends who had lived there before and knew all the really great places to eat. Duluth Grill is a must. If you haven’t stopped there yet, you need to stop there because the meals are simply amazing. So good in fact that I had more than one meal here during my short trip. This is one place where if you are Vegan or Gluten Free you are not sacrificing any taste. It also does not compare to any place in the cities. Sort of like a Perkins (decor) with REALLY GOOD food.  It was recently featured in Diners Drive-Ins and Dives and even though I think Guy Fieri is a total tool box, he made a good decision when he decided to come here, I cannot say the same about his haircut. Duluth Grill strives to use quality ingredients and the food shows that. Plus, there is something on the menu for everyone. For dinner you can order a burger, buffalo tofu melt, or a smoked salmon wrap.

Their breakfast is also great! Take a look at that cinnamon roll it is one of the ten choices of a side that you get with many of the breakfasts (the flannel hash is good too). Duluth Grill serves cage free organic eggs and has some unique options for breakfast. I really liked the curried polenta skillet, kinda spicy and very filling.
Duluth Grill on Urbanspoon

I got the french toast with apples on it. YUM! I got about 1/4th of the way into it and was full. I shared it with the rest of the table who loved it as much as I did. Even though Duluth Grill is not located in Canal Park it is worth it to drive there. Way better then the chain restaurants in Canal Park, what a waste of beautiful space.

We spent more time at the beach in Park Point and ate some smoked salmon spread from Lou’s and headed over to Northern Waters Smokehaus for some more salmon sandwiches. You must go there as well. One of the best sandwiches I have ever had and even bought some more salmon spread to bring home.  As we loaded back into the car for the ride home to 100 degree plus weather in the cities, I was sad this adventure was ending, but excited to do this again. New Ulm Oktoberfest anyone?

I have links on most of the places that I went and you can click on them for more information.

because traveling with friends is the best way to travel.



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About mplsgossipgirl

I am a girl loving life, food, and friends in the great city of Minneapolis. I share the events/food/places from the cities and hope that it helps you find things you come to love as well. If you want to share with me or help me with a topic contact me on twitter @mplsgossipgirl or by email at mplsgossipgirl@google.com

20 responses to “Duluth, MN”

  1. lovelivingincolorado says :

    I guess we need to finally visit Minnesota! Looks beautiful.

    • mplsgossipgirl says :

      It is! It is fairly inexpensive also. The photos on my blog were taken with my iphone, so just imagine if you had a real camera. Or if you were there in person. 🙂

      • lovelivingincolorado says :

        So true! We have one relative that lives in Brainerd, MN. Maybe we will have to schedule a visit. 🙂

      • mplsgossipgirl says :

        I love Brainerd as well! I have gone to Maddens on Gull Lake every summer since I was 12.

      • lovelivingincolorado says :

        I remember seeing a sign for Brainerd on the movie Fargo. I vaguely remember seeing Paul Bunyan. Is this correct?

      • mplsgossipgirl says :

        YES! There used to be a Paul Bunyan land in Brainerd, MN. He also used to talk to you and he knew your name!!!!!! (your parents told him when you got there). They also had this place called deerland. Where you could go and pet deer. Only in Minnesota!

        Yes, Fargo. I have been in the house that it was filmed in. 🙂 Gooooo Beeeeaaarrrs!

      • lovelivingincolorado says :

        Wow! That is pretty cool about Paul Bunyan knowing your name. I bet that is a great memory. I love your enthusiasm for your state….it makes me want to visit 🙂

  2. Minnesota Prairie Roots says :

    I have not been to Duluth for a long time. I think it’s time for a return trip, especially since I could also visit a friend who has been inviting me to visit her for quite some time. Thanks for the good recommendation. I’m totally with you on avoiding chain restaurants in favor of local home-grown eateries.

    • mplsgossipgirl says :

      I am very sad that much of the restaurant area in Canal Park is taken up by chains. If Duluth really wants tourism to grow it would be a great idea for them to try and get a another brewery in Canal and a few more places to eat the local food. I am cool with Grandma’s and Pizza Luce because they are chains but small chains that you cannot find everywhere like Red Lobster.

  3. Northern Narratives says :

    I’m glad your found the Food Coop.
    Have you tried Saras Table: http://www.astccc.net/
    Personally I never visit chain restaurants but I guess a lot of people like them!

  4. dinaDuluth says :

    You hit a lot of our faves! We hit the Co-op at least twice a week for ingredients…and their noon-time salad bar is the best. Sandwiches at Smokehaus (and smoked fish, cheese and baguette paired with vino, ships and lake…perfect date night!) Your dead-on at Lake Ave…also they have half-price bottles and glasses of vino on Wednesdays. Duluth Grill…oh yea…they catered our wedding in the woods on Aug. 31. Love them. http://wp.me/p2pH9C-iV

    Great post…come back soon and let me know in advance…we’ve added some new hip spots since you last visited. Like Duluth Coffee Co. Enjoying beans right now! http://instagr.am/p/SLPsR9A_tW/ Sorta reminded me of The Angry Catfish in Mpls…sans bike shop! Love that place and hope to hit it next weekend when we are down for music. I’ll check out your blog again before we leave. Any dinner recommendations before music on Friday night (Tragically Hip in Mpls Nov. 30)?

    xoxo dina

    • mplsgossipgirl says :


      I will be up in Duluth right before New Years. Then up near Grand Marais during new years. Any suggestions would be wonderful! I love to try new places. I think Duluth Coffee will be on the list.

      As for this weekend, I just tried a place which I will be posting today on my blog that was fantastic. It is in the Midtown Global Market and if you haven’t been there before you need to go. It is very relaxed and fun. If you want to try some of the new hot spots in downtown Butcher and the Boar or The Bachelor Farmer are the current trends.

      xoxo mplsgossipgirl

      • dinaDuluth says :

        Thanks for the recs…we will check them out next weekend.

        Have you been to The Scenic Cafe yet? It is on the scenic drive between Duluth and Two Harbors. Truly amazing.

        Zeitgeist in downtown Duluth is great for everything food and drink (best mussels ever). The new brew pub in canal park should be open soon…Canal Park Brewery. Also, the Rathskeller in the basement of Tycoon’s is really cool.

        I’m envious that you will be playing in the northwoods over the holidays. We will be heading to Phoenix and then skittering to Vegas for music (sorta our honeymoon).

        Dreaming of wonderful white powder and hope it arrives soon. It would certainly make your venture north even more magical. Have fun!

        xoxo dina

  5. tyler says :

    Lake Ave is highly recommended. It’s a great place to eat and drink, and one of the best places to get good food late night.

    • mplsgossipgirl says :

      I really liked it there late at night. It was perfect in the summer, eating some aps and having some drinks. I can’t wait to get back. They make some of their own Liquors there (I believe there is a ginger one that is fantastic in cider).

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