North Shore, MN
I love the North Shore in the wintertime. Yes, it can be bitter cold. But, it is simply beautiful as well.
On the way up to the North Shore I always stop in Duluth to get a bite to eat. I can never wait long enough to make it to Two Harbors, so Duluth it always is.
My stop in Duluth included a trip to Duluth Grill. I have been talking up this place with many friends and on here after my summer trip. You can read about it HERE.
Duluth Grill serves really good food. The portions are huge and there are so many options I think it would take me a year to eat all of the combinations. I stopped here for dinner this time and because it was a Friday they had fish specials. I tried both the meat loaf and salmon. Both were delicious. I cannot remember anything that I have ever had there that I did not like though. The salmon came with smashed sweet potatoes that were cooked just right with a bit of brown sugar on top. The service was great and made me sad that we don’t have a Grill in Minneapolis. Hint, Hint.
Another stop I have to make is in Grand Marais at the Fish Market. I always pick up fish to make during the trip. It is always fresh and cooks up quickly. I also like the salmon dip from here as well. It is a wonderful appetizer for a wintertime party (see below). I have never eaten at the Fish Market because it does close after New Years for a bit and by the time I get there they are done serving food. I am going to make it a stop on the next summer trip I take.
Also in Grand Marais I like to stop in all the local stores especially the Sivertson Art Gallery with work from artists like Dave Gilsvik and Jim Brandenburg. It is fun to look at all the different artwork and sip tea. Many of the artists live in the North Shore and their art reflects many of the sites of the North Shore. It would be like taking a piece of the shore home with you.
In Grand Marias I also enjoy the trading post because of all the great brands that they have there. I can always find something to use. This year I bought a pair of gloves with fur that are missing the fingers. I like them when it is not too cold outside because it is easy to grab my bus pass.
We always stay in a VRBO rental (Vacation Rentals By Owner). It is a great way to do a vacation with a larger group or if you like to cook. This year we stayed in Tofte, MN. I liked Tofte because there are a few shops and gas stations not too far away for supplies. I haven’t stayed in any of the hotels in the area but, I am curious as to what they are like as well. I am a sucker for a pool. Also, stay on the lake because the views are breathtaking.
If it is not too cold out, take a hike. There are so many places to hike in the area. If you have snow shoes there are cleaned paths that you can take as well. Many of the local gas stations and stores have maps. My best suggestion is to ask a local.
On the way home I stopped at Sir Ben’s. Deli by day, bar by night. I love the relaxed atmosphere and the beer selection. It is a really fun place to be. Try whatever their special is that day or whatever on the menu speaks to you. I have yet to be disappointed.
because you gotta get, get, get away.
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.
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.