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Getaway Guide: Weekend Road Trip to Duluth

September 22, 2012 7:00 AM

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Get away from the Twin Cities for a weekend and enjoy a trip to beautiful Duluth. Between the great sights to see, places to stay and restaurants to dine, you will have a hard time leaving.

Getting There

Depending on what part of the Twin Cities your route begins, you can anticipate between two to three hours of travel time (tack on a half hour or so for traffic depending on the particular time of day you plan on venturing out). The obvious route choice for many Twin Cities residents is to hop on I-35 north which will lead you straight to your destination. Stop off in one of several quaint towns along the way for a bite at a local eatery. One great option would include grabbing a burger and fries at Gordy’s Hi-Hat in Cloquet.

What To See

fall nellissaschmalz Getaway Guide: Weekend Road Trip to Duluth

(credit: Nellissa Schmalz)

Minnesota Point
45th St and Minnesota Ave
Duluth, MN 55805
(218) 723-3337
duluthmn.gov/parkpointtrail

Commonly referred to by locals as Park Point, Minnesota Point is a long, narrow sand spit that separates Lake Superior from Superior Bay. Extending out from nearby Canal Park, which is a popular tourist destination due to its closeness to I-35 and scenic lake walk, Minnesota Point offers a unique vantage point of the city of Duluth and majestic Lake Superior. Lake Avenue South and Minnesota Avenue serve as main streets for the residents who occupy Minnesota Point, which is anchored by Sky Harbor Airport and a small pine forest. Take a leisurely stroll down Minnesota Point, go for a swim at one of its many beaches or visit any of the attractions. Check out the historic Aerial Lift Bridge while you’re there; completed in 1905, this vertical lift bridge spans the Duluth Ship Canal which cuts through Minnesota Point to allow access to Duluth Harbor from Lake Superior.

Related: Weekend Guide To Rochester, MN

Great Lakes Aquarium
353 Harbor Drive
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 740-3474
glaquarium.org

Looking for a fun, family-friendly and educational outing while in Duluth? Then why not check out the Great Lakes Aquarium which is dedicated to educating visitors on fresh-water inhabitants in and around the Lake Superior basin. Housed in a three-story building on the shores of Lake Superior, this 62,000-square-foot aquarium features hundreds of species of fish, birds, reptiles and more. Highlights include an aviary featuring wetland birds and reptiles, a cove of playful otters, exhibits featuring fish native to the St. Louis River and Lake Superior and an exhibit dedicated to the Amazon River complete with “touch tank.” Admission to the Great Lakes Aquarium is currently $16.50 for adults, with discounted ticket prices for seniors and children. Visit the Great Lakes Aquarium website for more information on hours and pricing.

Where to Stay

duluth

(credit: CBS)

Cotton Mansion Bed & Breakfast
2309 E 1st St
Duluth, MN 55812
(218) 724-6405
cottonmansion.com

If you’re planning a romantic weekend getaway with your significant other, you may want to look into booking a room at the historic Cotton Mansion. This exquisite 16,000-square-foot Italian Renaissance mansion features beautiful stones and lovely mosaics throughout. Many of the rooms offer luxurious amenities including four-poster mahogany beds, whirlpools and fireplaces which add intimate touches to a romantic getaway. Explore the mansion’s many common areas during your stay including a stately library, a formal dining room where guests can enjoy breakfast, a spacious and scenic veranda and a cozy sun room. Prices range from moderate to expensive, depending on room amenities. Visit the Cotton Mansion’s website for more information on reservations and pricing.

Related: Getaway Guide: One-Tank Trip to Winona

The Inn On Lake Superior
350 Canal Park Drive
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 726-1111
theinnonlakesuperior.com

If you’re looking for a more low-key place to stay during your visit to Duluth, you might want to check into the Inn On Lake Superior. As its name suggests, this hotel is located in the heart of scenic Canal Park and offers an outstanding view of Lake Superior (just be sure to request a room with a lakeside view when making reservations). The Inn offers several plush accommodations to visitors including an indoor pool, sauna, an on-site fitness center, a rooftop hot tub and s’mores that are served each evening from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on the Lakeside Patio. On top of all of those delightful amenities, the Inn is also conveniently located near many of Duluth’s finest restaurants and popular tourist attractions. Visit the Inn On Lake Superior’s website for more information on room pricing and reservations.

Where to Eat

cutlery 63288224 Getaway Guide: Weekend Road Trip to Duluth

(credit: Jupiter Images)

New Scenic Cafe
5461 N Shore Drive
Duluth, MN 55804
(218) 525-6274
sceniccafe.com

Nestled in a quaint, off-road cabin, the New Scenic Cafe serves surprising gourmet dishes despite its humble Scandinavian appearance. Known for evolving its menu on a seasonal basis to take advantage of foods and beverages that are currently trendy, the New Scenic Cafe incorporates fresh, local food into its cuisine. Locals and tourists alike will tell you that the New Scenic Cafe’s menu rivals that of any big-city gourmet restaurant sans exorbitant pricing. Experience fine, affordable dining while enjoying a lovely view of Lake Superior and the beautiful gardens out front. This hidden gem has a not-so-hidden reputation so make reservations if you plan on visiting on a weekend.

Duluth Grill
118 S 27th Ave W
Duluth, MN 55806
(218) 726-1150
duluthgrill.com

Don’t let the lackluster outside appearance of the Duluth Grill fool you; like finding the surprise inside of a Cracker Jack box, the Duluth Grill’s food will come as a delightful, tasty surprise. Best described as a down-home-style diner, the Duluth Grill serves up hearty breakfast, lunch and dinner options all made from organic, locally sourced food. It even grows some of its own vegetables right out in the parking lot. Perfect for those with dietary restrictions, the Duluth Grill offers vegan, vegetarian and even gluten-free options. If you’re looking for a casual place to grab a filling, delicious meal, then Duluth Grill is not to be missed.

Northern Waters Smokehaus
394 Lake Ave S, Suite 106
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 724-7307
northernwaterssmokehaus.com

This diminutive Duluth deli serves up big, smokehouse flavors daily to hungry patrons. Owner and meat-smoker extraordinaire Eric Goerdt spent decades studying and honing the craft of fish smoking, and it shows. Locals rave about the smoked fish, especially the salmon, so if you’re a smoked-fish aficionado, you have to give the Northern Waters Smokehaus a try. Don’t expect to snag a seat in one of the deli’s few chairs if you grab a sandwich during busy lunch and dinner rushes. Instead get a sandwich to go and have a lovely picnic in Canal Park which is conveniently located nearby. Not a local? Don’t fret. You can buy its smoked creations online and have them shipped straight to your front door.

Where To Go Out

Carmody Irish Pub
308 E Superior St
Duluth, MN 55802
(218) 740-4747
carmodyirishpub.com

A homey pub and brewery, the Carmody Irish Pub is a great place to grab a beer with friends in a friendly, casual atmosphere. Just a few years ago, the Carmody Irish Pub began brewing its own beer on site and now offers thirsty patrons several craft options. It also features over 30 different beers on tap including Tippers Golden and Famine 47 Irish Stout. Original live music can be heard six nights a week, with trivia nights held every Sunday beginning at 9 p.m. If a casual nightlife atmosphere is what you seek after a day spent touring beautiful Duluth, head on over to the Carmody Irish Pub and relax over a pint of your favorite brew.

A Minnesota native that was born and raised Up North, Minneapolis is where Christina Kalinowski currently calls home. Christina appreciates irony, loves bacon, enjoys a hearty libation (drink responsibly, folks), and is an avid proponent of the Swanson Pyramid of Greatness. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.

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