5 Tips for Planning Your Next Duluth Vacation

Simple Tips to Help you Enjoy Duluth This Summer

It’s never too early to plan your summer vacation. If you’re like me, you’ll definitely need to get your travel dates on the calendar ahead of time. If not, you might end up missing your own vacation! Planning a summer vacation is fun, but it can be a bit daunting if you don’t know where to start. That’s why we put together these 5 tips for planning your Duluth vacation this summer.

Lake Superior Kayaking Black Sand Beach

Plan a new experience during your next visit to Duluth! Image: The Duluth Experience.

Related: Discover Epic Kayak Adventures in Duluth

1. Start Planning Early

Take some time to get your dates figured out then you’ll be able to dig into the fun stuff (see below). A couple of considerations here… check out the summer festival schedule and see if something tickles your fancy. Bayfront Festival Park has a packed summer schedule with all kinds of concerts during the summer. One of my favorites is All Pints North Summer Brew Fest held at the end of July. Can you guess why it’s a favorite?

duluth beer festival

Sampling Minnesota-made brews, listening to music, and enjoying a summer day by the lake. Image: The Duluth Experience.

Related: Explore Duluth’s Amazing Craft Beer Scene

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 Hotel & Resort Options

We work with most of the hotels in Canal Park and can vouch for their quality based on feedback from our guests. Some of them, like Canal Park Lodge and Park Point Marina Inn even offer special Duluth Experience add-ons! You can check out a complete listing of the Canal Park lodging options on the Canal Park Business Association website.

Of course, you could look for hotels outside of Canal Park. A handful of new hotels have been added in the past couple of years so there should be a lot of availability to choose from if you plan your visit early enough. Downtown Duluth hotels are nestled right in the heart of the city and can be super convenient for urban adventurers. The folks at Beacon Point Resort are an Official Hospitality Partner of The Duluth Experience and can book an adventure for you right at the resort. The Greater Downtown Council has a comprehensive listing of downtown hotels that you might want to take a look at.

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.

Canal Park Brewery Tour

Guided brew tours are a fun way to sample the local craft beer scene. Image: The Duluth Experience.

Related: Tips For Beer Tasting In Duluth

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. Some of them, like our Official Hospitality Partners at the AG Thomson House 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.

2. Focus On The Experience

Ok. So now that you’ve got your accommodations figured out, it’s time to focus on the experience. 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.

Duluth Coffee Company

Eric Faust samples a cold-press coffee beer with a Duluth Experience tour group. Image: The Duluth Experience.

Related: Join A Walking Tour In Downtown Duluth

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.

Duluth Pottery Tour

Fun and unique experiences can be found in the Lincoln Park Craft District. Image: The Duluth Experience.

Related: Discover Lincoln Park’s Craft District

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
Duluth Mountain Bikers

The Duluth Traverse is known as a world-class trail system. Photo: Visit Duluth.

Related: Experience The Duluth Traverse Adventure

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!

Duluth Bike Guide

That’s me!!! Image: The Duluth Experience.

Related: Meet The Duluth Experience Team

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!

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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.

Cheers!

There’s a lot to do in Duluth… check out our Summer Adventure Schedule and start planning your summer vacation!

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