by Ingrid Hornibrook
Who’s sick of hearing about how stressed out Aaron and I are about relocating to Duluth? Geez! If I am, I can’t imagine how sick of it everyone else is. It’s like, “Get over it, you big baby! How lucky are you that you’ll actually get to call Duluth home?!” Ugh. Slap me next time. Let’s spend the next coming weeks focusing on why I’m EXCITED to move to Duluth!! I think I’ll focus this post on day trips/overnight trips you can easily take from the Zenith City. Here are 8 getaways you can easily access from Duluth:
- White Water Rafting – Did you know that there is high quality and not-dangerous-at-all white water rafting just 20 minutes south of Duluth? Superior White Water on the St. Louis River is where Aaron worked all through high school and college. I think he was a rafting guide for this company for about 16 years total. Anyway, it’s about a 3 hour trip with some rapids that look really scary, but are a blast when you actually go down them. Afterwards, if it’s your thing, you can enjoy a beer at The River Inn, which shares the same parking lot with the rafting company. You’ll have earned it by then!
- Fishing – The first summer Aaron and I dated we would take out a topography map of the area around Duluth, close our eyes, and point. Whichever body of water our finger landed on, and there are MANY to choose from, we would spend the day there fishing. If it was a small body of water accessible only by trail, we’d load up our canoe and hike into the lake. If it was a bigger body of water, we would borrow Aaron’s dad’s little 1960′s Sears and Roebuck aluminum boat and troll around for the day. Best. Summer. Ever.
- River fishing – There are two options here. One time we borrowed some motorized personal kayaks from Aaron’s rafting boss and we headed out on the St. Louis River. This was the most exhilarating fishing trip I’ve ever been on. As soon as we put a line in, we’d catch a fish. Not just any fish, a bass. Not just any bass, a river bass. From swimming in the river’s current all day long they were strong enough to pull our boats! The other option of river fishing is doing it just before the ice breaks in one of the creeks along the north shore that empty into Lake Superior. The trout you can catch look like they could be ocean fish.
- Camping – The day we borrowed the motorized kayaks, we continued to tool around the St. Louis River area until we found a rock island to camp on. From there we set up our tent and camped out on a rock in the middle of the river with pine trees all around us growing out of the rock. Was it trespassing? Well, is it really if we don’t get caught? Also, check out your state campground map and check out how many sites are along the north shore of Lake Superior. That’s just the state park sites! There are tons of hike in sites that are perfect for camping out under the stars.
- Grand Marais – This little harbor town will make you feel like you’ve somehow been transported to The Cape. It’s a two and a half hour beautiful drive up the shore and has art, restaurants, and scenery. Don’t forget to stop at Gooseberry along the way! And Betty’s Pies! And Kendall’s Smoked Fish! I need to spend more time inGrand Marais.
- Ice Caves – The Apostle Islands have gotten a lot of media attention this year. Because of the extreme cold this year, the ice has been deemed safe for foot traffic, allowing visitors of the park an inside look at these caves on Lake Superior and the ice that forms inside of them. I regret to say I won’t be making it there this year, but I guess it only happens every couple of years – whenever we have an exceptionally cold winter. Otherwise it’s not safe to walk on the ice. Check it out while you can!
- North Shore Lodges – The north shore of Lake Superior is dotted with some seriously luxurious accommodations. Imagine walking into the lobby of a great north woods lodge, being enveloped by the heat given off by a massive stone fireplace, which is lined with oversized and overstuffed leather couches and chairs. A perfect place to spend a cold winter’s day drinking hot coco and playing games. Cove Point Lodge is where Aaron and I honeymooned back in 2007. They were so accommodating and every room had a view of the lake. When we went the lake hadn’t frozen over quite yet, so we slept with the gas fireplace on and the windows open, listening to the waves. Magical! And inefficient. But whatever, it was our honeymoon. And the chefs these north shore lodges employ are world-class. One night we ordered bananas foster for dessert. Aaron took one bite and by the time he had pulled his gaze away from the lake and back to our dessert, I had eaten the entire thing myself. So good!
- Skiing and Snowboarding – Yes! Northern Minnesota has hills! You can do a day trip to Spirit Mountain (15 minutes away, less depending on where you live in Duluth), or check out Mont Du Lac (Superior, WI), or make a weekend of it and stay at Lutsen.
That’s all I can think of for now – what did I miss? There’s so much more, but I only lived there for six years and I’ve been away for 7 or 8. Anyway, my point is, there are some pretty amazing things to do and see in northern Minnesota that are a short drive away from Duluth, whereas it would take up an entire weekend if you were coming from somewhere else in the state. Even if it is going to take up your entire weekend, the trip is well worth it! So, if it has been a while since you’ve vacationed in Duluth, give it a try – if you dare. You might just end up staying there for life!