I’ve always used Duluth as a launching point for the North Shore. To be honest, I’ve never spent more than a night here until recently and I was glad I did! Duluth is ever-changing and I swear I discover something new (and an old gem) every time I’m there.
Now that I consider Duluth more than just a stopover for entrance to all things North Shore, I foresee myself jetting up here more often. The 2.5-hour drive really zips fast when you have good tunes and good conversation going! Plus, I love sharing my stories on Instagram and then having locals chime in on their favorite places up here! It actually makes it for a fun and unique time. So from the last few visits to Duluth, including my most recent trip, I’ve gathered my top places where we ate, drank, and shopped in Duluth! While there are a TON of outdoor activities to do in all four seasons, I kept this list to just places to eat, drink, and shop, so this list is good year-round! 🙂 Check out the places we visited below and then scroll down to grab your downloadable list to take with you on your next trip up north!
Meet the newest cocktail joint on the block. Located in the up and coming Lincoln Park neighborhood, Noble Pour is definitely top of my list. While I love breweries and this area has plenty of them, sometimes I just want a nice cocktail spot and Noble Pour serves just that. It’s has a cozy, eclectic vibe with everything from a fireplace that is reminiscent of the Hewing Hotel’s, old school tv stands, and amazing tables made from cedar. Try the luck of the lady – You’ll definitely be vibin’ by the time you leave.
Is it ever a completed post if I don’t include somewhere to get ice cream?! Across the street is this cute little shop called Love Creamery and the name says it all. Pop in during the day for lots of fresh light and beautiful blue and yellow hues all around! We came at night and the gal working was an absolute delight. I got the salted caramel (one of the best) and Eric picked the eggnog ice cream. His words exactly: “this is the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted.” Now that is a lot coming from him! Also, it’s no surprise because their ice cream is made fresh daily in small batches and uses local and sustainable ingredients!
Oink, Moo, and Cluck your way over to get all the meat sweats at OMC Smokehouse. (which is what OMC stands for!) Right next to Noble Pour, this place is always hopping so put your name on the list and head next door for a craft cocktail! The staff is always so friendly and helpful with the menu. They smoke fresh meat daily and have an array of amazing sides. We’ve tried many things but we always come back to their wings to start and then the OMC plate because it gives you a taste of everything! Their chicken is also top-notch – so flavorful and juicy! Don’t forget to finish it off with elote, potato salad or their jalapeno cheddar grits!
Duluth Folk School + Dovetail Cafe
I love this space in Lincoln park. Part learning, part celebrating, part coffee. Inside Duluth Folk School is Dovetail Cafe where you can grab a cup of Almanac Coffee and hang out in your own little cabin inside. It’s so cozy on a cold winter’s day. The folk school always has something going on too. Whether it’s live music or DIY classes, it’s always bustling inside!
A greenthumb’s wonderland, I love popping into Flora North when I’m in town. The shop girls are so passionate about plants but they also have an amazing array of gifts, flowers, and really anything you need to tend to your little plant babies. This trip we so happy to buy some plants to take home with us! Whether or not you need plants, Flora north is still a fun space to step into, relax, and take a load off on their fun green couch!
Free Air Life
Round the corner to find the outdoor apparel lover’s paradise. Free Air Life Co. has brands like Parks Project, TentTree, Glyder and more housed here. For the adventurous soul in me, I pretty much wanted one of everything! They have both men and women’s apparel and accessories. This storefront has only been open for a couple of weeks too!
Wild State Cider
A new cider place in town, Wild State Cider definitely snags a spot on my list of places to return. They had so many ciders to choose from so I did a flight. The Raspberry Hibiscus ended up being both of our favorites, so we snagged some cans there to take home! I can only imagine this being a hot spot come summer when they can open up their sliding door but the living plant wall brings a breath of life during the cold winters there!
If you peruse Duluth you can find plenty of t-shirt and hats plastered with “DULUTH” all over them. But if you want something unique, local, and kitchsy, check out Flagship Duluth. They screen print on-site at their storefront in Canal Park while featuring fun designs from local artists that are all about the north shore. My “Stay Superior” shirt is from there and I swear I always go home with 1-2 new shirts every time!
Hoops Brewing/Ripple Bar/Duluth Coffee
If you’re looking to get caffeinated and a little buzzed you’ve come to the right place. Step into Hoops Brewing and you’ll find a little snaked hightop that leads you over to Duluth Coffee during the Day and the Ripple Bar at night! It’s a perfect spot to go because you and your crew can enjoy both cocktail and beer in one sitting.
Amazing Grace Bakery & Cafe
Located in the DeWitt-Seitz building, head down the little staircase to walk into this cute little cafe underground. Boasting a made from scratch menu, AGBC has so many delish options from morning to night! We snagged breakfast to go and it was wonderful. They also host live music almost every day!
Northern Waters Smokehaus
Located in the same building of AGBC on the opposite side, you’ll find my new obsession in Canal Park – Northern Waters Smokehaus. This little eclectic shop has everything from smoked fish and meats, unique deli sandwiches, and other housemade sundries. Prepared to arrive hungry and spend some time on the menu! There are so many amazing sandwich offerings so I wouldn’t be surprised if you came back a second time.
If you’re originally from Minnesota you’ve probably heard of Duluth Pack. Known for their amazing canvas bags and other outdoor gear, you can find their Retail store in Canal Park! Shop their collection, while getting yourself outfitted for your north shore adventures. They are also the largest cooperator of BWCAW permits in the world.
This is one of my favorite places to end the night when Eric and I visit Duluth. I love how intimate the space is at Vikre no matter where you are. The bar is my favorite – especially with the eclectic mix of glassware! You can buy all of their spirits in house while you’re there too. Try their Frenchie – It’s on tap and you can even buy it canned! It consists of Boreal Juniper Gin, sparkling rosé, lemon oleo – and oh it’s so refreshing and crisp.
Downtown Duluth & Beyond
After a night of drinking and eating all the yummies, I woke up one morning wanting something fresh and healthy. I found the Juice Pharm that is downtown and very close to where we stay! They are actually re-opening in February of 2020 but their skywalk store was still open. They have fresh juices, smoothies, acai bowls, and healthy meal options that change daily! I’ll definitely be back every time I zip through town!
Lake Superior Bakehouse
Kitty corner from the skywalk store of Juice Pharm is Lake Superior Bakehouse. Head over for some coffee and fresh daily baked goodies! I definitely go there to try all their baked goodies. All are made from scratch and all small batched!
Duluth Coffee Company
I know I already mentioned Duluth Coffee Company in Canal but their main location is located downtown! They showcase a variety of single-origin coffees and the staff is always on hand to chat about coffee, brewing methods, and even using the right equipment. The cafe is open daily but also included there is their roastery! In the evenings they serve cocktails, beer, and wine as well.
Combining custom cards, creative space, and unique gifts, Hucklebeary is a great new go-to! I love that they are combining a store with its own creative space in the back so this is definitely a gem for local creatives! I did peruse and find about 10 things I wanted immediately – so you know this store is sourced well! They have everything from books, cards, frames, journals, and plenty of “north” inspired goodies too!
Va Bene Caffe
I am sad to say that this last trip was my FIRST time to Va Bene Caffe. I can’t believe I’ve been missing out all these years! It is the cutest little restaurant overlooking the water and the lift bridge in the distance. The menu is extensive with so many delectable options and they are known for their pasta made in house. I think it’s now my top choice for dinner in Duluth. I had the Pesto Frutti Di Mare and Eric had the Bistecca and we are both still dreaming about them.
New Scenic Cafe
A newly found staple in all of our trips, New Scenic Cafe is a MUST. I don’t care if you go for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or just a quick light bite, it’s one of the highlights of my trips! The menu changes seasonally and always has daily specials but you really can’t go wrong with anything here. Some of our favorites are the oysters, shrimp fried rice, and the chicken and waffles when they have them! The space is so welcoming and cozy and the natural light just pours in making your experience absolutely delightful.
A mobile marketplace, Makers Mercantile is one of my favorite finds the last few times in Duluth. I followed them on Instagram to see where they would be stationed when I was in town. I love that they highlight makers all along the North Shore, with their selection always changing. The couple who own it are an absolute delight and you can really tell their love and passion for highlighting local, handmade goods.
While I’ve barely scratched the surface, if you visit any of these while you’re in Duluth I PROMISE you’ll enjoy them! And if not, please let me know and I’ll make it right for you! 🙂 If you want a takeaway list for you with all of these spots, download my PDF guide! (Save it on your phone for an easy grab and quick reference!)