Since vacations have been canceled and everyone is rebooking their trips up north, you might find it hard to find a place to stay overnight. However, if you’re yearning for adventure and that crisp north air – head to Duluth- even if just for a day!
I put together an adventurous, enjoyable, and relaxing day that should put a smile on anyone’s face! Thank you to Free Air Life Co for partnering with me on this blog, outfitting me for the day, and for their recommendations!
Start your morning early with a few hikes to get your blood flowing! One of the top recommendations I received from Sarah at Free Air Life Co was to go to the Quarry. I’ve never heard of it until she told me and wow – what an awesome gem. Quarry Park, also know as Casket Quarry, use to be a dump site for an old manufacturer of concrete caskets. When people started ice climbing there on the bluffs, they couldn’t help noticing all the caskets and started referring to this place as the quarry with the caskets – hence Casket Quarry! A few years ago the city of Duluth and the Duluth Climbers’ Coalition came together and made it an official city park. There are several hiking and biking trails as well as a disc golf course! Beware as some of the hiking and biking trails are the same so watch out for bikers coming down! There are breathtaking views on the top, OR you can also drive up and around and park on the top. (Check out the first photo in this post!)
While the Quarry can be as easy or hard as you want it to be, if you’re looking for more of a challenge – head to Ely’s Peak! There is a small parking area right off of Becks Road. Park there and take the wooden path up until you reach the trail. Once you reach the trail head right! If you head left it will take you to a small body of water. Once you start on your way, you’ll come to a large, old railroad tunnel. It will look too dark to see through, but you can walk on through! The trails up to the peak actually around here too! Look for the blue arrows, and follow them as you can! Disclaimer: I attempted to make it to the top, but I ended up doing a loop and coming back down to the beginning! I was hiking alone and didn’t want to get lost – I will definitely try it next time! After discussing with a friend she mentioned downloading the AllTrails app – which shows the hiking trail where you are! Needless to say, I have it downloaded it and will use it moving forward 🙂
Back Alley Duluth
After hiking, refuel at one of the coolest coffee shops in Duluth – Back Alley! I actually was on my way to a different coffee shop when I spotted a bright sign that said Surf, Hand Made Goods, and Coffee and immediately turned around. Nestled back in, you guessed it, the back alley, you’ll walk up to an open-air garage like building. They have a cool set up with goods from local Minnesota makers, some sweet surf gear and also some cool vintage finds! They have a little coffee set up on the side right where they are spinning records. Order some coffee or a latte and hangout for a bit. The staff is friendly and happy to chat.
Lincoln Park Neighborhood
Since we did have a hotel for the rest of the morning, I was able to head back and shower and change after getting all sweaty from the morning hikes! Once I changed, I headed over to the Lincoln Park neighborhood – one of my favorite areas in Duluth since I discovered it about a year ago!
Free Air Life Co
First stop was back into Free Air Life Co. I love their curated selection of outdoor apparel because it makes it feel more personal than going to a big box outfitter. Each brand they house too has sustainable initiatives – whether it’s organic and sustainable fabric or planting 10 trees for every purchase – you know you’re doing good while shopping there! Chat up their staff for the most amazing recommendations while exploring Duluth – they won’t disappoint! I have a long list of places for next trip up too. The shop also just started adding in local gear too so I made sure to snag a top from the MN company North 61!
Right around the corner on the main block of Lincoln Park, step into plant heaven. Flora North has the best plants, floral arrangements, and home goods you could ever imagine and not to mention the shop is an Instagrammer’s dream. We usually pick up a few plants to bring back home everytime we stop! The staff is great too if you have any care questions of the plants they sell. I even messaged them on Instagram once when my plants was dying and they came to the rescue!
Another awesome shop in the area, head across the street to Frost River. Made right here in Minnesota, Frost River prides themselves on quality and craftsmanship. Specializing in waxed canvas goods their selection ranges from luggage to bags to even apparel. They have been using their time during COVID to produce masks for the local hospitals in the Duluth area too! While their retail shop remains closed to the public right now, they have a cool airstreem mobile shop that’s parked right along the street for easy shopping.
Okay, I don’t know about you but I always need a sweet treat mid day – and my top choice is always ice cream! Love Creamery is conveniently located right next to Frost River and this summer they have a super slick walk-up window to order cones! I’m not kidding when I say this is some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. Premium ingredients and creative flavors, this place never disappoints. It is all homemade, small batched, and the ingredients are local, organic, and purchased from businesses with a sustainability misson. It says a lot when Eric mentioned this is the best ice cream he’s ever had (and he doesn’t even like ice cream that much!) They also debut new seasonal flavors too! Try their eggnog if you visit in the winter!
Whether you have a full day, half day, or passing through and are hungry – OMC Smokehouse is my NUMBER 1 recommendation to anyone asking about food. They are open for dining on their outside patio or order onilne for quick take out! They smoke their meats in house daily and really you can’t go wrong with anything of their menu. My favorite is probably their dry rubbed wings or we like to share the OMC plate! it comes with ribs, chicken, and brisket with your choice of 2 sides and their signature BBQ sauces. My mouth is watering just thinking of it!
After all the exploring and shopping it’s time for a drink! Head to Canal Park for one of my favorites, the husband and wife owned, Vikre Distillery. Their indoor space is closed currently however they just made an awesome makeshift Cafe Frenchie! Head inside the entrace to check in with their staff and then grab an open table outside right in front of the liftbridge! Try their signature Frenchie Cocktail or go for one of the seasonal specials! Make sure to check out their cocktail kits to go – they have some AMAZING options. The Swedish snow cone is a favorite of mine – tastes like summer!
Wild State Cider
If cider is more your thing pop on over to Wild State Cider. When I first began frequenting breweries, I never had the palate for a brewed beer and would always prefer a cider. Well Wild State Cider is a dream for any cider loving folks out there! While Eric isn’t a huge fan of cider he found some options that he really did enjoy. I truly love their atmosphere at Wild State and their offerings are delightful. Started by friends, Adam and Andrew, Wild State is the perfect gathering (or social distancing space) on West Superior Street. Try their Raspberry Hibiscus, or take some home with you. It’s one of my favorites!
Well that concluded the most epic adventure Day in Duluth! I hope you enjoyed and, really, this list has something for everyone so you can’t go wrong! If you need more suggestions on where to shop eat or drink feel free to check out my other Duluth Guide with more suggestions!