If Duluth feels like home,
it's because it could be.

#befromDuluth

Hansi Johnson

Mission

Destination Duluth is a collaborative online resource dedicated to educating and inspiring the
public about the beauty of Duluth, Minnesota, thereby shaping the City's positive growth.

Destination Duluth: Accomplishing our mission

Dennis O'Hara

 

At Destination Duluth, our mission is simple:

We want to grow Duluth.

Many folks, “weekend warriors” if you will, travel to our fine city to escape long commutes, rush hour traffic, and suburban sprawl. They arrive as tourists, spending a weekend or two hiking our magnificent trails, catching a live musical performance, or sipping one of Duluth’s locally crafted beers or spirits.

Perhaps over the course of a single weekend they intuit what we locals have always known --- that Duluth is a treasure, a sparkling jewel in the crown of Minnesota’s Great Northwoods. From the deep azure mystery and inherent adventure found in Lake Superior to our world class arts and cultural scene, Duluth simply has it all.

Fully rested and rejuvenated, many visitors discover that their hearts belong in Duluth, and never want to leave this magical place. Have you had this feeling? Have you felt drawn to our city? Have you considered making Duluth your home?

Our goal is to help you do that.

Enter Destination Duluth

Co-founded in 2013 by resident Duluthians Branden Robinson, Christopher Swanson, and Tom Livingston, “Destination Duluth was created to fill the need of educating the public about the qualities of Duluth as a ‘destination for life,’” Livingston shares.

Robinson echoes this intent, adding, “We believe Duluth to be a world-class community, thanks to its natural, social and economic assets.”

Simply put, Destination Duluth is here to showcase all of the amazing things that make Duluth … well, Duluth. It's a phenomenal place to live, and we want to share it with the world. Through a wealth of stories written by local residents and accompanied by amazing photography, we hope to inspire you to become a Duluthian yourself.

How Destination Duluth Can Help You Come Home

With an abundance of great jobs, a healthy work-life balance, and natural beauty to spare, we are ready to achieve our mission of recruiting the next generation of Duluthians --- which could include you. Here are three ways we can help as you contemplate following your heart home to Duluth.

Step 1 Spend some time perusing this website and our Facebook pageDestination Duluth is chock full of stories such as “Why We Live Here,” along with insider information about Duluth’s parks and recreational opportunities, thriving arts scene, burgeoning reputation as a craft beer mecca, and more. Here, you’ll find many reasons why we love living here, and think you will, too.

We’ll also share event details, tips for navigating the city, and secrets only a local could tell you. And, there are photos, loads of spectacular photos, highlighting Duluth in all its glory.

Step 2 Wondering if a life-changing move is really viable? We share success stories, proving that it is definitely possible to take the plunge and relocate. We hope to inspire you through features like “Coming Home,” which highlight stories of people who have already taken the leap and relocated to Duluth, and are living a life they love.

Step 3 And when you are ready to make your move, you’ll find here at Destination Duluth great local resources. This is where you’ll find guidance on the nitty-gritty details of moving here, including job-hunting, home-buying, outdoor adventures, activities for kids, and plenty more.

Duluth’s Future and You

We at Destination Duluth truly believe that Duluth’s best and brightest days are ahead. And we want you to join us here while the rest of the world catches up.   

“Duluth has a wonderful history which must be remembered and celebrated,” Robinson shares. “But there is a new chapter unfolding before us, one that celebrates the past, yet embraces opportunities for the future. The first step is welcoming and encouraging people to plant their roots right here in the Zenith City.”

Duluth can definitely be a destination for life --- YOUR destination for life.

Are you ready to #befromDuluth?

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Make your move to #befromDuluth

Make your move to #befromDuluth

Video by Joe Fairbanks

If you’re in the market to buy a house, we have great news!

As of this writing, interest rates for home mortgages continue to hover near historic lows.[1] And, if you’re looking to relocate (hint: #befromduluth), in many cases you don’t even have to find a new job. More businesses than ever are offering work-from-home options.

So, in a nutshell, it’s a great time to:

  1. Buy a house, and
  2. Move to Duluth!

Sound overwhelming? We can help! Destination Duluth visited with two individuals who would love to help you achieve all of your Duluth dreams.

Real Estate Agents: One Local; One Transplant

Brok Hansmeyer with RE/MAX Results and Dana Morrison with Results Support Services are real estate agents from The Zenith City Group, based right here in Duluth. Interestingly, Hansmeyer has spent much of his life in Duluth, while Morrison moved here from the San Francisco bay area in 2015. Together, they provide unique perspectives on life in Duluth.

“I grew up in Esko, Minnesota, and attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth,” Hansmeyer said. “I’ve lived in Denver; I’ve lived in Dallas, but my family and I have always come back to Duluth. This is our home.”

Morrison explained that when she and her family were looking for a change, Duluth was at the top of their list. “My husband and I had recently started a family. We wanted to live somewhere we could afford to buy a house, and where we could be close to nature,” she said, adding, “We found Duluth! We purchased a home, and are making really deep roots here in the Duluth area.”

Amenities

While their paths home differed, both Hansmeyer and Morrison are obviously in agreement: Duluth is a pretty cool place. We asked them to provide some specifics, for those who are really thinking about relocating here.

“Duluth is an amazing community,” Morrison said. “Not only are there lots of people who are entrepreneurs, but there are so many things to enjoy with this city. One is the Lincoln Park Craft District – you can go to the Dovetail Café and learn a new folk trade. Or you can go have a beer across the street. Our family also enjoys seeing old films or plays done at the Duluth Playhouse. It’s really a spectacular place to be.” Morrison also noted that her family enjoys the plethora of outdoor activities Duluth has to offer, such as camping and the area’s beaches.

For Hansmeyer, nature - along with Duluth’s “small-town feel” - is a big part of what keeps him here. “When I think of Duluth, it’s a ‘big, small-town,’” he said. “It doesn’t take that long to get to know a lot of people, and I love the outdoors. I love living close to Lake Superior, and going for walks and skipping rocks with the kids. It makes my heart feel alive being right by Lake Superior.”

“With Duluth,” he added, “You’re never far from nature. When you look at the different neighborhoods – East, West, or on the Hill, you’re never very far from the woods or trails. We have a good quality of life. There’s a lack of traffic, plenty of job opportunities, and access to the outdoors, such as cross-country skiing, mountain biking, lake activities, hunting and fishing.”

Duluth also boasts some great opportunities when it comes to education. “People with kids have great options for schools, whether it’s public, private, or charter schools,” Hansmeyer said. “Duluth is a big enough city where there are lots of options for schooling.” Hansmeyer also mentioned the many post-secondary options here, including the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Lake Superior College, The College of Saint Scholastica, and the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Duluth is also known for being home to many large employers, and as a great place to receive top-notch health care. “We also have lots of big employers, such as Amsoil, Enbridge, or Cirrus,” Hansmeyer said. “And Duluth offers excellent health care with Essentia Health and St. Luke’s.”

Housing stock

Between its large range of unique neighborhoods and diversity of housing stock, Duluth has something for everyone. “When you’re looking at houses in Duluth, you really have a wide range of options,” Morrison shared. “You can start at $110,000 for a 2-bedroom, 1-bathroom starter home, or you can look up to $1.5 million, where you have the 7,000 square foot home with all the bells and whistles. So, there are really options for any person looking to move to Duluth.”

“When you look at Duluth versus a bigger city, say Seattle, a $600,000 house in Seattle would be about half the price in Duluth,” Hansmeyer said. “So, it’s a little bit more cost-effective. Your income isn’t going to drop by half by moving to Duluth, but your housing is certainly going to be cheaper if you’re moving here from most big cities in the U.S.”

Neighborhoods

When considering neighborhoods, how could you possibly pick a favorite, when they’re ALL so amazing?! At Destination Duluth we love them all, but here are some specific enticements to keep in mind.

Duluth’s Far West neighborhoods (Norton Park, Gary, Smithville, and Fond du Lac) are attractive due to their accessibility to the St. Louis River, Jay Cooke State Park, and the Munger Trail. The Lake Superior Zoo is also found on the West side.

Lakeside, Lester Park and Congdon out East all provide super convenient access to the Lakewalk, Brighton Beach, Seven Bridges Road, Tischer Creek and Lester Park. Piedmont and the Heights are known for their amazing views of the hillside and the Big Lake. Think amazing sunrises and sunsets.

And on Park Point, life is literally a beach! Enough said.

All provide quick access to the excitement of downtown or a spin up the hill to run some errands.

For questions about Duluth or any of its unique neighborhoods, Hansmeyer and the rest of the Zenith City Group would be happy to share what they know. “Our team is knowledgeable about the different neighborhoods, and what’s happening in each one,” he said. “We know where home values are, versus where they were two years ago. This knowledge of the area we provide can be very helpful.”

No matter the neighborhood, Duluth has so much to offer, said Morrison, the recent Duluth “transplant.” “If you’re looking for a place to call home that has the small-town feel but all the big city amenities, along with health care and education, Duluth is your place,” she said.

Call the Pros

Well, there you have it: glowing testimonials from real estate professionals: one Duluth native, and one Duluth transplant. Are you ready to finally make the leap, and #befromDuluth? If so, Morrison, Hansmeyer, and the rest of their team would love to help.

“When you work with a member of our team, you’ll find that they’re friendly and want to be helpful, whether you’re in the process of buying or selling a home; whether you’re on day one, just thinking about it; or you’re on closing day and excited to buy a house,” Hansmeyer said.

“We pay attention to details and will help you make wise decisions through the process of buying or selling,” he added. “We’d love to help you find your place to call home in Duluth.”

For more information, please visit livinginduluth.com – a website run by the Re/Max Zenith City Group.

 

[1] Current Mortgage Rates: Compare today’s rates | NerdWallet

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Whatever Your Career Aspirations, This Organization Can Help

https://www.northforce.org/

 

Ah, work. Whether you love it or loathe it, earning money is just one of those things you gotta do. While many of us dread the daily grind, work becomes much more bearable when you’re doing something you’re good at, or, dare I say, actually enjoy.

Today, we’ll introduce you to NORTHFORCE – a regional workforce development organization helping people become happily employed in the Northland. Whether you’re relocating to Duluth, or are a long-time resident looking for a new gig, NORTHFORCE can help match you with your perfect career.

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs

Developed and managed by APEX and Northspan economic development groups, NORTHFORCE is a regional workforce development initiative that officially launched in February 2014. Ian Vincent - Marketing Coordinator for NORTHFORCE, shares, “With our aging population and growing economy, it was apparent that our communities needed help filling the 25,000 new jobs that will exist here over the next decade.”

NORTHFORCE tracks and posts career and internship opportunities in the region, including the North Shore of Minnesota, the Iron Range, the Twin Ports, and Northwestern Wisconsin. Along with hosting these career opportunities, they also match candidates in their database with these jobs.

Since its inception, NORTHFORCE has attracted 4,200 users, and celebrated 120 successful job placements. Individuals interested in being matched or kept up-to-date with opportunities in their desired field can create free profiles and upload resumes at northforce.org.

Help for Duluth Transplants

NORTHFORCE offers a wide range of services for anyone looking to live and work in Duluth and the surrounding region. Communication Specialist Josie Strom shares, “Some people hop on our website to create a profile, upload their resume, and find the perfect job for them based on factors such as their areas of interest or how far they want to commute each day.”

“Others,” she continues, “Would like a second set of eyes to glance over their resume, or are new to the area and need an introduction to a specific Duluth company. No matter what a job seeker’s needs are, we can help them - or at least point them in the right direction.”

Partnerships with Local Colleges

NORTH FORCE is also dedicated to recent graduates and young professional placement and retention. While maintaining close relationships with regional college and university career service counselors, the team has played a key role in the Lake Superior College Strategic Planning sessions, regularly presented to college classes, and continued to advocate for internship opportunities for regional students and grads.

NORTHFORCE’s latest endeavor, Mentor Connection, has been among its most successful. A partnership with the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the College of St. Scholastica, the program is flourishing. With over 55 industry-specific pairs of college students matched with local professionals, these mentees and mentors participate in events dedicated to building the mentees’ professional networking skills and personal connections to the community. Mentors also gain coaching and leadership skills along the way.

Tips for Landing Your Perfect Job

“When we hear about success stories,” Strom says, “A common thread seems to be that the person landed the job because they really researched the place where they wanted to work before they applied. Make it clear during the interview why you ARE (not would be, not might be) a great fit for that specific organization. If you’re enthusiastic and can really visualize yourself in a specific role, your interviewer will have a hard time giving the job to anyone else.”

“And, when it comes to landing that interview in the first place, be sure your resume is tailored and flawless (especially spelling and grammar) before you apply. A simple oversight can cost you the job, even if you’re completely qualified.”

Whether your perfect job is a 9-5 with full bennies, or a freelance gig with funky perks, consider checking out NORTHFORCE - Duluth’s matchmaker for jobs!

To learn more, create a free profile, or upload your resume, please visit northforce.org.

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The DECC is a Jewel of Duluth

The Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC)

Year-Round Fun for Tourists and Residents

The Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center

Located on the waterfront with panoramic views of the Aerial Lift Bridge and Duluth Harbor, steps away from Canal Park, Downtown Duluth, restaurants, hotels, and shopping, the publicly-owned multi-use facility, the DECC is truly at the epicenter of entertainment in the Twin Ports. Since they first opened their doors in 1966, the DECC has been a mecca for tourists and local residents alike.

Cover of the Grand Opening Program in August, 1966

Dignitaries at the Grand Opening of the Duluth Arena included Vice President Hubert Humphrey.

The banquet at the opening of the Duluth Arena - August 1966

Pioneer Hall was added in 1976, introducing a hockey rink with a smaller seating capability that uses foldout bleacher seating. Pioneer Hall is now the home of the Duluth Curling Club, with an upstairs lounge and eight curling rinks, which can be expanded to provide up to thirteen curling sheets for major events. It has hosted two World Championships, the U.S. Olympic Trials and numerous other national events.

Over the years since then, the complex has added convention and meeting space, and the Amsoil Arena in 2010. Built at a cost of $6.5 million, the Arena portion of the complex houses a 190-by-85 foot hockey rink with 5,333 seats and six locker rooms.

Amsoil Arena

The Amsoil rink can be converted to host concerts, dinners, conventions and shows. The DECC was the selected site of the NCAA Division I Men’s Hockey Championships in both 1968 and 1981. And, they hosted the 2003, 2008 and 2012 Women’s NCAA Division I Frozen Four.

A spacious lobby separates the Arena from Symphony Hall, with a central location for the ticket booths. Symphony Hall seats 2,221 and is home to both the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra and the Minnesota Ballet. Symphony Hall also plays host to concerts, touring shows, operas, dance recitals, high school graduations and a variety of other activities.

Symphony Hall

The DECC also offers two ballrooms, 30 meeting rooms and over 100,000 sq. ft. of exhibit space to host conventions, trade shows and community events. Spaces can also be reserved for parties, weddings, and receptions.

The Lake Superior Ballroom

In 2008, the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center received the Governor’s “Minnesota Great Award.” This recognition honors excellence in businesses that preserve the environment through innovative practices preventing pollution and waste and improving resource efficiency leading to sustainability. The DECC has become one of the area’s significant environmental stewards.

On May 14, 2021, Daniel Hartman was named as the new DECC Executive Director replacing interim director Roger Reinert. Hartman had a successful tenure as the director of Glensheen for eight years prior to taking on this new position. He led Glensheen’s team as they rebranded the museum, increasing its visitorship and community relevance.

“We had a very impressive applicant pool, which I believe demonstrates the interest in both the DECC and Duluth,” said board member and search committee chair Don Ness. “Dan’s successful track record and leadership at Glensheen, his passion for Duluth and his creativity combined to confidently bring him forward as our finalist.”

Hartman noted that he learned from his position at Glensheen about a wide variety of marketing strategies, and about how to work on projects a facility needs to remain maintained and updated. “Some of the DECC’s technology needs upgrading. The Amsoil, however, has amazing technology,” Hartman noted.

He said he has also gained an appreciation for the historical buildings in Duluth working at both Glensheen and the DECC. “The DECC has a mid-century modern style that is still beautiful, with things like the three-tiered chandelier system,” he said.

Hartman, as a UMD senior in 2006, led the student campaign to build the DECC’s AMSOIL Arena. He also served on Duluth’s city council from 2010 to 2014.

“It is an honor to serve now in this role at the DECC, and my hope is to build on the good work of the past leadership and staff. In the immediate future, I will support the DECC’s great health and safety record so guests feel welcome and confident as we return to more events,” said Hartman.

“I also want to showcase and further leverage the DECC’s proximity to the greatest lake there is — Lake Superior,” he added. “We are this great combo of a versatile indoor facility located in an outstanding outdoor city.”

Sue Ellen Moore has worked at the DECC for nearly 20 years and is now the Director of Sales. “We are so excited to have the doors back open and to be scheduling events. We have aways booked events years in advance, but incredibly, we have some events already booked through 2038,” she said.

Moore added, “Customer service is at the heart of what we do. And we are very proud to be such an important part of the cultural fabric of Duluth.”

“Visitors love that they can walk out the doors and be right on the waterfront. They can board the Vista for a boat ride or go across the parking lot to board the North Shore Railroad for a ride up the shore. The nearby Great Lakes Aquarium is another fun tourist attraction,” said Hartman.

During the pandemic, the DECC also served as both a site for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. “We want to keep the DECC on the path of community collaboration as they have done throughout their history. We are here when the community needs us,” Hartman added.

“As we emerge from the pandemic and see brighter days ahead, we are very excited about what Dan, his leadership, and his vision will bring to the DECC team,” said board chair Pat Mullen. “The board is ready to support Dan as he takes on this new role and is confident that he will bring new energy and innovative ideas for a successful future.”

Commenting on his vision for his new position, Hartman said, “I am still in the early stages of my new job, but I know I want to want to continue the wonderful legacy of the DECC. We want the facility to continue to adapt to meet the needs of the community, and we want to continue to grow. It has been important for me to meet with as many people as I can who have held past leadership roles and worked at the DECC, to learn from them about what the future should be, while also building on the past.”

Moore added, “Stay tuned for big things ahead and good days to come. We will be keeping people up-to-date, on social media and elsewhere, with what is going on at the DECC and sharing our story. You can already feel the refreshing changes in the air ahead.”

“I have already found that the care and love for the DECC is real,” said Hartman. “It takes passion to care for a special facility like Glensheen and the DECC. The people who work here now and those who have worked here in the past carry on that passion for this jewel of the community.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Pike Lake Golf & Beach Club

Pike Lake Golf & Beach Club - Exciting Multi-Use Development for the Community

What if there was an idyllic place on a lake, just outside of Duluth, where people could play golf, have a delicious meal, go to the beach, get married, hold a reception or a party, and even buy a beautiful new townhome to live year-round?

Pike Lake Golf & Beach Club fits the bill for all that and much more. Located on East Pike Lake Road at the intersection of Martin Road on the eastern edge of Pike Lake is this multi-use site with a storied history.

It was a stagecoach stop in the 1890s, with the recreation area first developed in 1917 as the site of a hotel, water slides and a Ferris wheel. It was often referred to as the “Atlantic City of the North.”

It later became known as the Duluth Auto Club, with the American Automobile Association of Minnesota (AAA) operating it as a golf course from 1931 until 2016. After three years of legal wrangling, the AAA was finally okayed to sell 68 acres on this site to Roger Anderson, a long-time Pike Lake resident, and his family— wife Dianne and sons Travis and Anthony.

The Andersons have an exciting long-term vision of all that the Club can offer with golf, beach, family recreation and special events. In March of 2020, they began work on the renovation which included the Clubhouse with a new fully loaded kitchen, and improvements to the course. They were able to open in the early summer of 2020, and things have been hopping ever since.

Featuring beautiful views and well-groomed fairways and greens, their executive length, par 32 nine-hole golf course offers challenging play for all levels of golfers. They have a Junior Golf League for kids ages 5 to 17 for lessons to help kids learn the basics of golf and develop their skills. The Clubhouse has a small shopping area with golfing and Club attire and other golfing needs.

Their beautiful beach area is family-friendly, with a kids’ play area, picnic tables, and wonderful spots to put down a blanket or a beach towel to catch some rays. People are invited to relax in the sun or shade on the patio.

The daily beach rate is $3 per person or a $25 beach punch card good for 10 visits. They also offer kayak rentals for two hours, three hours, or a full day. The beach and outdoor patio area are also pet-friendly. Guests are asked to leash their dogs and clean up after them.

The Beach Club includes indoor seating, bar seating and a large patio for outdoor seating overlooking the lake. Inside the Clubhouse are big-screen TVs, speakers and new lighting.

Offering a Friday night fish fry and other drink and food specials, they have a varied menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner selections.

Their large breakfast menu, served from 7 to 11 am, includes eggs, hash browns, sausage, bacon, french toast, pancakes, omelets, breakfast burritos, and breakfast sandwiches. Breakfast also includes their full bar menu with Bloody Marys, screwdrivers and mimosas.

Lunch and dinner, served from 11 am to 8 pm., offers a great selection of “pub-style” fare with appetizers/quick bites, including wings, battered crispy green beans, chicken tenders, cheese curds, fries and onion rings. A fresh selection of salads, a variety of baskets including chicken sandwiches, a BLT, nine choices for a variety of 1/2 pound burgers with assorted toppings, and a kids’ menu, give guests something to fit every appetite.

One recent dinner patron said, “This was my first visit to the Golf Club since the new owners upgraded the former Auto Club. The restaurant, bar and patio are a welcome addition to the Pike Lake/Caribou Lake community as a whole. I look forward to other improvements or amenities the new owners will bring to the Club.”

Other fun things to do onsite include playing Bocce Ball and Corn Hole. The Club has held car shows, rummage sales and skating parties in the winter. Anderson notes they also plan on having live music.

Hosting a wedding and a reception with the space and the flexibility for 200+ guests or intimate small groups for just family and friends gives couples the chance to create their own magical one-of-a-kind, unforgettable day.

The event planner at Pike Lake will work with couples to decide where on the property they want the wedding set up. The Club provides two bartenders, tables and a tent for bar service. Couples are free to supply their own rentals, a caterer, DJ, band, lighting, tent, tables and chairs.

Planning a private party is made easy with a variety of options with a package of a private room and a bartender to take care of drinks and food. Parties for birthdays, bachelor/bachelorette parties, baby showers, retirements, and corporate groups, are just some of the options for special events that the site can accommodate. They are also building a 250-300 person event center for larger parties and events year-round.

Anderson has received approval to build twin homes and other housing on the property for purchase, rent or as coops. “The land is the most valuable thing we have here, and we are excited to provide options for lake living. We want to have a model home ready as soon as we can.”

He said he wants this Club to be a family legacy to be handed down for generations. “We want this to stay a golf course here forever.”

He added, “My family and I are so proud that the community is taking advantage of all that we have to offer. It is a country club for everyone, without the fees.”

Visit their website at www.pikelakemn.com for more information, to book tee times, and to find out about upcoming special events. People can join their E-Club at the website to stay up to date on specials and news.

 

 

 

 

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Ride a train!

Experience the Golden Age of Railroading  with the North Shore Scenic Railroad

Video by Joe Fairbanks - joefairbanks.com

 

If you’re game to experience Duluth from a totally unique vantage point, consider a ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad (NSSR).

“A train ride is good for everybody,” said Ken Buehler, Executive Director for the Lake Superior Railroad Museum (LSRM), and General Manager for the NSSR. “Something happens when you’re on the train, relaxing with family and friends, and looking out the window. You can feel the stress just wash away.”

“The anticipation of boarding the train is part of the fun,” he added. “Then, the engine pulls up, the bell is ringing, the horn blasts and people start boarding.”

“It’s a narrated excursion that moves through town,” added Josh Miller, NSSR’s Station Manager. "The NSSR provides a great option for making memories. You’re not going to forget your train ride in Duluth.”

History

The NSSR and its partner business, the Lake Superior Railroad Museum (LSRM), are housed in Duluth’s Depot; a beautiful structure that was originally constructed by the Northern Pacific Railway in 1892. Visitors can start by taking a tour of the Museum - to see and learn about a variety of local railroad artifacts - and follow it up with an actual experience riding a train.

Buehler provided some historical context. “We had the opportunity to take archival material of the railroad, meaning its classic, vintage railway passenger coaches, along with private cars and dining cars, and put those to use for the purpose they were designed and built: which is to provide transportation, good times, and memories out on a real working railroad,” he said.

“So, the NSSR became an operating arm of LSRM. Here, people can ride the cars, see the scenery, and experience the golden age of railroading.”

Excursions

When it comes to choosing the excursion that’s right for you, there is something for everyone. There are elegant dinner trains; beer and wine tasting trains; and even a first-class experience under a beautiful glass dome, in a car known as the Duluth Zephyr. A concession car selling snacks and beverages is available on every excursion.

And, for the youngsters in your group, there is a pizza train; “The Great Pumpkin Train;” and even “A Day Out with Thomas,” featuring the much-loved children’s character, Thomas the Tank Engine.

Route choices include ample variety, too. “Our route goes between Duluth and Two Harbors, which is 30 miles,” Miller said. “There are full-day excursions, but many are much shorter. We’re geographically located in a unique spot – our train track runs right along the shore of Lake Superior, between Duluth and Two Harbors.”

This means that, whichever excursion is chosen, passengers enjoy a front-row seat to many of Duluth’s most well-loved treasures. For instance, “The train goes by the Great Lakes Aquarium, and Lake Superior is right there outside your window,” Buehler said.

“Along the Lakewalk, passengers can wave to people, which is part of the fun,” he added. “We go through the Lakeside/Lester Park neighborhood, and the Northwoods, up into Two Harbors. It’s never-ending panoramic scenery, with all those different backdrops out your window - all in a single train ride.”

Success and Accolades

A train ride on the NSSR has simply become a “must do” for visitors to Duluth. “Just in the past ten years, we’ve seen a huge boom of tourism here in Duluth,” Miller said. “Along with that, we’ve seen an increased number of riders on the NSSR. We’ve watched our ridership essentially double over the past 10 years. It’s been pretty exciting for us and for tourism as a whole.”

“We see about 100,000 passengers a year,” Buehler added. “We’re one of the major tourist attractions in Duluth, and we take that very seriously.”

Beyond Duluth, the word has also spread; both far and wide. Over the years, the NSSR has received many appreciative nods from a variety of local, regional, and even national publications and websites.

“Better Homes & Gardens said we were one of the best family-friendly scenic train rides in North America,” Buehler noted. “And, CNN listed our fall colors train as one of the top five in the nation.”

Joy for all Ages

Buehler, Miller, and the rest of their hard-working team of staff and volunteers take great pride in providing a memorable “train story” experience for all of their passengers, including tourists and local residents alike.

“I like to sit on a park bench and watch people get off the train,” Buehler said. “I love seeing the smiles on kids’ faces; tiny tykes that fell asleep peacefully to the rocking motion of the train; and excited parents and grandparents talking about their train experiences. After a train ride, our guest passengers are in a completely better place.”

To view itineraries, reserve tickets, and more, please visit Duluthtrains.com.

 

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Enjoy a Bird’s Eye View of Duluth

Video by Joe Fairbanks - joefairbanks.com

Enjoy a Bird’s Eye View of Duluth With Lake Superior Helicopters

Whether you’re a tourist or a “lifer,” there are so many unique and versatile ways to explore Duluth. Traveling via snowboard; fat tire bike; ski; hiking boot; and even snowshoe are just a few of our many options, depending on the season.

But we can also add another transportation modality you may not have considered: helicopter.

That’s right, helicopter. Lake Superior Helicopters (LSH), established in 2009, operates out of Duluth International Airport. LSH patrons can choose from 15-, 30-, and 60-mile tours, where passengers can view the Twin Ports from up above. One thousand feet above, to be exact.

LSH customers can choose the first-class treatment, which includes champagne, chocolates, and even a full red-carpet experience. Or, they can opt for the adrenaline-pumping, “doors off” option. The experience is so immersive that passengers can literally hear conversations between their pilot and air traffic control. Morning, afternoon, and sunset flights are available.

No matter which tour is chosen, all LSH passengers are promised a safe and unforgettable helicopter excursion. “It’s a very fun experience,” said LSH founder, Eric Monson. “It’s liberating. The best way I’ve heard it described is that it’s like a magic carpet ride.”

The Experience

Even if you’ve lived in Duluth all your life, an aerial tour with LSH will no doubt give you a completely fresh perspective of the area. And, while you’re seeing the area from a bird’s eye view, the flying altitude is still low enough to see everything in great detail.

“Most of our tours fly only 1,000 feet off the ground, compared to commercial airlines, which fly at about 30,000 feet,” Monson noted. “So, you get a really nice perspective, especially with a helicopter. There is a lot of good visibility out of the front, but every single seat is a window seat.”

LSH tours hit many of the “high points” of Duluth’s most interesting attractions. “We fly out over many different sites in Duluth,” Monson said, “Including Glensheen Mansion, the St. Louis River, over the coal docks and ore docks in Duluth and Superior, Park Point, the Aerial Lift Bridge, and Canal Park, to name a few. And of course, we fly over the shores of Lake Superior.”

In addition to being a visual delight, LSH tours are educational, too. “Our tour guides and pilots go through extensive training on the local area,” Monson added. “They are able to give a history of the different structures and sites in Duluth; they can give you information about activity in the port; and they can also provide info about nature and industry in the Duluth area.”

Safety is Key

“Safety is paramount in everything we do,” Monson said. “If we don’t have well-maintained, safe helicopters, well-trained and professional pilots, and a well-trained ground crew, then we aren’t doing our job. We do as much as we can to mitigate risk. We want you to have a safe, reliable, and fun experience.”

Prior to their flight, passengers are instructed on how to safely enter, fly in, and exit the craft. LSH pilots receive extensive training, so they are equipped to handle any issues that may come up during the excursion. And, two full-time mechanics work right here, on-site in Duluth, to maintain LSH’s fleet of aircraft.

Great Option for Everyone

Whether you are seeing Duluth for the first time, or have lived here for 30 years, a tour with LSH has something for everyone. “We’ve had several customers fly on a tour, come back, and say they’ve been coming to Duluth for 10 or 15 years, and they learned more about Duluth on that tour than in all their visits prior,” Monson noted.

“That is a really positive thing for us. We work really hard to make sure that, not only do you get that experience in a helicopter, but the tour’s going to have a lot of information, and you enjoy it.”

“Our goal is to have a safe, positive experience, and just return with that ‘wow factor’ after you get back that makes you want to come and do it again.”

For more information, please visit lakesuperiorhelicopters.com.

 

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Garage Starts - Strengthening, Supporting, and Empowering Entrepreneurs

Garage Starts - Strengthening, Supporting, and Empowering Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs are often relieved to learn that many of the world’s largest and most successful companies had humble beginnings. While anyone willing to start a business usually possesses ambition, work ethic, and “hustle” in spades, many initially lack the resources and business savvy needed to successfully launch their company. Enter Garage Starts.

Located in Two Harbors, Garage Starts launched two years ago. Its mission is to “strengthen, support, and empower entrepreneurs.”

And, that title?

“We got our name from the place where some of the world’s most successful businesses began – in people’s garages,” said Matt Barrett, the company’s Director of Sales and Marketing. He noted global giants Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft as a few aspirational examples who started in a garage.

Services offered

Garage Starts can provide assistance to businesses trying to get off the ground, or even help established businesses operate more smoothly. “We take people looking to start a business or those who need support, and help them get through the initial stages of launching and growth,” Barrett said. “Clients sometimes have a business idea, or come to us with a business they’ve had for 30 years that just need traction or was affected by COVID-19.”

Garage Starts can help business owners with many things, including:

  • Weekly structure and strategy meetings
  • Business projections
  • Writing a business plan
  • Figuring out financing options
  • Sourcing vendors
  • Building up stock
  • Handling logistical and operational details
  • Fractional relationships, where a member of the Garage Starts team will hold a specific position within the company for a time
  • Tracking metrics, and more

Typically, a business partnership with Garage Starts lasts somewhere between 18 months and two years. “We can continue after that, but it’s usually more organic, as needed, or on a set schedule,” Barrett said.

Thus far, the company has supported about 30 clients, representing a wide variety of business segments, including food manufacturers; construction; the service industry; e-commerce retail; brick and mortar retail, and physical product manufacturers.

The team at Garage Starts feels confident that they can assist just about any business. “Generally speaking, business is business,” Barrett said. “At the end of the day, it all runs on the same principles.”

Personal connection

Barrett himself is no stranger to the roller-coaster of the entrepreneurial world. A passionate outdoorsman, he developed something called the Duck ID App, which helps users identify duck species. Today, the app is available on Google Play, with about 10,000 users.

“Similar to how many businesses are started, I had a problem,” Barrett explained. “I searched for a solution and couldn’t find one. So, I created one.”

Barrett also brings a background in sales and sales management to the table.

The Team

In addition to Barrett, the Garage Starts team has three other employees. Barrett explained their various roles.

“Chris Swanson, the head coach, brings vision, leadership, and focuses on the big picture. Calvin Luhrsen handles the operations side. He meets with business owners week in and week out and introduces them to funding agencies. And, Sarah Koster handles our logistics side.”

Deeply meaningful work

For Barrett and the entire Garage Starts team, the work of supporting entrepreneurs is a calling. “I look at it as a ministry,” Barrett said. “It’s not unheard of for people to be in tears in our office. Literally, every entrepreneur we work with tells us they’re scared, lonely, or overwhelmed. They often say, ‘I feel like I’m on an island here.’”

“And, I get the amazing opportunity to tell them they’re just like everyone else, and it’s just a matter of getting through it,” he added.

“We have an opportunity to help people find success and balance. You can run a successful business without sacrificing everything else in your life. We are truly motivated by helping people.”

Are you trying to launch a business, improve your current business, or need some advice for recalibrating your company in a post-COVID world? Please visit garagestarts.com. The entire team looks forward to helping you.

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Visit the Lake Superior Railroad Museum

Video by Joe Fairbanks

Visit the Lake Superior Railroad Museum
By Andrea Busche

Whether you are a native Duluthian or just here for a visit, consider adding the Lake Superior Railroad Museum (LSRM) to your itinerary. Featuring the finest collection of railroad equipment, vintage locomotive artifacts, and educational exhibits, LSRM has something for everyone.

“The mission of LSRM is to preserve, interpret, and present to the public the history of railroading, especially as it relates to our area,” said Ken Buehler – Executive Director of LSRM and General Manager of the North Shore Scenic Railroad.

History

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the railroad industry in Duluth and the surrounding area, you’re in luck; all stories and exhibits displayed at LSRM are tied directly to the region at large.

“The founders focused on this area. The artifacts here – the snowplows, rotaries, steam locomotives, diesels, and the cars – are all very important to this area because they ran in this area,” Buehler said. “This is where they stayed because this is where they worked.”

Duluth’s Depot was originally constructed in 1892 by the Northern Pacific Railway. Today, it is home to LSRM and its partner, the North Shore Scenic Railroad. And, if the proposed Northern Lights Express, a high-speed passenger rail service, becomes a reality, then the Duluth Depot would serve yet another important purpose: as a fully-operational transportation hub.

Collection Highlights

Buehler shared a few highlights LSRM has to offer. “The things that tourists like when they come here is the diversity of the artifacts. But yet, the rail enthusiasts will notice something very special about visiting LSRM, and that is the collection itself. For instance, there is the William Crooks, the first steam locomotive ever in Minnesota. It was brought up the Mississippi River on a barge.”

“And then, there is the largest and most powerful steam locomotive ever built, Number 227 Mallet from the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway. During WWII, it lugged down tons and tons of iron ore, and fed the machinery that saved the world.”

But even more compelling than the artifacts themselves are the personal stories that shine through the exhibits. “The stories of the men and women who built the railroads – that have built our great nation – are told at the LSRM through the artifacts that are in the collection,” Buehler said. “At LSRM, we’re full of stories about Duluth, about the evolution of the Iron Range, and about the great contributions made here in the Twin Ports, where rail meets sail.”

North Shore Scenic Railroad

In addition to the fantastic artifacts on display, visitors can take an actual train ride on the North Shore Scenic Railroad, which departs with regularity from the Duluth Depot. Here, the story and unique history of trains come alive, as people of all ages can take a fully narrated tour along the beautiful shore of Lake Superior.

In addition to the North Shore excursion, there is a pizza train, a beer tasting train, and even the family-friendly - and wildly popular - Thomas the Tank Engine weekends.

Large Economic Impact

LSRM and the North Shore Scenic Railroad comprise a large part of the Twin Ports’ tourism economy. “LSRM and North Shore Scenic Railroad are destination attractions,” Buehler said. “We support the Twin Ports tourism industry, which in turn supports 7,000 jobs and generates nearly $14 million per year in hotel/motel and tourism-related taxes. So, we have a huge economic impact on this area.”

“One example is our very popular Thomas the Tank Engine weekends,” he added. “The economic impact of having 18,000 people come and see Thomas and his best friend, Percy, here at LSRM has been documented to be $8.5 million.”

Funding and Support

LSRM is partially funded through the generous support of its nearly 1,000 members. It also receives a portion of the proceeds generated by the North Shore Scenic Railroad, and is otherwise funded through grants and other donations.

Buehler shared that LSRM’s success is due, in large part, to its large, and deeply dedicated, volunteer base. “We are an all-volunteer operation,” he shared. Our volunteers keep the museum vibrant; they keep the railroad running; and over the years, they’ve donated hundreds of thousands of hours.”

Learn More

LSRM maintains an interesting and educational YouTube channel, which can be found at Duluthtrains.com/videotours. Here, you can view over 130 behind-the-scenes video tours, take an in-depth look at the collection, hear railroad stories, and more.

An official guide to the LSRM, which offers detailed descriptions of each and every piece in the collection, is also available for purchase in their gift shop. The guide makes a perfect gift for train enthusiasts. But your experience isn’t fully complete without a museum tour and a ride on one of those impressive trains.

“What makes LSRM a destination,” Buehler shared, “Is that we are a world-class train museum. We have even been recognized by USA Today as the best transportation museum in America.”

For more information, please visit lsrm.org or duluthtrains.com.

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Sweet Treats and Sweeter Memories

Callie’s Sweets at Burlington Station in Two Harbors

by Sheryl Jensen

Locals and tourists alike have a fun and fanciful new place to satisfy their sweet tooths at Callie’s Sweets in Two Harbors, located in Burlington Station at Hwy 61 & 7th Avenue, just twenty minutes outside of Duluth.

With their grand opening on May 29, 2021, the shop features gourmet fudge, popcorn, caramels, and candied apples made with fresh ingredients and prepared in their own candy kitchen onsite with windows for patrons to see the goodies being made.

Callie Swanson

Twenty-one-year-old Callie Swanson, a Two Harbors’ resident, is in charge of the shop that bears her name. She decidedly comes from an entrepreneurial family. Her sister Ashleigh runs Lou’s Fish House; her mother owns and operates the popular Vine & Branches Inn, a boutique hotel located by Lou’s Fish House; and her father, Chris Swanson, is the mayor of Two Harbors who also owns a digital marketing company called PureDriven.

Callie said, “I know I am young to be starting a business, but I have a great team around me, including my sister Ashleigh who is helping me with equipment and licensing. The whole family is on board with everything. The idea for Callie’s Sweets was my dad’s idea originally. We are all so excited now to see everything coming together so well and finally opening the doors.”

About the potpourri of planned fudge and popcorn flavors, Callie noted that they will be a work in progress as they see what sells and what people’s favorites are. “We are hoping to have a majority of what’s currently on the list along with adding some more flavors.”

Fudge flavors include: Cookies and Cream, Peanut Butter, Cranberry Orange, Maple Pecan, Key Lime, Chocolate, Birthday Cake, Lemon Oreo, Strawberries and Cream, Cotton Candy, Chocolate Caramel Coconut, and Mint Oreo.

Popcorn flavors include: Cinnamon Roll, Caramel Corn, Animal Cookie, Peanut Butter, Birthday Cake, Cheddar Cheese, Butterfinger, Maple Bacon, and Orange Dreamsicle.

Full cases of traditional bulk candy including gummy bears, jelly beans, foreign and old-fashioned candies, and a variety of chocolates offer even more yummy options for kids and adults.

Tables, chairs and booths are available for seating inside. They also plan on a patio and a cozy area with fire pits outside.

Callie's Sweets is located in the new Burlington Station on Hwy 61 in Two Harbors

The 7,000 square foot building features a train and depot motif with model trains going around the interior of the building, with 5,000 feet of model train tracks and colorful train cars to connect to Two Harbor’s railroad history and North Shore Scenic Railroad memorabilia. They are looking at even adding a caboose in their parking lot.

Local artist Brian Olson has done some incredible murals for Callie’s Sweets. Outside of the building is a 130 feet by 12 foot mural of a train station with the entire Swanson family portrayed as people in the bustling depot.

Olson’s colorful indoor murals depict sights along the North Shore, railroad motifs, a train depot entrance as the shop’s entrance, and even an ore boat unloading colorful candy instead of iron ore.“The family gave me some ideas and then allowed me to put things together. It has been a fun project,” said Olson.

Murals by Brian Olson

Some painted storefront facades inside also give a charming small-town ambiance with a fine flowers shop, a cafe, a bank and a woman’s clothing store.

According to Marketing Director Jordan Seidel, “Callie’s Sweets will be open year-round. The space will also be available for birthday parties and other events. We will have a Farmer’s Market in the parking lot, Saturday mornings, beginning in June. We will also have outdoor games like corn hole on the patio.”

Seidel said, “We have a fun retail gift shop including some seasonal merchandise.” He noted that they plan on having gardening, kitchen, and home decor, and train-related items, games, puzzles, women’s clothing, and more for sale.

He noted that they are also starting to work with some area resorts to put together sampler packs as gifts for their guests. So far they are working with Breezy Point and Bluefin Bay.

Callie is also excited about the fundraising opportunities they are offering. They want to help organizations and teams to succeed with a new and different kind of fund raising. of selling their treats and then helping organizations promote their fundraisers on Callie’s Sweets’ social media.

They had started as an online business in 2020 are still continuing their online ordering as well at calliessweets.com People can order fudge, caramels, popcorn and gift boxes. Current updates can be found on their Facebook site.

The Swanson family

Callie said, “It’s very exciting to see everything coming together. I remember taking family trips together and enjoying family-friendly places. I want to create that same atmosphere at Callie’s Sweets. We want everyone to have this as another fun place to go to in Two Harbors.”

Providing employment for area residents and bringing tourists to other businesses in the area are added benefits to this “sweet spot.”

Seidel added, “The plan is for people to see something new every time they come here. We can’t wait for people to have the North Shore’s ‘Sweetest Adventure.’”

Callie’s Sweets is open seven days a week from 10 am to 8 pm.

Murals by Brian Olson

 

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