It took me one visit to love Duluth. Even in February, when the winds hurl sub-zero winds from across the lake.
In February, we felt like we had the lake to ourselves. In the summers you have to share.
Last weekend we headed 2.5 hours north back to Duluth. A mere 2.5 hours north, I-35 takes you far away from the hustle and bustle of the Twin Cities. As the hills open up and you reach the port you’ll feel like you’ve different world.
There was a blues music festival down in the open park by the aquarium, bringing lots of visitors to the area. Canadian wildfires north cast a sort of sleepy haze over the lake.
Somehow I found a hotel room rather last minute and it hadn’t been easy. Due to a work conflict I had to re-arrange our little summer getaway from Door County to Duluth. Most every hotel from Spirit Mountain to Two Harbors was booked.
The hotel I booked placed us in a could-be-cleaner room with an lousy bed, but offered fantastic amenities (including bikes, a pool, fire pit + s’mores, free freezie pops, fruit water, and a robust breakfast) and a spectacular view over the lake walk.
We revisited a couple of places we loved in February and ventured to some new ones. Here’s a glimpse into the first part of what will become one of my very favorite days:
Breakfast at New London Cafe.
We filled up here on the way to the beach. Prior to 9:30 cars were already lining up along the street out front. The woman who seated us and served our meals exchanged warm, familiar greetings with nearly everyone who walked in the door.
New London Cafe’s setting feels like a cross between a coffee shop and a friend’s house. The breakfast menu offers a variety of savory and sweeter items.
If you’re looking for cultivated, organic, local artisanal fare there’s always a place like At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe. If you’re looking for yummy food prepared with care, this might fit your bill. Jake contentedly polished off a Denver omelet while I did the same with the Breakfast #1: One egg, toast, my choice of meat & potatoes (a value at less than $5).
A side of fruit might be a cup of mandarin oranges and if you are like me, you are more than ok with that.
The little cups of strawberry jam that came with our toast tasted homemade. If you order breakfast potatoes, choose the New London Potatoes which are crispy hash browns topped with melted cheddar and little bits of onion.
We enjoyed our meals, read the local publications (when’s the last time you saw a printed tv guide?!?) and sipped coffee from satisfying sturdy New London mugs, the type you can grab with both hands. Later, I learned New London Cafe is under the same ownership as Betty’s Pies.
Point Park Beach
To get to this beach beach, drive to the end of Canal Park and cross the little aerial lift bridge and drive until you really can’t drive much farther.
This narrow little peninsula called Park Point is actually one of the largest freshwater sandbars in the world. This article published in Lake Superior Magazine (2012) details some of the community’s history. According to this article, the sandbar has been here for 5,000 years. All six miles of the beach remain public.
We drove until we reached the little airport where sea planes land and take-off. From here, there’s a little trail through the sand dunes to the water.
The beach was quiet on Sunday morning. Aside from a sunbather and We gently set our belongings and shoes in the sand and stepped into the water.
The cool waves gently lapped our ankles. We could see all of the smooth stones at the bottom. This would be the perfect place to unwind with a big beach umbrella, blanket and book.
The goal of this trip was to make summer last a little longer. Pausing at the beach made this seem possible. As I’m getting older, magic seems less akin miracles and more like slowing good time down, even if just for a moment.
Park Point Beach
Head towards the airport at 5000 Minnesota Ave, Duluth, MN 55802