duluth travel diary

Sharing my trips and travels with all of you is one of my favorite things to do! Living in the northern Midwest I am within driving distance of a lot of beautiful places with so many fun things to do. One place that I haven’t been since I was a young girl that is within driving distance of my hometown is Duluth, Minnesota. Luckily enough one of my closest girlfriends from college moved there after graduation and was sweet enough to invite our whole group of best gal pals out there this past weekend for the ultimate girls weekend! It took me a little less than 5 hours to drive there from Grand Forks so needless to say I had quite the amazing solo roadtrip concert last Friday evening 😀

Not all of our friends were able to join us this past weekend which was tough not to be all together but we are looking forward to a few weeks down the road when we ALL will get to see one another to celebrate one of our friends’ upcoming wedding! My friend who hosted us in Duluth has such a beautiful home that she and her husband purchased just a couple of months ago. It is 100 years old and has so much unique character. The yard and landscaping are beautiful and you are welcomed in the best possible way by a sweet front porch and my dream: a yellow door!!

Friday evening since we all were arriving at various times (and fairly late at night) we just spent time sitting in the living room in our pajamas and catching up; arguably the best thing to do! On Saturday morning we enjoyed breakfast together at home and then hopped in the car to check out a local woodworking shop that our friend said is one of her favorite stores in Duluth. It’s called Bailey Builds and friends 🙂


It was SO beautiful – the owner is a husband and wife team who make unique natural and painted wood decor. They sell a variety of sizes from small to HUGE statement pieces. They also commission pieces and will do specific measurements and color schemes to match your home and space. I fully admit that I was very, very intrigued and definitely had a conversation with the owner and took a card so that I could be in touch with her….One half of the ownership duo, Anna. even went as far as to take us back into the studio portion of the storefront space to show us where the magic happens. It was so fun to talk to her and hear the story behind the process. Follow this link to check our their website and you can also follow Anna on Instagram for all of the details at @annabaileying


After our short shopping venture we journeyed up some of the hilly streets of Duluth to climb up Enger Tower and get the best view of the shore of Lake Superior and just an overall beautiful birds-eye view of the city and the harbor. The grounds of the tower were filled with beautiful flowers and there was even a wedding ceremony going on in the pavilion overlooking the harbor (that we may or may NOT have almost walked into/interrupted). The tower itself that we climbed up for the view reminded me of a rapunzel-like structure and I had to take a great photo of it for memory’s sake!


After the wedding ceremony concluded we took the steps up to the pavilion to get the view of the harbor and we were able to capture a great group picture (minus our friend Sarah who didn’t arrive until shortly after this photo!)  You can see a good view of the harbor behind us and it didn’t quite make the picture but there is a magnificent lift bridge where all of the large ships enter the harbor that is fun to see in action!


After our morning of shopping and climbing we had worked up a good appetite so we headed into the downtown area and took a nice walk down to the Canal park district. Inside of one of the market/shopping buildings is a to-go/fast service eatery that is very highly regarded. A few of my friends had been there before and had amazing things to say so we all agreed it was something we needed to have! Northern Waters Smokhaus lived up to every expectation I had and SO much more. We had to wait about 35 minutes for our food with how busy it was/how long the line was but once I tasted my food I would have waited any amount of hours to have it again!


The sandwich and bagel selection is incredible – fish, meat, veggie, and all types of options you can imagine. Their specialty is salmon so a few of the girls went with a cajun smoked salmon bagel sandwich. As I was scanning the menu I couldn’t stop going back to the salami, olive, and cheese box so it was an easy decision. The salami was homemade and the best I have ever had. Hands down. The cheese and olives were local and so flavorful and it came with fresh bread and better for the perfect meal. I also ordered a side of potato salad because I’m always up for a cold salad and that also gets a very clear two thumbs up!


After our late lunch we headed back to the house to spend some time relaxing, recharging, and getting ready for the evening. On our walk back to the car we took the boardwalk along the shore of the lake and sat in the rock beach and spent a good amount of time skipping rocks and enjoying the view. It’s such a beautiful place and with the vastness and size of Lake Superior you truly feel like you’re on the shores of an ocean since there is no end of the water in sight.


After a recharge session consisting of a long, enjoyable backyard conversation over a few cocktails we changed clothes and hitched a ride back down to Canal Park to experience it in the evening and enjoy a dinner at another fantastic restaurant! We ate our supper at Canal Park Brewing Company and similar to our lunch spot it was so difficult to pick because the whole menu sounded amazing. Each of us ordered something different to enjoy and I had fun listening to everyone’s reactions to their beers and meals. I went with a (VERY) spicy burger topped with a mango chutney-style sauce,  ghost pepper, pepperjack cheese, bacon, and ham. The burger was SO good but I almost couldn’t make it through with the heat from the ghost peppers. The fries and my beer were both great and might have been my saving grace when it came to getting through most of the burger!!


We also shared the nachos at the beginning of our meal as an appetizer and they were topped with pork and a great black bean, corn combination that made them unique and very tasty! After our meal we did some more walking on the boardwalk in the moonlight and walked right up to the lift bridge so we could see it up close.

Grandma’s Sports Garden is where we enjoyed an hour or two of some college flashbacks of getting our dancing in and having a great time singing along to some of our favorite songs from back in the middle and high school days. As I mentioned earlier this was my first time in Duluth since I was very young so it was my first experience of the night life and you can tell how fun it would be to have a full night out there, especially when school is in session and all of the UMD students are out and about.

Sunday morning consisted of one last front porch coffee chat as a group. These girlfriends are and will continue to always be one of my sweetest blessings in life. Nothing can replace the love that dear friends have for each other and we already are counting down the days to being together again! We also made LOTS of big plans for our annual girls weekends in the future and I will look forward to sharing them with all of you on the blog year after year.

As always, thank you so much for reading. Have a wonderful week and I’ll be back soon with more 🙂


xoxo Jen


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