10 cheap dates in the Twin Ports
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
Thur.-Sat., $5, all ages
222 E. Superior St.
Some of the funniest people to grace local stages are part of Renegade Theater Company’s Improv comedy team. The rotating crew of black-shirted jokers performs Thursday through Saturday on the stage at Teatro Zuccone — and tickets rival that of an Extra Value Meal.
On Thursday nights the troupe plays “Long Story Short,” a long-form narrative style of comedy in which the audience gives a one-word suggestion that the storyteller uses as prompt to tell a true tale from his/her own life. Then the comedians use that story to create scenes, characters and chaos.
On Fridays and Saturdays the crew throws some elbows in competitive comedy complete with score-keeping and smack talk and a real-live referee. It’s always interactive, it’s always different.
Note: The 8 p.m. shows are family friendly, so you can take your visiting parents and younger siblings without things getting awkward.
Late nights at Lake Avenue
Lake Avenue Cafe
$5-$10, all ages
394 S. Lake Ave.
Just because your forefathers opted for breakfast menus from 24-hour chain restaurants to quell those late-night stomach quakes doesn’t mean you have to keep the tradition alive.
Lake Avenue Cafe dials things down post-9 p.m. to appetizers and pizza — but not your standard fare of appetizers and pizza. Chorizo-stuffed dates, anyone? Meatball and asparagus pizza? They keep the kitchen open until midnight.
There is also a cozy bar tucked into the back of the restaurant perfect for asking someone out on that second date, a deck for those unseasonably warm fall nights and bands on the weekends.
Wednesdays, free, 21+
220 W. Superior St.
Perhaps you are begging to belt out some Journey, vintage Fleetwood, Gladys Knight or Adele. Wednesdays are Karaoke Night at RT Quinlan’s. Tunes are served up by enigmatic emcee Jody Kujawa, a regular Belushi-like staple of local theater who also does a fine Bonnie Tyler.
Fun fact about your local art scene: Exhibiting artists want you to look at their work. They will lure you in with promises to wet your whistle and sometimes even ply you with finger food. Plus, art is cool.
Keep your eyes peeled for opening receptions at galleries — there are dozens — in Duluth and Superior. These are free and open to the public. Mingle, munch, eye the acrylics, sip, deconstruct sculptures.
Harbor City Roller Dames
Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, Pioneer Hall
$10, all ages
Even if you don’t necessarily understand how to score roller derby, the Harbor City Roller Dames provide enough of a show to keep you from caring that you have no idea if they are even winning. Fishnets, helmets, jammers. And usually there is a side show of rock ’n’ roll entertainment as a soundtrack and a colorful emcee providing commentary.
Plus: These ladies are always donating a percentage of ticket sales to something worthwhile.
The season opens Sept. 24 with a bout against Delta Delta Di of the Northstar Roller Girls in Minneapolis.
If viewing makes your roller skate laces twitch with envy, they are open to new teammates.
Long, slow walks
This area is admittedly rich in vistas, which don’t cost a thing. In these pages, outdoors writer Sam Cook has provided a list of running trails — but feel free to walk on those, too. Make it a destination hike by starting in Chester Bowl, making a pit stop for homemade root beer and a double-fisted burrito at Burrito Union, then circle back to your starting point. Go biking on the Willard Munger State Trail and stop off for Wing Zings at the Buffalo House. Get close and personal with Lake Superior on the Lakewalk, then ditch out for a margarita at Mexico Lindo in the Fitger’s Brewery Complex or stop in for coffee and board games at Amazing Grace in the DeWitt-Seitz building in Canal Park.
And then there is always the long, slow walk on the beach …
Better than the drive-thru
413 Tower Ave., Superior
We can debate best local burgers until PETA sends us a cease and desist, but the truth is that the most legendary of these is the Anchor Bar in Superior, the oft talked about, nautical-themed, must-stop shop. (And not to mention it’s Guy Fieri approved).
Sit at the bar, sit in barbershop chairs, sit in a library-style alcove. Try the Olive Burger or the Cashew Burger or the Gallybuster. The prices rival anything you will order at a drive-thru window and the rustic ambiance is way better than the front seat of your car.
The defining feature of the late fall, early winter season in Duluth is Bentleyville, the free light display at Bayfront Festival Park that includes hot chocolate, Santa and a holiday tree the size of an office building. This is a free tour. Tack on skating at the adjacent rink.
An armband for the annual Homegrown Music Festival, held the first week in May, is a bargain for all its artistic offerings.
As things get warmer, outdoor concert events start cropping up in local parks.
And if you’re still here for the summer months, the Park Point Art Fair makes for good browsing, Glensheen Mansion has started offering croquet, and the people-watching is tops during Grandma’s Marathon weekend.
Movies with a twist
$8 all ages
222 E. Superior St.
This isn’t your local multiplex. For one thing, they carry Surly and tequila-flavored suckers at the concession stand and you can order popcorn served in something that doesn’t rival your gas tank. They are more “Human Centipede” than “The Hangover.” Plus they host special movie events like the “Silent Film/Loud Score” series in which local musicians provide a soundtrack for vintage films.
On the horizon: The theater is pairing with the comedy troupe Dink Tank for a “Mystery Science Theater”-esque series in which the comedians provide commentary on classic movies like “Jurassic Park” and “Forrest Gump.”
Symphony Hall, DECC, $10
We know you aren’t just spending your time marinating in Samuel Adams and that you have high-culture curiosity. The Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra offers discounted tickets to students. Get your Bach on for $10. The only concert that isn’t eligible is the New Year’s Eve program — but you had plans anyway.
In the meantime, keep that student ID handy. It will get you a discount at the Duluth Playhouse and Play Ground and other local theaters, as well as the Minnesota Ballet.