There’s plenty to do away from the marathon hubbubWelcome to Duluth, runners and accompanying cowbell ringers. This Grandma’s Marathon weekend you will ultimately end up in Canal Park either wrapped in a tinfoil cape or playing the role of Gatorade jockey for your favorite runner. Truth be told, most of your food, drink and entertainment needs can be met without ever leaving this neighborhood.
By: Christa Lawler, Duluth News Tribune
Welcome to Duluth, runners and accompanying cowbell ringers. This Grandma’s Marathon weekend you will ultimately end up in Canal Park either wrapped in a tinfoil cape or playing the role of Gatorade jockey for your favorite runner. Truth be told, most of your food, drink and entertainment needs can be met without ever leaving this neighborhood.
But maybe you’re feeling regionally curious or maybe you’re tired of shielding your eyes from the glare of sunlight bouncing off the medals wrapped around the necks of so many smiling limpers.
Here are some things to do and see and eat this weekend outside of Canal Park.
You have burned so many calories, whether you have just hoofed your way in from Two Harbors or clapped yourself silly while encouraging runners.
The Duluth Grill, 118 S. 27th Ave. W., has a menu the size of the steak, but don’t let the comparison fool you: It also has vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. This restaurant is extra conscious of the origin of its ingredients and they have an on-site garden. Still, it’s wrapped in an unassuming diner setting.
These food standards also apply at Chester Creek Café, 1902 E. Eighth St.: An emphasis on ingredients, its own garden, dietary restrictions taken into consideration. There is a different vibe here, though. And it’s far enough off the main thoroughfare that, save for the blisters, you can forget the marathon ever happened.
If you want to get charmed to pieces, take a detour to Gordy’s Hi-Hat, 411 Sunnyside Drive, Cloquet. This seasonal restaurant has an old-school drive-in feel. They hand-patty burgers, make homemade onion rings and the pile of Alaskan fillets on the fish sandwich deserve a hearty “whoa.”
Each of these restaurants were among the local stops featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” on the Food Network and are worth considering regardless of whether Guy Fieri is your spirit animal when it comes to food.
The best deck in town is at Mexico Lindo, 600 E. Superior St. It’s a good place to find a margarita the size of your head while thinking pretty thoughts about the moon and Lake Superior.
Just looking for a snack? The Portland Malt Shoppe, 716 E. Superior St., is cute as heck and serves thick shakes and other ice cream treats.
Two words: Superior Street. This stretch, just across the freeway from Canal Park, is the heart of the local arts and entertainment district. A good rule of thumb: If you see neon lights, something interesting is probably happening inside.
There is an eclectic mix of music options ranging from the longtime Minneapolis pop-ish band The Honeydogs, who play tonight at Tycoons, 132 E. Superior St., to Maxi Childs Trio and its jazz standards at Blackwater, 231 E. Superior St., to Sold Out and its rock and roll covers at The Rex, 600 E. Superior St.
On Saturday, catch local favorite rock band Dirty Horse at Tycoons.
If your stomach muscles survived intact, give them an extra post-race nudge with comedy at Dubh Linn Irish Pub, 109 W. Superior St., where Todd Andrew and Kevin Cahak perform at 6:30 and 9 p.m. Saturday. As an athlete, you might prefer humor as a sport. The comedy troupe from Renegade Theater Company performs full-contact improv at Teatro Zuccone, 222 E. Superior St. There is even a referee involved.
For those thrill seekers in the mix, Spirit Mountain Recreation Area, 9500 Spirit Mountain Place, has been steadily accumulating ways to make the wind whip through your hair. The best of the rides is the Timber Twister Alpine Coaster, which includes a small car and a 3,200-foot track that winds through the trees in a roller coaster-y way. There are plenty of dips and curves and you control the speed. There is also a Zip Line and a mini-golf course designed by nationally known, Duluth-based architect David Salmela.
If you’re already feeling nostalgic for the route just run, the North Shore Scenic Railroad travels from the Depot, 506 W. Michigan St., through downtown Duluth and along the shore toward Two Harbors.
There are plenty of great looking houses along London Road, but the most storied of them all is Glensheen the Historic Congdon Estate, 3300 London Road. The chilling back story attracts some, but the Jacobean Revival mansion is also a time capsule of the early to mid-1900s.
Places to walk around
If you did everything right, you probably will still be able to walk after the races. So why not tack on some additional footwork.
Gooseberry Falls State Park has the kind of waterfalls that make great backdrops for Facebook profiles. Plus there are trails and a gorge and the Lake Superior shoreline. This park is about 13 miles northeast of Two Harbors. While you’re in the neighborhood, cruise to Split Rock Lighthouse, 3713 Split Rock Lighthouse Road, Two Harbors, which rivals the Aerial Lift Bridge for the amount of times it has been captured in photographs and paintings.
Jay Cooke State Park is filled with trails and wild flowers and one of those swinging suspension bridges that triggers the stomach flips. This is three miles east of Carlton on state Highway 210.
Not in the mood for a road trip? Check out the view from Enger Tower, a five-story structure built in 1939 and recently restored before a visit from King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway, who visited Duluth in mid-October 2011. You might be able to see your house from up there.