Welcome college students: Here's what it takes to be a true Duluthian
Welcome, students. Although much of your life for the next x-many years will center around your respective colleges, you will occasionally find yourself mingling with people who have a permanent Duluth or Superior address. Some of the clothing, recreation and things these people get excited about might seem a little ... different. Quirky? Eccentric? It's best to just nod and play along.
We consulted friends, frenemies, readers and Tweeters to compile a list of ways to look-act-dress-think like you've always been here. Here are the results. Remember: fake it till you make it.
Arguably Duluth's most-photographed structure, the Aerial Lift Bridge has a darker side. It is the uncontrollable force that wants to ruin your reputation for always being on time. Prepare to be stalled while it raises to let the gamut of lakers, salties and sailboats cruise through. How to handle this unexpected break in your day: Put it in park and explore the three-car radius; post your angst to Snapchat; just dance, man.
A CERTAIN ACRONYM
Anyone with any sort of online presence knows that TBT means you dug around in vintage photo albums — the physical kind that you can touch — and yanked an adorable image of yourself in a cat costume from Halloween, circa kindergarten. Not in these parts, though. TBT means Trampled By Turtles. This is where a gaggle of guys went from a group of independent musicians to band of rapid-playing bluegrassers to the late-night television circuit to their current status: concert most likely to fill Bayfront Festival Park.
There is a signature look and lifestyle in the north woods that is part joke/part funny because it's true. Here's how to obtain a very-Duluth aesthetic: fleece and flannel, beards, banjos, Subarus, dogs, Keens, Lake Superior tattoos, shorts for shoveling, stocking caps during a summer show at Bayfront Festival Park. You'll learn to always carry an extra layer of clothing and that you need trail-ready shoes. You never know when you might need to break into a spontaneous hike.
HIT THE TAPS
For the past 18-plus years, you've been drinking inferior tap water and you didn't even know it. News flash: your hometown water tastes like it was sifted through hot rocks and drunk through a mouthful of braces. Prepare to have your mind blown the first time you flip that faucet. You'll be like Aquafina-who?
At some point in your life, you might ski or snowboard to a bar. Just know that. You live in a place where ingenuity is expected during the inevitable snowpocalypse. So prop your winter gear in the alcove by the bathroom, plop some quarters in the jukebox and see where the night takes you. Also: this might feel like a flyover state, but the surfing is tops. Find a wavy November day and hit up Stoney Point. You will see surfers on Lake Superior. Or, for you go-big-or-go-homers: Maybe we'll be watching you hang 10. Anything, really, goes. We've also seen people ride couches down ski hills. You do you.
Lake Superior, as you know, is the largest freshwater lake in the world. It is also the go-to for some freaking weird visuals. When the weather does anything, go to the lake. It's the thing. You will see colors you've never seen, potentially terrifying wave action, ice formations that should be displayed in art galleries. It is also a great influencer: It keeps us both warmer and colder, depending on the season and its color changes, seemingly, on a whim. And if you're an artist, there is no better song-poem-painting-interpretive dance than one inspired by this beast.
WHERE TO BE
Listen. There is no reason to go into Canal Park in the summer. We know that's where they keep Grandma's Sports Garden, but there is another version of the popular hangout by Miller Hill Mall, and they have bean bags in the yard. Should you brave this tourist destination, there is a chance you will get run over by a surrey, one of the multiple-passenger bicycle-like vehicles and the mode of transportation favored by families of four-to-six. Also: during peak season you have to pay for parking, which is lame. Some people will tell you that you also need to leave when the city hosts large events, like Grandma's Marathon. That's between you and your god.
You've heard "buy local." Now play it through a megaphone times a trillion. We like our Duluth-born, Duluth-raised, Duluth-based things, whether it's gin (Vikre Distillery), radio (KUMD-FM 103.3 or KUWS-FM 91.3), original television programming ("The Playlist" on WDSE-WRPT PBS 8 and 31), our most famous folkie (Bob Dylan was born here), live podcasts ("Take it With You"), pizza (Sammy's), craft beer (Bent Paddle is so hot right now) or cookies (Positively Third Street Bakery), it's the best of the best. Find your breakfast place, coffee roaster, band or hiking trail and bask in its greatness. We've got spirit, yes we do.
Inevitably it's going to storm here. You will know, logically, that it isn't possible for your car to slide down Lake Avenue and into Lake Superior, but it will cross your mind once, twice, while sliding broadside down a hill. More importantly, you need to know that storms are simply spontaneous holidays. So when you feel the air change and the signature beeps of the National Weather Service, gather your people and provisions. You will want drinks, snacks, toilet paper, entertainment, someone who plays a musical instrument and another who is wacky enough to pull snow stunts.
We're tossing the word "Duluth" around a lot here, but just a bridge away is a place with some darn-fine living: Superior. Highlights include beer sales on Sunday, which doesn't happen in Minnesota, more beach for your buck and some of the best burgers in the region between Anchor Bar and Gronk's. Plus, the view is outstanding.