Back to college: Learn how to live like a local
Welcome, students. You've heard of buy local, right. We've got a new one for you: live local.
Live local is a concept that goes beyond knowing the origin story of your blueberries and running into the woman who made your shoes at a coffee shop where they roast the beans in-house.
Still do that, of course, but also do a Twin Ports deep dive. After you unpack your fleece, unpack the city. Learn it, live it, love it like a local. You don't have to change your mailing address, but you could. Here are some points of entry.
CANAL PARK PRIDE
One of the first things you will discover is that the locals get a certain look on their face when considering Canal Park. It has a well-earned rep as a tourist destination, and the idea of parking during peak periods is enough to give a driver an extreme case of fantods. Know that. But also know this: Canal Park is pretty amazing. And it's not just the oh-so storied dance floor at Grandma's Sports Garden. The Lakewalk feels like vacation, the rocky shoreline offers scenic spots for existential stuff, there is hyper-local collection of food-drink options, and even the crustiest of lifelong Duluthians can't help but watch as a ship passes through the canal. So go ahead and own your good Canal Park-itude.
THAT FAMOUS BRIDGE
Here's something that is probably a fact: Every person who has ever set foot in Duluth city limits has taken at least one photograph of the Aerial Lift Bridge. It's unique, it's robotic, it's tall, it moves and sometimes scenic things involving fog or sky colors or big wave action happen around it. The bridge was originally built in 1905, then upgraded in 1929. So that's cool. But here are a bunch of other equally worthy places to take a snap, according to an informal poll of News Tribune photographers: Brighton Beach, Enger Tower, Park Point, Bagley Nature Area, Hartley Nature Center, Ely's Peak. Go for a hike and find your fave.
It's 7:03 a.m. and you have to get to school in 12 minutes to meet your study group. But your windshield looks like someone frosted it with a thick coat of pure ice. Just two days ago, you wore a T-shirt to an illegal beach fire on Park Point and now this. Your scraper is still locked up with a survival kit full of Clif bars, water purifying tablets and matches. Good thing you have an incomplete list of things that locals know you can use as a makeshift ice scraper: for the retro musicheads, a CD jewel case; for the foodies, a spatula; for the shoppers, a credit card; for the out-of-staters, a driver's license — Montana, Idaho and Washington are confirmed as good picks, though Minnesota is too weak to withstand its own weather; for the athletes, an ice skate blade; for the very ill-prepared, fingernails; for the casual sorts who don't give a rip about clocks, eventually the blast from your car heater will melt it. Eventually.
For those returning to Duluth, get ready for some cool new stuff that has cropped up over the summer. Hoops Brewing, the new brewery by Dave Hoops, opened in late July in the old Timber Lodge Steakhouse location. Drink some brews, play some pong, bring in a sandwich from Northern Waters Smokehaus. Solve Entertainment, an escape room, opened at its new location (120 E. Superior St.); and Common Apparel, a local brand created by a collective of outdoor sports enthusiastics and the people who chronicle that lifestyle, has hats, hoodies and T-shirts — and a retail spot — at (202 E. Superior St.). Duluth Coffee Co. expanded its shop — and it's offerings — to include beer, wine, a new roaster and ops for coffee-education. Nyanyika Banda, who has offered pop-up and catering for the past few years, is opening Martha's Daughter at 107 E. Superior St., site of the original Coney Island — which she plans to pay homage to on some level. The reopening of the historic NorShor Theatre is February 2018 with a production of "Mamma Mia!"
It can be very easy to live life within a certain-mile radius of one's campus. It's time to go west, youngins. For the past few years, the Lincoln Park neighborhood has been building up as a craft district: beer is made there, bags are made there, shoes, ceramics and hella good food is made there. Lincoln Park itself has Miller Creek, disc golf, a mega rock shaped like an elephant. Further west, there is advanced-level climbing at Casket Quarry, Beaner's Central, a good old-fashioned coffeeshop-music venue that hosts nationally touring acts in addition to open mic, Gannucci's Italian Market, a good place to get a great sandwich, and Zenith Bookstore, an adorable indie shop.
You probably know that Bob Dylan was born here, right. Before he moved to Hibbing and freaked out all of the squares, the famous folkie was just a kid kicking around the local kindergarten scene. Here are some other famous people who have enjoyed a Duluth address at some point: comedian Maria Bamford, whose Netflix series "Lady Dynamite" has been renewed for a second season, and she drops in on occasion both formally, with a show on a local stage, and informally — you probably wouldn't know she was here unless you were, like, Facebook friends with her sister; Nobel Prize winning novelist Sinclair Lewis, best known for "Main Street," lived for a while in the Congdon Park neighborhood; The OG of movie trailers, Don LaFontaine, who famously said "In a world ..."; And the next time you pull a pan of pizza rolls from your oven at 3 a.m., remember to thank the late Jeno Paulucci, one of Duluth's best-known businessmen. An indie rock band that has been helping people chill since before you were born lives here: Low is Alan Sparhawk, Mimi Parker and Steve Garrington — and you might run into any of them at the Whole Foods Co-op. The same goes for folk hero Charlie Parr. Speaking of musicians, Trampled By Turtles formed in Duluth — but if you don't know that, your bluegrass cred is revoked.
For most of your life, you've probably trusted the calendar as a reference tool — specifically in regard to weather. No matter what far-flung corner of the country from whence you come, the summer months are warm, winter months are cool and in between is in between. Yeah, stop thinking like that. It's only true-ish here. At the time of this writing, it is a 60-degree, rainy day in mid-August. If a human was placed in a sensory deprivation tank for an indeterminant amount of time, then blindfolded, spun three times and re-introduced to outside Duluth — today could be mistaken for late October, it could be April. It could be mid-August. Shrug. The point: it's never a bad idea to pack a sweatshirt and stocking cap. Never.
Stop. Look at your foot. Assess: Are you wearing sensible footwear. OG D-Towners know that function is superlative to form. This doesn't mean that you have to subscribe to seasonal packages from Keen, but it does mean that the shoe on your foot should allow you to break out into a spontaneous hike at any moment. It should be sturdy, it should have tread, ideally your toes should be enclosed — unless you're going to, like, a wedding, in which case Chaco or Teva sandals are fine as formalwear. Alternately, you never know when you might have to abandon your vehicle and climb an icy 21st Ave. E. on foot. One word: crampons.
As a school-bound person, you've likely already been conditioned to celebrate a snow day. Better than a snow day, though, is an out-n-out snowpocalypse. Step one: go to the grocery and/or liquor store and relieve the shelves of as much deliciousness as you can cram into a cart. Step two: gather a handful of the kind of close friends who won't fight over your thigh meat if the snow blast goes on too long. Step three: monitor the proceedings and keep your friends in more normal climates apprised of how hard core your adopted city likes to do weather. Step four: As soon as it is safe, get out in it.