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Multi-generational travel is booming

Duluthians cheer when our beloved city makes a top 10 list, especially when we're ranked for the quality of life we so treasure. The May 2015 issue of the AARP Bulletin listed Duluth the No. 5 "Most Livable Small City," based on scoring across 60...

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Duluthians cheer when our beloved city makes a top 10 list, especially when we're ranked for the quality of life we so treasure. The May 2015 issue of the AARP Bulletin listed Duluth the No. 5 "Most Livable Small City," based on scoring across 60 livability indicators. In addition, Duluth was in the top 10 for "Easiest Cities to Get Around."

This type of national recognition puts Duluth on the baby boomers' radar as a desirable destination to visit or possibly retire, and comes at a time when this generation is bursting on the tourism scene in a significant manner. As retirement becomes reality in record numbers, boomers have the time and money to travel. And they prefer to travel with their children and grandchildren.

Multi-generational travel is exploding across the U.S. According to a 2014 study conducted by AAA, 36 percent of respondents were planning to take a trip with their extended family in the next 12 months. Top activities included hiking, biking, rafting and horseback riding. Older generations are living longer and maintaining healthful lifestyles which are conducive to planning active family getaways.

Even before they retired, my parents wanted to provide the full Walt Disney World experience to my sisters and our families before the grandkids got too old to enjoy it. Seventeen of us spent a week in Orlando, Fla., taking in the sights. We reveled in the majesty of the Magic Kingdom (donning matching T-shirts my parents printed for the occasion). We created a special week's worth of memories we'll treasure forever.

Grandparents today are focused on sharing experiences and making memories with their children and grandchildren. Most of this travel takes place during the summer when kids aren't in school-a time Duluth is in its full glory, providing a prime setting for multi-generational vacations.

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Our extensive trail system offers ample hiking and biking opportunities that accommodate a wide range of ages and ability levels. Whether it's a stroll along the Lakewalk, pedaling the Willard Munger Trail or exploring the paths of Hartley Nature Center, families can find the perfect fit for their outdoor adventure. Families can add swimming at the hotel pool, watching ships glide under the Aerial Lift Bridge and/or a picnic at Park Point for an abundance of experiences with little or no cost.

With so many free options, grandparents can expand their vacation plans to include outings at Duluth's family friendly attractions specifically designed with children in mind. Whether it's returning to a place they took their kids way back when or visiting a new attraction that didn't exist in those days, the choices are endless.

Traveling with extended family is projected to trend upward for many years. Boomers and millennials represent the two largest population segments with a combined total of approximately 155 million, according to the Pew Research Institute. Oftentimes these two segments travel together as part of a multi-generational vacation, creating a significant demographic with the potential to draw a new generation of visitors to our city.

Anna Tanski is president/CEO of Visit Duluth and lives in Hermantown with her husband, Jason. She has two children, Allison and Steven. She’s a native of the Twin Ports, born and raised in Superior, hence a Green Bay Packer fan to the core. Email her at anna@visitduluth.com .

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