Duluth has long been a destination for those moved by the power of Lake Superior and the pristine beauty of the port city on the hill. There’s nothing like standing next to one of the giant “Salties” or ships, plowing through the waves beneath the Aerial Lift Bridge, destined for far off oceans. In recent years, a new neighborhood has emerged, packed with restaurants, shops, and a hum of creative energy. Duluth’s Lincoln Park Craft District is situated around West Superior Street between the bottom of the hill and the ore docks. What was once a collection of bars and furniture stores now sports gorgeous taprooms, a craft school, coffee, and all kinds of delicious things to eat.
Here’s a small visual tour of the neighborhood on one beautifully sunny day to serve as just a bit of inspiration for building an ideal day trip from the cities.
The interior is almost aggressively quaint with wood everything, a few plastic seats reminiscent of elementary school days, and a hum of activity. In addition to being an all day cafe, this building also houses a folk school offers all kinds of classes. Inside here anyone can learn to make that head, heart, and hands connection to build things and forge connections.
Corktown Deli and Brews is a part of a beloved restaurant family, being connected to the Duluth Grill and OMC Smokehouse right across the street. Smoked meats are the basis for some serious sandwich action, and all the condiments and good cheese only enhance the promise of the perfect bite. Along with all the sandwiches, some meats and cheeses are available by the pound.
Because seating is limited, it’s nice to know that all those sandwiches are deliverable right around the corner to Bent Paddle Brewery’s Taproom.
Since opening, Duluth’s Bent Paddle has been a popular taste of the crisp north, with approachable brews and a deep connection to the city and this corner of the state. Last year the taproom expanded into a stunner of a space that hosts food pop-ups, a little merchandise store, plenty of ways to entertain, and cozy seating that makes it a popular spot for a night out on the town. Several spots deliver food right to the taproom, including OMC Smokehouse and the aforementioned deli.
OMC Smokehouse overflows with visitors so often that the courtyard acts as a glorified holding pen, with families and hungry visitors milling about outside with hour-plus wait times. Although there are marshmallows available for toasting s’mores during the wait, pros know it’s best to order take-out or delivery to area breweries. Not only do they run the incredible barbecue selection over the Bent Paddle, but a local service called the Food Dudes will haul succulent pork, beef, and chicken all over the city for a nominal fee.
In addition to slow smoked meats, OMC Smokehouse has a few other utterly craveable dishes like a brow-sweat inducing hot fried chicken.
Love Creamery opens at noon with espresso and a selection of high quality ice cream and continues serving late into the evening. A little affogato, ice cream with espresso poured over it, is a perfect snack or dessert after a long day of eating.
Ursa Minor Brewing just opened last fall and fast became the spot to wait out a snowstorm huddled up around the pizza oven’s fire with a pint of Perfect Duluth Day. The eye-catching black brick building is a gorgeous addition to the neighborhood, as are the refreshing brews.
For those looking for a break from all the great beer in the Duluth, there is also a surge of cideries opening, including Wild State Cider. Founded by two friends who met as camp counselors, the entire business is dedicated to celebrating the outdoors. The taproom includes a welcome dose of greenery and light airiness even when the weather outside is a bit glum. The crisp, dry ciders are snappy refreshments.
There’s also Duluth Cider to make a stop inside. Food trucks serve here, but outside food is welcome. Spicy, hearty things pair wonderfully with the gluten-free cider made entirely with local apples. This cidery is run by a married couple who first met in Duluth before heading out around the world, and working at a cidery in Boston before Lake Superior called them back.
Clyde Iron Works was long a factory and another giant industrial building not far from the water, that fell dormant after a heyday of iron working. At the beginning of the Lincoln Park redevelopment as a destination for dining and craftspeople, an investor bought the building a undertook the massive process of converting it into a music venue with a bar and restaurant attached to it.
This is just a small taste of all the good things happening in this exciting neighborhood. It’s enough that one day trip might require a few follow up visits just to see experience it all.