Hoovie’s Popcorn Wagon

When you think about Canal Park and what you love about it, you may reminisce about the Ariel Lift Bridge glowing in the sunlight, meandering through Bayfront Park, the busy lake walk and masses of seagulls, grabbing donuts at Crabby Ol’ Bills, watching the ships come in, visiting the Maritime Museum or having dinner at Grandma’s. For me? Apple cider and hot buttered popcorn. Hoovie’s Popcorn Wagon often sits between the Lighthouse parking lot and the Lakewalk, providing passersby with nutriment like caramel corn, hot coffee, and shaved ice. I myself prefer my walks to include food, so it’s perfect – especially those that include the Northshore and Duluth harbors panoramic skyline.

Va Bene Caffe

Va Bene Caffe, Berarducci’s Italian Restaurant is a quaint restaurant with warm, yellow walls off East Superior Street in Duluth. They have an open kitchen giving the place a welcoming but balanced ambiance. Think romantic date night meets sidewalk café. Intimate but airy, the classic Italian eatery has become the sweetheart of the Northshore crowds.

It’s not a surprise with house-made, hearty pastas, well selected wines and rave-worthy gelato. And the complimentary focaccia bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar certainly doesn’t hurt.

My personal recommendations? Try the ripallo pesto. It is made with basil pesto and is served with roasted potatoes, asparagus and penne pasta. Something lighter? The caprese with fresh basil, savory mozzarella, and ripe tomatoes is my summer go-to. It’s worth a stop any, or every, time you are in Duluth. Make sure to make a reservation so you get a seat on the patio as it sits above the lakewalk, giving a spectacular view of Lake Superior.

Blacklist Artisan Ales

Originally funded as a kickstarter campaign in 2012, Blacklist Artisan Ales was founded by childhood friends Brian Schanzenbach and Jon Loss, and later TJ Estabrock. Starting out contract brewing with Dubrue Brewing Company, a space it couldn’t use for a taproom because it was 4 feet too close to a church. A fire next door to the brewery in February of 2014 resulted in serious smoke damage. Fortunately, Blacklist was able to rebuild and take over the entire space.

You can find them in Downtown Duluth off Second Street in a historic, now infamous location. Originally built as the Delray Hotel in 1908, the three-story was more recently home of the notorious Last Place on Earth head shop whose owner, Jim Carlson is serving a 17½-year prison sentence for 51 convictions related to the sales of synthetic drugs at the store. Blacklist has carved a space in Duluth’s Historic Arts and Theater District, opening their doors on Black Friday of this past year.

The small artesian brewery serves up favorites like Or De Belgique, Classic Wit, Spruce, Verte, Wit Noir, Makrut, Imperial Hefe With Grapefruit, Rhubarb, Tripel, Cocoa Hefe and Cran.

Lake Superior Zoo  

The Lake Superior Zoo, formerly Duluth Fairmount Zoo, was founded in 1923 by Bert Onsgard, a West Duluth businessman who rescued a small fawn and built a pen for it. The whitetail deer named ”Billy-Billy” was found in Fairmount Park, hence the name. Sitting at the base of Spirit Mountain and recently covering over 16 scenic acres, the Pittsburgh Steel Company donated a railroad car of fencing. The community quickly embraced it and local citizens donated exotic animals.

Home to quite a few celebrity-like animals. To name a few:  Bessie, the elephant, came to the zoo in 1937 at 12 years old.  Before the perimeter fencing was installed around the zoo, she would often wander off the zoo grounds and stroll through the neighborhoods of West Duluth. Valerie was a Himalayan black bear who had previously been a mascot for a World War II bomber unit. Even taking her on several bombing runs. Mr. Magoo, an Indian mongoose, who was smuggled into the Duluth port by a merchant seaman who had kept him as a pet on a ship that sailed from India to the Great Lakes to the port of Duluth. Alas, he was not built for a life at sea, and the seaman decided to donated him to the Duluth Zoo – which became problematic. At the time, there was a federal ban on exotic creatures. The government ordered that it be euthanized but the public wouldn’t have it. Outcry reached the White House and in November, 1962, Mr. Magoo received an official Presidential pardon from President John F. Kennedy.

In 2012, a flood took the lives of fourteen animals including six sheep, four goats, a donkey, a turkey vulture, a raven and a snowy owl.

Today, the zoo has over 400 animals and 200 different species with exhibits including the African Lion, Asian Caravan, Australia and Oceania, Nocturnal Building, Barnyard, Northern Territory, and Primate Conservation Center. There is also the Safari Café, Tiger’s Paw gift shop, and a Zoo Train.