Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >
Oct 3, 2013 10:21 AM

Duluth, MN 30th bifrthday bash ... need recommendations

My sister is turning 30 late this month and I am planning a big party in Duluth for her in early November. Neither of us are from Duluth but we like the downtown area with the cobblestone streets, etc., and thought this would be a fun atmosphere for a party.

Can you recommend places for: dining, drinking, general recreation, and lodging? Any other hints or recommendations are appreciated as well!

Thanks in advance!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Too bad CH moved this post--you're not likely to get nearly as much input here as you would if they would just let Duluth stay with MSP. Anyway, can you give more info on what you're looking for? How many people, if you want sit down dinner, if you want to go out dancing/drinking/etc? How fancy for food?

    1. Disclaimer: Partying up there isn't my specialty (I mostly go there to visit family).

      I guess it kind of depends on what kind of party you're thinking of the the overall vibe.

      Fitger's - decent grille food and drinks, casual brewery, can accommodate a group.

      If you want classier, then I'd go with Black Water Lounge at Greysolon (dressy lounge, long martini list and decent selection of scotch but also have beer and wine, small more upscale menu but also a decent selection of flatbreads and sushi).

      Zeitgeist Art Cafe - decent atmosphere, good food and cocktails edging on trendy bistro-fare - good pick if you wanted to do something at Teatro Zuccone afterwards if they have a play or concert going on (and if they don't, they have improv every weekend at 10:30 and/or midnight, I think).

      Pizza Luce would also likely fit the bill if you're thinking more casual.

      Otherwise, if you're thinking more along the lines of a bar crawl, you'd actually have better luck doing Tower Ave or Union St in Superior, WI.Over on Tower there's Anchor Bar with pretty darn good (and cheap) burgers and Roper's (I think) if you're into country at all has decent drinks and live music every weekend last I checked, plus a few more.

      Also, not really what you asked for, but if gambling is your thing, heading back into Cloquet you've got the Black Bear Casino and the food at the steakhouse there is actually surprisingly good (avoid the buffet). Hotel is also fairly decent there, too, provided you stay in the tower and not the old section.

      I would generally avoid Canal Park unless you want chains (Grandma's, Famous Dave's, Red Lobster), or otherwise pedestrian fare (Little Angie's - decent big margaritas but the food isn't very good...if you want Mexican, Mexico Lindo over by Fitger's is good for drinks with a view and the food is marginally better than Little Angie's). Note: The avoid canal park rule does not apply for picking up quick bites to eat for breakfast/ that case I do recommend Amazing Grace Bakery/Cafe, Northern Waters Smokehouse, and the Lake Ave Cafe.

      Another avoid if you're thinking of getting a cake/cupcakes for the birthday - How Sweet It Is Cakes on Superior St. The staff couldn't answer questions we had about certain items (simple questions like "What is that?" "Uhhh, I don't know cause I'm not the one who baked those." Really?), the frosting had an off taste and looked like it was separating due to too much coloring/being overworked in addition to being a bit runny and practically sliding off the cupcakes, and we ended up throwing away the pain au chocolate we bought because the guy picked it up with his bare hands with no evidence of washing them and was handling the cash register. I would call ahead and make a special order at Amazing Grace or Johnson's Bakery instead. They are what's left for decent bakeries in the area (most of my favorites have closed).

      For other good food (not large group party atmosphere, but a good meal for the rest of your visit), I highly recommend venturing a bit further up the lake and doing New Scenic Cafe. Definitely worth venturing away from downtown. At Sara's Table at Chester Creek would be another good pick - more casual than New Scenic - and I would say breakfast is probably their best bet for a meal there. If I could only do one though, New Scenic would win - no contest.

      Lodging - I pretty much only stay at the Black Bear (reasonably cheap, stay in the tower) in Cloquet and drive into Duluth or the Sheraton downtown Duluth (I do highly recommend the Sheraton - also across the street from Greysolon and a block from Zeitgeist). I would avoid the Radisson or Holiday Inn. I personally think the hotels on Canal Park are overpriced, but if you don't head up there that often then a room on the lake might appeal to you. They also might be cheaper if you're going in November instead of October. I like quirky - if you don't mind quirky then The Suites at Waterfront Plaza would probably be my Canal Park pick (good value for the price, kitchenette in the suite, free breakfast in the morning) as the others strike me as expensive for something not that special beyond your typical room in that hotel genre.