Duluth is a city of many faces. It seamlessly blends small-town charm with a touch of big-city pizzazz, and though its 85,000 residents make it the third-largest city in Minnesota , it still has a wild side, as the resident bears and wandering moose will affirm.
Ironically though, it is the gritty industrial side that attracts most visitors. While it sits 2,432 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, Duluth, along with Superior, Wisconsin, its neighbor to the south, is one of the busiest ports in the world and the top on the Great Lakes. Some of the world’s largest grain elevators and ore docks dominate the shoreline, and more than 1,000 monstrous ships sail into the Twin Ports each year. Witnessing these leviathans up close and personal is a fascinating activity.
Although Duluth has something for everyone, those with children in tow will especially appreciate the city on the lake. Many people planning a first-time North Shore getaway just stop in Duluth briefly, only to regret not having budgeted more time. Don’t make the same mistake; stick around for a few days and enjoy everything this wonderful city has to offer.
Duluth International Airport (4701 Grinden Dr., 281/727-2968, www.duluthairport.com ), just off Highway 53 on the northwest edge of town, handles Delta Airlines (800/221-1212, www.delta.com ) flights to the Twin Cities  and Detroit . You’ll find most major rental car companies here.
For boaters, transient dockage is available at the full-service Lakehead Boat Basin (1000 Minnesota Ave., 218/722-1757, www.lakeheadboatbasin.com ) just south of the Lift Bridge.