A visit to Duluth could benefit the city -- and you

Remember two weeks ago when thermometer readings hit triple digits in the Twin Cities? A breeze off Lake Superior kept Duluth in the 80s those days, Duluth Mayor Don Ness pointed out when I spoke to him recently about his city's recovery and readiness for tourists.

Most people avoid visits to a city in crisis, which explains the rash of cancellations Canal Park hotels faced after the June flood. The reality, though, was that the sinkholes and rushing waters hit Duluth's residential neighborhoods. Main tourist areas such as Canal Park and downtown, with their larger wastewater infrastructures, stayed relatively dry. As for that striking photo of Grandma's restaurant half-submerged in water, it wasn't the flagship location in Canal Park, as many assumed, but a second location in the hills.

There are lots of reasons to visit Duluth: fun restaurants and shops, historic sites such as Glensheen mansion, and beaches lined with sand dunes, the same ones that Travel highlights this week and that Mayor Ness has relished since he was a boy. Now there's another reason: Your tourist dollars could help revive Duluth and its citizens, many of whom work in the tourism industry.

Countless Minnesotans have sent well-wishes to Duluth. Ness is grateful, he said, and added, "a tangible way for them to help us with the recovery is to take a weekend trip Up North and spend some time here."

Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com, and follow her on twitter @kerriwestenberg.

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