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Holiday activities to do in Duluth

Holiday activities to do in Duluth
Holiday activities to do in Duluth 04:14

DULUTH, Minn. -- Duluth is known as an outdoor-lover's dream. In part for its scenic views of Lake Superior, Canal Park, and the Aerial Lift Bridge. It's also a popular destination for holiday fun.  

The port city lights up the holidays for visitors with history, transportation, and dazzling displays. 

Our trek around Duluth starts with a beautiful snowfall and a visit to the Northshore's most famous home.  

The historic Congdon estate features 39 rooms across 5 floors, including 10 bathrooms. Bathrooms that include a shower with 9 sprayers, something still impressive in 2022. 

Right now, you'll also find 27 decorated Christmas trees. 

"All of these ornaments are the original Congdon ornaments on this tree," said Mike Mayou, Glensheen Marketing Manager. 

The ornaments and many of the other artifacts you'll find inside the mansion are over a hundred years old. For the first time in several years, the holiday decor has been given a refresh. 

"This year we brought in new decorations and kind of re-envisioned some of the themes of the different rooms almost an outdoor space," said Mayou. 

Mayou offers this recommendation to those planning a visit. 

"If you're here on a Friday or Saturday, definitely the candlelight tour. One of my favorites by far experiences of Glensheen because you get to experience it at night. It's just completely different. You get spirit of the lights outside at the same time. So, you kind of get double bang for your buck." 

Our next "Holidays in Duluth" stop is downtown. Inside the Historic Union Depot is the Lake Superior Railroad Museum, where trains and travel are celebrated.  

"We do that with our static displays here in the gallery at the St. Louis County Depot and through our operating arm, the Northshore Scenic Railroad. We combine both a history and working history in the same location," said Ken Buehler, Executive Director of the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. 

Train rides are the highlight here. One option Friday through Sunday nights is the live action story, the Christmas City Express.  

"It's a story about a little girl on her way to grandparents' house in Duluth on Christmas Eve on a train back in the day. That train gets stuck in a horrific snowstorm. Everyone on board believes that Christmas will be ruined. It's what the little girl and the conductor do that saves Christmas for everyone," said Buehler. 

The other holiday train ride option takes us to our final stop in Duluth. 

The Bentleyville Tour of Lights wasn't always in Duluth. It started as Nathan Bentley's front yard display. After a move from Esko to Cloquet and a jump to over 72,000 visitors, Bentley got a call from Duluth's Mayor to go even bigger and bring the show to Bayfront Festival Park. 

"We run a shuttle train from Fitgers down to Bentleyville on Saturday nights," said Buehler. 

"Over the top. Over the top. That's what Bentleyville is," said Nathan Bentley, Executive Director of Bentleyville. 

"We took it on as a challenge. I had about twelve people that were helping me out at my house, a little bit on and off. So, I said 'I'm going to Bayfront. Wanna come along?' I called up Santa and I said, 'I'm going are you coming' and he said, 'I'm coming,'" explained Bentley. 

Today, Bentleyville has 5 million lights spread out over twenty-one acres on the shore of Lake Superior. 

After almost twenty years, fourteen at Bayfront, Bentley still lights up when he sees visitor's reactions as they walk through. 

"Just two nights ago someone was twisting their neck up to look at one of our castles I said 'first timer, right? Yes.' You're just amazed when they see the magnitude of lights down here at Bayfront," said Bentley. 

When asked if he has a favorite type of light, Bentley says one that stays on with a laugh. 

Bentley says his attraction is just one of many in Duluth that need to be experienced during the holidays. 

"Bentleyville is going at night but there's so many great things going on here in Duluth. From Glensheen and the train museum and skiing. There's so many great things happening here. so, make it a weekend. Make it a couple of days up here. Come up and see what's going on," said Bentley. 

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