When I was growing up, Duluth Minnesota was a metropolis to me. We’d travel there to go shopping, see the doctor, and visit family. Eventually I ended up attending college in the “big city” and immediately moved away following graduation because it was too small.
Just after my daughter was born, we decided to leave the hustle and bustle of the Twin Cities. We quit our jobs and left our comfortable life in Burnsville so we could be closer to grandma and grandpa (read: free babysitting). Almost 10 years later, I know we made the right decision in moving to what has been the perfect setting to raise my family.
Many of my friends still think of Duluth as a place to visit. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, but it’s cold. Why would you want to live there? Here are the reasons I give them:
1. Fresh Air
Okay, I’m not going to pull any punches, it’s cold here. In the winter. For a couple of months. But we embrace that cold, and those cold days give way to the most beautiful summer and fall that you can ever imagine. Duluthians love the outdoors and do everything they can to foster that love for those of all ages. Cross country ski trails turn into hiking trails, outdoor skating rinks become soccer fields, and ice fishing becomes open water fishing. Duluth makes an extra effort to put the outdoors on display and make them very easy to enjoy. It’s hard to not find something to do outside every weekend, no matter the season.
2. Benefits of a city with small town feel
Coming from a small town, I craved the sense of community I lacked when I lived in the city. Duluth is the perfect median between small-town and big-city. I love running into people I know (some from that small town I grew up in) at the grocery store, but I also love the anonymity of going to the gym in peace. I cherish the fact that I know my neighbors, that my kids appear in the newspaper every now and then, and that there are opportunities to network and be a leader in my own town.
3. It takes a village
Even though I moved to Duluth to be close to family, I learned right away that I was in the midst of friends. Instantly I became friends with parents at daycare, dance class, and in the neighborhood. It is easy to strike up conversation with Duluthians and find some commonalities. Now that my kids are older, their friends’ parents are my friends and I trust them as surrogates. We depend on each other to carpool, dry tears, and show them family traditions outside of their own. My kids’ teachers, coaches, and club leaders are all considered part of our family and I trust them to be part of our parenting team. The lessons that my kids learn from the adults in their world are priceless to them as they begin to shape their own values in life.
4. Focus on health
Duluth is a healthy community, and always has been. When I was in college, my internship included working on a committee to make Duluth the first smoke-free restaurant town in the state. Back then, I was proud of the work we did, but it didn’t sink in until I moved back. Eventhough I’m far from an all-natural mom, I embrace the reputation Duluth has for their dedication to healthy lifestyles; including access to organic food, holistic and traditional healthcare, and mind-body connections. It has become a tradition to take the kids to the Duluth Farmer’s Market from the weekend that it opens to the weekend it closes. These small wins help engrain healthy habits for my kids without them even realizing it.
5. Kid-centric opportunities
As an involved kid myself, I looked forward to allowing my own kids explore their interests. Little did I know that moving to Duluth would provide them with more opportunities then I could ever imagine. I have had to limit my daughter’s activities even at the age of 10. She wants to do everything, and Duluth has so much to offer. For now, she has settled on figure skating, ballet, girl scouts, swimming, piano, and the news station at school. She looks forward to the summer when she can devote more time to rock climbing lessons, tennis, golf, acting, and volunteering at the local animal shelter.
But Duluth isn’t only about organized activities. Our weekends are filled with going to the beach, the zoo, the aquarium, festivals, concerts, and the library. Everywhere we turn there is another opportunity for kids in the area to learn more about their surroundings, other cultures, and to just run free.
I hope some day that my kids see this town in the way that I do. I hope they recognize the beauty around them and see that they have been given the opportunity to grow up in one of the best places on earth. But for now, I’ll let them enjoy every moment.