If you’re planning a trip to Bentleyville this season with your family, significant other, friends or solo, here are a few top tips to help you keep those joyful sleigh bells ringing the entire time you’re in Duluth.
#1 – Bentleyville is an outdoor event near the greatest lake, and that means it can be cold and windy! Having the right gear means you (and the kids) will be better able to enjoy the magic of Bentleyville. Wearing snowpants and boots is normal for a brisk Bentleyville night. Don’t forget hats, gloves, scarves and maybe even a blanket. Note: If you forget any of these, there is a Bentleyville store on site.
#2 – Check the crowd-o-meter for your date and plan accordingly. Head to bentleyvilleusa.org to check your date for a crowd-size predictor and find directions and parking maps. Some days will require a little extra patience. Also know that while the event itself is free, parking is $10.
#3 – Bentleyville is a collection site for the Salvation Army. You are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item or new unwrapped toy for donation.
#4 – Check the events calendar on VisitDuluth.com. There are holiday events happening throughout the city all season long, which can be great additions to your Bentleyville visit and round out your trip to Duluth.
Bentleyville With Families
Unless Duluth is experiencing an active snowstorm, walking paths are kept clear of snow, so if your little ones are new or reluctant walkers, by all means bring a stroller!
There are free snacks at Bentleyville. You’ll find popcorn, cookies, hot cocoa and marshmallows. What won’t you find? Dinner. You’ll definitely want to eat something before heading to the holiday lights. Nearby, you’ll find Grandma’s Saloon & Grill, Canal Park Brewery and Vitta Pizza, all with kid-friendly food on their menus, plus many more options throughout the city. If you stay at Pier B, Silos restaurant also has a kids menu, and you can hop on the Express Wagon to get to Bentleyville.
What else can you do in Duluth with kids at this time of year? Would you like to see Bentleyville from the window of a train? The Christmas City Express runs a fun round-trip from the Lake Superior Railroad Museum. It includes holiday carolers, a 30-minute train ride, story time, hot chocolate and cookies. Note: this train does NOT drop you off at Bentleyville.
The Lake Superior Zoo offers an after-hours light show on select days in November and December. Glensheen is also all dressed up and decorated for Christmas. You can enjoy the mansion tour while your kids do an elf scavenger hunt. How about a meet and greet with Santa? Meet Santa and his real live reindeer at Fitger’s. See the schedule here.
Bentleyville for Couples
What’s more romantic than a holiday stroll at Bentleyville? Hold hands and cuddle close as you walk through the lighted pathways with holiday music playing in the background. There are plenty of photo stops to take those romantic “usies”, plus you can roast marshmallows together by the fire and grab a cup of cocoa or coffee to keep the chill at bay.
For romantic pre- or post-Bentleyville dining, make reservations at the Boat Club restaurant, located in the historic Fitger’s Complex, and then hop on the train to Bentleyville. This is by reservation only and runs on Saturdays. For other cozy dining options try Bellisio’s, Hanabi or Lake Avenue Cafe. If it’s post-Bentleyville cozy you’re looking for, try Vikre Distillery, The Rathskeller or Black Water Lounge.
If you’re looking to make a big impression, how about a helicopter tour of Bentleyville? Lake Superior Helicopters offers 15- or 25-mile tours where you can see the lights from a whole new perspective.
Other stops on your Bentleyville couples trip could include: a Glensheen Candlelight Tour, designing your own ornaments at Lake Superior Art Glass or holiday merriment in Lincoln Park, including delightful food, drink and holiday shopping.
Bentleyville for Friend Groups and Solo Travelers
Bentleyville with a group of friends or as a solo traveler has a completely different vibe than with kids or couples. Still, most of the tips to enjoy it are the same: dress warm and check that Crowd-O-Meter.
With a group, you might want to hit Little Angie’s and walk to Bentleyville, or how about stopping at Clyde Iron Works for dinner on your way into town? You can have post-Bentleyville bevvies at Hoops Brewing, or head to Lincoln Park for a big booth at Bent Paddle. (Make it festive with a pint of Bent Paddle’s Christmas Cookie Cream Ale.)
If you’re visiting on your own, make a reservation at Va Bene for a delicious Italian meal – Lake Superior views included. Or, how about sushi at Hanabi Japanese Cuisine or out-of-the box pizza offerings at Lulu’s Pizza? After Bentleyville, check out one of Duluth’s breweries, cideries or distilleries for a nightcap and to warm back up, many of which also offer delicious non-alcoholic options.