The artists at Wine and Canvas awaken their students’ inner Rembrandts and Van Goghs with classes that pair a featured painting with specialty cocktails and wines. The mobile studio’s monthly calendar includes themed classes in which instructors expound on the nuances of painting Parisian street lamps, Japanese flowers, or Venetian cityscapes. The master painters—many of them local artists—provide step-by-step instructions while students mimic each stroke and periodically dip their brushes into glasses filled with crimson cabernet. Each of the studio’s various drink-friendly venues boasts a specialty libation selected to incite creativity or conversations with fellow painters. When the artistic frenzy concludes, students return home with a finished masterpiece large enough to conceal any wall safe or mirror portal.
distillery sits before the Aerial Lift Bridge, the gateway to the vast waters of Lake Superior. On the cusp of such a port, perhaps it's not so curious that the distillery became the cultural crossroads that it is. Founded by Norwegian descendants and rooted in their brewing traditions, Vikre specializes in the spirits of northern Europe fused with a bit of Americana.
The distiller makes its Boreal Gin, incorporating juniper, spruce, or cedar into an infusion of botanicals foraged from Minnesota's Northwoods. He also crafts aquavit, classically flavored with caraway and cardamom and enriched with a hint of sweet rye. And to celebrate its American environs, the business distills whiskeys from local grains, although those beverages are still some time from hitting shelves. They're busy aging in handcrafted Minnesotan oak barrels.
Every pizza at Gruzy's Italian Beef House & Pub starts with housemade dough and sauce, but the end results hardly ever look the same. That's not only because Gruzy's culinary team crafts both Chicago-style deep-dish pizzas and crispy thin-crust pies, but also because each can be crowned with more than 15 topping selections ranging from capicola and Italian beef to mushrooms and sporty peppers. Deep-dish pans and fiery peppers aren't the only Windy City staples to appear on Gruzy's menu. Spicy giardiniera smothers sandwiches already piled high with Vienna Italian beef and sausage, and traditional fixings top classic Chicago dogs served on poppyseed buns as opposed to old Chicago Bulls stat sheets. The rest of Gruzy's menu showcases Italian and pub favorites, such as three-cheese tortellini with chicken and alfredo sauce or shrimp battered in Red Hook Ale.
Over the past five-plus decades, Vista Fleet has entertained some six million passengers from all around the world. Today, the family-owned company sets sail on a pair of luxurious vessels: the Vista Star and the Vista Queen. After their early-morning Pilates classes, the two ships carry passengers across Lake Superior during sightseeing tours, dinner parties, and twilight cruises. All the while, Vista Fleet's staff members liven up the journeys with a mix of entertaining facts and games. They also point out iconic landmarks passing by, such as the Aerial Lift Bridge and the historic Canal Park.
When the 26-mile railway known as the Lakefront Line opened in 1886, the views were wasted on pieces of fresh-cut timber, which don't have eyes, and hunks of iron ore, which tend to prefer boats. But it wasn't long before the engines began carrying more than the fruits of Minnesota's lumber and mining industries. By 1887, the railway began passenger service, which became an essential component of Duluth and Two Harbors transit before the advent of paved roadways and reliable cars. More than a century later, the North Shore Scenic Railroad runs that same path, offering residents and tourists alike a taste of old-fashioned transportation and unspoiled natural splendor. Riders travel along the tracks in vintage train cars during daily tours held throughout the spring, summer and fall, as well as special excursions such as elegant dinner train trips and the annual fall beer tasting train.
Garrett and Heather love standup paddleboarding so much that it’s not unusual to see them paddling past ice floes. Because of this love, the North Shore SUP instructors seek to draw a broad range others to the sport as well with a variety of paddleboarding classes. Beginners can opt for intro-level instruction, and adventurous types can try standup-paddleboard yoga. Paddle with Your Kids sessions give parents and children more pleasant quality time outdoors than rewriting favorite bedtime stories into fallen snow. Those interested in rentals can take regular or inflatable boards by the hour or day and can ask Garrett and Heather about the best local standup-paddleboarding spots.