Blog, Family

Our Mini-Adventure … Duluth, MN

August 11, 2015
Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

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It’s amazing how much you can do on a summer day … in 12 hours.  Even with 3 small kiddos.  I guess it does help when Grandma comes along to level the playing field (3 adults to 3 kiddos)!!

Last weekend, we made the couple-hour drive up to Duluth, MN for a quick … and very jam-packed … adventure, and today I thought I’d share some of it with you!

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee!  |  Via View From The Fridge

If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, or if you follow me on any sort of social media, you just may know that I’m a bit in love with coffee.  Occasionally, I even start looking forward to my morning cup of coffee the night before when I’m getting ready for bed.  That’s odd … I know.  But coffee is like my one special ‘mom’ treat.  And the fact that we have a Caribou Coffee less than a mile away … with a drive-thru … makes it even better.  They know me there.  They see me daily.  And I’m not ashamed of that.

This post … about our 12 hour adventure in Duluth (involving waking up in a train car, a ride on Thomas The Train, Giant Ships, Canals, Lighthouses, and Scooter rides), just happens to be sponsored by Caribou Coffee.  As always, this post and all the opinions, thoughts, and adventures are all my (our) own.  A special thanks to Caribou Coffee for the support!

Charlie is a bit obsessed with Thomas the Train … and trains in general, so when we heard ‘Thomas’ was coming to Duluth … we knew we had to do our best to make a visit happen!  The two weekends he was up there, however, we already had things going on.  Plan B?  Drive up late Thursday night and ride Thomas bright and early Friday morning.  Spend the day sightseeing in Duluth, and head home in time for the weekend!  But if you know Duluth (so much to do and see) … and if you’ve ever traveled with three small kids (nothing ever moves ‘quickly’) … that’s a lot of stuff to fit into a short period of time.  Challenge accepted. #LetsDoThis

Thursday after work, we picked up Grandma, dropped off Molly (to meet her new {absolutely adorable} dog cousin), and headed north.  Because we were going with a theme, we found a perfect hotel for Thursday night … The Northern Train Car Inn just north of Duluth in Two Harbors.  This hotel, listed as one of the World’s 10 Most Unusual Hotels by Peter Greenberg, and TripAdvisor’s 10 Quirkiest Hotels, is literally made of train cars.  You sleep in box cars.  No joke.  I think Charlie was in heaven when he woke up!  Trains everywhere!  Model trains, toy trains, pictures of trains, train books and movies … and of course, the train car hotel rooms!

Here was the outside of our room:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee!  |  Via View From The Fridge

We woke up in a train car!!

And to be sure these were actually train cars, the boys checked outside the windows:

Yep, those are real box cars!

Yep, those are real box cars!

Yep … real box cars, on real tracks (that obviously aren’t in use).  The boys did some more exploring of the hotel ..

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee!  |  Via View From The Fridge

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

The rooms were ‘cozy’ with two queen beds and a pack ‘n play, but we did manage to fit all five of us inside the boxcar:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee!  |  Via View From The Fridge

{It was late when we got in … and this is how Charlie went to sleep}

After a quick breakfast, we headed into Duluth … and the adventure began!

To get my day started off right … we swung through Caribou Coffee in Canal Park for a Crafted Press.  Have you tried one of these before?  They are fantastic.  My usual coffee drinks are either a Dark Roast with a bit of cream, or a cold press (you know … depending on the weather and my mood).  But this was the first time I’ve tried their Crafted Press, and it was such a treat!  Perfect drink for all your adventures this summer!  Similar to a cold press with cream, but add in just a touch of sweetness … and it really does seem like a treat!

Caribou Coffee Crafted Press #12hrAdventure

Let’s Do This!

Coffee in hand … we were ready for Duluth, Thomas, more trains, ships, lighthouses … and even some hungry seagulls!

At the Depot, Thomas was ready for us:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

After a couple pictures with Thomas (okay, okay … LOTS, and LOTS of pictures with Thomas) …

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

We don’t want to forget this day, right?!?  More pictures …

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

Despite the cool weather, that’s not snow on the ground (not quite THAT cold … yet).

We boarded one of ‘Thomas’s Coaches’ and took our seats for the ride:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

Even Baby Ben was amused and entertained by this train ride.  It was actually a pretty ride up part of the shore of Lake Superior:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

After the 25 minute ride, the train museum at the Depot was open, and had all kinds of activities going on!

The boys climbed in a bunch of trains …

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

and met Sir Topham Hatt:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

After we had seen about 100 trains, we were finally able to pry the boys out of the Depot (with the promise of big ships …).  We headed to Canal Park, and checked the shipping schedule.  We had about an hour to kill before a big ship was expected, but there was plenty to keep us entertained.

We grabbed their scooters, and headed through the puddles out to the lighthouse:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

Headed to the lighthouse!

We checked out the lighthouse and looked out in attempts to see the giant ship due into port soon.

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

Grandma bought the boys some popcorn for a treat:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

The bridge sort of looks like an illusion in the background, doesn’t it?

They loved the popcorn, but about halfway through, they decided to share some with the birds, and BOY were they hungry:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

We climbed some giant anchors …

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

Took a break on a giant propeller ….

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

FYI … Giant Propellers do NOT the most comfortable seats, however.

 

And finally, after hearing some horn blasts in the distance, headed over to get a spot near the canal to see this giant ship:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

Waiting for the ship to arrive!

The lift bridge went up, and through the fog, we slowly saw the ship emerge, and it was huge:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

The boys were in awe, and also very concerned that it might not fit under the lift bridge.

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

Plenty of room to spare!  It was the Algoma Mariner from Canada, and it was over 700′ long!  The boys had no idea ships could be this big (they obviously never been on a cruise ship … ).

After the ship finally made it’s appearance, we headed to a local restaurant on the water to grab some late lunch/early dinner, and afterward Grandma bought us all ice cream (and Ben conveniently woke up from his nap just in time for a couple bites)!

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

A little more scooter riding to burn off the sugar:

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

Ben is wondering what he missed during his nap!

A couple more puddles to ride through:

12-hour-Duluth-Trip-puddles

And we were headed back home!

Those 12 hours – from the time we woke up in a train car, to the time we arrived back home – were jam packed with summer fun.  The perfect summer day (despite the rainy weather) for our three little boys.  It’s these kind of days that I hope we’ll all reminisce about as they get older!

Caribou Coffee takes 12 hours to cold steep their coffee because they love serving the best to their guests (and you can taste it from your first sip)!  That made them wonder “What motivates you for 12 hours?” What kind of adventures can you find over the course of a day?  So grab your camera and a Crafted Press and share your adventure with the world using #12hrAdventure.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Caribou Coffee.  I hope you enjoyed our #12hrAdventure, and I’d love to hear about yours!  What was your favorite trip or favorite day this summer?  Have you been to Duluth?  And if your kids are older, what type of memories stick out in your mind from when they were little?  Or … are there particular days / adventures that stick out to you from YOUR childhood?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments below or on social media with the hashtag #12hrAdventure!

Thomas The Train Duluth, MN Adventure Plus Northern Train Car Inn and Caribou Coffee! | Via View From The Fridge

Want to try one for yourself?  Just fill out THIS SURVEY and enjoy a complimentary medium drink!

Thanks for stopping by today!  Sorry for the 8 million pictures, but it’s a day we don’t want to forget!

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3 Comments

  • Reply Erin Meyer August 11, 2015 at 8:20 am

    I LOVE Duluth! We go there all the time for anniversary weekends. And I am SO thankful for that Caribou. One day we were driving out of Duluth, headed home, and I thought for sure there HAD to be a coffee shop somewhere… we found one and the coffee was SO bad, I couldn’t even drink it.

    And those seagulls ARE crazy hungry. I went to grab a napkin from the restaurant we were eating at, and a seagull came and took my entire piece of pizza and flew away with it.

    Looks like you guys had such a fun time!
    Erin Meyer recently posted…Blog Organization: Celebrating My 100th Post!My Profile

  • Reply Kacey August 11, 2015 at 8:27 am

    LOVE this! So many amazing things to do during these summer months :-).

  • Reply Echo August 11, 2015 at 9:02 am

    What a great trip! I am definitely going to have to do that with my kids and I am going to have to get me one of those coffees! I love Caribou Crafted Press!
    Echo recently posted…Minnesota State Fair Giveaway and Sneak Peek!My Profile

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