Knowing Your Neighbors: The Duluth Experience

DULUTH, Minn. —

He stands at the precipice of Enger Park, the overlook where you can see the entire city of Duluth.

It’s a place Dave Grandmaison has been to many times.

Grandmaison has developed a passion for his hometown like few in the area.

“Growing up in Duluth, I was always playing in the lake; I was always down on the lake shore; I was roaming on the hillside on the trails, and I’m still doing that as an adult,” he says with a huge smile.  “And that is great!”

After college, Grandmaison spent nearly a decade away from Duluth, travelling and then finally working in Arizona for eight years.

But he missed home.

And now Dave wants to share the spirit of the North Woods with anyone willing to join him on an adventure.

He explains what that feeling is like:

“The moment where they’re like ‘Oh my god I’m on the world’s largest fresh water lake kayaking, or this mountain bike experience is amazing and I’m going to go buy a mountain bike!”

In 2012, it started as so many things do; with a simple conversation.

“A couple of us were sitting around having a couple of beers at the Fitger’s Brewhouse, and we were talking about how Duluth has this amazing craft beer scene,” Grandmaison recalls.  “So it really started with this idea of a brewery tour.”

They led their first brewery tour in the summer of 2013.

But now, four years later, the Duluth Experience has become much more than its initial idea.

They knew from the get go that the plan was to be much larger than a couple guys leading brewery tours.

It’s become a family, ready to take small groups of guests on history tours, adventure tours, and the full gamut of new experiences.

“We could have been called the Duluth Brewery Tour Company,” Grandmaison says.  “But – like I said – we knew that there was a lot more that we wanted to delve into and a lot more of this rich experience that we wanted to provide to our guests.”

The Duluth Experience runs year round.

And that’s the way they like it, because this town has something to offer during any season on the calendar.

And they’ll take anyone, from out-of-towners to locals who have lived here their whole lives.

“Let’s do something different,” Grandmaison exclaims.  “Let’s try a new thing.  You’re probably going to fall in love with it because it’s awesome!”

His sense of adventure fuels the flame within him to show others that same sense.

“The ideal guest is really someone who wants to learn and wants to experience something new in Duluth,” Grandmaison.

It was Dave’s idea to meet at Enter Park; it’s one of the most scenic views in the city.

As we chat, a tanker leaves the harbor and departs under Duluth’s iconic Aerial Lift Bridge.

And during our conversation, we really reflect on what it means to experience this city, and what it means for Dave Grandmaison to be an ambassador for his city’s legacy.

“We focus most of our effort on making sure that experience is dialed in and really special and really unique and something these folks are going to remember,” he says.  “Because if you create this memorable experience for these people, they’re going to come back to Duluth.”

For Grandmaison, Duluth isn’t just a city of adventure or a city with a lot of great beers to drink.

It’s a city full of new experiences to share with anyone who will come along.

You can schedule a trip with the Duluth Experience by visiting their website.

Dave Grandmaison says their plan moving forward is to add more options, including all-inclusive tours that span multiple days.