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Duluth gets nod of Outside

Once again, Outside magazine has recognized what a lot of Duluthians already knew.

That it's a great place to live if you like to play outdoors.

Outside, with its circulation of 2.1 million, has named Duluth one of its "Best Towns" for 2007. Duluth was among 30 cities mentioned and among nine featured prominently in the August issue, which is on newsstands now. The city was recognized in a similar feature of "dream towns" by Outside in 2001.

Touted as a city with "gentrified Nordic funk," Duluth was noted for its ski jumps, cross-country skiing, hiking trails, biking paths, surfing -- yes, surfing -- kite-boarding and trout streams.

Duluth Clinic sports medicine physician Doug Hoffman of Duluth outlined his "perfect 48 hours" of outdoor activities, dining ideas and entertainment options for the feature.

Duluth tourism officials were excited about Duluth's latest designation as a good place to live.

"It's a nice little deal," said Gene Shaw, director of public relations for Visit Duluth. "Outside magazine estimates a readership of 2.1 million. The bulk of its readers are male, college-educated, of medium income and are outdoorsy types. We're exactly what the Outside magazine reader likes to hear about."

Whether that translates directly to the economy is more difficult to pin down, Shaw said.

"It's tough to put a dollar tag on it, but it's not a hindrance," he said.

Siiri Morse, a co-owner of outdoor retailer Midnight Sun in Duluth, welcomes the exposure.

"There are a lot of people who come to Duluth to do Canal Park, the [Great Lakes] Aquarium and Glensheen [Mansion]," Morse said. "But by being in that large a magazine and having the readership of that kind of person, hopefully it will get them outside of Duluth or on to the trails or on a kayak tour."

Gayle Coyer is executive director of the Superior Hiking Trail Association, which manages the 205-mile trail along the North Shore and another 39 miles through Duluth. She said national or international recognition makes the phone ring.

"There was a little blurb in Backpacker magazine about people coming to Silver Bay to look for moose," Coyer said. "People were coming to hike the Bean and Bear lakes trail near Silver Bay looking for moose."

She said Outside's selection of Duluth makes sense.

"It has kayaking and mountain biking and hiking and the lake view," Coyer said. "There's just everything in Duluth -- as long as you don't mind winter. And winter's fun, too."

Outside's designation of Duluth fits well with Richard Florida's vision for creative communities, said Holly Sampson, president of the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.

The foundation is developing a community improvement plan based on Florida's theories, which include four T's: talent, tolerance, technology and territory.

"The concept of strong territorial assets being essential to a vibrant, healthy community going forward clearly fits with Outside magazine's designation of Duluth," Sampson said. "Our beautiful outdoors is what draws people to this community, not just to work but to play as well."