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Fall foliage bringing more visitors to North Shore in 2020

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GRAND MARIAS, MN -- North Shore businesses are reporting a very busy 2020 fall color season.

"The fall color season is a whole different world of tourism from the summer tourists. And over the years we've watched it steadily grow more and more," said Josh Miller, station master for the North Shore Scenic Railroad.

Those changing colors are bringing more and more to the North Shore area and COVID-19 has been no exception, especially in Cook County.

Linda Jurek, Executive Director for Visit Cook County, said tourism this fall has been like nothing they've seen before.

"I don't think you could find a room in Cook County this weekend, they're full."

Jurek said this year they're seeing many more in-state visitors head to see the changing leaves.

"This year seems a little more extraordinary. I think our travelers are wanting to get to places that maybe they haven't visited before," she said.

Usually, tourism is slower when the Minnesota State Fair would typically take place in late August and early September. But since the fair was cancelled this year due to the pandemic, those at Visit Cook County say more people are heading North.

"This year because of no State Fair and because of our isolation and the ability to be outside and be adventurous, people have traveled North," Jurek said.

For those at the North Shore Scenic Railroad, excursions are limited to half capacity but they're all sold out, too.

"The train is certainly a unique way to see that vantage point when you're out in the woods. And it's just you, the train, and the train tracks onboard, socially distanced, of course, is a lot of fun," said Miller. "And it's a lot of fun to be able to provide that experience for them."

Emma Quinn

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