Duluth voted Outside magazine’s best outdoors town

Sea smoke rises from Lake Superior over the North Breakwater Lighthouse during sunrise Friday, December 6, 2013 near Canal Park in Duluth, Minn. (Derek Montgomery / For MPR News)

Online voters took to virtual polls on a national outdoors magazine website and voted Duluth the winner of Outside’s Best Town 2014 contest.

Duluth won the contest Sunday night for the best outdoors town in America.

Duluth topped 64 cities in a competition with six rounds of voting. Trailing second to Duluth was Provo, Utah. The magazine put together its 64 favorite towns, and described the cities in the contest ranging “from mountain escapes to beachside getaways and powder hot spots.”

In the last round, Duluth beat Provo with 55 percent of the vote: a total of 66,758 that round. Provo received 54,875 votes. Both cities will be featured in the magazine’s Best Towns special edition.

Some credit the massive social media campaign and website for boosting the city’s votes. A Vote Duluth website directed people to the contest, and a #VoteDuluth hashtag spread the word.

Duluth Mayor Don Ness declared an early victory Sunday with a posting on his Facebook page , saying there’s “nothing earth-shattering about winning an online voting contest,” but that it’s a big deal for Duluth and shows a recent change in how people think about the city.

“Despite the worst two years of weather in our city’s history, Duluthians stood up and showed their pride in this city,” Ness wrote. “We proudly highlighted world-class outdoor recreation and natural beauty that compared favorably to much larger and much more popular cities across the nation.”