MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for winter

Ski or snowshoe by candlelight
On a cold winter's night, follow the twinkling lights.
20 perfect cabins
They're in the woods, with views, vintage charm and modern luxuries (but maybe not all together).
Cheap winter getaways
Here are 20 places where a fun weekend is easy on the wallet.
Classic Wisconsin lodges
In the north woods, golden oldies recall a vanished era.
Inn retreats
If you don't like the weather, spend a weekend where everything is under one roof.
The best in snow tubing
With their multiple lanes, conveyor lifts and snow-making, these aren't your grandma's hills.
White gold in the Porkies
In the Upper Peninsula, a wilderness park rewards those who love snow.
Staying warm in winter
If you know what to wear, dealing with cold weather is a breeze.

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FastPlans/Fun around Ely

A skier passes Norberg Lake in Bear Head Lake State Park.

In winter, the wide open spaces around the northern Minnesota town of Ely are a playground for anyone who likes to move fast over snow.

What to do: Ski at Bear Head Lake State Park (pictured) or on the Hidden Valley trails on the east edge of town. Snowshoe to the Hegman Lake pictographs (go free with Outward Bound Feb. 13) or on the hilly North Arm trails.

Visit the North American Bear Center or the International Wolf Center. Mush a dog-sled team.

Events to catch: Through Feb. 15, Winter Festival. Feb. 27-28, WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race.

Details: See Winter in Ely.

Past fast plans: Carnival in St. Paul, Winter in Wausau, A view of Dubuque, Swans in Monticello, Milwaukee holidays

This weekend

Embrace the ice with spikes or swimsuits.

Michigan Ice Fest in Munising.

Michigan Ice Fest in Munising, Mich. Watch ice-climbing demos and take clinics for beginners at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on Lake Superior. Feb. 10–14.

Polar Fest in Detroit Lakes, Minn. Compete in a fishing derby, join a polar plunge and watch fireworks. Feb. 12–14.

Madison Winter Festival in Madison. See Capitol Square turn into a sports venue, with cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing plus music, family games and ice and snow sculptures. Feb. 13–14.

Barstool Races in Drummond, Wis. In this small town north of Cable, watch people careen down a hill on decorated bar stools, then stay for the chili feed. Feb. 13.

For more events, see our Events Calendar.

Wildlife reality show

Web cams open a window into lives of eagles, bears and other wild things.

An eagle nesting in the Twin Cities.

In the northeast Iowa town of Decorah, a pair of nesting bald eagles have become an international phenomenon.

This winter, the pair have laid three eggs, and fans are eagerly awaiting the hatch.

Not only do they have a constant stream of live video, but avid watchers are snatching the best episodes and posting them on YouTube.

Read story and trip tips

Rooms for romance

Here's where to go for the perfect getaway with your sweetie.

Bernard Schwartz house in Two Rivers.

When anniversaries, birthdays and Valentine's Day roll around, swains everywhere wonder where to take their sweethearts to celebrate.

Of course, it has to be somewhere romantic. But what's romantic? To many, it's the floral Laura Ashley look, with lots of lace, patterned wallpaper and antiques.

To others, it's a rustic cabin in the forest, minus the heart-shaped whirlpool but with loads of privacy and atmosphere.

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Nights at the museum

Sleep with the fishes, wolves and dinosaurs at family slumber parties.

The Cobia submarine in Manitowoc.

Sleep with sharks. Howl with wolves. Get chummy with a mummy . . . in the dark.

At top museums, that results in sweet dreams, not nightmares.

After everyone else goes home, many museums, aquariums, nature centers and even a submarine turn over their galleries to children and their adults.

Armed with flashlights, they get to explore the exhibits, do experiments, have a snack, listen to a bedtime story and then get into their sleeping bags, right next to their favorite creature or historical character.

It's a memorable — and inexpensive — getaway.

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The chocolate cure

As winter drags on, drown your sorrows with sweets.

Candinas chocolates in Madison.

In February and March, most of us are getting tired of winter . . . time to eat some chocolate.

As everyone knows, chocolate has unique restorative qualities. It's effective draped on strawberries, whipped into mousse, covering cakes . . . you get the idea.

Here's where to go to thumb your nose at winter (and your diet). Pick from tastings, tours and road trips.

Here's how to take the chocolate cure in 2016.

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Cabins for a crowd

When groups travel, they divide costs and multiply benefits.

Group cabins at Whitewater State Park.

Contrary to common wisdom, the best deals in travel aren’t too good to be true.

The key is to travel with a group. Gather 20 people, and you can bring per-person costs way, way down — we're talking $20, $10, even $5 for an overnight stay.

Where? State-park lodges, environmental-learning centers, church retreats and youth camps.

Those are perfect for outdoors clubs, hobby retreats or family reunions.

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Where eagles land

Near winter gathering spots, towns capitalize on the birds' popularity by throwing festivals.

An eagle looks for fish at the lock and dam in Genoa, Wis.

Eagles don't really have lovable personalities. But, man, are they fun to watch.

Those haughty pale eyes, that 6-foot wing span, those wicked talons and the flesh-shredding beak — eagles are just plain cool.

Everything about them is larger than life, right down to their nests, which are so big and sturdy that bears sometimes climb into them to hibernate.

To watch an eagle wheeling and dipping through the air is treat enough. It's even more of a thrill to see an airborne food fight or the tandem plummet of mating eagles.

Read story and trip tips

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