Summer is the time to explore Minnesota's only national park, which is mostly water. You can explore by park-service pontoon, rented launch, houseboat, kayak or canoe.
Explore by canoe with a naturalist. Hike one of nine trails. Learn about the park at three visitors centers.
Past fast plans: Keweenaw Peninsula, Breezy in Bayfield, Cool Grand Marais, Summer in Winona, Fun in Minneapolis
Nordic Fest in Decorah, Iowa. It's the 50th year of this friendly, authentic, very fun and very large festival of Scandinavian culture. The parade is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. July 2830.
Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, Wis. You can't see this kind of thing just anywhere: cut-throat log rolling, boom running, springboard chopping and speed climbing. July 2830.
German Fest in Milwaukee. Look for dachshunds, dirndls and lots of oompah music at this big party on Lake Michigan. July 2931.
Riverboat Days in Wabasha, Minn. There's a lighted boat parade Friday, and on Saturday a pedal tractor pull, duck derby, water fight and 6 p.m. parade. July 2930.
For more events, see our Events Calendar.
In Duluth, there's water a lot of water beyond the big lake and the Aerial Lift Bridge.
The St. Louis River is the largest U.S. tributary to Lake Superior, and it creates a huge estuary as it approaches the lake.
Fishermen and bird-watchers have frequented it for years, and more are showing up as the water becomes cleaner. Sturgeon have come back, eagles nest, and 70 percent of the birds seen in Minnesota come through on fall and spring migrations.
The St. Louis also is a state water trail, and paddlers like to explore the many peninsulas and islands. They can even hitch a ride on the Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad and return by canoe or kayak, for a Choo Choo Paddle.
When heat wraps itself around your shoulders like an electric blanket with static cling, theres only one thing to do: Look for cold water.
You'll find it tubing on a spring-fed river, such as the South Branch of the Root River, which takes a short cut through Mystery Caverns and heads toward Lanesboro chilled to 48 degrees.
On Minnesota's North Shore, plop yourself into one of the Baptism Rivers potholes and let the cool waters swirl around you. Or go whitewater rafting a fast cool-down is guaranteed.
In the straits between lakes Michigan and Huron, you can find more than one Mackinac Island.
The best-known first was advertised as the Fairy Isle of Mackinac, and it's not quite rooted in reality. It has a tuxedo shop but no hardware store, a Victorian house called Brigadoon and a fan club that gathers every October in vintage clothing to revere the year 1912.
You get to that island in a horse-drawn surrey, driven by a liveryman in a top hat.
Then there's the day-tripper island, chockablock with ice-cream and fudge shops. You see that one from wagons on tours narrated by college students.
And theres the island we saw, on bicycles with backpacks. From the bemused look on the ferryman's face, we gathered that not many folks go to this famous island with their belongings on their backs.
It's that time of year again.
If you're wondering how the
Vikings, Packers or Bears will do this year, you can get a preview by
watching the players gear up for the season at training camps.
Make a day of it, because all of the camps offer festivities, games of skill, giveaways, autograph sessions for kids and even fireworks. Admission is free.
Here are the highlights in 2016.
By the time children turn 10, the day already is looming when they no longer want to spend time with you, their loving parent.
Jeremy Southworth of La Crosse, Wis., saw that day coming. So on recent vacations, he's taken his son Gavin jet-boating in the Dells and zip-lining in Door County.
"He's been wanting to try zip-lining, so as soon as we came up here, we decided, 'We're doing that,' '' he said.
Luckily, parents still are in demand when they're willing to pay for thrills.
Even if you camp, you don't have to rough it.
A lot of state parks have plenty of woods, water and wildlife, but they're also just a short bike ride or walk away from the finer things in life say, a pizza parlor or ice-cream stand.
Nearby restaurants make packing easy because you can leave the pots, dishes, soap and firewood home. Even if you like cooking over a fire, it's still nice to go out for a treat.
Here are 15 parks in five states where you won't be too far from some of your favorite things.
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