This Mississippi River village in southwest Wisconsin is an outdoors mecca, with bird-watching, canoeing, biking and hiking.
What to do: Climb Brady's Bluff in Perrot State Park for a view of the river valley (pictured) and La Montagne Qui Trempe a l'Eau, the mountain that soaks in water.
From Van Loon Wildlife Area, hike the four-mile McGilvray-Seven Bridges Road, past five rare bowstring-arch bridges.
Details: See Hitting the trails in Trempealeau.
Past fast plans: Door County spring, Horicon Marsh birds, Escape to Stillwater, Spring in Galena, A ball in Milwaukee
Tulip Festival in Orange City, Iowa. In this Dutch town in northwest Iowa, there's dance, music, street scrubbing and parades at 2:15 and 6:30 p.m. daily. May 1618.
MorelFest in Boyne City, Mich. This town on Lake Charlevoix offers a guided mushroom hunt, drawings for free morels, music and Taste of Morels, with morsels provided by local restaurants. May 1619.
For more festivals, see our Events Calendar.
In summer, its not as hard as youd think to take a trip for $125 or less.
Many of the great travel experiences in the Upper Midwest cant be bought, anyway bicycling amid old-growth white pines, paddling in the sloughs of the Mississippi, volunteering in a lighthouse.
It's not Six Flags, but a family of six can play in Lake Superior waterfalls and learn to camp for $40. Women can spend a weekend kayaking on the Rum River for $75, and a couple can stay in a rustic national-forest cabin for $40, if not at a lake resort . . . wait, they can stay at a lake resort.
Here's our list of best cheap trips in 2013.
Deep down, every morel hunter believes in divine providence.
There's nothing so providential as baskets overflowing with morels, and the taste is so divine hunters dream about it all winter. In spring, they offer a fervent prayer to the mushroom gods: May the fungus be among us.
Morels do taste heavenly. But it's the hunt that's so addictive it's fun to find something for free that's so expensive in stores and restaurants, and it's fun to beat the odds by finding something so notoriously elusive.
It's a lot like gambling a windfall is hard to come by, but once you've had one, you want a lot more. And sometimes, people do get lucky.
It's a wonder that we love the Norwegians so much, considering the food they brought from the old country.
Lutefisk, or dried cod soaked in lye? Rømmegrøt, a butter-soaked cream pudding that should be called heart-attack-in-a-cup?
We forgive Norwegians because they have a sense of humor about everything, including their food (O Lutefisk, how fragrant your aroma. O Lutefisk, you put me in a coma. You smell so strong, you look like glue, you taste yust like an overshoe.")
The food and the sense of humor are on display at Syttende Mai celebrations, which include a rømmegrøt-eating contest in Westby, Wis., and the national lutefisk-eating contest in Spring Grove, Minn. (no doubt many other towns were vying for this honor).
When delicate spring wildflowers appear, it means winter finally is over.
No wonder we love them so much. But they're ephemeral here today, gone tomorrow.
So if you want a good dose of them, head for a place where you know they'll be.
One well-known hot spot is Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in southern Minnesota. The first time I went, I saw trout lilies, spring beauties, violets, hepatica, bloodroot and rue anemone before I was even out of the picnic area.
They're not uncommon, but they won't grow just anywhere. They like Nerstrand because its maple-basswood forest, Minnesota's largest remnant of what early settlers called the Big Woods, give them a good habitat.
There's only one good thing about a "spring'' that includes blizzards in April.
that extra snow means extra-impressive waterfalls when the snow melts.
One of the easiest places to see lots of big waterfalls is along Minnesota's North Shore, where dozens of rivers roar down into Lake Superior. Where there's water, there's a waterfall.
When's the best time to go? As soon as ice melts, of course.
It's a beautiful spring day finally. The trees are budding, the birds are chirping. What do you do?
Road trip! Somehow, the call of the highway is especially strong in spring. We want to feel the wind on our face and see something new and unusual.
There's a lot to do along the way: Walk through bluebells, spot birds, visit artist studios, sample cheese, watch a parade.
Here are 15 of the best spring drives around the region.
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