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: Exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula, Breezy in Bayfield, Staying cool in Grand Marais, Winona festivals, Riverfront fun in Minneapolis
Nordic Fest in Decorah, Iowa. It's the 51st year of this friendly, authentic, very fun and very large festival of Scandinavian culture. The parade is at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. July 2729.
National Balloon Classic in Indianola, Iowa. This giant hot-air balloon festival includes daily flights, rides for the public, music, night glows, fireworks and a parade. July 28Aug. 5.
German Fest in Milwaukee. Look for dachshunds, dirndls and lots of oompah music at this big party at Henry Maier Festival Park on Lake Michigan. July 2830.
Taste of Wisconsin in Kenosha, Wis.This free harborfront festival features locally produced specialties as well as cooking demonstrations, gardening workshops and music on three stages. July 2830.
For more, see our Events Calendar.
After many years of traveling around this region, I can answer nearly every travel question except one: Can you give me the name of a good lake resort?
No, I cant. Only you and your therapist know what you consider a good lake resort.
Staying at a north-woods lake resort is not like staying at a Marriott. There may be chipmunks living under your cabin, and fish that nibble your legs when you wade. Squealing children may run past your window while youre trying to read.
You may find these things alarming. For you, there are resorts with all-day childrens programs, pools, and new townhouse units on manicured grounds.
Around here, you don't need oceans for a beach vacation.
We have thousands of lakes, plus inland seas on shoreline that often is called the Fourth Coast. Lake Michigan's shores are a veritable Riviera, and even rocky Superior has some noteworthy stretches of sand.
There's nothing like finding the perfect campsite.
I look for them wherever I go, and when I was at Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, one of the most popular campgrounds in Wisconsin, I found it: Campsite 435.
It's framed but not enclosed by trees, has a lovely view of Crystal Lake and is on the edge of its sand beach. It's near the shower house and not too close to latrines, easy to reach but not heavily trafficked and off a paved bicycle trail to nearby towns.
A family from Rhinelander had reserved it for an August weekend, less than two weeks before they arrived.
This is our first family camping trip,'' said Cora Eckrich. We got here and I thought, 'Really? This is awesome.' Now I think we're going to be spoiled is it ever going to be as good as this one?''
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.
In this region, nearly every river is a good paddling river.
For adventure, try northwest Wisconsin's Bois Brule, which flows into Lake Superior over a series of rapids.
For scenery, head for the cliff-lined Upper Iowa, which National Geographic Adventure magazine calls one of Americas Best Adventure 100, along with rafting in the Grand Canyon.
For fun with kids, paddle the crooked Kickapoo in southwest Wisconsin, also a great river for bird-watchers.
The sky was clear, the wind was still and Lake Superior was as placid as a lily pond.
It was a miracle that wouldn't last.