MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

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Favorites for summer

Getting away from mosquitoes
In the bluffs of southeast Minnesota, breathe a sigh of relief.
Tours on two wheels
On organized weekend bike trips, it's easy to go along for the ride.
20 great beaches in lakes country
In cities as well as forests, it's not hard to find a place to play.
Celebrating roots
No matter where you're from, there's a heritage festival for you.
Art al fresco
When warm weather arrives, art fairs start to pop up everywhere.
The Minnesota resort of your dreams
Here's where to look for the perfect place on a lake.
The Wisconsin resort of your dreams
Here's where to look for the perfect place on a lake.

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FastPlans/Music and theater in Winona

Inline skater on trail in Winona

In the corner of southeast Minnesota, Winona has an enviable spot on the loveliest stretch of the Mississippi River Valley.

Not only is it scenic, it's a college town, with lots of theater, concerts and coffeehouses.

Events to catch: June 25-Aug. 4, Great River Shakespeare Festival. June 30-July 21, Minnesota Beethoven Festival. July 13, Dixieland Jazz Festival.

What to do: Use canoes, kayaks and paddleboards at Lake Lodge Recreation Center on Lake Winona (pictured). Tour the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. Visit Garvin Heights Vineyards and see the view. Visit the nearby Pickwick Mill.

Details: See Afloat in Winona.

Past fast plans: Staying cool in Grand Marais, Riverfront fun in Minneapolis, Pedaling and paddling in Lanesboro, Walking around Lake Geneva, Enjoying spring in Door County

This weekend

Go for aerial feats and a cherry feast.

Cherry Festival in Traverse City.

National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, Mich. This big fest includes air shows, an arts fair, music, races, the big Cherry Royale Parade and many contests, including pie-eating and pit-spitting. June 29–July 6.

Shake the Lake in Madison. Get a head start on the Fourth at this festival on the shores of Lake Monona, which includes live bands, extreme juggling, aerialists, a dinosaur show, kids' activities and fireworks. June 29.

Water Ski Days in Lake City, Minn. There's music, an arts and crafts fair and, on Sunday, a parade followed by a water-ski show on Lake Pepin, where water-skiing was invented. June 28–30.

Summerfest in Milwaukee. They call this the world's largest music festival. More than 800 acts perform on 11 stages along Lake Michigan. June 26–30 and July 2-7.

For more, see our Events Calendar.

Watching a water-ski show

Spend a perfect summer evening watching flips, dance lines and pyramids.

Water skiers in New London, Minn.

Watch a water-ski show, and you'll want to climb into your Thunderbird and go get a chocolate malted.

There's something deliciously retro about spending a balmy summer evening listening to '50s party music and the roar of marine engines as spangled, sun-bleached teen-agers fly by. 

A corny comedy routine is part of the show, but it's the tricks that keep the crowd enthralled: double flips, dance lines and pyramids that can go up to five tiers.

Show skiing is most popular in the Upper Midwest. Ralph Samuelson, who invented water-skiing on Lake Pepin in 1922, was a showman, and Tommy Bartlett began putting on shows in the Wisconsin Dells in 1952.

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10 great ways to celebrate the Fourth of July

You'll find parades, powwows, picnics, patriotic music and, always, fireworks.

Fourth of July parade on Madeline Island.

Over the Fourth of July holiday, every town worth its salt holds a celebration.

There are band concerts, parades with antique cars and cute kids dressed in red, white and blue: It's all good.

But it's an especially good time to travel along the border of the United States and Canada, which celebrates Canada Day on July 1. 

That's a Monday in 2019. In the United States, the Fourth of July is on a Thursday. 

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Summer on stage

In vacation towns, plays and musicals offer a midsummer's-night diversion.

American Players Theatre in Spring Green.

In vacation hubs all across the region, summer theaters are launching another season of delicious escapism.

With corps of enthusiastic young actors drawn from all over the nation, they’ll put on Neil Simon, Shakespeare, Agatha Christie and the bouncy musicals vacationers love — "Little Shop of Horrors,’’ "Fiddler on the Roof,'' "Spamalot.''

Light-hearted plays for light-hearted days — it's a formula that works.

Here's the schedule for 2019.

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A feast of festivals

At small-town shindigs, get your fill of strawberries and sauerkraut, kolacky and sweet corn.

Hamburger Charlie in Seymour.

As soon as rhubarb leaves unfurl and morels pop out of the ground, towns across the region begin their salutes to the local specialty.

It starts with Norwegian lefse on Syttende Mai and continues to Finnish pasties, German pretzels, Czech kolacky, Danish pancakes and American pie.

There will be music and parades and all kinds of goofy contests — rhubarb-stalk throwing in Lanesboro, the rutabaga shot put in Calumet — but mostly, there will be a lot to eat.

If you’ve ever said, “I could eat a hundred of those!’’ you'll get your chance this summer. Here are some of the premier places to pig out in 2019.

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