MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for winter

Sugarbush safari
Running sap is cause for celebration in the maple forest.
Toasting St. Pat
Celebrate the holiday with parades, parties, Irish dance or a stay in an Irish inn.
Living in a lighthouse
Around the Great Lakes, volunteers keep the light on for tourists.
Ice playgrounds
Along rivers and lakes, it's fun to hang out with Jack Frost.
Where eagles land
Near winter gathering spots, towns capitalize on the birds' popularity by throwing festivals.
Globe-trotting in Chicago
From Chinatown to Andersonville, these colorful neighborhoods are a window into other worlds.
Ski or snowshoe by candlelight
On a cold winter's night, follow the twinkling lights.
Serious reservations
Here's a guide to the lodgings, campsites and permits you should nail down now for travel in 2020.

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FastPlans/Piles of snow in the Porkies

Porcupines ski area.

On Michigan's Upper Peninsula, along Lake Superior, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park has lavish piles of lovely snow when the rest of the region has been reduced to slush.

What to do: Ski downhill on 42 runs, ski cross-country on 42 kilometers of trails or snowshoe anywhere.

Events to catch: Feb. 29, candlelight ski and snowshoe.

Where to stay: A yurt or the handsome Kaug Wudjoo Lodge on Union Bay.

Details: For more, see White gold in the Porkies.

Past fast plans: Madison for kids, Skiing Minnesota's North Shore, Fun around Ely, Winter Carnival in St. Paul, Tundra swans in Monticello

This weekend

On river, find grumps and eagles.

An eagle sits in a tree.

Grumpy Old Men Festival in Wabasha, Minn. There's always good eagle-viewing in this Mississippi River town, and during the festival, there will be an ice-fishing contest, polar plunge and minnow races. Feb. 28–29.

Bald Eagle Appreciation Days in Prairie du Chien, Wis. Birding experts give programs, and volunteers man spotting scopes at the Wisconsin Travel Information Center, just off the bridge into town. There will also be children's activities. Feb. 28–29.

Artigras in Green Bay, Wis. This fine arts festival in KI Convention Center includes artist demonstrations, children's activities, dance, jazz and classical music. Feb. 29–Mar 1.

International Festival in Madison. Dancers, musicians, storytellers and puppeteers representing traditions from around the world converge on the Overture Center for the Arts on State Street for this free festival. There's also food and a global bazaar. Feb. 29.

For more, see our Events Calendar.

Planning a Circle Tour of Lake Superior

For a great vacation, follow the shores of the world's largest freshwater lake.

Tourists at Whitefish Point lighthouse.

Of all the vacations a person can take in this region, a Circle Tour of Lake Superior may be the best.

It appeals to waterfall watchers, lighthouse fans and history buffs. It's a magnet for kayakers and hikers.

It makes a great honeymoon and also a great family trip, because small children adore frequent stops at the many pebble beaches.

You can do it in a car or a motorcycle; you can camp or stay in motels. It’s all things to all people, the perfect vacation for anyone who loves the outdoors.

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Wildlife reality show

Web cams open a window into the lives of bald eagles and other wild things.

Starr, Valor I and Valor II on the nest.

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

Not only do they have a constant stream of live video, but avid watchers are snatching the best episodes — capturing the many dramas that go on in and around the nest — and posting them on Youtube for everyone to enjoy.

The Raptor Resource Project has dubbed them Nestflix and posts links to them on its Facebook page, along with regular and often entertaining updates.

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Cheap spring getaways

Here are 20 places where a fun weekend won't break the budget.

A bicyclist pedals on the Root River State Trail.

After a long winter, everyone deserves a spring getaway.

On a budget? No problem. Spring is the best time to find deals, and often the weather is stellar.

In Wisconsin's Blue Hills, help out at a nature preserve and stay free. In central Iowa, learn orienteering and archery at a women's skills retreat. In Chicago, have a sleepover in a museum or stay at one of three hostels during Craft Beer Week.

Think a little bit outside the box, and you'll save a ton of money. 

Here's our 2020 edition of great spring trips, most costing $100 or less per person.

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15 great escapes in March

Winter's not over till it's over. Meanwhile, here's where to go for fun.

Blue ice in Duluth.

March can be a cruel month. We're tired of the cold, and it's tempting to sit tight and wait for spring.

But don't do it. This is the best time of the year for a lot of things, including eagle-watching, expos, ice-exploring and, of course, St. Patrick's Day parties.

We offer you three options for March getaways: outdoors, indoors and outdoors/indoors. Enjoy!

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