MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for summer

Pizza on the farm
In Wisconsin and Minnesota, dinner guests flock to the countryside for ultra-fresh ingredients and idyllic settings.
America's freshwater Riviera
On Lake Michigan's gorgeous beaches, everyone can find a spot in the sun.
Michigan's Pictured Rocks
There's a lot of scenery crammed into one stretch of Lake Superior around Munising.
Minnesota's Boundary Waters
For canoeists, this vast wilderness is the promised land.
Camping without roughing it
Here are 15 state parks close to all the comforts: restaurants, shops, golf courses, even nightlife.
10 great places to ride 'n' glide
Traveling by both bike and boat, a river trip is twice the fun.
Summer in Minocqua
In Wisconsin's north woods, vacationers flock to this Island City.
10 great places to find late-summer wildflowers
In special spots, blooms paint the landscape in every color under the sun.

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FastPlans/Breezy in Bayfield

Bayfield's marina is filled with sailboats and yachts.

For more than a century, vacationers have been making their way to this hillside village on the Wisconsin shore of Lake Superior.

What to do: Cruise the Apostle Islands. Explore Madeline Island. Pick berries in the orchards above town. Walk the two-mile Brownstone Trail along Chequamegon Bay. Explore the mainland sea caves by kayak.

Details: For more, see Beloved Bayfield.

Past fast plans: Exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula, Staying cool in Grand Marais, Playing outdoors in Chicago, Pedaling and paddling in Lanesboro, Walking around Lake Geneva

Cheat the heat

When summer becomes a sauna, it's time to chill out.

Rafters go over rapids on Wolf River.

When heat wraps itself around your shoulders like an electric blanket with static cling, there’s 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.

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Boat watching in Duluth

In this Lake Superior port town, tourists hang on the latest shipping news.

The Alpena arrives in Duluth.

When the ore boats start arriving in Duluth, the tourists soon follow.

Fifty years ago, ships were part of the industrial landscape on Canal Park, and no one thought they were all that romantic.

But things have changed. Today, these hulking big boats are to Duluth what killer whales are to Sea World. Because, boy, do they make people come running.

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Cheap fun with kids

Want to have a good time with your children? Then go back to the basics.

children jumping off raft at Minnesota resort.

When it comes to travel, it costs a lot less to make kids happy than parents think.

Oh, kids are happy to let adults spend money on big-ticket trips — Disney World, Six Flags, the Wisconsin Dells.

But what do they prefer? It's elemental, my dear parents: rocks, water and sand.

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20 great beaches in lakes country

In cities as well as forests, it's not hard to find a place to play.

The beach at Big Bay State Park faces Lake Superior.

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.

You could throw a dart at the map and come up with a good beach. Or you could take a cue from names of state parks — Point Beach and Harrington Beach in Wisconsin, McCarthy Beach in Minnesota, Orchard Beach in Michigan.

They're big, they're beautiful and they're not far away. Below are some of this region's best places to lounge away a summer day.

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Road trip: Southwest Minnesota

In the middle of the prairie, blood-red rock splits the sod, holding meaning far beyond the picturesque.

Winnewissa Falls in Pipestone National Monument.

In the southwest corner of the state, the prairie hardly looks like typical Minnesota vacation land.

Instead of lakes, fractured red quartzite erupts from the earth, and wind towers pop up on the horizon like giant black daisies. Herds of bison graze in fields, and yellow blooms cover prickly pear cactus.

This was the spiritual center of the universe for indigenous people on the prairie, and it exerts a pull on others, too.

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20 great rivers for tubing

Lolling on the water, it's easy to play it cool on hot days.

Tubes on the Root River.

It’s almost magic, the power of wind and water on a hot day. It's enough to give you goosebumps.

Tubing Minnesota's Rum River on an oppressively hot afternoon, I was amazed to see goose flesh rise on my legs when a breeze sprang up and a cloud crossed the sun. We’d entered a microclimate that seemed to exist only along the river’s surface.

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