Favorites for Spring

Inn retreats
If you don't like the weather, spend a weekend where everything is under one roof.

Spring in Door County
On this Wisconsin peninsula, a vast array of wildflowers rewards those weary of winter.

A roof in the woods
In state and county parks and forests, visitors love their camper cabins.

Schools of know-how
Go away for a relaxing weekend and come home with a new skill.

Paul Bunyan in Minnesota
In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the big guy never dies.

Cabin on a waterfall
On Minnesota's North Shore, a state-park guesthouse is a prized hideaway.

Magnificent obsessions
In the Wisconsin countryside, self-taught visionaries left caches of concrete art.

Sugarbush safari

At nature centers, learn how to tap maple trees and sample the sweet results.

Even if it looks like winter outside, you can count on maple trees to know otherwise.

In late February, their sap starts to run, and that's "the sweet good-bye of winter," writes naturalist John Burroughs.

Indigenous people were first to tap trees, inserting hollow reeds, letting the sap drip into troughs and boiling it down over a wood fire. The process isn't much different today, except most people use metal taps, plastic tubing and buckets to catch the sap.

It's still a lot of work; it takes 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. But most people think real maple syrup is worth the effort.

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Toasting St. Pat

The Irish saint and his fans are back for two weekends of festivities.

Why do we love St. Patrick? Because when the landscape still is icy and white, he makes everything else turn green --- clothes, beer, even rivers.

For that, the legendary Irish priest deserves sainthood.

Here are some good ways to celebrate his day in 2022 .

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Near escapes in Minnesota

Here are 10 places to go for a great winter getaway.

Before Valentine's Day, and as winter drags on, everyone starts thinking about romantic getaways.

Well, we already have a story about romantic places to stay , and beyond that, who can say what romance is?

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Cheap spring getaways

Here are 20 ways to have a fun weekend getaway that costs $100 or less.

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.

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Near escapes in Wisconsin

Here are 10 great places for a winter getaway.

When winter seems to be lasting forever, you just want to get away.

Of course, that's not so easy to do if you're buried in snow. Then you may have to get away a lot closer . . . maybe to the hotel around the corner.

Until then, here are some great winter getaways, each with lots to do and see.

If you're looking for the complete treatment --- spas, shops, fine dining --- head for one of the big resorts, such as the Osthoff in Elkhart Lake, American Club in Kohler and Grand Geneva near Lake Geneva. The bigger they are, the better the off-season deals.

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Autumn along the St. Croix

In a lovely autumn day, visit the towns of this scenic valley.

On a lovely day in fall, few places show off this region better than the St. Croix River Valley between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The 52-mile stretch from Taylors Falls to the St. Croix's confluence with the Mississippi at Prescott has everything a tourist could want --- shops, historic houses, theaters, train excursions, boat cruises.

But mostly, it has scenery --- scenery I wanted to show my nieces Alissa and Livia, who had left Florida to start careers in the Twin Cities. As it turns out, the St. Croix in autumn looks awfully good to people raised in Florida.

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Sightseeing by bicycle

Join a multi-day tour and see the best of Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota by bicycle.

There's nothing like traveling the countryside on a bicycle.

From a bike seat, you hear the murmur of wind through field and forest, and you actually notice the sky and its clouds, as mesmerizing as a lava lamp.

You can ride on your own, but it's more fun to join one of the many cross-state rides organized by bicycle clubs and charities.

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