MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for spring

Best of spring
When warm weather arrives, it's time to tiptoe through the tulips.
Lake Superior's greatest hits
Tulip Time in Pella
In central Iowa, the Dutch celebrate colorful origins.
20 great spring hikes
The scenery along these lovely trails will put a spring in your step.
Wildlife reality show
Web cams open a window into lives of eagles, bears and other wild things.
Spring bird festivals
After a long winter, birders welcome the return of feathered friends.
Cheap summer getaways in the Upper Midwest
No money, no problem: Here's how to find a great vacation for $100 or less in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Illinois.
Road trip: Wildflowers of the Mississippi Valley
A spring quest leads to Minnesota bluff country and Wisconsin river towns.

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FastPlans/A John Muir tour in Wisconsin

A blue crane at the Crane Foundation.

Celebrate John Muir's April 21 birthday with a trip to the sand plains of central Wisconsin, where Muir and Aldo Leopold began to shape the conservationist ethic that made them famous.

What to do: Near Baraboo, visit the International Crane Foundation (pictured, a blue crane). Tour Aldo Leopold's famous shack, the only chicken coop on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Leopold Center.

North of Portage, visit John Muir's boyhood home, now John Muir Memorial Park.

South of Baraboo, hike in Devil's Lake State Park and the state's first natural area, Parfrey's Glen.

Events to catch: May 19, Spring Open House at the Leopold Center and Shack.

Details: For more, see Road trip: Wisconsin's Muir Tour.

Past fast plans: Spring in Galena, Baseball in Milwaukee, On Lake Pepin, Spotting eagles, Prime time on the Gunflint Trail

This weekend

Visit with a general and see horses.

A driving derby contestant.

Midwest Horse Fair in Madison. There's a Friday-night rodeo, blacksmith championships, stagecoach rides, Texas trick riders, music and performances, including the Wisconsin Mounted Police Team. At Alliant Energy Center. April 20–22.

U.S. Grant's Birthday in Galena, Ill. The former home of the Civil War general celebrates his 196th birthday with free admission to the Grant Museum, an artillery encampment, Main Street walking tours with Gen. Grant, a pie auction, a spy trial and appearances by President and Mrs. Lincoln. April 20–22. 

Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival in Kenosha, Wis. There's cheese and beer from around the state plus live music at the Brat Stop. April 21. 

Earth Day Birding Festival near Hastings, Minn. This festival at Carpenter Nature Center above the St. Croix includes bird-banding demonstrations, a raptor class and guided birding trips. Reservations are required. April 21.

For more, see our Events Calendar.


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.

Along the Mississippi in Minnesota, join a warbler weekend at a retreat center.  In northeast Iowa, go on a beginning backpacking trip. In Chicago, 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 2018 edition of great spring trips, most costing $100 or less per person.

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20 great spring drives

When weather warms, the urge to hit the road is irresistible.

A barge on the Mississippi River.

It's a beautiful spring day — finally. The trees are budding, the birds are chirping. What do you do?

Road trip! Somehow, the call of the highway is especially strong in spring. We want to feel the wind on our face and see something new and unusual.

There's a lot to do along the way: Walk through bluebells, spot birds, visit artist studios, sample cheese, watch a parade.

Here are 20 of the best spring drives in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and  Michigan, along with festivals you'll want to catch, in 2018.

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Waterfalls of the North Shore

When snow melts along Lake Superior, the rivers start to roar.

High Falls on the Pigeon River.

Up north, all of the snow that brought you great skiing just keeps on giving when spring arrives.

That's when it turns into waterfalls, roaring down river gorges and misting awed onlookers.

One of the easiest places to see lots of big waterfalls is along Minnesota's North Shore, where dozens of rivers roar down into Lake Superior. Where there's water, there's a waterfall.

When's the best time to go? As soon as ice melts, of course.

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Great spring festivals

It's a good time to indulge in brews, birding and blooms.

Dancers circle the maypole during Maifest in Amana.

In the Upper Midwest, it's hard to know when spring starts.

On St. Patrick's Day, revelers may parade in sun or sleet; you have to be prepared for both. In the north woods, ski slopes hold spring luaus, carnivals and egg hunts, and skiers had better slather on the sun block or they'll burn.

March is the month for expos — antiques, autos, gardens, golf, pets and sports — and for tastings of beer, wine and cheese. Birding festivals start in April, and in May the flowers start popping out and festival season starts in earnest.

Here are the best festivals for spring 2018.

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