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.
Little pageants on the prairie
A scrappy pioneer family is brought to life each year in two towns that played a prominent role in the life of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
For football fans, a preview
Watching is free and festive at training camps for Vikings, Packers and Bears.
Watching a water-ski show
Spend a perfect summer evening watching flips, dance lines and pyramids.
Excursion to Stillwater
This historic Minnesota river town is a favorite weekend getaway.
A feast of festivals
At small-town shindigs, get your fill of strawberries and sauerkraut, kolacky and sweet corn.
Michigan's Pictured Rocks
There's a lot of scenery crammed into one stretch of Lake Superior around Munising.
Summer on stage
In vacation towns, plays and musicals offer a midsummer's-night diversion.

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FastPlans/Exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula

Copper Harbor Lighthouse can be reached only by water.

In summer, Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula is beautiful and cool, yet quiet even at the peak of tourist season.

It doesn't have many "attractions,'' yet there's so much to see — soft pink-sandstone beaches, old mining towns, 10 lighthouses. In late July, blueberries ripen along roads and bear sightings are likely.

What to do: Explore the beaches between Bete Grise and Gay. Kayak the Keweenaw Water Trail. Talk to the living-history interpreters at Fort Wilkins State Park. Go to a concert at the Calumet Theatre

Events to catch: July 26-28, Civil War Encampment at Fort Wilkins. Aug. 17, Pasty Fest in Calumet. 

Details: For more, see Digging the Keweenaw.

Past fast plans: Finding agates in Moose Lake, Breezy in Bayfield, Music and theater in Winona, Staying cool in Grand Marais, Riverfront fun in Minneapolis

This weekend

Eat like an Italian in Milwaukee.

Carrying cannoli at Festa Italiana.

Festa Italiana in Milwaukee. There's cannoli-eating and pizza-making contests, celebrity chefs, a bocce ball tournament, parades at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, nightly fireworks and music and dance on five stages and an opera tent. July 19–21.

Lumberjack Days in Stillwater, Minn. This music festival along the St. Croix River also features lumberjack shows, a downhill derby, hammerschlagen, helicopter rides and a parade at 1 p.m. Sunday. July 19–21.

Highland Fest in St. Paul. This street fair in St. Paul's Highland Park neighborhood includes an arts fair, music, carnival rides, wiener-dog races and an all-Ford car and truck show. July 19–21.

Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City, Mich. Eleven schooners, barques and brigs arrive in the western Great Lakes, part of the Tall Ships Challenge. July 18–21.

For more, see our Events Calendar.


Best brew fests

Quaff craft beer to your heart's content at these tasting parties.

A row of microbrews.

At last, Americans are realizing that life is too short to drink cheap beer.

The tasteless factory lagers of our youth look awfully pathetic next to the beers now being turned out by craft brewers: sweet cream stouts, lip-smacking India pale ales, chocolatey porters, Belgian wheats flavored by coriander and orange.

In fact, it's getting hard to keep up with all the new brews, some of them wildly creative. That's where brew festivals come in.

"You'd be amazed at how many people have been introduced to good-tasting beer at these festivals,'' said Bonita Rowland of Rowland's Brewing Co. in Chilton, Wis., which has been hosting the Wisconsin Micro-Brewers Fest for more than 25 years.

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Following the tall ships

Sloops and schooners still sail on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.

Tall ship Friends Good Will.

On the Great Lakes, everyone loves to see a multi-masted schooner, white sails flapping in the breeze.

They're always the favorite guests at festivals, especially on Lake Superior, which usually sees only freighters.

On Lake Michigan, these magnificent replicas of 19th-century schooners and sloops are more common, offering tours and day sails from their homes when they're not appearing at festivals.

Most of the tall ships are non-profit and devoted to teaching early American history and training future sailors. Many offer passage between ports as they sail to festivals.

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A zeal for zip lines

There's a boom in zooming over the tree tops.

Gravity Trails zipline in Door County.

It's a big rush, zipping over treetops.

You can ride over an Ontario canyon, dunes in Door County, a gorge near the Dells and a creek in Michigan.

Zip lines first made an appearance at environmental learning centers, alongside climbing towers and high-ropes courses.

If you want to try one, here's where to look. There's usually a weight restriction of between 230 and 275 pounds, and a minimum age of 7 to 10 years. Most courses require reservations.

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Beaches of Minnesota's North Shore

Agate-hunters, storm-watchers and picnickers all want to be close to the edge.

A sunburst of rocks on a beach.

Big, bad Lake Superior.

It’s big as in vast, with a surface area equal to Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Hampshire combined.

It’s bad as in lethal, able to swallow ore boats or pulverize them against the hard volcanic rock that lines its shore. And it’s treacherous — like an enraged bull, its crushing waves can turn on a dime.

Oh, how we love this lake.

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