MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for summer

Searching for morels
When days get warmer, fungus hunters get ready to root out the much-sought treat.
Bicycling in Wisconsin
The state that pioneered rail trails isn't resting on its laurels.
Living in a lighthouse
Around the Great Lakes, volunteers keep the light on for tourists.
Exploring Isle Royale
Famous for its moose and wolves, this Lake Superior wilderness island is beguiling.
Bicycling in Minnesota
This state's long, paved trails draw eager riders from around the nation.
Planning a Circle Tour of Lake Superior
For a great vacation, follow the shores of the world's largest freshwater lake.
Planning a Circle Tour of Lake Michigan
For a great summer road trip, follow the shores of this Midwestern Riviera.
Twin Cities history ride
On a scenic loop from Minnehaha Park to downtown St. Paul, bicyclists see how it all started.

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FastPlans/Looking for wildflowers

Marsh marigolds at Split Rock.

If we ever needed to see the bright faces of the first spring wildflowers, this is the year. The first wave of ephemerals is blooming now, and the second wave will continue into early June.

Where to look: You'll see some in almost every park. To get a little more space for yourself, visit one of the many Minnesota scientific and natural areas (SNAs) and Wisconsin state natural areas, many of which protect rare and endangered flowers.

Nature Conservancy preserves host many interesting plants. Wildlife refuges, nature preserves and environmental learning centers also are good places to look.

Details and identification: For more, see Where to find spring wildflowers and our Facebook album of 50 spring wildflowers.

Past fast plans: Spotting eagles, Piles of snow in the Porkies, Madison for kids, Skiing Minnesota's North Shore, Fun around Ely

This weekend

Check websites before you go.

shopper for kayak at Canoecopia in Madison

Canoecopia in Madison. It's been canceled

McHenry ShamRocks the Fox in McHenry, Ill. It's been postponed.

FIS Cross Country Ski World Cup in Minneapolis. It's been canceled

St. Patrick's Day Parade in Chicago. It's been canceled


Best of spring

When warm weather arrives, it's time to tiptoe through the tulips.

Wildflowers in Trempealeau.

This year, winter stuck around for so long that it seemed as if spring never would come. Now, the challenge is to get out there and enjoy spring in the short window before summer gets here. 

What to do? Go on a spring drive, see fiddlehead ferns unfurl and surround yourself with that delicate shade of chartreuse that seems to tint the air green.

Kayak on cattail-lined creeks, stalk morel mushrooms and watch Dutch dancers clogging on the street.

Here are our picks for the best things to do in spring.

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15 great trails to ride in spring

On a bike, get out to see what's new in the countryside or city.

Spring bicycling on the Root River State Trail.

In spring, everything moves so fast you need wheels to see it all.

Two wheels are perfect, because bicycle trails are little nature corridors in spring. Warblers zoom back and forth, nabbing twigs for nests, and wildflowers bloom on sunny edges.

You'll also want to check out new trails and see what's new along favorite trails.

Here are some of the best to ride in spring.

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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.

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How to prevent Lyme disease

The bite of a deer tick can cause major headaches, and more.

A deer tick.

In the woods, the first ticks appear as soon as snow starts to melt, and they're out en masse when warmer weather arrives in April and May.

Regular ticks are bad enough, scuttling into hidden niches on the human body and gorging themselves on blood. But their ick factor pales next to the danger posed by black-legged ticks, which can transmit Lyme and other diseases.

Black-legged ticks, also known as deer ticks, need to be attached to the skin for 24 to 36 hours to transmit the disease. Even then, it’s usually treated easily if caught promptly.

But if untreated, symptoms include fatigue, fever and achiness; eventually, it can lead to nerve damage, chronic joint pain and even neurological problems.

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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.

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20 great spring hikes

The scenery along these lovely trails will put a spring in your step.

Bluebells in Kaskaskia Canyon.

What's so great about hiking in spring? That's easy – there's so much to see.

Move your feet in any direction and you'll run across wildflowers, waterfalls and, best of all, sweeping views that last only until the trees leaf out.

Head out before summer makes its brash appearance, with walls of greenery and fleets of bugs.

Here are 20 great places to go hiking in spring. 

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