MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for winter

Nights at the museum
Sleep with the fishes, wolves and dinosaurs at family slumber parties.
Ski or snowshoe by candlelight
On a cold winter's night, follow the twinkling lights.
Where eagles land
Near winter gathering spots, towns capitalize on the birds' popularity by throwing festivals.
Staying warm in winter
If you know what to wear, dealing with cold weather is a breeze.
Cheap winter getaways
Here are 20 places where a fun weekend away is easy on the wallet.
Fun in the fast lane
Need speed? Here's where to ski or snowboard in the Upper Midwest.
The best in snow tubing
With their multiple lanes, conveyor lifts and snow-making, these aren't your grandma's hills.
20 perfect cabins
They're in the woods, with views, vintage charm and modern luxuries (but maybe not all together).

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FastPlans/Fun and games in Wausau

Snowshoeing in Nine Mile Forest.

This town in north-central Wisconsin is all about the outdoors in winter.

But in addition to a variety of snow sports that's among the best in the Midwest, Wausau has fine dining, lovely hotels and a popular art museum. Best of all, it's easy to reach from the big cities.

What to do: Ski downhill at Granite Peak. Ski cross-country at Nine Mile County Forest. Snowshoe at Rib Mountain State Park. Tube at Sylvan Hill Park.

Visit the free Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. See a show at the Grand Theater.

Events to catch: Jan. 26, Winter Fest. Weekends through Feb. 24, Badger State Winter Games.

Details: For more, see Winter in Wausau.

Past fast plans: Fun in Itasca, Tundra swans in Monticello, Cocooning in a cozy cabin, Christmas in Chicago, A merry holiday in Milwaukee

This weekend

Push a potty or toss a toilet seat.

Outhouse race in Perkinstown.

Icebox Days in International Falls, Minn. In this far-north town, there will be smoosh races, frozen turkey bowling, a toilet-seat toss, boot hockey and fireworks.  Jan. 17–20.

Bald Eagle Watching Days in Prairie du Sac, Wis. This town along the Wisconsin River offers guided bus tours, live birds of prey programs and kids' activities. On Saturday, there's an eagle release. Jan. 18–19.

Winterfest in Mackinaw City, Mich. In this town on the Mackinac Straits, there's a snow-sculpting competition, sleigh rides, a poker run and outhouse races. Jan. 18–19.

Back to Hack Winter Festival in Hackensack, Minn. The festival in this Brainerd Lakes town on the Paul Bunyan State Trail features snow sculpting, an ice-fishing contest, penguin plunge, kids' games and Saturday fireworks. Jan. 18–20.

For more, see our Events Calendar.

Best of winter

Here are 25 great ways to savor the chilly season.

A ski jumper in Westby.

There's a reason why winter is the favorite season of many photographers — it's gorgeous. 

You've seen this region's icicle-draped sea caves, volcanic Great Lakes waves and dancing northern lights on social media. Now get out there and enjoy the scenery yourselves.

Snowshoe up frozen river canyons, barrel through the woods behind a team of huskies and go to bock festivals at breweries. Learn to ice fish, track wolves and look for bald eagles.

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The coolest days of winter

Ditch the indoors for one of these great festivals.

A festival ice sculpture.

There's no use hiding from winter — it lasts too long, and eventually that living room will get old.

Many of the tourist spots we love to visit in summer work hard to lure us back when it's cold, offering festivals with lots of fun in the snow, plus bonfires and chili feeds to warm us up afterward.

For an exciting spectator event, watch the start of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in Duluth.

If you've always wanted to see the Winter Olympics, see the next best thing at ski-jumping competitions in Westby, Wis., or Iron Mountain, Mich.

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The chocolate cure

When winter drags on, drown your sorrows with sweets.

Candinas chocolates in Madison.

In February and March, most of us are getting tired of winter . . . time to eat some chocolate.

As everyone knows, chocolate has unique restorative qualities. It's effective draped on strawberries, whipped into mousse, covering cakes . . . you get the idea.

Here's where to go to thumb your nose at winter (and your diet). Pick from tastings, tours and road trips.

Here's how to take the chocolate cure in 2019.

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Serious reservations

Here's a guide to the lodgings, campsites and permits you should nail down now for travel in 2019.

Canoeing in the Boundary Waters.

In the Upper Midwest, travel can be competitive.

Many festivals are so big and so fun that everyone wants to go. If you do, too,  you'll have to act fast to stay ahead of the crowds. 

And sometimes, you also need to know when not to visit a certain area, so you can avoid sold-out hotels or sky-high rates.

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