On this wide spot of the Mississippi, villages emerge from their winter slumber with the reopening of the popular Harbor View Cafe, which marks the start of tourist season.
Where to start: It's a 70-mile loop from Red Wing, Minn., in the north and Nelson, Wis., in the south.
What to do: Explore the artsy shops in Stockholm. Visit the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. See downtown Red Wing or climb Barn Bluff. Admire the view from Maiden Rock Bluff state natural area (pictured).
In Pepin, the Harbor View Cafe is open for lunch and dinner Fridays-Sundays in early spring. No reservations.
Details: For more, see A spin around Lake Pepin.
Past fast plans: Prime time on the Gunflint Trail, Spotting eagles, Loads of snow on the North Shore, Madison for kids, Fun around Ely
St. Patrick's Day Parade and Irish Fest in New London, Wis. This town west of Appleton becomes "New Dublin'' for the week, with festivities that include a big Grand Parade at 1 p.m. Saturday, followed with Irish music, food and market under a heated big-top tent. March 2123.
Soar With Eagles in Wabasha, Minn. There's a flying bird show, children's crafts, exhibits and eagle programs at The National Eagle Center. March 2324.
Maple Syrup Festival in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At Indian Creek Nature Center, tap a tree, collect syrup, watch it boil and eat a pancake breakfast, with music. March 23-24.
Maple Sugarin' Festival at Riveredge Nature Center near Saukville, Wis. Learn how to tap a maple, watch demonstrations, enjoy music and games and see the new Sugarbush House. March 23.
For more, see our Events Calendar.
In winter, not everyone wants to get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
Many people would rather enjoy down comforters, hot toddies and a massage. Many people don't even want to look at snow and ice.
And that's possible at many inns and resorts. Some include a spa or dinner theater, others shops and restaurants, and a few
offer a whole weekend's worth of entertainment under one roof.
In Duluth, the Fitger's complex includes a hotel, restaurants, day spa, shops, nightclub and a brewpub
with live music.
In this part of the country, the do-it-yourself movement is alive and well.
Folk schools in Minnesota are thriving, with dozens of workshops offered. In canoe country, you can learn winter photography one weekend at the Ely Folk School, and animal tracking the next.
In bluff country near Lanesboro, take a class at the Eagle Bluff Skills School on cheese-making or Amish bread-baking.
March can be a cruel month. We're tired of the cold, and it's tempting to sit tight and wait for spring.
But don't do it. This is the best time of the year for a lot of things, including eagle-watching, expos, ice-exploring and, of course, St. Patrick's Day parties.
We offer you three options for March getaways: outdoors, indoors and outdoors/indoors. Enjoy!
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.