MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for winter

On the wine trail
In November, taste the fruits of the harvest on winery road trips.
Great holiday festivals
In November and December, check out Santa, Scrooge and shopping markets.
Quiet time on the North Shore
Late fall is marked by stark beauty, cheaper stays and the gales of November.
Ghosts of the Great Lakes
Centuries of tragedy on ship and shore leave haunting memories.
Now they're cooking
On weekend getaways, amateur chefs can test their mettle in the kitchen.
Inn retreats
If you don't like the weather, spend a weekend where everything is under one roof.
Chicago at Christmas
During the holidays, this glittering, festive town becomes the City of Broad Smiles.
Milwaukee at Christmas
During the holidays, this city shimmers like Cinderella.

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FastPlans/Shopping in Madison

A window of the Chocolaterian Cafe.

There's always excitement in the air on and around Madison's State Street, but especially in November, when the holidays are on the horizon.

Where to shop: State Street has great museum gift shops, and Monroe Street, which heads south from Camp Randall stadium, also has fun shops and places to eat.

Shopping events: Nov. 16-17, Art & Gift Fair at the Overture Center. Dec. 7, Holiday Glow on Monroe

Nightlife: See a concert, play, ballet or touring show at the Overture Center on State Street.

Details: For more, see Shopping in Madison.

Past fast plans: The Gales of November, Exploring Northfield, Late fall in Red Wing, Halloween in Chicago, Fall colors in Door County

This weekend

Cold air brings Christmas wares.

A kiosk at Christkindlmarket.

Veterans Day Parade in Milwaukee. It's at 11 a.m., starting in Pere Marquette Park and following Kilbourn Avenue toward the lakefront. This year, it marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Nov. 16.

Christkindlmarket in Milwaukee. The Chicago Christkindlmarket expands with this open-air, German-style market in the plaza outside Fiserv Forum arena. Nov. 15–Dec. 24.

Christkindlmarket in Chicago. This is the most authentic Old World Christmas market, with many German vendors who bring over toys, ornaments and sweets. There's a Children's Lantern Parade, appearances by the Christkind and entertainment most days. In Daley Plaza in the Loop. Nov. 15–Dec. 24.

Art & Gift Fair in Madison. This juried event at the Museum of Contemporary Art and Overture Center features nearly 100 artists plus gourmet food, live music and dance.  Nov. 16–17.

For more, see our Events Calendar.

15 great late-fall getaways

It's the mellowest time of the year, when hotel rates drop with the leaves.

Dells Boat Tours.

Late fall — when crowds fade and hotel deals appear — is one of the best times to make a getaway. 

For hikers, it's the sweet spot between the fall-color rush and hunting season. For shoppers, it's the time to get a head start on the holidays, before the craziness starts.

More often than not, the weather still is gorgeous, and stubborn oaks and willows offer color that lasts into the middle of November.

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Homes for the holidays

For Christmas tours, historic mansions up the ante on opulence.

Mayowood decorated for the holidays.

Two centuries ago, Minnesota and Wisconsin were ripe for the picking.

Iron ore lay under forests of tall white pine, fertile farmland lay under prairie grasses, and rivers teeming with beaver led to the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean.

It all turned into money when ambitious men arrived, gathering up the goodies like kids on Halloween. They logged, they mined, they traded and they shipped.

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Wings over the Mississippi

Tundra-swan watchers have a honkin' good time during the November migration.

The view from Buena Vista Park.

In the sloughs of the Upper Mississippi, birds of a feather flock together.

Bird-watchers, especially. On chilly days in late fall, they crowd onto wooden platforms to watch tundra swans paddling around sloughs of the Mississippi River.

This big bird needs a lot of fuel for its flight from the Arctic Circle to the marshes of Chesapeake Bay.

So when ponds in southern Canada and North Dakota start to ice over in October, the swans fly down to feast on arrowhead tubers and wild celery along the Mississippi before continuing east.

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November girlfriend getaways

In the slow season, women head out to have fun with their friends.

Horseback riding in autumn.

In November, women make a break for it.

As men sit in deer stands or watch football games on TV, women hit the road with their friends. They shop, visit spas, sip wine, take cooking classes and see musicals their husbands or boyfriends don't want to see.

For women, November is a great month. Not only do they have a good excuse to get away with their friends, but they can get a head start on shopping for Christmas.

Read story and trip tips