MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for summer

Great summer festivals
Here are the best of the fests in the Upper Midwest.
Celebrating roots
No matter where you're from, there's a heritage festival for you.
A feast of festivals
At small-town shindigs, get your fill of strawberries and sauerkraut, kolacky and sweet corn.
Cheap summer getaways in the Upper Midwest
No money, no problem: Here's how to find a great vacation for $100 or less in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Illinois.
15 great trails to ride in spring
On a bike, get out to see what's new in the countryside or city.
Summer in Madison
In warm months, head for the brewpubs, bicycle trails and lakes of this exuberant college town.

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FastPlans/Walking around Lake Geneva

People walking around Geneva Lake.

In the southeast corner of Wisconsin, Lake Geneva has been welcoming wealthy Chicagoans for 150 years. They came, they built fabulous mansions, and now the rest of us get to gawk at them from a footpath that hugs all 20 miles of shoreline.

When to go: Now, when it's still fairly quiet. July and August are crowded, especially on weekends.

What to do: Walk around Geneva Lake; if you want to walk only the eight miles from Lake Geneva, an excursion boat will pick you up in Williams Bay. Shop downtown. Rent a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard. Swim at the municipal beach or rent a motorboat.

Details: For more, see Gawking in Lake Geneva.

Past fast plans: Enjoying spring in Door County, Touring the trails of Trempealeau, Art and whimsy in Mineral Point, Boats in Duluth, A John Muir tour in Wisconsin

This weekend

Pig out on chocolate and brats.

Chocolate sculpting in Burlington.

ChocolateFest in Burlington, Wis. This big festival features a battle of the chefs, the Project Yum-way candy-wrapper design contest and chocolate-eating contests, plus a crafts fair and carnival. May 25–28.

World's Largest Brat Fest in Madison. There's music on four stages, plus kids' games, a sports zone, carnival rides and Sunday fireworks. Admission is free. May 25–28.

CelebrAsian Asian Heritage Festival in Des Moines. This festival at Western Gateway Park features martial arts, lion dancers, chopstick races and a fashion show. May 25–26.

Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Festival in Oak Forest, Ill. In this south Chicago suburb, there's music on five stages, plus a petting zoo, hurling, theater, Irish dog and pony exhibits and red hair, freckle and bonnie baby contests. May 25–28.

For more, see our Events Calendar.


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, along with festivals you'll want to catch, in 2018.

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Planning a Circle Tour of Lake Michigan

For a great summer road trip, follow the shores of this Midwestern Riviera.

Lilac Parade on Mackinac Island.

If sun, sand and water are your favorite things, the Circle Tour of Lake Michigan is the vacation for you.

The 1,100-mile drive along this Third Coast is an easygoing road trip that appeals to beach bums, lighthouse lovers, boating buffs and anyone who likes to wander in and out of wineries and fudge shops.

It's a great family trip because there's a beach every few miles, almost always with a playground. On the northwest side of the lake, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one big sandbox.

Many of Michigan's 18 beach parks, especially Ludington State Park, are like resorts, and some families stay there an entire week. Beach-boutique towns like South Haven and Saugatuck add shopping and fine dining.

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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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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 along with warmer weather, usually by late April.

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 disease.

Read story and trip tips