MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for spring

Best of spring
When warm weather arrives, it's time to tiptoe through the tulips.
The season's first ships
When the Great Lakes shipping season starts, boat nerds watch for salties.
Sugarbush safari
Running sap is cause for celebration in the maple forest.
Great spring festivals
It's a good time to indulge in brews, birding and blooms.
True brew in the Twin Cities
Craft breweries are popping up all over, offering taprooms, music and food trucks.
Wildlife reality show
Web cams open a window into lives of eagles, bears and other wild things.
Following the photographers: Lake Superior in Minnesota
Wish you were there? For people who love the North Shore, online images are the next best thing.
Where to stay on Minnesota's North Shore
Everyone wants a place on the big lake, and here's a guide to the best.

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FastPlans/A spin around Lake Pepin

The view from Maiden Rock Bluff.

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

This weekend

The green scene continues.

St. Patrick's Day parade in New London, Wis.

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 21–23.

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 23–24.

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.


Inn retreats

If you don't like the weather, spend a weekend where everything is under one roof.

The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake.

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.

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Schools of know-how

Go away for a relaxing weekend and come home with a new skill.

Judy Sutcliffe helps students at Shake Rag Alley.

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.

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15 great escapes in March

Winter's not over till it's over. Meanwhile, here's where to go for fun.

Blue ice in Duluth.

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!

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Cheap spring getaways

Here are 20 places where a fun weekend won't break the budget.

A bicyclist pedals on the Root River State Trail.

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. 

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