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: Door County spring, Horicon birds, Touring Trempealeau, Boats in Duluth, Spring in Galena
World's Largest Brat Fest in Madison. There's music on four stages, with headliners including George Clinton and Everclear, plus kids' games, a sports zone, carnival rides and Sunday fireworks. Admission is free. May 2629.
ChocolateFest in Burlington, Wis. This big festival in southeast Wisconsin features a battle of the chefs, the Project Yum-way candy-wrapper design contest and chocolate-eating contests, plus a crafts fair, carnival and Friday fireworks. May 2629.
CelebrAsian Asian Heritage Festival in Des Moines. This festival at Western Gateway Park features martial arts, a cosplay competition, lion dancers, table tennis and a fashion show. May 2627.
Chicago Gaelic Park Irish Festival in Oak Forest, Ill. 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 2629.
For more, see our Events Calendar.
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.
In spring, everything moves so fast you need wheels to see it all.
Two wheels are perfect, because bicycle trails are little nature corridors in spring. Warblers zoom back and forth, nabbing twigs for nests, and wildflowers bloom on sunny edges.
You'll also want to check out new trails and see what's new along favorite trails.
Here are some of the best to ride in spring.
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.
As wonderful as Minneapolis and St. Paul are, sometimes you just have to get out of town.
Luckily, you only have to drive an hour or so to find a world of fun.
Minneapolis and St. Paul grew around the confluence of two rivers, and their favorite day-trip destinations are on rivers, too.
To the southeast, the port of Red Wing is curled into an elbow of the Mississippi.
Goldthread and gaywings. Bogbean and trailing arbutus. In Wisconsin's Door County, it's enough to make a naturalist hyperventilate.
Cherry blossoms and daffodils are the showiest spring flowers on this tourist playground between Lake Michigan and Green Bay. But it's the wildflowers, many of them rare, that provide the most joyous proof that spring has arrived.
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 2017.