MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for winter

Best of winter
Here are 25 great ways to savor the chilly season.
Ski or snowshoe by candlelight
On a cold winter's night, follow the twinkling lights.
Where eagles land
Near winter gathering spots, towns capitalize on the birds' popularity by throwing festivals.
The best in snow tubing
With their multiple lanes, conveyor lifts and snow-making, these aren't your grandma's hills.
Great places to snowshoe
In winter, the outdoors is wide open to those who walk on snow.
Bayfield in winter
When snow covers this scenic Wisconsin peninsula, everyone heads for the hills.
The coolest days of winter
Ditch the indoors for one of these great festivals.
Cheap winter getaways
Here are 20 places where a fun weekend away is easy on the wallet.

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FastPlans/Dubuque's views

Steeples and bridges dominate the view of Dubuque.

People who think Iowa is flat are in for a surprise when they visit Dubuque, a Mississippi port built on seven hills.

What to do: Visit the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium.  Hike or snowshoe in the Mines of Spain Recreation Area. Ski downhill at nearby Sundown Mountain

Events to catch: Jan. 18, Bald Eagle Watch. Jan. 18-20, Ice Fest at the River Museum.

Details: See Destination Dubuque.

Past fast plans: Fun in Itasca, Cocooning in a cozy cabin, Shopping in Cedarburg, Merry holidays in Minneapolis, Christmas in Chicago

This weekend

Play in an artist's ice house.

The Art Swap Shanty on Medicine Lake.

Art Shanty Projects in Minneapolis. Frozen Lake Harriet hosts two dozen artist-designed ice houses and lots of fun art antics. Check for scheduled events and ice conditions. First of four weekends is Jan. 18–19.

Bald Eagle Watching Days in Prairie du Sac, Wis. This town along the Wisconsin River, next to a hydroelectric plant, offers guided bus tours, live birds of prey programs and kids' activities. At 1 p.m. Saturday, rehabilitated eagles will be released in VFW Park. Jan. 17–18.

Back to Hack Winter Festival in Hackensack, Minn. The festival in this Brainerd Lakes town on the Paul Bunyan State Trail features snow sculpting, an ice-fishing contest, penguin plunge, kids' games and Saturday fireworks. Jan. 17–19.

Janboree in Waukesha, Wis. The fest in this Milwaukee suburb includes Friday-night fireworks, ice sculpting, trolley rides, a penguin-egg hunt and tobogganing on the lighted run in Lowell Park. Jan. 17–26.

For more, see our Events Calendar.


Near escapes in Minnesota

Skiing or skyways? Here are 10 places for a great winter getaway.

The Archer House in Northfield.

Before Valentine’s Day, and as winter drags on, everyone starts thinking about romantic getaways.

Well, we already have a story about romantic places to stay, and beyond that, who can say what romance is?

Especially since “romantic’’ often is code for “expensive.’’ We think romance has very little relationship to expenditure; we’ve found it in tents and camper cabins as well as luxurious inns. It’s everywhere, if you look for it.

Here are 10 great Minnesota getaways for everyone, whether you’re with your sweetie, your kids, your pals or just yourself.

Read story and trip tips


Near escapes in Wisconsin

Water parks or waterfalls? Here are 10 places to go for a great winter getaway.

Skier at ABR.

When winter seems to be lasting forever, you just want to get away.

Of course, that’s not so easy to do if you’re buried in snow. Then you may have to get away a lot closer . . . maybe to the hotel around the corner.

Until then, here are some great winter getaways, each with lots to do and see.

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Serious reservations

Here's a guide to the lodgings, campsites and permits you should nail down now for travel in 2020.

Illgen Falls cabin.

In the Upper Midwest, travel can be competitive.

Many festivals are so big and so fun that everyone wants to go. If you do, too,  you'll have to act fast to stay ahead of the crowds. 

And sometimes, you also need to know when not to visit a certain area, so you can avoid sold-out hotels or sky-high rates.

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20 perfect cabins

They're in the woods, with views, vintage charm and modern luxuries (but maybe not all together).

A cabin at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge.

It's not easy to find the cabin of your dreams. My friend Ellen knows, because she's been looking for years.

"I want a cabin with a big stone fireplace, a pine floor and an old-fashioned bed, nestled in the woods with really tall pines or near a lake where you can go out skiing during the day,'' she says. "Not at a big resort with a ton of things to do, necessarily, but with some ice skating, can you picture that?

"Something like Little House in the Woods,'' you know, with a braided rug. It doesn't have to be all fussy and brand-new. So many cabins are so modern, kind of like a hotel. I like rustic.''

Has she ever found this cabin? Nope.

Read story and trip tips