MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for summer

Best brew fests
Quaff craft beer to your heart's content at these tasting parties.
Beloved Bayfield
On Wisconsin's north coast, the love affair between a village and its visitors goes way back.
15 great places for kids in Minnesota
There's a world of adventure awaiting families in the Land of Lakes.
30 great campsites
These spots have what campers want: location, location, location.
Michigan's great lake cabins
In the only state that borders three Great Lakes, the best places to stay are in state parks.
Watching a water-ski show
Spend a perfect summer evening watching flips, dance lines and pyramids.
Tours on two wheels
On organized weekend bike trips, it's easy to go along for the ride.
One in 1,000
Somewhere in lakes country, there's a resort with your name on it. Here's how to find it.

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FastPlans/Exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula

Copper Harbor Lighthouse can be reached only by water.

In summer, Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula is beautiful and cool, yet quiet even at the peak of tourist season.

It doesn't have many "attractions,'' yet there's so much to see — soft pink-sandstone beaches, old mining towns, 10 lighthouses. In late July, blueberries ripen along roads and bear sightings are likely.

What to do: Explore the beaches between Bete Grise and Gay. Kayak the Keweenaw Water Trail. Talk to the living-history interpreters at Fort Wilkins State Park. Go to a concert at the Calumet Theatre

Events to catch: July 27-29, Civil War Encampment at Fort Wilkins. Aug. 18, Pasty Fest in Calumet. 

Details: For more, see Digging the Keweenaw.

Past fast plans: Natural beauty in Thunder Bay, Breezy in Bayfield, Music and theater in Winona, Staying cool in Grand Marais, Riverfront fun in Minneapolis

This weekend

Watch log-rolling and cannoli-eating.

Lumberjacks in a logrolling tourney.

Festa Italiana in Milwaukee. At the lakefront Henry Maier Festival Park, there's cannoli-eating and pizza-making contests, celebrity chefs, a bocce ball tournament, parades at 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, nightly fireworks and music and dance on five stages and an opera tent. July 20–22.

Lumberjack Days in Stillwater, Minn. This music festival along the St. Croix River also features lumberjack shows and such attractions as a downhill derby, hammerschlagen, helicopter rides and a parade at 1 p.m. Sunday. July 20–22.

Lumberjack World Championships in Hayward, Wis. You can't see this kind of thing just anywhere: cut-throat log rolling, boom running, springboard chopping and speed climbing. July 19–21.

Air and Water Show in Milwaukee. This show, between Bradford and McKinley beaches on the lakefront, features many aerobatics and features the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. July 21–22.

For more, see our Events Calendar.

North Shore by the mile

Planning a trip to this beloved part of Minnesota? Start at 0.0.

Palisade Head in fall.

If you don’t know much about Minnesota’s North Shore, trip-planning can be confusing.

For one thing, it’s really the west shore of Lake Superior. People in Ontario don’t get confused because they live on the real north shore. Chicagoans do because they call their northern suburbs the North Shore.

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Cheat the heat

When summer becomes a sauna, it's time to chill out.

Rafters go over rapids on Wolf River.

When heat wraps itself around your shoulders like an electric blanket with static cling, there’s only one thing to do: Look for cold water.

You'll find it tubing on a spring-fed river, such as the South Branch of the Root River, which takes a short cut through Mystery Caverns and heads toward Lanesboro chilled to 48 degrees.

On Minnesota's North Shore, plop yourself into one of the Baptism River’s potholes and let the cool waters swirl around you. Or go whitewater rafting — a fast cool-down is guaranteed.

If it's really scorching, try a dip in Lake Superior. Sheltered coves can be tolerable, especially off Michigan's Upper Peninsula, but otherwise it's perfectly chilly.

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Pizza on the farm

In Wisconsin and Minnesota, dinner guests flock to the countryside for ultra-fresh ingredients and idyllic settings.

Making pizza in Hayward.

You can't get more local and sustainable than a wood-fired pizza served just yards from where its ingredients were raised and grown.

Farms that moonlight as pizzerias one or two nights a week are multiplying, but not just because the pizzas are so good.

The visitors who eat them also get to spend an evening soaking up the bucolic country atmosphere, savoring a lifestyle that's now far removed from most lives.

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20 great rivers for tubing

Lolling on the water, it's easy to play it cool on hot days.

Tubes on the Root River.

It’s almost magic, the power of wind and water on a hot day. It's enough to give you goosebumps.

Tubing Minnesota's Rum River on an oppressively hot afternoon, I was amazed to see goose flesh rise on my legs when a breeze sprang up and a cloud crossed the sun. We’d entered a microclimate that seemed to exist only along the river’s surface.

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