What's the best time to visit the Upper Midwest?We'd like to do a 3-week driving/camping tour of the Midwest this summer. We'll cover a lot of ground (8 states), so I don't think we'll get further north in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, than about halfway up those states. We're trying to decide the best month to go, taking into account the biting bugs, heat and humidity, and crowds. - Marcie, Pasadena, Calif.
Hmmm, there's a lot to be considered here, so I'll address your question in three parts.
Bugs. They're not really an issue unless you're spending all your time in deep forest. At dusk on a still, muggy day, the mosquitoes come out; just buy a can of repellent, like everybody, or stick to places that have a breeze.
We drove around the shores of Lake Michigan the third week of June, staying at camper cabins in state parks, and we didn't use repellent once.
If you're on the shores of Lake Superior in late June, however, you might find yourself in a wave of biting black flies. And the Boundary Waters are notorious for them in early summer.
For more, see The buzz on bugs.
If you really hate mosquitoes, spend your time in the bluff country of southeast Minnesota. It's porous limestone under the surface and has almost no standing water — or mosquitoes.
Heat and humidity. Don't worry about it. The heat in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan is nothing compared to L.A., and humidity comes and goes. Again, find a breeze — this is why our lakes are so popular.
And if it's hot, great — go swimming. We've got 15,000 lakes apiece in Minnesota and Wisconsin and 11,000 in Michigan.
Crowds. I like to travel in this region in the first three weeks of June and the last half of August because it's easier to get a reservation and the vibe is mellower.
But you won't find "crowds'' anywhere except maybe Door County in Wisconsin and the beach towns of western Michigan in July and early August. The North Shore of Minnesota also is very popular then, but it's spread out, so it doesn't feel crowded.
Some festivals do fill up every hotel and campground within a wide radius; for details, see Serious reservations.
We did the Circle Tour of Lake Superior one year on the last week of July, and we didn't see crowds anywhere. The only place that even felt "touristy'' was Munising, the gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
To sum it up: In this region, summer rocks any time.