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FastPlans/Madison for kids

Bucky the Badger at the State Capitol.

Madison is known as a college town, yet it's always putting on and fun festivals and events for children. It's the perfect place to take school-age kids for a weekend in winter.

What to do: Go to a free Kids in the Rotunda concert at the Overture Center on Saturdays. Take a free guided tour of the Capitol.

Tour the Wisconsin Historical Museum, Veterans Museum and Madison Children's Museum, all around Capitol Square. Visit Olbrich Botanical Gardens for a 2 p.m. Sunday concert ($2).

Events to catch: Feb. 24, free International Festival at the Overture Center. March 3-4, Kids Expo.

Details: See Madison for all ages.

Fun around Ely

A skier passes Norberg Lake in Bear Head Lake State Park.

In winter, the wide open spaces around the northern Minnesota town of Ely are a playground for anyone who likes to move fast over snow.

What to do: Ski at Bear Head Lake State Park (pictured) or on the Hidden Valley trails. Snowshoe to the Hegman Lake pictographs (go free with Outward Bound Feb. 10) or on the hilly North Arm trails.

Visit the International Wolf Center. Mush a dog-sled team.

Events to catch: Through Feb. 11, Winter Festival. Feb. 24-25, WolfTrack Classic Sled Dog Race.

Details: For more, see Winter in Ely.

Winter Carnival in St. Paul

Ice sculptures in St. Paul.

In Minnesota's capital, the biggest festival of the year comes in the depths of winter, started in 1886 in response to a New York City reporter's gibe that St. Paul was "the Siberia of North America.''

Winter also is a good time to visit a museum or catch a play or concert in the compact downtown.

What to do: See a show at the Ordway Center on Rice Park, the Fitzgerald Theater or the History Theatre. Visit the Science Museum of Minnesota or Minnesota History Center.

Events to catch: Through Feb. 4, Winter Carnival, with an ice palace.

Details: For more, see Sightseeing in St. Paul.

Goofy winter fun in Minneapolis

An art sled flies down the hill.


There's a lot going on in Minneapolis this weekend, thanks to a bunch of creative folks and sporty types who make it fun to be outdoors.

Events to catch: Jan, 27, Art Sled Rally in Powderhorn Park. Jan. 27-28, Art Shanty Project and Kite Festival on Lake Harriet. Jan. 27-Feb. 4, City of Lakes Loppet.

What else to do: Visit the Super Bowl fan festival on Nicollet Mall for free concerts by famous performers.

Details: For more, see Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis.

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. 20, Bald Eagle Watch.

Details: See Destination Dubuque.