Celebrate John Muir's April 21 birthday with a trip to the sand plains of central Wisconsin, where Muir and Aldo Leopold began to shape the conservationist ethic that made them famous.
What to do: Tour Aldo Leopold's famous shack (pictured), the only chicken coop on the National Register of Historic Places, and the nearby Leopold Center.
North of Portage, visit John Muir's boyhood home, now John Muir Memorial Park.
Details: For more, see Road trip: Wisconsin's Muir Tour.
On the St. Croix River, Stillwater always has held a prominent place in Minnesota first as a lumber town, and now as a favorite weekend destination.
What to do: Ride the Brown's Creek State Trail from downtown. Shop on Main Street, especially for antiques. Take a trolley tour. Have a picnic in Pioneer Park overlooking the river valley. Sample wine at Northern Vineyards and beer at Maple Island Brewing.
Details: For more, see Excursion to Stillwater.
Everybody loves Galena, the cute little "town that time forgot.'' And because everybody can be a lot of people, spring is the best time to enjoy it.
Tulips and daffodils bloom on the terraces, weather is mild and streets are not too crowded. And there's always lots to do in this northwest Illinois town.
There's also a lot to do downtown, and you can get a good rate at hotels, which are expensive during the summer festival season.
What else to do: See the "The Power of Poison'' exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum. On the lakefront, visit Discovery World and the Milwaukee Art Museum, whose "wings'' open at 10 a.m., flap at noon and close at 5 p.m.
Details: For more, see Playtime in Milwaukee.
On this wide spot of the Mississippi, villages emerge from their winter slumber with the reopening of the popular Harbor View Cafe, which marks the start of tourist season.
Where to start: It's a 70-mile loop from Red Wing, Minn., in the north and Nelson, Wis., in the south.
What to do: Explore the artsy shops in Stockholm. Visit the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. See downtown Red Wing or climb Barn Bluff. Admire the view from Maiden Rock Bluff state natural area (pictured).
In Pepin, the Harbor View Cafe is open for lunch and dinner Fridays-Sundays in early spring. No reservations.
Details: For more, see A spin around Lake Pepin.