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Fast Plans / Where to go now

FastPlans/Looking for wildflowers

Marsh marigolds at Split Rock.

If we ever needed to see the bright faces of the first spring wildflowers, this is the year. The first wave of ephemerals is blooming now, and the second wave will continue into early June.

Where to look: You'll see some in almost every park. To get a little more space for yourself, visit one of the many Minnesota scientific and natural areas (SNAs) and Wisconsin state natural areas, many of which protect rare and endangered flowers.

Nature Conservancy preserves host many interesting plants. Wildlife refuges, nature preserves and environmental learning centers also are good places to look.

Details and identification: For more, see Where to find spring wildflowers and our Facebook album of 50 spring wildflowers.

Spotting eagles

An eagle looks for fish at the lock and dam in Genoa, Wis.

Along the Mississippi River, it's a good time to go bird-watching, as migrating eagles begin to return to summer haunts.

What to do: Find eagles by hiking into sloughs along the Mississippi, Chippewa or Black rivers near Trempealeau and Alma, Wis. 

Look for eagles in La Crosse or below dams (pictured, the dam in Genoa, Wis.).

Unfortunately, the National Eagle Center in Wabasha is temporarily closed.

Details: For more, see All eyes on Wabasha.

Piles of snow in the Porkies

Porcupines ski area.

On Michigan's Upper Peninsula, along Lake Superior, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park has lavish piles of lovely snow when the rest of the region has been reduced to slush.

What to do: Ski downhill on 42 runs, ski cross-country on 42 kilometers of trails or snowshoe anywhere.

Events to catch: Feb. 29, candlelight ski and snowshoe.

Where to stay: A yurt or the handsome Kaug Wudjoo Lodge on Union Bay.

Details: For more, see White gold in the Porkies.

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.

Events to catch: Feb. 29, free International Festival at the Overture Center. March 7-8, Kids Expo.

Details: See Madison for all ages.

Skiing Minnesota's North Shore

Skiing through Palisade Valley.

On Minnesota's North Shore, spectacular scenery and superbly groomed trails make it a perfect place to ski and snowshoe.

Where to ski: For cross-country skiing, the Sugarbush system between Tofte and Lutsen, Norpine Trails between Lutsen and Cascade River State Park and Pincushion near Grand Marais. For alpine skiing, Lutsen Mountains.

Events to catch: Feb. 15, Pincushion Ski Festival and candlelight skis in Gooseberry Falls State Park and on the Sugarbush Trails.

Details: For more, see Skiing on the North Shore.