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FastPlans/Goofy winter fun in Minneapolis

An art sled flies down the hill.

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

What to do: Ski in Wirth ParkSnowshoe on Minnehaha Creek.

Events to catch: Jan, 29, Art Sled Rally in Powderhorn Park. Jan. 29-30 and Feb. 5-6, Art Shanty Projects on Lake Harriet. Feb. 5-6, City of Lakes Loppet.

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. 15-16, Ice Fest at the River Museum.

Details: See Destination Dubuque.

Cocooning in a cozy cabin

A cabin at Cascade Lodge in Minnesota.

Now that winter is deepening, many people are fantasizing about burrowing into a cozy cabin with a good book and a glass of wine. Here's how to find the perfect place to do some serious cocooning.

Budget: Stay in a camper cabin or state-park guesthouse. See A roof in the woods and Lodgings in Minnesota state parks.

Higher-range: Stay in someone else's cabin. See Renting a vacation house.

More: See 20 perfect cabins and What to bring to a rented cabin.

Merry holidays in Minneapolis

Holidazzle in Minneapolis.

In downtown Minneapolis, holiday festivities stretch from Loring Park to the Hennepin Theatre District, Nicollet Mall and the riverfront.

Events to catch: Dec. 17-19, free Holidazzle in Loring Park, with a market, amusement rides, choral music, outside yoga and Friday and Saturday fireworks.

What to do: See "A Christmas Carol'' at the Guthrie. See a Christmas play or ballet in the Hennepin Theatre District. See the holiday windows and Makers' Market in the former Dayton's building on Nicollet.

Nightlife: The Dakota music club and Orchestra Hall offer many holiday performances.

Details: See A jolly holiday in Minneapolis.

Christmas in Chicago

Christmas shopping in Chicago.

During the holidays, this glittering city pulses with excitement. Skaters glide in Maggie Daley Park and shoppers cruise the Magnificent Mile. 

What to doIce skate on the ribbon in Maggie Daley Park. Go to Light Up the Lake at Navy Pier. See "Christmas Around the World'' at the Museum of Science and Industry. See the ZooLights display at Lincoln Park Zoo, one of several light shows. Shop on the Magnificent Mile.

Christmas markets: Through Dec. 24, Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza. Through Dec. 31, Christkindlmarket at Wrigleyville.

Details: For more, see Chicago at Christmas.