MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for spring

Best of spring
When warm weather arrives, it's time to tiptoe through the tulips.
Lake Superior's greatest hits
This nine-day itinerary gives you the highlights of a Circle Tour.
Tulip Time in Pella
In central Iowa, the Dutch celebrate colorful origins.
Spring in Door County
On this Wisconsin peninsula, a vast array of wildflowers rewards those weary of winter.
Wildlife reality show
Web cams open a window into lives of eagles, bears and other wild things.
Spring bird festivals
After a long winter, birders welcome the return of feathered friends.
Cheap summer getaways in the Upper Midwest
No money, no problem: Here's how to find a great vacation for $100 or less in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa and Illinois.
Along for the glide
On rivers, guided paddle trips offer a one-way ticket with nonstop scenery.

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FastPlans/Boats in Duluth

The Dutch-flagged Albanyborg.

In Duluth, the shipping season is in full swing.

The first laker left the harbor March 20, and the first saltie, the Marshall Islands-flagged Federal Weser, arrived April 12. Locals as well as tourists are happy to see the big boats back.

How to keep track of boats: Check arrivals and departures on Harbor Lookout and see boat descriptions on Boat Nerd.

What to do: Visit the free Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center next to the Aerial Lift Bridge. 

Events to catch: April 28, Lester River whitewater kayak race. May 13, Run Smelt Run parade.

Details: For more, see Boat watching in Duluth and Duluth 101.

Past fast plans: A John Muir tour in Wisconsin, Spring in Galena, Baseball in Milwaukee, On Lake Pepin, Spotting eagles

This weekend

Take a spring drive and gawk at art.

Minnesota 16 in bluff country.

Bluff Country Studio Art Tour in southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa. Take a spring drive and visit artists in and around Winona, Lanesboro, Spring Grove and Harmony in Minnesota and Decorah in Iowa. April 27–29.

Behind the Arts Studio Tour in Racine and Kenosha, Wis. Visit more than 100 artists at 30 studios, in Racine on Saturday and in Kenosha on Sunday. April 27–29.

St. Paul Art Crawl in St. Paul. Tour the studios of more than 300 artists, many in the Lowertown, downtown and Raymond neighborhoods. April 27–29.

Minnesota Horse Expo in St. Paul. There's a parade of breeds daily at noon, free pony and wagon rides and a rodeo Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon. April 27–29.

For more, see our Events Calendar.

Road trip: Wildflowers of the Mississippi Valley

A spring quest leads to Minnesota bluff country and Wisconsin river towns.

Wildflowers in Trempealeau.

In May, the woods are full of people on the hunt.

Some are stalking morel mushrooms. Others are trying to bag a turkey or spot a rare warbler.

The rest of us are content to chase wildflowers. For one thing, we’re guaranteed success.

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20 great spring hikes

The scenery along these lovely trails will put a spring in your step.

Bluebells in Kaskaskia Canyon.

What's so great about hiking in spring? That's easy – there's so much to see.

Move your feet in any direction and you'll run across wildflowers, waterfalls and, best of all, sweeping views that last only until the trees leaf out.

Head out before summer makes its brash appearance, with walls of greenery and fleets of bugs.

Here are 20 great places to go hiking in spring.

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20 great spring drives

When weather warms, the urge to hit the road is irresistible.

A barge on the Mississippi River.

It's a beautiful spring day — finally. The trees are budding, the birds are chirping. What do you do?

Road trip! Somehow, the call of the highway is especially strong in spring. We want to feel the wind on our face and see something new and unusual.

There's a lot to do along the way: Walk through bluebells, spot birds, visit artist studios, sample cheese, watch a parade.

Here are 20 of the best spring drives in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and  Michigan, along with festivals you'll want to catch, in 2018.

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Waterfalls of the North Shore

When snow melts along Lake Superior, the rivers start to roar.

High Falls on the Pigeon River.

Up north, all of the snow that brought you great skiing just keeps on giving when spring arrives.

That's when it turns into waterfalls, roaring down river gorges and misting awed onlookers.

One of the easiest places to see lots of big waterfalls is along Minnesota's North Shore, where dozens of rivers roar down into Lake Superior. Where there's water, there's a waterfall.

When's the best time to go? As soon as ice melts, of course.

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