MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for summer

Chicago with kids
For curious children, this inviting city overflows with treasures.
Beaches of Minnesota's North Shore
Agate-hunters, storm-watchers and picnickers all want to be close to the edge.
Riding the rails
On vintage-train excursions, the scenery is only part of the fun.
30 great campsites
These spots have what campers want: location, location, location.
A feast of festivals
At small-town shindigs, get your fill of strawberries and sauerkraut, kolacky and sweet corn.
Watching a water-ski show
Spend a perfect summer evening watching flips, dance lines and pyramids.
Tours on two wheels
On organized weekend bike trips, it's easy to go along for the ride.
Best brew fests
Quaff craft beer to your heart's content at these tasting parties.

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FastPlans/Staying cool in Grand Marais

People walking on the Grand Marais breakwall.

On Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior, this village of 1,400 is more cosmopolitan than many towns 20 times its size — it has a performing-arts center, a folk school, an art colony and galleries and restaurants that could hold their own in much bigger cities.

What to do: Walk to Artists' Point. Skip rocks. Take a class from North House Folk School. Hike at nearby Cascade River State Park. Hunt for agates at Cutface Creek Wayside.

Events to catch: June 22-24, Wooden Boat Show and Summer Solstice Festival. July 14-15, Arts Festival

Details: For more, see Four seasons of Grand Marais.

Past fast plans: Riverfront fun in Minneapolis, Summer in Chicago, Pedaling and paddling in Lanesboro, Walking around Lake Geneva, Enjoying spring in Door County

This weekend

In contests, eat fast and win prizes.

Big muskie in Hayward.

Strawberry Festival in Cedarburg, Wis. During this popular event north of Milwaukee, there's music, kids' games, a rubber-duck race and shortcake-eating and bubblegum-blowing contests. June 23–24.

Afton Strawberry Festival in Afton, Minn. This village on the St. Croix River offers an art fair, music, games, raptor demos and a strawberry shortcake-eating contest. June 23–24.

Musky Fest in Hayward, Wis. There will be a carnival, crafts, a watermelon-eating contest, games and a parade at 1 p.m. Sunday. June 22–24.

Swedish Days Festival in Geneva, Ill. This Fox River town on the western edge of Chicago offers music, a carnival, a Swedish cottage walk and a big parade Sunday. June 19–24.

For more, see our Events Calendar.


Michigan's great lake cabins

In the only state that borders three Great Lakes, the best places to stay are in state parks.

A rustic cabin in Wells State Park.

On a summer day in Holland, Mich., all roads lead to the beach.

When we were there one June, people streamed toward this broad swath of sand until the sun fell low on the horizon, making the fire-engine-red harbor beacon glow like an ember. They ate ice cream, they strolled on the breakwall, they took a last dip in Lake Michigan.

But at 10 p.m. sharp, a police cruiser started flashing its red lights to shepherd everyone out of the park.

Except us, because we were sitting on the porch of our camper cabin with cold drinks from our fridge, a bowl of freshly popped popcorn and a killer view of the lake and Big Red, the beloved 1907 lighthouse.

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One in 1,000

Somewhere in lakes country, there's a resort with your name on it. Here's how to find it.

Gordon Lodge on North Bay.

After many years of traveling around this region, I can answer nearly every travel question except one: “Can you give me the name of a good lake resort?’’

No, I can’t. Only you and your therapist know what you consider a good lake resort.

Staying at a north-woods lake resort is not like staying at a Marriott. There may be chipmunks living under your cabin, and fish that nibble your legs when you wade. Squealing children may run past your window while you’re trying to read.

You may find these things alarming. For you, there are resorts with all-day children’s programs, pools, and new townhouse units on manicured grounds.

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Door County 101

Want to check out this popular peninsula? Here's everything you need to plan a visit.

A Door County fish boil.

Around the Upper Midwest, Door County is the tourist destination that other tourist destinations envy.

Everything a tourist loves, it’s got: Lighthouses and sand dunes. Wineries and boutiques. Bicycle paths and beaches.

There’s a little bit of New England in the white-frame buildings of Ephraim, where tourists click photos of Wilson’s, a century-old ice-cream parlor.

There’s a little bit of Europe in Sister Bay, where goats graze on the sod roof of Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant. There’s not much that isn’t picturesque.

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10 great places to ride 'n' glide

Traveling by both bike and boat, a river trip is twice the fun.

A bicyclist rides along the Red Cedar River.

On rivers, only salmon like to paddle upstream.

People like to paddle the easy part, then get a shuttle from friends or outfitters. But there's another way to get back to your car — by bicycle.

Rail trails in this region often follow rivers, so it's easy to make a loop.

Here are 10 good places in Wisconsin and Minnesota to use bimodal transportation (otherwise known as two times the fun).

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