MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for spring

Great spring festivals
It's a good time to indulge in brews, birding and blooms.
The season's first ships
When the Great Lakes shipping season starts, boat nerds watch for salties.
Cheap spring getaways
Here are 20 places where a fun weekend won't break the budget.
Spring bird festivals
After a long winter, birders welcome the return of feathered friends.
Living in a lighthouse
Around the Great Lakes, volunteers keep the light on for tourists.
Lake Michigan's greatest hits
A nine-day Circle Tour itinerary takes in the highlights of this ultra-scenic drive.
All eyes on Wabasha
Bald eagles are drawn to this Mississippi River town, along with flocks of binocular-toting visitors.

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FastPlans/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.

Past fast plans: Piles of snow in the Porkies, Madison for kids, Skiing Minnesota's North Shore, Fun around Ely, Winter Carnival in St. Paul

Minnesota's Boundary Waters

For canoeists, this vast wilderness is the promised land.

A man portages a canoe in the Boundary Waters.

Along Minnesota's northern border with Canada, more than 200,000 people a year find an increasingly rare commodity — absolute wilderness.

The million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is barely changed since voyageurs used its chain of lakes and rivers to push deep into the continent's interior.

Today, the foot trails over which they carried canoes and 180-pound packs are used by vacationers, who wind their way from lake to lake in search of the perfect combination of woods, water and solitude.

As they paddle along the glassy waters of more than 1,000 lakes, they may see moose, lynx, otters and beaver, who have rebounded from near-extinction at the hands of trappers.

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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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Tours on two wheels

On organized weekend bike trips, it's easy to go along for the ride.

Bicyclists on the Mesabi Trail.

If you like to ride bikes and you live in the western Great Lakes, you've lucked out.

This is a bike-crazy part of the country. Michigan and Minnesota rank No. 1 and 2 for miles of rails converted to trails.

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Planning a Circle Tour of Lake Michigan

For a great summer road trip, follow the shores of this Midwestern Riviera.

Lilac Parade on Mackinac Island.

If sun, sand and water are your favorite things, the Circle Tour of Lake Michigan is the vacation for you.

The 1,100-mile drive along this Third Coast is an easygoing road trip that appeals to beach bums, lighthouse lovers, boating buffs and anyone who likes to wander in and out of wineries and fudge shops.

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Planning a Circle Tour of Lake Superior

For a great vacation, follow the shores of the world's largest freshwater lake.

Tourists at Whitefish Point lighthouse.

Of all the vacations a person can take in this region, a Circle Tour of Lake Superior may be the best.

It appeals to waterfall watchers, lighthouse fans and history buffs. It's a magnet for kayakers and hikers.

It makes a great honeymoon and also a great family trip, because small children adore frequent stops at the many pebble beaches.

You can do it in a car or a motorcycle; you can camp or stay in motels. It’s all things to all people, the perfect vacation for anyone who loves the outdoors.

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Sugarbush safari

At nature centers, learn how to tap maple trees and sample the sweet results.

Tapping a maple tree at Fort Snelling.

Even if it looks like winter outside, you can count on maple trees to know otherwise.

In late February, their sap starts to run, and that's "the sweet good-bye of winter,'' writes naturalist John Burroughs.

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Wildlife reality show

Web cams open a window into the lives of bald eagles and other wild things.

Starr, Valor I and Valor II on the nest.

In the northeast Iowa town of Decorah, two pairs of nesting bald eagles have become an international phenomenon.

Not only do they have a constant stream of live video, but avid watchers are snatching the best episodes — capturing the many dramas that go on in and around the nest — and posting them on Youtube for everyone to enjoy.

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