Favorite Places

  • A thousand times, go

    Patricia Schultz’s best-selling book “1,000 Places to See Before You Die’’ was grand entertainment for armchair travelers. It’s unlikely that many people read the book, then ran off to raft the Mangoky River in Madagascar or bask on the beaches of Bora Bora. But she let us dream about it. She couldn’t visit every place she chose, so she relied on the help of friends and relatives, other travel writers, the Internet and tourism bureaus.

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  • 100 best places to vacation

    As if we didn’t have enough pressures in our lives, now we have “1,000 Places to See in U.S. and Canada Before You Die'' as well as the best-selling "1,000 Places to See Before You Die.’ I've been to some of the places listed in those books, but I'll never see them all in my lifetime. I’ll have a fine time reading about them, though. Then I’ll toss some clothes in a bag and be perfectly happy on my orbits around Lake Superior and the Mississippi.

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  • Best of summer

    You probably think summer is a time to relax and enjoy the nice weather. Wrong! It's the time to pick up the pace and make up for the months we sat around thinking about what we could be doing — hiking, biking, camping — if only we lived in Arizona or Florida. By May, those places are sweatboxes and our time in the sun has arrived. We’ve got Lake Superior at our doorstep, rivers and lakes everywhere and the best bicycle trails in the nation. So go!

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  • Best shopping towns for weekenders

    They're real towns, of course, but they're always on their best behavior because tourists are always watching, and many have evolved in lockstep with tourism.

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  • Best of fall

    We always get a little frantic in fall, trying to make the most of a too-brief window of opportunity. Fall is the best time for a lot of things: hiking, after frost has knocked off the bugs; road trips, when the countryside is at its loveliest; and wildlife-watching, when birds and beasts are on the move.

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  • Best little towns that charm the tourists

    When it comes to small towns, there really is such a thing as love at first sight. In 2000, Joy Gieseke was traveling to Madison from her economic-development job in Kansas when she stopped for a few hours in Mineral Point, Wis. She went about her business, but eight months later, she started looking for a job there, found the chamber position open and grabbed it. "I don't know why Mineral Point hit me so hard," Gieseke says. "I had never heard about it before, but I stumbled across it and couldn't get it out of my mind. I've stumbled across a lot of little towns and just thought, well, that was cute.

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  • Chasing the Top 10

    On Top 10 lists, nothing breeds success like success. A little town that's anointed one of America's Loveliest Villages in a book one year is likely to be a magazine's Best Getaway the next and a newspaper's Great Escape the year after that. Usually, the designation falls out of the sky, like pennies from heaven.

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  • Best up-and-coming towns to get to know

    Chasing the Top 10). That means now is a good time to explore them, before the other tourists flock in.

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  • Secret spots of Minnesota's North Shore

    The first times I went up to Minnesota’s North Shore, I did the same thing everyone else does: See Gooseberry Falls. Take pictures of Split Rock Lighthouse. Hike Oberg Mountain. That’s North Shore 101.

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  • A year of best places

    Wouldn't it be great to spend a year enjoying yourself in the 12 best possible places? Broadcast journalist Charles Kuralt once gave himself that dream assignment: Spend one month apiece in your favorite places in the United States, "at just the right time of the year.'' He devoted July to Ely, the northern-Minnesota gateway to the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area.

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