MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Make reservations

Serious reservations

Here's a guide to the lodgings, campsites and permits you should nail down now for travel in 2020.

In the Upper Midwest, travel can be competitive.

Many festivals are so big and so fun that everyone wants to go. If you do, too,  you'll have to act fast to stay ahead of the crowds. 

And sometimes, you also need to know when not to visit a certain area, so you can avoid sold-out hotels or sky-high rates.

read story and trip tips

How to find a great place to stay

If you want a room you can afford, you might need to widen your search. Here's how.

If you've ever been shocked by the price of a hotel room, join the club.

You may have barely heard of Duluth, Minnesota, but rooms there will cost you at least $200 on summer and fall weekends, $350 if you wait until the last minute. Don't forget to add nearly 14 percent in taxes.

Hotel rooms cost about the same in Chicago, except tax is 16.4 percent. And in both towns, you'll pay closer to $500 during big events.

read story and trip tips

Where to stay in Chicago

Want to visit the Windy City? So does everyone else. Here's how to find a place.

Chicago is a fun, fun place to be.

It's popular with conventioneers, families, students, girlfriend groups and couples on a romantic getaway. Everyone wants to join the festive mobs at Millennium Park, Navy Pier and, at Christmas, the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza.

There are nearly 40,000 hotel rooms downtown, which you'd think would be enough. Except in summer, when vacationers from around the world flood in. And whenever there's a big convention or event.

read story and trip tips

Camping in state parks

Pay attention to the window if you want to reserve a prime spot at peak times.

So this year, you got a great campsite in your favorite state park. Or maybe you didn't.

A lot of people vie for places in the most popular parks — Peninsula and Devil's Lake in Wisconsin, Split Rock and Itasca in Minnesota, all of the beach parks in Michigan.

The people who get them know how to work the angles. Mainly, that means knowing when to reserve.

read story and trip tips

Word of mouse

By posting reviews on travel forums, the public wields a lot of power.

If you're planning a vacation, remember this: The people have spoken.

They've spoken about the meals they ate, hotels they slept in, tours they took, attractions they visited and people they met. They've gone on and on about beaches and bars and bathrooms and what they had for breakfast.

It's the kind of thing that bores their friends to death — and yet strangers around the world are eating it up.

read story and trip tips

10 great travel tips

Follow these savvy strategies, and you'll save money and avoid nasty surprises.

We get a lot of questions at MidwestWeekends from people planning vacations.

We’re glad to help, because we believe in planning. Spontaneity is a wonderful thing, but it’s risky in summer, when the rest of the world also is on vacation.

Most common questions: When is the best time to take a summer vacation?  How can I find a good lake resort? What should I bring to a rented cabin?

read story and trip tips

When the Midwest is best

Looking for the perfect time to take a summer vacation? Here's what to know.

People in other states and countries usually have no clue what the Upper Midwest is really like, though they've heard about our 20-foot snowfalls and two-ton mosquitoes.

Believe it or not, many of them still want to vacation here in summer. But they have a few questions about those mosquitoes and about humidity and crowds. Mostly they want to know, "When's the best time to visit?''

Here's what we tell them.

read story and trip tips

How to use MidwestWeekends

Planning a trip? The information you need is a click (or two) away.

It's high time to plan for summer, if you haven't already.

Do you know where you want to go? Remember that MidwestWeekends is not just a newsletter, but a travel library with more than 800 stories about destinations and fun things to do.

We keep them updated, and you can read them any time. To find what you want, go to our Plan a Trip page. Each of the categories and all of the destinations on the map are clickable.

read story and trip tips

Happy deals

For rock-bottom hotel rates, learn how to use Priceline.

When reserving a hotel room, there are deals, and then there’s Priceline.

Five years ago, I tried the on-line bidding service, which has a big catch: You don’t know what hotel you’ve reserved until you’ve paid for the room. We got a hotel in Miami’s South Beach that had a decent location but was noisy, had an unfriendly staff and charged an extra "resort fee.''

After that, I’d had it with Priceline – until friends made me reconsider.

read story and trip tips

How to find a bed-and-breakfast

To travelers, B&B usually means 'best bet.'

Long before Chaucer wrote "The Canterbury Tales,'' inns were a place to meet interesting people. They still are. When travelers gather for breakfast, or for evening drinks and hors d'oeuvres, they tell stories and trade tips that pave the way for the next day's travel.

If you're on vacation and you want to get to know an area, staying at a B&B gives you a big head start. Supplying information and personal service is how B&B proprietors set themselves apart from hotels.

They've certainly helped me over the years. Sometimes, I feel like the Blanche DuBois of travel journalism: Wherever I go, I depend on the kindness of strangers.

read story and trip tips