MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for summer

Biking in Minneapolis
On the breathtaking Grand Rounds, bicyclists soak up the scenery.
Historic boathouses of Minocqua
In a Wisconsin resort town, the wealthy built playrooms on water.
Tranquility in the Turtle-Flambeau
Near the northeast Wisconsin town of Mercer, paddling is as wild as you want it to be.
Tours on two wheels
On organized weekend bike trips, it's easy to go along for the ride.
Great beaches of lakes country
In cities as well as forests, it's not hard to find a place to play.
Duluth 101
Want to check out this lively port town? Here’s everything you need to plan a visit.
Lake Michigan with kids
Following the sandy shores of this great lake, families find many playgrounds.
Where to stay in Door County
This tourist playground has a dizzying array of resorts, cottages, motels and inns — everything but chains.

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FastPlans/Bemidji and Bunyan

Paul Bunyan and Babe stand beside Lake Bemidji.

In Bemidji, it's all about Bunyan. The northern-Minnesota town was first to create a giant Paul, in 1937, and it's the northern trailhead of the Paul Bunyan State Trail.

What to do: Bike around the lake. Swim from the beach or take a pontoon tour at Lake Bemidji State Park.

See "Annie'' at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, July 30-Aug. 9. Buy a plaid ear-flap hat from Bemidji Woolen Mills. Rent a canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard for just $6 an hour.

Events to catch: July 30-Aug. 2, Dragon Boat Festival on Lake Bemidji.

Details: See Bemidji's behemoths.

Past fast plans: Cool Grand Marais, Kickapoo canoeing, Breezy in Bayfield, Keweenaw Peninsula, Summer in Winona

This weekend

Skip a stone, hop on a hot-air balloon.

Cobblestones line Grand Marais' harbor.

Fisherman's Picnic in Grand Marais, Minn. At the North Shore's biggest festival, there's loon-calling, log-rolling, herring-eating and rock-skipping contests; Saturday fireworks; and the grand parade at 1 p.m. Sunday. Aug. 1–3.

Wisconsin State Fair in West Allis, Wis. The fair in this Milwaukee suburb features lots of contests, plus the new Aussie Kingdom and K-9 Sports Arena. July 31–Aug. 10.

Riverfest in Ottawa, Ill. At the confluence of the Fox and Illinois rivers, there will be paddleboat races, Art in the Park, Taste of Ottawa and a parade at 1 p.m. Aug. 3. July 30–Aug. 3.

National Balloon Classic in Indianola, Iowa. This giant hot-air balloon festival includes daily flights, rides for the public, music, night glows, fireworks and a parade. July 25–Aug. 2.

For more events, see our Events Calendar.


For football fans, a preview

Watching is free and festive at training camps for Vikings, Packers and Bears.

Green Bay Packer on way to practice.

It's that time of year again.

If you're wondering how the Vikings, Packers or Bears will do this year, you can get a preview by watching the players gear up for the season at training camps, which start next week.

Make a day of it, because all of the camps offer festivities, games of skill, giveaways, autograph sessions for kids and even fireworks. Admission is free.

Here are the highlights in 2014.

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What to bring on a camping trip

Here's how to keep your packing list short but still have what you need.

A sign at a campground.

Tent camping is the best deal in travel. You can go at the last minute, you get the most scenic locations and you pay hardly anything.

It's too bad about all that stuff you have to bring along.

Some super-organized people love to pack gear and have most of it ready to go after the last camping trip. But most of us aren't that kind of person.

Most of us just want to head out the door and go. But if you want to save on a hotel bill, you've got to bring stuff.

The question is, how much? Here's how to make it easy on yourself. 

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Egg Harbor in Door County

On the famed Wisconsin peninsula, it's the first and perhaps prettiest town.

An artisti-decorated egg in Egg Harbor.

For most tourists, Egg Harbor is the “first’’ village on the Door Peninsula. 

After crossing the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, they drive 17 miles past orchards and fields before they get another glimpse of water.

In 2014, visitors are noticing something else first: giant eggs. Fifty artist-decorated eggs line roads and adorn parks to mark a village anniversary — and give tourists something to look at.

There are several stories about how the town got its name. Some say it was because nests full of duck or seagull eggs lined the harbor. But many locals prefer the fun story.

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10 great places to take teens

Sure, they'd rather be with their friends — but you're the one with the wallet.

Youth learns whitewater kayaking on Wolf River.

By the time children turn 10, the day already is looming when they no longer want to spend time with you, their loving parent.

Jeremy Southworth of La Crosse, Wis., saw that day coming. So on recent vacations, he's taken his son Gavin jet-boating in the Dells and zip-lining in Door County.

"He's been wanting to try zip-lining, so as soon as we came up here, we decided, 'We're doing that,' '' he said.

Luckily, parents still are in demand when they're willing to pay for thrills.

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At sea in Door County

From Sister Bay, a tall ship and a water taxi take tourists for a ride.

Sailing on the Edith M. Becker.

There's a lot of water in Wisconsin, but only one place that's surrounded by it: the northern Door Peninsula.

It's really an island, since the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal connects Lake Michigan to the slightly more tranquil waters of Green Bay. From there, the peninsula is lined by beaches, limestone cliffs, lighthouses and picturesque villages.

All of the views are good, but the best are from a boat.

You can rent a kayak or take a water-taxi tour. Or you can catch a ride on the Edith M. Becker, a 65-foot two-masted schooner that has sailed around the world but now is at home in Sister Bay.

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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.

One year, a friend and I canoed 15 miles on the Red Cedar River in western Wisconsin, then rode back on the Red Cedar State Trail.

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