MidwestWeekends.com — Your Travel Guide to the Upper Midwest

Trip Hints

Favorites for spring

Searching for mushrooms
When days get warmer, fungus hunters get ready to root out the wily morel.
Following the tall ships
Sloops and schooners still sail on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior.
Celebrating roots
No matter where you're from, there's a heritage festival for you.
Tulip Time in Pella
In central Iowa, the Dutch celebrate colorful origins.
Spring in Door County
On this Wisconsin peninsula, a vast array of wildflowers rewards those weary of winter.
Waterfalls of the North Shore
When snow melts along Lake Superior, hear them roar.
Spring bird festivals
After a long winter, birders welcome the return of feathered friends.
Chasing cherry blossoms
In spring, Michigan's Old Mission Peninsula is a sight for sore eyes.

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FastPlans/Touring Trempealeau

Wildflowers in Trempealeau.

This Mississippi River village in southwest Wisconsin is an outdoors mecca, with bird-watching, canoeing, biking and hiking.

What to do: See the jeweled shooting stars (pictured) and other wildflowers on Brady's Bluff in Perrot State Park. Go bird watching in the national wildlife refuge. Ride the 24-mile Great River State Trail through the river bottoms. Hike the four-mile McGilvray-Seven Bridges Road.

Events to catch: May 14, Reggae Fest at the Trempealeau Hotel.

Details: See Hitting the trails in Trempealeau.

Past fast plans: Wisconsin Muir tour, Spring in Galena, A ball in Milwaukee, Circling Lake Pepin, Eagles on the river

This weekend

Celebrate May Day with polka and puppets.

Dancers circle the maypole during Maifest in Amana.

Maifest in Amana, Iowa. There's polka music, keg-tapping, food-sampling, artisan demonstrations, pony rides and a 10 a.m. Saturday parade. April 30–May 1.

May Day Parade and Festival in Minneapolis. This earthy, lighthearted fest in  Powderhorn Park features the giant puppets of Heart of the Beast Theatre and a people's parade. May 1.

Mid West Music Fest in Winona, Minn. More than 60 musical groups in all genres play in museums, galleries, cafes and arts centers across town. April 28–30.

Art Attack in Harbor Country, Mich. The eight Lake Michigan towns between the Indiana border and Warren Dunes State Park offer gallery receptions, artist demonstrations, theater, music and wine tasting. April 29–May 1.

For more events, see our Events Calendar.


Planning a cheap summer trip

Even in the priciest places, you can have fun without spending much.

Bicycling in Chicago.

Spring barely has started, but it's time to think about summer trips — especially the ones that book up fast.

We found some interesting ways to save money this year. On Minnesota's popular North Shore of Lake Superior, a hostel has opened. In eastern Iowa, a benefit bike tour includes free skin-cancer screenings. In Chicago, a family of six can camp next to the Museum Campus for $50.

Here are the 2016 editions of our cheap-trips series.

For Minnesota, see Cheap summer getaways in Minnesota.

For Wisconsin, see Cheap summer getaways in Wisconsin.

For the U.P. and western Michigan, see Cheap summer getaways in Michigan.

For Illinois and Iowa, see Cheap summer getaways in Iowa and Illinois.


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.

Read story and trip tips


Wright in Racine

In southeast Wisconsin, a wax magnate's decision to hire 'the greatest architect in the world' had stunning results.

Great Workroom at SC Johnson.

Wherever he worked, Frank Lloyd Wright was good for a story.

In Racine, Wis., the staff of global manufacturer SC Johnson has plenty of them to tell.

In 1936, the grandson of the company's founder hired the flamboyant architect to design an Administration Building. "Don't make it too unconventional,'' H.F. Johnson Jr. told Wright.

So Wright designed a half-acre room with a roof of glass tubing, held up by concrete flying saucers on spindly legs.

Johnson loved it. So in 1950, Wright gave him a cantilevered Research Tower, with alternating round and square floors.

Today, hundreds of people join free tours of the complex each week, trooping through buildings that seem as futuristic today as when they opened.

Read story and trip tips


Powwow primer

Yes, you're invited. Here's what to expect and why you should go.

Dancers at Upper Sioux.

Until the first Bemijigamaag Powwow, many community leaders in the northern Minnesota town of Bemidji had never been to a powwow.

"They said, 'Oh, that's a Native American thing, that's their thing,'' said organizer Darrell Kingbird. "They said, 'I never knew I could come to one.' ''

But the powwow's tradition of welcoming outsiders is an old one. It's a family reunion, and the one concept central to the Ojibwe and Dakota world view is this: We are all related.

So the three largest Ojibwe bands in northern Minnesota invited the locals as well as Gov. Mark Dayton, and they came. The next year, the bands invited the entire Minnesota Legislature to their April powwow.

"We opened a lot of doors and healed a lot of stereotypes,'' Kingbird said.

Read story and trip tips


15 great spring drives

When weather warms, the urge to hit the road is irresistible.

A barge on the Mississippi River.

It's a beautiful spring day — finally. The trees are budding, the birds are chirping. What do you do?

Road trip! Somehow, the call of the highway is especially strong in spring. We want to feel the wind on our face and see something new and unusual.

There's a lot to do along the way: Walk through bluebells, spot birds, visit artist studios, sample cheese, watch a parade.

Here are 15 of the best spring drives around the region.

Read story and trip tips




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