As soon as the leaves have fallen and cold winds start to blow, the holidays get under way. This is the season for craft fairs, theme feasts and Christmas parades.
Here are some of the best holiday festivals in 2013.
For holiday feasts, see Indulging at the holidays.
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? Where can I get a deal in the Wisconsin Dells/Duluth/Minneapolis? What are the best places to stay? What should I bring to a rented cabin? How can I avoid bugs?
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.
In the Upper Midwest, travel can be competitive.
Many events are so big and so fun that everyone wants to go. If you want to go, too, you'll have to act fast to stay ahead of the crowds.
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.
People who want choice campsites in popular state parks need to plan ahead. Here's how to do it.
For general information, see How to find the best campsites.
For specific spots, see 30 great campsites.
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.
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.
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.