You don't have to go far to appreciate the wonders of Mother Nature in spring. From waterfalls to unique festivals, we highlight a few of our favorite destinations
photo by jason lindsey
Distance from the Twin Cities: Fargo is about a 3.5-hour drive from the Twin Cities off I-94; Medora is about four hours west of Fargo in the scenic North Dakota Badlands.
Describe your destination in five words or less: Unspoiled countryside, Badlands, wildlife, history
Why visit in spring? The spring weather—coupled with the blooming prairie—welcomes hikers, bikers, walkers, and birders to enjoy hundreds of miles of trails. Rivers and lakes thaw, including Devil’s Lake, one of the top fishing lakes in the U.S., and Lake Sakakawea, with more shoreline than California. Enjoy a pitchfork fondue steak or ‘cowboy cookout’ before watching the Medora Musical from the bluffs of the Badlands, visit the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame, or tour Medora’s eclectic gift shops, museums, and saloons. Popular attractions when traveling through North Dakota en route to Medora include the Fargo Air Museum, National Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, and North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum in Bismarck.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
photo by pierrette guertin - fotolia
Insider tip: Bring your outdoor gear! The abundant outdoor recreation opportunities may surprise! From hiking the trails in Theodore Roosevelt National Park to traversing the waterways to enjoying the sights and sounds along our scenic byways, you’re sure to find something for everyone. ndtourism.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 6.5 hours
Describe your destination in five words or less: Where city meets outdoor beauty
Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park
photo courtesy of bismarck-mandan cvb
Why visit in spring? The capital of North Dakota, Bismarck, is a hub of culture, history, and shopping. Attractions include the Dakota Zoo and Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park, rich in both military and early Native American history (popular with visitors is On-A-Slant Indian Village, reconstructed earthlodges depicting the lifestyle of the Mandan Indians who lived in the area from 1575-1781). If the weather cooperates, go golfing or sign up for a 5K fun run, the Color Splash Fun Dash, or the Insane Inflatable 5K, with 11 giant inflatable obstacles along the course. This year in particular, spring is exciting as it introduces our area to the Bismarck Bucks, part of the Champions Indoor Football league, and the Bismarck Larks, part of the Northwoods League, the country’s premier summer collegiate baseball league.
Insider tip: We have over 100 Geocaching sites in and around our cities, three birding drives, a Volksmarch, and over 100 miles of trail systems in Bismarck-Mandan. Whether your focus is on outdoor adventures, urban amenities with shopping, dining and nightlife, or cultural and historical experiences, you’ll find so much to do, see, and enjoy here. noboundariesnd.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: About 20 miles east
Describe your destination in five words or less: Art, nature, and food experience
photo by ©bucklew photography
Why visit in spring? Golf at one of many courses (take advantage of the Golf Stay and Play Package), take a river cruise on the Afton-Hudson Cruise Lines, hike to Willow Falls at Willow River State Park, dine al fresco on restaurant patios in historic downtown Hudson, tour a winery, enjoy a microbrew on tap (or take some home), visit art galleries at the Phipps Center for the Arts, or feel the wind in your hair on a motorcycle or bicycle ride. The Locust Street Car Show kicks off the season May 21, 2017. And in June, keep an eye out for the Hudson Food Walk, a guided culinary tour.
Insider tip: People come to Hudson for the beauty of the St. Croix River and Willow River State Park, and quickly discover Hudson as a destination for dining, wineries, craft beer, boutique shopping, and the arts. discoverhudsonwi.com
Madeline Island, La Pointe
Destination from the Twin Cities: Approximately four hours and 45 minutes, including a 20-minute ferry ride.
Why is spring a good time to visit? Shops begin opening for the season, summer residents return, and each day the flora and fauna is sprouting or blooming, while our migratory birds find their island oasis within Lake Superior. Our first spring event is the Madeline Island Marathon May 20, where runners and spectators alike see the lupine and lilac bloom along the shores and roads around Madeline Island. On June 15, the Annual Chequamegon Chef’s Exhibition features local restaurants and some of the finest local foods in the region. This weekend event includes the Apostle Island Inline Skate Marathon and a number of community activities.
Big Bay State Park
photo courtesy of travel wisconsin
Describe your destination in five words or less: The Jewel of Lake Superior
Insider tip: Stop in the Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce and pick up a self-guided tour CD and learn about the culture and history of the island. Don’t leave the island without dipping your toes into the crystal clear waters of Lake Superior at Big Bay Town Park or seeing the cliffs and sea caves at Big Bay State Park. If you’ve never visited Madeline Island before, we recommend planning ahead and bringing a car so you can explore the entire island. If you are interested in being on the water in the Apostle Islands or around Madeline Island, we encourage you to book your excursions prior to coming to ensure availability. madelineisland.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: About a four-hour drive
Describe your destination in five words or less: Gateway to the Apostle Islands
photo courtesy of bayfield tourism
Why visit in spring? Springtime brings roadsides blanketed with wildflowers and lupines, and apple orchards in full bloom. It’s also a great time to explore the local waterfalls fed by spring runoff. We have the annual Bayfield Garden Tour June 3, when local residents and businesses open their gardens to the public, and The Blessing of the Fleet June 11.
Insider tip: We see a lot of visitors to the area starting in late June, but shops and restaurants are open before that. Our summer concert series in Memorial Park begins June 20 (continuing every Tuesday evening through September) and regular cruises amongst the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore begin on May 13, so there is plenty to see and do. The Madeline Island Ferry runs multiple trips back and forth to Madeline Island (the largest of the Apostle Islands) daily, another way to experience Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands. bayfield.org
Hawks View Cottages
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately two hours south in Fountain City (45 minutes north of Lacrosse).
Why is spring a good time to visit? The Mississippi River opens, there’s excellent eagle watching from the wooded bluffs, and it’s a great time to visit nearby Seven Hawks Vineyards.
Hawks View Cottages
photo courtesy of hawks view cottages
Describe your destination in five words or less: Big river escape; dreamers welcome
Insider tip: In a poll by the Huffington Post, the Great River Road Scenic Byway in Wisconsin was named the most scenic drive in the U.S. hawksview.net
Distance from the Twin Cities: A little over two hours
photo courtesy of proctor tourism
Describe your destination in five words or less: Miles of all sport trails
Why visit in spring? We offer mountain biking, ATV trails, and small town charm. We are just minutes from attractions, events, and beautiful Lake Superior scenery in Duluth.
Insider tip: Stay at one of our fantastic hotels, all AAA and diamond-rated, and check out our quaint restaurants and cafes. visitproctormn.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 240 miles from the Twin Cities; 80 miles from Duluth
Describe your destination in five words or less: Adventure, culture, wilderness, Instagramable, dramatic
photo courtesy of visit cook county
Why visit in spring? Our waterfall season is spectacular—the raw power of these waterfalls during spring is a sight to behold. All along the North Shore you’ll find pop-up waterfalls, but don’t miss those along the Cascade River (the most concentrated waterfall area on the North Shore). Grand Portage State Park is home to the tallest waterfall in the state, High Falls of the Pigeon River. And don’t miss our spring festivals and events, starting with the Mountain Meltdown Music & Ski Festival April 8-9.
Insider tip: We welcome wildlife watchers, outdoor enthusiasts, food connoisseurs, creative artists, extreme athletes, young families, old flames and more. visitcookcounty.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: Driving, approximately seven hours; flying, approximately 1.5 hours
Describe your destination in five words or less: Manitoba … where Canada’s heart … beats
Museum for Human Rights
photo courtesy of travel manitoba
Why visit in spring? In a province with more than 100,000 lakes, numerous rivers and creeks, and 30 different fish species, angling opportunities are seemingly endless in Manitoba. Our two national and 93 provincial parks offer hiking, wildlife viewing, camping, boating, and swimming. Visit in summer for the Winnipeg Folk Festival, July 6-9, Winnipeg Fringe Festival July 19-30, and Folklorama—the largest and longest-running multicultural festival of its kind in the world, happening the first two weeks of August.
Insider tip: Get inspired at the award-winning Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Find hope in the stories of the power of the human spirit, and admire art that evokes deep introspection. Enjoy the view of downtown Winnipeg from the top of the Tower of Hope and leave feeling uplifted and optimistic. Manitobans enjoy an international reputation of being gracious hosts. We’re proud of our province and enjoy the opportunity to share everything that makes it so special. travelmanitoba.com
North Star Lake Resort
Distance from the Twin Cities: Close to four hours (just 30 miles north of Grand Rapids, Minnesota in the town of Marcell)
Describe your destination in five words or less: Northwoods cabins; family fishing vacation
Why visit in spring? Some of Minnesota’s finest fishing can be found on the clean, clear, 90-foot-deep, 1,000-acre North Star Lake, including world-class muskie, walleye, and northern fishing plus abundant crappie and panfish. We also offer volleyball, basketball, shuffleboard or horseshoes, and a Snack Shop with malts, sundaes, cones, pizza, burgers and cold drinks.
Insider tip: Guests have complimentary use of paddleboats, canoes, and kayaks, a huge game room, children’s playground (with a playhouse), heated children’s wading pool, heated pool, and sandy beach and swimming area. northstarlakeresort.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately three hours north, in Biwabik
Legend Golf Course
photo courtesy of visit detroit lakes
Describe your destination in five words or less: The best golf in Minnesota
Why visit in spring? Golf! Both the award-winning Legend and the Quarry are in full swing in spring. According to a review of the Quarry in Golf Digest, “Hands down, the finest course in Minnesota. It’s a combination of Pebble Beach, Pine Valley, Merion and Tobacco Road.” The Quarry pays tribute to the region’s mining history; while the Legend is carved out of Superior National Forest. In addition to golf, there’s disc golf, hiking, biking, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. The Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground Mine State Park is 20 minutes away. giantsridge.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: About a three hour drive
Describe your destination in five words or less: Fun! Festivals! Outdoors! City beach!
photo by peter wong
Why visit in spring? We are home to more than 400 area lakes—get out in a boat and listen to the call of the common loon or drop a line in the water and wait for the fish to start biting. As the weather warms up, walk and hike outside on trails, looking for signs of wildlife.
Insider tip: Rent a mountain bike from Detroit Mountain Recreation Area and explore more than nine miles of mountain biking trails, hike the North Country Trail, or drive through acres of nature at national wildlife refuges. visitdetroitlakes.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: Around a 2.5 hour drive
Describe your destination in five words or less: Find us, lose yourself
Why visit in spring? The Prairie Wetlands Learning Center, Otter Tail River, Central Lakes Trail, North Country Trail are all springing to life. Of course fishing in this county of 1,048 lakes is pretty spectacular, too. Any time of year is a good time to visit downtown Fergus Falls, and check out the new shops, eateries, and craft breweries.
Insider tip: From performing arts to galleries—Fergus Falls is filled with artistic excellence. visitfergusfalls.com
Ruttger's Birchmont Lodge
Distance from the Twin Cities: About a four-hour drive north of the Twin Cities in Bemidji
Describe your destination in five words or less: Picturesque, relaxing, Northwoods, rustic, family-tradition
Ruttger's Birchmont Lodge
photo courtesy of ruttger's birchmont lodge
Why visit in spring? Spring is a great time to visit Bemidji because the crowds of summer tourists are still a month or two away—you have all the beautiful hiking and biking trails, almost to yourself. The bog flowers are blooming along the Bog Walk in the Lake Bemidji State Park, about a mile from the resort and just north of us at the Big Bog State Recreation Area near Red Lake. The 500 square mile Big Bog is home to the largest peat bog in the continental U.S. with a mile-long boardwalk, completed in 2005. The bog is home to many unique and endangered plants and animals including orchids and carnivorous plants. Visit award-winning Bemidji Brewery downtown, with a beautiful new tasting room and a large menu of appetizers, sandwiches, and daily specials. Outdoor seating is fairly sheltered from cool springtime breezes.
Insider tip: Locals save about a half hour travel time to and from the Twin Cities by using highway 10 and 64 from Little Falls to Bemidji rather than highway 371. ruttger.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: One hour north
Describe your destination in five words or less: World-class entertainment; natural attractions
Why visit in spring? Explore the St. Croix State Park, Minnesota’s largest State Park at 34,000 acres, or the 63-mile Willard Munger State Trail. Don’t miss touring the Fire Museum.
Insider tip: National acts regularly perform at Grand Casino (Dolly Parton, Kiss, ZZ Top, Willie Nelson, etc.), check the website for a current calendar. hinckleymn.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 3.5 to four hours
Describe your destination in five words or less: Arts, biking, fishing, Mississippi Headwaters
photo courtesy of visit bemidji
Why visit in spring? We have art galleries, good dining options, a paved trail looping Lake Bemidji (walk or bike it), and excellent bird watching during the spring migration of songbirds and waterfowl.
Insider tip: Bemidji State University was home to the first Minnesota Vikings Training Camp. visitbemidji.com
Good Ol' Days Family Resort
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately 2.5 hours away in the heart of the Brainerd Lakes Area
Describe your destination in five words or less: Charming small boutique resort
Good Ol' Days Family Resort
photo courtesy of good ol' days family resort
Why visit in spring? Get outside and enjoy the fresh spring air—we’re located along the Paul Bunyan Trail, on the shore of Lower Cullen Lake, and only two blocks from downtown Nisswa.
Insider tip: Our small, completely-renovated resort is perfect for family reunions. We offer 10 new cottages and an 8-unit lodge; beautiful lake-front, lake-level property; a playground area; a wonderful beach; and a chance to meet the local wildlife. goodoldaysresort.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: Approximately three hours
Describe your destination in five words or less: Welcoming, active, diverse
photo courtesy of worthington chamber
Why visit in spring? As the weather warms up, beautiful Lake Okabena is an attraction for fishing, boating, and windsurfing. The annual Windsurfing Regatta & Music Festival takes place June 9-11 on Sailboard Beach, on the shore of Lake Okabena. Worthington is also home to an 18-hole golf course, over seven miles of biking and hiking trails, and the Historic Dayton House, unique both in the time of its grand appearance in a small prairie town in the late 1800s, and in its ownership for well over a century. Three families related through business, blood, and marriage—the Daytons, the Smallwoods, and the Cashels—owned and lived in the house over time. George Dayton, president of the Bank of Worthington and founder of the Minnesota Loan and Investment Company, purchased land along Nicollet Avenue in Minneapolis, which would later house the massive Dayton Department Store.
Insider tip: Check out Worthington’s quaint downtown and authentic ethnic cuisine. worthingtonmnchamber.com
Distance from the Twin Cities: The border of Iowa is less than two hours from the Twin Cities metro area; Des Moines, the state capital, is approximately 3.5 hours
Describe your destination in five words or less: Beautiful scenery, charming small towns
Backbone State Park
photo courtesy of travel iowa
Why visit in spring? Orange City and Pella both hold tulip festivals in the spring to celebrate their Dutch heritage. It’s also a good time to get outdoors in area state and county parks.
Insider tip: The best way to see Iowa is to get off the interstates and explore the back roads and quaint communities.