Upcoming April Festivals in the Midwest

 
 First weekend in April
Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison, WI See 150 independent films from Wisconsin and around the world in seven theaters in and around State Street. March 30–April 6.
Maple Syrup Festival in Poynette, WI The MacKenzie Environmental Center, between the Wisconsin Dells and Madison, offers a pancake breakfast, guided tours of the sugarbush, demonstrations of tapping and syrup-making, intrepretive talks about how Indians and pioneers made syrup, old-time music and horse-drawn wagon rides. April 1.


Maple Syrup Fest in Phelps, WI In the northeast corner of Wisconsin, tour the sugarbush, tap trees, make maple taffy in the snow and shop at an arts and crafts fair. April 1.
Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City, IA Dozens of musicians, artists and writers perform and read at downtown venues. On Friday evening, there's a literature crawl. Performers include Margaret Cho, Rufus Wainwright, Andrew Bird and Saeed Jones. April 4–9.

Second weekend in April

Wisconsin Film Festival in Madison, WI See 150 independent films from Wisconsin and around the world in seven theaters in and around State Street. March 30–April 6.
Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City, IA Dozens of musicians, artists and writers perform and read at downtown venues. On Friday evening, there's a literature crawl. Performers include Margaret Cho, Rufus Wainwright, Andrew Bird and Saeed Jones. April 4–9.
Roots and Bluegrass Festival in River Falls, WI Hear music at half a dozen venues in the downtown of this western Wisconsin college town. April 7–9.

World War I Encampment in Rockford, IL A living-history encampment at Midway Village, with reenactors portraying soldiers from the United States, France, Great Britain, Belgium, Russia, Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, marks the 103nd anniversary of the start of World War I. April 8–9.
Easter Egg Hunt in St. Paul, MN Children ages 2-7 can hunt for eggs on the lawn of the James J. Hill House on Summit Avenue. Visitors can win prizes, get a small snack and look around the first floor of the mansion. Reserve in advance. April 9.

Third weekend in April

Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival in Minneapolis, MN More than 250 films from more than 60 countries are shown at St. Anthony Main Theatre on the Minneapolis riverfront and at other venues. April 13–29.
Ibsen Festival in Lanesboro, MN Festivities in this southeast Minnesota hamlet revolve around Commonweal Theatre and production of an Ibsen play. There will be Scandinavian food, art, film, music and walking tours. April 14–16.
Midwest Music Fest in La Crosse, W Dozens of musical groups in all genres play in museums, galleries, cafes and arts centers across town. There are arts workshops for children, too. The second part of the festival is April 28-29 in Winona, Minn. April 14–15.
Egg Day in Milwaukee, WI There will be crafts, face-painting, bubble art and treats at the Hop-to-it Bunny Hunt, plus a parade at the Milwaukee County Zoo. April 15.
Easter Egg Hunt in St. Paul, MN Children ages 2-7 can hunt for eggs on the lawn of the James J. Hill House on Summit Avenue. Visitors can win prizes, get a small snack and look around the first floor of the mansion. Reserve in advance. April 15.


Fourth weekend in April

Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival in Minneapolis, MN More than 250 films from more than 60 countries are shown at St. Anthony Main Theatre on the Minneapolis riverfront and at other venues. April 13–29.
Julien Dubuque Film Festival in Dubuque, IA See 70 films and a silent-film showcase. There's a red-carpet awards show Saturday. April 20–23.

Midwest Horse Fair in Madison, WI There's a Friday-night rodeo, blacksmith championships, stagecoach rides, Texas trick riders, music and performances, including the Wisconsin Mounted Police Team. At Alliant Energy Center. April 21–23.
U.S. Grant's Birthday in Galena, IL The former home of the Civil War general celebrates his 195th birthday with free admission to the Grant Museum, an artillery encampment, Main Street walking tours with Gen. Grant, a pie auction, a spy trial and appearances by President and Mrs. Lincoln. April 21–23.
Dairy State Cheese & Beer Festival in Kenosha, WI There's cheese and beer from around the state plus live music at the Brat Stop. April 22.
Earth Day Birding Festival in Hastings, MN This festival at Carpenter Nature Center includes bird-banding demonstrations, a raptor class and guided birding trips. Reservations are required. April 22.
Between the Bluffs Beer, Wine and Cheese Festival in La Crosse, WI Sample cheese and more than 200 beers and 45 wines at the Oktoberfest grounds. April 23.

Fifth weekend in April

Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival in Minneapolis, MN More than 250 films from more than 60 countries are shown at St. Anthony Main Theatre on the Minneapolis riverfront and at other venues. April 13–29.
Spring Outdoor Adventure Expo in Minneapolis, MN A spring kickoff for outdoor enthusiasts, with presentations on outdoor adventures and destinations and a gear sale and auction of used canoes and kayaks. April 28–30.
Minnesota Horse Expo in St. Paul, MN There's a parade of breeds daily at noon, free horse, pony and carriage rides and a rodeo Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon. At the Minnesota State Fairgrounds. April 28–30.
Bluff Country Studio Art Tour in Northeast IA/Southeast, MN Take a spring drive through southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa and visit artists in and around Winona, Lanesboro, Spring Grove and Harmony in Minnesota and Decorah in Iowa. April 28–30.

Mid West Music Fest in Winona, MN More than 75 musical groups in all genres play in museums, galleries, cafes and arts centers across town. There are arts workshops for children, too. There's also a Midwest Music Fest April 14-15 in La Crosse. April 28–29.
Behind the Arts Studio Tour in Racine and Kenosha, WI Visit more than 85 artists at 45 studios, in Racine on Saturday and in Kenosha on Sunday. On Friday evening, there's a Preview Party. April 28–30.
St. Paul Art Crawl in St. Paul, MN Tour the studios of more than 300 artists in 17 buildings in the Lowertown and downtown neighborhoods. April 28–30.
Taylor County Maple Fest in Medford, WI This festival at the fairgrounds features maple syrup in a breakfast, a baking contest, a cooking demonstration and crafts plus music, children's activities and door prizes. April 29.
Homegrown Music Festival in Duluth, MN More than 100 musical acts will perform in venues around the Twin Ports, and there also will be film, visual arts and craft beer. April 30–May 7.
Traverse City Chocolate Festival in Traverse City, MI Sample wares of the region's finest chocolatiers, listen to music and shop at the City Opera House. April 30.

My 5 Top Cross Country Road Trips in the US

Ah, the road trip. The word alone just rings out with the American spirit of independence, adventure and freedom. A road trip is a vacation that can be planned out for months ahead or thought of an hour before hopping in the car and hitting the open road.

There are many reasons why travelers decide to take a road trip. For some with larger families, a road trip can be much more economical than flying. For others, nothing beats getting out a good old road map and plotting where to go. There are several major reasons why taking a road trip is such an awesome adventure. One popular reason is that the road trip provides the excitement of seeing what's around the corner. For the spontaneous road tripper, a car ride to wherever the road takes you will lead to many surprises along the way. 

Okay...now to the TOP 5 CROSS COUNTRY ROAD TRIPS that every road trip planner should try! 



#5 - THE GREAT RIVER ROAD (10 states - 2300 miles): American travelers do so love nostalgia and meandering alongside the great Mississippi River from bow to stern in a manner reminiscent of Mark Twain's riverboat days gets many road trip planners excited about all the possibilities. What's fun is skirting along the edges of two states to follow the river. The Mississippi River is much more romanticized than the Missouri River, which is actually the longest river in the U.S. This route could be much shorter (1500 miles) if you plotted the more direct route between the headwaters and the mouth...you decide just how closely you want to follow the river. Just make sure you don't miss experiencing the Mississippi River from a riverboat.



#4 - SOUTHERN COMFORTS (8 states - 3000 miles): This cross country road trip allows road trip planners to blend in variety and spice to their trip! Here's where you'll experience the good ol' southern hospitality in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, the Cajun flavors of Louisiana, get a taste of the Texas BBQ, the southwestern spices found in New Mexico, Arizona and the laid back atmosphere of southern California. US-80 will take you through the bulk of this trip which offers more varied cultural experiences than you're likely to get in any other U.S. cross country trip. And the variety is not limited to the cultural differences from town to town but the surrounding landscape which rolls from one type of terrain into another. You start (or end) at the white-sand- clear-blue-sky beaches of San Diego, through the cacti-dotted southwestern desert, travel along the plains and into the Deep South cotton lands and plantations. While some travelers are drawn to the green and serene found in a Northern cross-country road trip, many others revel in the South's variegated russet-colored landscapes and straight highways stretching before them like the backbone of America disappearing into the horizon in a purple haze.



#3 - THE OREGON TRAIL (11 states - 3200 miles): This road trip is for road trip planners who want to go the distance while traveling a goodly portion along a historic route. You start (or end) out from the wild Oregon coastline, travel through increasingly diverse terrain, to - and through - dense urban populations and finish by the serene waters of Cape Cod. The Oregon Trail is known best as the migration trail pioneers embarked upon when America was young. Of course, you're not traveling by wagon train so you don't need to set aside four to six months just to traverse the 2,000 mile section they followed (Missouri-Kansas-Nebraska-Wyoming-Idaho-Oregon). In fact, you could comfortably do this road trip in less than 3 weeks (if you rent a car & fly back). The main route you'll follow here is US-20 where you get to hit some truly gorgeous places like Niagara Falls and Yellowstone Park.



#2 - THE PACIFIC COAST ROAD TRIP (3 states - 1500 miles): Even though you're traveling through only three states, you'll be cruising the length of the West Coast from Olympia, Washington in the North, through Oregon and to San Ysidro, California, right near the Mexican Border on the South. Check out Things To Do Along The California Coastline for tips from a long-time Californian (California comprises the bulk of this Road Trip). A good Road Trip Planner can create a kaleidoscope of experiences along this route as it takes you from primitive forests, secluded hideaways, historic towns to major cities with the latest innovations, always flanked by a stunning coastline holding beaches and beach-lovers of every shape and size. Called Star Route 1, more known as Highway 1, with the California stretch called the Pacific Coast Highway, it is mesmerizing.



 #1 CROSS COUNTRY ROAD TRIP OF ALL TIME? (8 states - 2500 miles): The mother of all highways, the most romanticized, most sung about, most appearances in a movie highway...drum roll please...ROUTE 66! It's so popular that a Google Search for "Route 66" yields more than 6 ½ million results! Covering eight states from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, it is the #1 recognized Road Trip and well worth any road tripper's attention.

Route 66 is undeniably one of the most celebrated highways in America. From some of the most picturesque views in the United States to its distinct diagonal angle that runs between Chicago and Los Angeles, Route 66 has all the elements that continues to captivate USA Road Trip lovers. Take the journey through and discover why the road trip spells out legendary proportions!

You can opt for a full length adventure or break it out into bites, like visiting the Albuquerque section.  Plan your trip around Attractions, Hotels, and Restaurants that include Route 66 in their offerings.   There is so much to see around that you will never run our of things to explore.  Just the names are intriguing: Restaurants like Artichoke Cafe and Left at Albuquerque, or hotels like the Route 66 Inn, and attractions like the Drive-In Theatre, National Route 66 Museum, and the International Mother Road Festival.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your road trip planner and start your engine! The open road awaits!


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