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A weekend getaway in Minnesota, Wisconsin or Michigan in the middle of winter doesn't sound so inviting, but come spring, some of the coldest states in the nation suddenly get a lot more appealing. With the warmer weather comes sunshine, a wide variety of events, a burst of spring color and the travel deals to get you there. So come out of hibernation this spring and experience the best that these areas have to offer

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis is a thriving hot bed of culture, arts, romance, architecture, entertainment, events and fine dining -- who knew? The city's website (800/445-7412; www.minneapolis.org) provides a multitude of information on accommodation and what's on in and around Minneapolis plus what is referred to as the Minneapolis Arts Explosion -- the building and expansion programs that include five major cultural venues in the city. Looking more like something out of a European design capital rather than Middle America, the Walker Center (www.walkerart.org) expansion has nearly doubled the size of this highly acclaimed museum. It features new galleries, gardens, a performance space, educational facilities, rooftop terraces, cinemas, two Wolfgang Puck restaurants and event space. The current exhibition of Kiki Smith sculptures is on display until May 14, 2006, plus there is a selection of exhibitions from the permanent collection running concurrently including Mythologies, The Shape of Time, Quartet and Elemental all beginning on April 17, 2006. At the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts (www.artsmia.org), check out Cupid and Psyche: Neoclassical Visions of Love (until August 20, 2006) and the Ruth Duckworth Modernist Sculptor exhibit (until April 16, 2006) with free admission. There is an entire section dedicated to romance, including top picks for proposal spots.

The Great State of Maine

Maine is a gorgeous destination all year around, whether you are after stunning coastal scenery, national parks, lobster feats or just getting away from it all. Spring brings wildflowers, wildlife and great deals. The Harbour Towne Inn on the Waterfront (tel. 800/722-4240; www.harbourtowneinn.com) in Boothbay Harbor, the Boating Capital of New England has a Spring Deluxe Maine Getaway midweek package available from April 28 to May 25, 2006. The package for two people includes lodging in a king or queen room in this 1800's waterfront Victorian Inn with harbor or village views, buffet Continental breakfast, $50 dinner allowance at an area restaurant of your choice, a bottle of champagne, and flowers in your room. This package is available Sunday through Thursday nights, excluding holidays and is priced at $199 per night.

The Oakland House Seaside Resort (tel. 800/359-7352; www.oaklandhouse.com in Brookesville has a Blue Hill Peninsula, Maine Coast Cottage Retreat with your choice of either a two-night weekend stay of a three-night midweek stay in one of its romantic cottages for only $300, 20% off its regular price of $375. This price is valid for stays between March 21 and May 26, 2006. Located, right on the ocean, these rustic charm cottages can sleep up to five people and feature wood-stocked fireplaces. Children are welcome and you are within easy driving distance from Acadia National Park.

From now until May 19, 2006, go back in time in style with a stay at the 1802 House Bed and Breakfast Inn (tel. 800/932-5632; www.1802inn.com) in Kennebunkport. We can't promise you presidential family sightings but you can get a midweek getaway featuring rooms with wood-burning fireplaces and jacuzzi tubs for $159 per night plus tax. Other rooms with either a fireplace or jacuzzi start from $109 per night plus tax.

For more information about visiting Maine in spring, plus a selection of accommodation packages, visit www.visitmaine.com.

Detroit, Michigan

Temperatures are rising in Detroit. Coming off their Superbowl hosting stint, Motown is gearing up for a sizzling spring and summer. The "Downtown Detroit Museums" package includes overnight accommodation at the Baronette Hotel at Twelve Oaks Mall or the Hilton Suites Auburn Hills and adult tickets to four Detroit Museums -- The Detroit Institute Arts, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Detroit Historical Museum and the New Detroit Science Center.

The "Automotive Heritage" package includes overnight accommodation at the Baronette Hotel at Twelve Oaks Mall or the Hilton Suites Auburn Hills and adult tickets to four Automotive Heritage Museums -- The Henry Ford, Automotive Hall of Fame, Walter P. Chrysler Museum, and Meadow Brook Hall, one of the auto baron mansions. Both these packages are priced from $120 per person per night based on dual occupancy during March, April and May 2006. There are dozens of hotel deals and discount packages listed on the Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau website (www.visitdetroit.com) with everything from theatre and romance stays to family reunions and sports event packages.

Across Wisconsin

Wisconsin has a reputation as being the beer state and the waterpark capital of the US, but there's a lot more to this Midwest destinations than just liquid. Spring is the perfect time for a getaway to Milwaukee. It was recently named one of the dozen distinctive destinations by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Highlights include the Pabst Mansion (www.pabstmansion.com) and the Charles Allis Art and Villa Terrace Decorative Arts museums (www.cavtmuseums.org).

The Milwaukee Public Museum (www.mpm.edu) is currently exhibiting over 300 treasures from the Vatican's collection of art and historical objects as part of its Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes until May 7, 2006. The Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes hotel package includes two exhibit admission tickets and a Milwaukee coupon booklet valued at over $450 to area arts and attractions.¿Prices start as low as $84 at the Best Western Inn Towne Hotel, $92 at the Ramada Inn City Centre, $99 at the Astor Hotel or $129 at the ambassador Hotel.

The Masters of American Comics exhibition opens at the Milwaukee Art Museum (www.mam.org) on April 29 and runs until August 13, 2006. The exhibition highlights individual contributions of the artists and the ways in which they reinvented the medium to significantly influence their peers and subsequent generations. The Masters of American Comics hotel package includes two exhibit admission tickets and a Milwaukee coupon booklet valued at over $450. Prices range from $93 per room at the Best Western Woodsview Inn-$139 at the Ramada Inn City Center for stays during the months of May and June, 2006.

In addition to all this art and culture, I still feel the need to mention beer. If you're visiting Chilton this May, mark the 21st on your calendar and head to the Wisconsin Micro Brewers Beer Fest (tel. 920/849-2534). Held at the Calumet County Fair Grounds, this event features over 100 beers from more than 20 Wisconsin brewers, you can sample fine ales while enjoying good food and live music. Tickets go on sale the end of March for $25 and sell out early.

Getting to these destinations in spring just got a lot cheaper. Travelocity (tel. 800/249-4302; www.travelocity.com) is currently offering a spring U.S. airfare sale with round-trip fares reduced by as much as 55%.

Sample fares include:

  • Miami to Chicago: $133
  • Orlando to Portland: $162
  • Los Angeles to Minneapolis: $183
  • Boston to Moline: $183
  • Dallas to Milwaukee: $199
  • San Francisco to Detroit: $203
  • New York to Green Bay: $203

These prices are valid for midweek departures, in most cases from now until April 30 or until May 23, 2006 on a variety of U.S. carriers including USAirways, Northwest Airlines, American Airlines and Delta.