Discover 18 Midwest Winter Adventures
Soar with the eagles
Our fascination with the national bird continues to grow, judging by the winter eagle-watching festivals along the Mississippi River. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa all have resident and migratory populations of bald eagles.
According to the National Eagle Center (nationaleaglecenter.org) in Wabasha, Minnesota, the best place to glimpse the birds is around open water -- namely, the hard-to-freeze patches near locks and dams. Bring binoculars. Eagles spook easily if people get too close, though they're less jumpy around cars. Also, look for eagles on cloudy days. The birds hunt by sight, so on sunny days, they're often up soaring so high they can't be spotted.
You'll find an eagle festival nearly every weekend from November to March somewhere along the Mississippi. Try the annual Quad Annual Bald Eagle Days (qccaexpocenter.com) or Eagle Month (visitalton.com) in Alton, Illinois.