Welcome the season of renewal with fresh places to travel, books, designers, dishes and more, all curated by our writers and editors.


cedar sauna pod forest view
Credit: Courtesy of Chalets Hocking Hills

Wellness: Heating Up

Cozy season is ending, but that doesn't mean the hygge has to. Chalets Hocking Hills, a cabin rental company in south-central Ohio, has debuted two outdoor sauna pods. The barrel–shape cedar saunas have a fish-eye window so you can gaze into the forest while absorbing all that good-for-you heat. Bluetooth speakers and controllable mood lighting add to the vibes. Pods seat up to four and are reserved for just your group. Book for an hour, two hours or all day(rates change seasonally).

viking river cruise ship
Credit: Courtesy of Viking

Splurge: Cruise Control

Viking, known for luxurious, culture-focused European river cruises,is charting two new courses in the Midwest. Starting this spring, they'll offer 8- to 13-day Great Lakes sails, with a 15-day option in 2023 that hits all five. Mississippi River cruises begin in June. (The 15-day itinerary goes betweenSt. Paul and New Orleans.) vikingcruises.com

deadlocked traveler photo storm clouds over highway
Credit: Courtesy of Justin Snead

Follow: The Dreadlock Traveler

Talk about electrifying. Traveling health care worker, storm chaser and photographer Justin Snead seizes moments that should be gone in the blink of an eye and shares them on his social channels. On Instagram, you can find his vivid photos of the storms that dance across the Great Plains sky via @thedreadlocktraveler.


Freedom a la Cart Cafe and Bakery team
Credit: Courtesy of Devin Trout

Recipe for Success

You can't go wrong with pretty pastries, Instagrammable coffee cups and white-painted brick walls. But just like a fresh-baked chocolate croissant, it's what's inside Freedom a la Cart Cafe and Bakery that counts. Started in 2008 as a catering food cart, the Columbus, Ohio, nonprofit provides workforce training and support for local survivors of sex trafficking. Funds raised from selling breakfast sandwiches and yogurt bowls help support a two-year program of mentorship, tutoring, case management and more. The organization's new brick-and-mortar cafe has a deliberately soothing vibe. "It's scary to go into a new place, and some [survivors] haven't had jobs in five or 10 years, so it can be overwhelming," says Laurie Sargent, executive chef, who estimates they've helped more than 110 women so far. To learn more, tune into Voices of Freedom, the organization's new podcast. 

As part of our Good Neighbors program, highlighting unique Midwest nonprofits and individuals making our communities stronger, Midwest Living has donated $500 to Freedom a la Cart.

The Midwest Survival Guide
Credit: Carson Downing

The Midwest Survival Guide

Whether you're born- and-raised or new around here and stumped on the difference between soda and pop (ope—there isn't one), you betcha Wisconsin comedian Charlie Berens of the web series Manitowoc Minute will have you in stitches with his first book. It's an accurate and affectionate guide to … well, us (The Midwest Survival Guide, $27, Harper Collins).

DIY totem
Credit: Jason Donnelly

Tie One On

Workshops with Detroit ceramicist Katie Bramlage helped me learn to slow down. Now I'm into her DIY totem kits,  from $55, which include stoneware pieces and thread to make a trendy wall hanging. The tying is therapeutic, and if you find yourself in an (unintentional) knot, Katie's a video call away. - Emily Berger, MWL Photographer

Home + Garden

Easter Wreath on navy front door
Credit: Kelsey Hansen

Soft Shells

Inexpensive paper-mache eggs wear "sweaters" of fuzzy yarn in this darling DIY Easter wreath. Watch our video to see how it came together! 

model blue purple living jewelry necklace
Credit: Courtesy of Amanda Douchelle

Follow: Passion Flower Sue

To call Susan McLeary a floral designer feels
too simple. The Michigan artist crafts jaw-dropping headpieces, corsages and necklaces (as well as event decor like arches) from fresh plant material. She calls her work "living jewelry." Follow her at @passionflowersue.

sophie williamson design saint valentine napkins
Credit: Courtesy of Sophie Williamson Design

Pretty in Print

In a sea of trend-chasing geometric patterns, Sophie Williamson Design offers a romantic and timeless change of pace. The Cleveland company sells luxurious organic table linens, as well as lampshades, stationery and fabric by the yard—and I so admire their sustainable practices. Set of six napkins in Saint Valentine, $120. - Kylee Krizmanic, Editor in Chief


Instantly Mediterranean cookbook
Credit: Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Instantly Mediterranean

Air-fryer churros and Instant Pot shakshuka? Consider us intrigued. Chicago recipe creator (and Midwest Living contributor) Emily Paster's delightful new cookbook includes dozens of flavor-packed, healthful and thoroughly tested recipes for both gadgets (Instantly Mediterranean, Tiller Press, $20).

CinSoy Ohio-grown soybeans soy sauce
Credit: Courtesy of CinSoy

Oh, Soy!

Marrying ancient Japanese fermenting techniques with Ohio-grown soybeans, Cincinnati's Sam Pellerito produces one of the richest, most complex soy sauces we've tasted. CinSoy isn't cheap stuff you'll dump by the cup into marinades, but rather a treat to savor as a finishing drizzle or dip. Be sure to refrigerate after opening. $8. 

Box Launch

My daughter and I bake a lot—but we could all use an easy win sometimes! Enter BāKIT Box, $25. Shelley Gupta and Carla Medina Jacobson started their Chicago-based baking kit business in 2021. Recipes like Hungarian Spinach Puff Pastry and Coconut Macaroons vary in difficulty and change seasonally. Each box arrives with measured ingredients and instructions. - Hannah Agran, Executive Editor