On Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior, this village of 1,400 is more cosmopolitan than many towns 20 times its size it has a performing-arts center, a folk school, an art colony and galleries and restaurants that could hold their own in much bigger cities.
Details: For more, see Four seasons of Grand Marais.
In summer, Chicago lives outdoors, which is a good thing in coronavirus times, since the big festivals are canceled and the biggest attractions closed.
Here's what you can do in Chicago this summer.
For accommodations in all price ranges, see Where to stay in Chicago.
In summer, this hamlet in Minnesota's southeast corner kicks into high gear as bicyclists, paddlers and trout fishermen stream into its many inns and B&Bs.
The beautiful Root River State Trail jump-started Lanesboro's renaissance in the 1980s, but now tourists also come for the theater and art.
Details: For more, see The belle of bluff country.
In the southeast corner of Wisconsin, Lake Geneva has been welcoming wealthy Chicagoans for 150 years. They came, they built fabulous mansions, and now the rest of us get to gawk at them from a footpath that hugs all 20 miles of shoreline.
When to go: Now, when it's still fairly quiet. July and August are crowded, especially on weekends.
What to do: Walk around Geneva Lake; if you want to walk only the eight miles from Lake Geneva, an excursion boat will pick you up in Williams Bay. Shop downtown. Rent a kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard.
Details: For more, see Gawking in Lake Geneva.
If we ever needed to see the bright faces of the first spring wildflowers, this is the year. The first wave of ephemerals is blooming now, and the second wave will continue into early June.
Where to look: You'll see some in almost every park. To get a little more space for yourself, visit one of the many Minnesota scientific and natural areas (SNAs) and Wisconsin state natural areas, many of which protect rare and endangered flowers.