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. Swim at the municipal beach or rent a motorboat.
Details: For more, see Gawking in Lake Geneva.
In May, this Wisconsin peninsula on Lake Michigan is as gorgeous as ever, but you don't have to share it with crowds. Venture beyond the shops to the headlands, estuaries, beaches and parks.
Where to stay: Many inns offer Season of Blossoms specials through June 4.
Just south of Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin's Horicon Marsh often is called the Everglades of the North. It's a rest stop for migrating birds and home to 200 species.
What to do: Hike on the trails of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge and Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. Drive the 50-mile Auto Tour. Bicycle the 34-mile Wild Goose State Trail. Go canoeing or on a pontoon-boat tour from Horicon.
Events to catch: May 12-15, Horicon Marsh Bird Festival, with tours, hikes and banding.
Details: For more, see Life on Horicon Marsh.
This Mississippi River village in southwest Wisconsin is an outdoors mecca, with bird-watching, canoeing, biking and hiking.
What to do: See the jeweled shooting stars (pictured) and other wildflowers on Brady's Bluff in Perrot State Park. Go bird watching in the national wildlife refuge. Ride the 24-mile Great River State Trail through the river bottoms. Hike the four-mile McGilvray-Seven Bridges Road.
Details: See Trails of Trempealeau.
In Duluth, the shipping season is in full swing.
The first laker, the Roger Blough, left the harbor March 22, and the first saltie, the Antigua-flagged Lake Ontario, arrived April 2. Locals as well as tourists are happy to see the big boats back.
What to do: Visit the free Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center next to the Aerial Lift Bridge. Shop and eat on Canal Park.