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FastPlans/Exploring Voyageurs

A boat speeds past an island on Rainy Lake in Voyageurs Nati

Summer is the time to explore Minnesota's only national park, which is mostly water. You can explore by park-service pontoon, rented launch, houseboat, kayak or canoe.

What to do: Take a Rainy Lake boat tour to gold mines or a historic fish camp. Take a Kabetogema Lake boat tour to Kettle Falls Hotel. Explore Rainy Lake in a rented motorboat or houseboat.

Explore by canoe with a naturalist. Hike one of nine trails. Learn about the park at three visitors centers.

Information: Download the park newspaper. For more, see Land of big water.

Exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula

Copper Harbor Lighthouse can be reached only by water.

In summer, Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula is beautiful and cool, yet quiet even at the peak of tourist season.

It doesn't have many "attractions,'' yet there's so much to see — soft pink-sandstone beaches, old mining towns, 10 lighthouses. In late July, blueberries ripen along roads and bear sightings are likely.

What to do: Take a boat tour to the 1866 Copper Harbor Lighthouse. Kayak the Keweenaw Water Trail. Swim in Eagle Harbor and buy muffins at the Jampot. Explore the beaches between Bete Grise and Gay.

Talk to the living-history interpreters at Fort Wilkins State Park. Tour old mines and Coppertown USA in Calumet.  Go to a concert at the Calumet Theatre.

Details: For more, see Digging the Keweenaw.

Breezy in Bayfield

Bayfield's marina is filled with sailboats and yachts.

For more than a century, vacationers have been making their way to this hillside village on the Wisconsin shore of Lake Superior.

What to do: Cruise the Apostle Islands. Explore Madeline Island. Take a sailing class or go on a walking tour.

Go to a concert or revue at Big Top Chautauqua. Pick berries in the orchards above town. Walk the three-mile Brownstone Trail along Chequamegon Bay. Bicycle around the Bayfield Peninsula.

Event to catch: July 15-16, Festival of Arts.

Details: For more, see Beloved Bayfield.

Staying cool in Grand Marais

People walking on the Grand Marais breakwall.

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.

What to do: Walk to Artists' Point. Skip rocks. Take a class from North House Folk School. Hike at nearby Cascade River State Park. Hunt for agates at Cutface Creek Wayside.

Events to catch: July 8-9, Arts Festival. Aug. 3-6, Fisherman's Picnic.

Details: For more, see Four seasons of Grand Marais.

Winona festivals

Inline skater on trail in Winona

In the corner of southeast Minnesota, Winona has an enviable spot on the loveliest stretch of the Mississippi River Valley.

Not only is it scenic, it's a college town, with lots of theater, concerts and coffeehouses.

Events to catch: June 21-July 30, Great River Shakespeare Festival. June 24, Dixieland Jazz Festival. July 6-23, Minnesota Beethoven Festival.

What to do: Use canoes, kayaks and paddleboards at Lake Lodge Recreation Center on Lake Winona (pictured). Tour the Minnesota Marine Art Museum. Visit Garvin Heights Vineyards and see the view. Visit the nearby Pickwick Mill.

Details: See Afloat in Winona.