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FastPlans/Lake Geneva

People walking around Geneva Lake.

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.

Door County spring

Dwarf lake iris grow in Door County

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.

What to do: See the rare wildflowers at Ridges Sanctuary. Hike or paddle in the Mink River Estuary. Bicycle in Peninsula State Park

Events to catch: May 20-21, Blessing of the Fleet Festival in Baileys Harbor. May 25-28, Door County Festival of Nature.

Where to stay: Many inns offer Season of Blossoms specials through June 4.

Information: See Spring in Door County and Outdoors in Door County.

Horicon birds

Pelicans rest in Horicon Marsh.

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.

Touring Trempealeau

Wildflowers in Trempealeau.

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.

Events to catch: May 13, Reggae Fest at the Trempealeau Hotel.

Details: See Trails of Trempealeau.

Boats in Duluth

The Dutch-flagged Albanyborg.

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.

How to keep track of boats: Check Duluth Shipping News, which estimates Twin Ports arrivals and departures, and see boat descriptions on Boat Nerd.

What to do: Visit the free Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center next to the Aerial Lift Bridge. Shop and eat on Canal Park.

Details: For more, see Boat watching in Duluth and Duluth 101.