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Weekend Wonders of the Midwest

Door County, Wisconsin

Door County, Wisconsin, juts into Lake Michigan on the tip of Door Peninsula. With the lake’s open waters to the east and Green Bay to the west, the county is surrounded by water on three sides, “so it’s really a tourist destination, and there’s a lot for groups to do,” said Laura Bradley, marketing and sales manager for the Door County Visitor Bureau.

Door County Trolley’s lighthouse tours are an easy way to see nearly half of the county’s 11 historic lighthouses. The trolley-style buses stop at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Range Lights and either Cana Island Lighthouse or Canal Station Lighthouse for private guided tours; passengers will glimpse a couple more during the narrated ride.

Groups can board the 149-passenger Island Clipper and cross Portes des Mortes to spend a day on Washington Island. There, the Viking Train takes them on a 90-minute open-air tram tour of the island’s highlights, among them Schoolhouse Beach and the Stavkirke church. Chicago Fireboat Cruises out of Sturgeon Bay offers sightseeing cruises aboard a bright-red 1937 Chicago city fireboat.

In addition to lighthouses and water, Door County is known for its cherries. Cherry season peaks in July, and the area has a handful of pick-your-own orchards. At Seaquist Orchard and Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery and Market, groups can take guided tours, pick cherries and shop cherry goods.

Door Peninsula Winery makes cherry wine and brandy, and so many local restaurants have cherry pie on their menus that “cherry pie is another must-have,” Bradley said.

Branson, Missouri

Branson may be best known for its vast music and live-entertainment options, but the city is surrounded by three lakes in the Ozarks, so it also has myriad options for outdoor adventures.

Ride the Ducks takes groups on 90-minute tours of Branson’s scenic streets before splashing into either Lake Taneycomo or Table Rock Lake. At State Park Marina on Table Rock Lake, groups can rent fishing boats, ski boats and pontoon boats; ride a WaveRunner; or go parasailing. Groups can also arrange to take pontoon boats out to a little island for a private party.

About 45 minutes west of Branson is Dogwood Canyon Nature Park, a 10,000-acre preserve created by Johnny Morris, the founder of Bass Pro Shops. The park offers hiking, biking, fishing and horseback riding as well as Segway and tram tours.

Branson is home to dozens of theaters that put on about 120 different live shows in any given season. New options for the 2018 season include “Samson” at the Sight and Sound Theatre; “Bluegrass Remedy,” featuring Kari Garrison, at the Jim Stafford Theatre; and the “All Hands on Deck!” show at the Andy Williams Performing Arts Center and Theatre.