Wisconsin’s pleasant peninsula
Wisconsin’s Door County is “one of those clean, quietly pristine places” that harks back to the 1950s, said Mary Ann Anderson in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The “venerable peninsula” separating Lake Michigan from Green Bay remains an “easygoing and slow-paced” refuge from the modern world. Encompassing more than 300 miles of scenic shoreline, Door County is dotted with bustling harbors, sandy beaches, quiet coves, cherry orchards, and historic lighthouses. To take it all in, locals recommend “sailing the Door”—parasailing, that is. Drifting through a “cloudless sky as blue as beryl,” you can get a “bird’s-eye view” of the “natural beauty and endless green spaces.” Then it’s back to earth for a fish boil, a “Great Lakes tradition,” and some cherry picking. “Acres of cherry trees” cover Door County, and the limestone in the soil makes for “one heck of a delicious cherry pie.” Finish off the trip with a visit to the “ever-popular Wilson’s, an old-fashioned ice cream shop and a legendary institution since 1906.”
Contact: Doorcounty.com

California’s ‘Dead Sea’
Between the summits of the Sierra Nevadas and the barrens of the Great Basin Desert lies “one of the oldest lakes in North America,” said Dan Blackburn in the Los Angeles Times. The unique ecosystem of Mono Lake is “almost three times saltier than the Pacific Ocean.” Though its briny waters are dense with alkaline, the  lake is hardly dying. In fact, its watershed is one of California’s richest natural areas, embracing 14 different ecological zones, more than 1,000 plant species, and roughly 400 recorded vertebrae  species. Pronghorn antelope graze near the “famous gold-mining ghost town of Bodie.” Yellow-bellied marmots bask in the High Sierra sun. Eared grebes wade along the lake’s shallow edges. The real “source of visitor amazement,” however, is the “fragile towers” of the Tufa State Natural Reserve. These clusters of rock slowly grew over centuries, as calcium-rich underwater springs combined with carbonate. They now rise up from the water like “otherworldly sentinels.”
Contact: Monolake.org