3. Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin
List price: $1.25 million
Built by a shipbuilder in 1989, this stately 4-bedroom, 5-bath waterfront home embodies the craftsmanship, history and popular pastimes of Wisconsin's Door County, the fingerlike peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan renowned for its bass fishing and fruit orchards.
Located just minutes from eclectic art galleries and shops, the 2-story, 7,500-square-foot home features a circular staircase, vaulted ceilings, spacious master en suite with marble spa and 500 feet of bay frontage with a 100-foot boat dock.
"The nice part is the deep-water pier," says listing agent Linda Adams of Coldwell Banker, because it puts boaters 15 minutes from either Lake Michigan via canal to the east or, on rougher days, the calmer Green Bay to the west.
What makes Sturgeon Bay special?
Locals treasure the natural beauty and solitude so much that they're willing to endure some pretty harsh winters. North of Sturgeon Bay, life is very rural, with most towns only a crossroads, Adams says. Realtor.com lists the average home price at $119, 500.
But the local art scene comes alive each summer with theater in the parks and the annual Steel Bridge Songfest.
"Every town has walkways along their beaches and tons of parks, and we have tons of cherries and apples," Adams adds.