Harbor County, MI map

See Some High-Caliber Theater

Time from Loop: 1.5 hours

In contrast to its storied Wisconsin brethren, Michigan’s Three Oaks Theater Festival skews toward low-budget productions, but they still sizzle. This season kicks off on June 27 with a staged reading of Christian O’Reilly’s Chapatti, a drama about two lonely Dubliners, featuring Peggy Slusher and the beloved John Mahoney.
Don’t miss: The Hypocrites’ spirited re-imagining of Gilbert and Sullivan’s H.M.S. Pinafore on August 21 and 22


Little Wolf, WI map

Get Artsy on a Farm

Time from Loop: 3.5 hours

Every summer, wife-and-husband team Michelle Grabner and Brad Killam host a series of events at the six-year-old Poor Farm, an artist residency in Little Wolf, Wisconsin. This year, the program features Listening and Making Sound (July 31 to August 2), a powerful group exhibit highlighting paintings, films, and sculptures that meld art and activism.
Don’t miss: A showcase of work by Chicago experimental filmmaker Cauleen Smith


Iowa City, IA map

Improve Your Prose

Time from Loop: 3.5 hours

Get a taste of the renowned University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival, held annually in Iowa City, through July. This year’s dozens of workshops (each two days long) cover topics from narrative poems to spiritual autobiographies, and Chicago writer Kathleen Rooney (O, Democracy! ) will teach a course on arts reviewing and criticism.
Don’t miss: The Eleventh Hour, a series of lectures and readings (at 11 a.m.)


Louisville, KY map

Find Mellow in the Woods

Time from Loop: 5 hours

Overshadowed by behemoths such as Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, the Forecastle Festival (July 17 to 19) in Louisville, Kentucky, draws thousands to the 85-acre Waterfront Park. If Sam Smith and My Morning Jacket aren’t enough of a lure, consider taking a tour of the Urban Bourbon Trail, famous for its hooch.
Don’t miss: Soulful country crooner Chris Stapleton, who has written songs for everyone from Kenny Chesney to Adele, on July 18


Traverse City, MI map

Watch Movies by the Bay

Time from Loop: 5 hours

Now in its 11th year, Michigan’s six-day Traverse City Film Festival screens more than 100 films in historical venues around town and shows six classics free on a huge outdoor screen overlooking the Grand Traverse Bay. The schedule, which starts July 28, will go up online on June 26.
Don’t miss: The panel discussions. Past participants have included filmmaker Michael Moore and screenwriter Terry George (Hotel Rwanda).