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  • Writer's pictureAngelina Ly

Discover the Best of Door County

Updated: 4 days ago

Door County, also known as the "Cape Cod of the Midwest," has been my cherished summer getaway spot since childhood. Nestled on a peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, this little collection of cute towns, beaches and parks is where I’ve made countless memories. Whether I'm exploring the great outdoors, indulging in local cuisine, or diving deep into its history, Door County consistently offers an unforgettable adventure.



A Little About Door County

With its stunning shoreline, lush forests, and historic landmarks, Door County wins over every traveler. Picture over 300 miles of shoreline with hidden beaches, rugged cliffs, and peaceful harbors—it's an outdoor adventurer's dream! Whether you’re into hiking, biking, kayaking, or fishing, there’s something for everyone. And it’s not just about the scenery; Door County has a vibrant art scene, cute shops, and fantastic restaurants. The small towns like Sturgeon Bay, Fish Creek, and Sister Bay are super welcoming, making you feel right at home.


When to Visit

Door County is a great spot to visit any time of year, each season has its own unique charm. Summer (June to August) is super popular because of the warm weather, fun outdoor festivals, and signature cherry picking. Fall (September to November) is amazing for those who want to see the stunning fall colors. In winter (December to February), the place turns into a snowy paradise, perfect for winter sports fans. Spring (March to May) is great if you're after a quieter escape, with blooming wildflowers and cherry blossoms and fewer people around. Whenever you decide to go, Door County’s beauty and welcoming community will make your trip unforgettable.



Where to Stay

Door County offers a variety of lodging options to suit every type of traveler. Whether you prefer cozy bed-and-breakfasts, pet-friendly hotels, charming inns, or rustic campgrounds, you’ll find the perfect place to rest and recharge.


Bed-and-Breakfasts

For a more intimate and personalized experience, consider staying at a bed-and-breakfast. These charming establishments offer a homey atmosphere, delicious homemade breakfasts, and the opportunity to get to know the locals. Some popular options include The Chanticleer Guest House in Sturgeon Bay and White Lace Inn, known for their beautiful gardens and spacious rooms.


Hotels and Resorts

If you prefer the convenience of a larger hotel or resort, Door County has plenty of options. The Landmark Resort in Egg Harbor offers stunning views of the bay, multiple swimming pools, and an on-site restaurant. Another great choice is The Ashbrooke Hotel in Egg Harbor, an adults-only hotel that provides a peaceful, elegant stay.


Pet-Friendly Accommodations

Traveling with your furry friend? Don’t worry, Door County has several pet-friendly options. The Holiday Music Motel in Sturgeon Bay, is one of my favorite places to stay with my dogs, known for its retro vibe and welcoming attitude towards pets. For more pet friendly places to stay, check out my dog friendly door county blog!


Camping

For nature lovers, camping or renting a cabin can be a perfect way to experience Door County’s natural beauty up close. Peninsula State Park offers some of the best camping in the area, with a variety of campsites and amenities. If you prefer a more secluded and rustic experience, check out Newport State Park for a peaceful retreat surrounded by nature.

No matter where you choose to stay, Door County’s lodging options will provide you with a comfortable base for exploring all the region has to offer.



Where to Eat

The food scene in Door County is incredible. No matter what your taste buds are craving, you’ll find something delicious and locally made. From cafes and bakeries to fine dining restaurants, there’s always something tasty around the corner. If you're traveling with a dog, check out my dog-friendly Door County guide for pup approved spots to eat.

Breakfast & Coffee Spots

  • Blue Horse Beach Café: Start your day with a delicious breakfast and a breathtaking view of the sunrise over Lake Michigan at this popular café in Fish Creek.

  • Door County Coffee & Tea Co.: Located in Sturgeon Bay, this local favorite serves freshly roasted coffee and a wide selection of teas to pair with your morning pastry.

  • Rusty Tractor Café: Nestled in Egg Harbor, this rustic café offers hearty breakfast options to fuel your day's adventures.



Lunch Spots

  • Waterfront Mary's: This easygoing spot has classic American dishes, and a big patio and grass area right along the water. Their seafood chowder is one of my favorite things to get along with their cherry mule. Plus, on weekend nights they usually have live music.

  • Wild Tomato Wood-Fired Pizza & Grille: Enjoy a satisfying lunch in Fish Creek or Sister Bay with their wood-fired pizzas and varied menu that caters to all tastes.

  • Greens N Grains Natural Food Store & Café: Located in Egg Harbor, this café offers wholesome and healthy lunch options made from locally sourced ingredients.

  • Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik: Famous for the goats on the roof and their delicious Swedish cuisine, this Sister Bay establishment is perfect for a unique lunch experience.

  • Harbor Fish Market & Grille: Savor a variety of fresh seafood dishes in Baileys Harbor at this relaxed waterfront restaurant.



Dinner Venues

  • White Gull Inn: This historic inn in Fish Creek is known for their famous fish boils, a must-try experience while visiting Door County. This is one of my favorite spots to eat at, and they are one of the only places that does fish boils during the off season

  • Chives Door County: Located in Baileys Harbor, Chives offers a farm-to-table dining experience with a menu that emphasizes fresh, local ingredients.

  • Boathouse on the Bay:  Dine in elegance and enjoy the views of Lake Michigan at this fine dining restaurant in Sister Bay.

  • The Shoreline Restaurant: This restaurant in Ellison Bay offers both fine dining and casual options, with a focus on fresh seafood dishes.


Pro Tip: Door County is rich with dining establishments, but it's always smart to call ahead and make reservations, especially during any season. During peak season, you may need to have a reservation, and during the off-season, some spots might not have their hours updated or be closed.



What to Do

State Parks & Hiking Trails

  • Peninsula State Park: Peninsula State Park is renowned for its dramatic views of Green Bay and having plenty of forested trails. The park offers a range of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, and camping. You can also enjoy the historic Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, scenic overlooks, and a sandy beach for swimming.

  • Newport State Park: Newport State Park provides a more secluded, wilderness experience with its massive forest and endless miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. The park is also a Dark Sky Park, making it an excellent location for stargazing.

  • Potawatomi State Park: Potawatomi State Park features miles of hiking trails along the picturesque shoreline of Sturgeon Bay. The park includes a section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, providing opportunities for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Visitors can also enjoy fishing, picnicking, and breathtaking panoramic views from the park’s observation tower.

  • Rock Island State Park: Rock Island State Park offers a remote island adventure, accessible only by ferry from Washington Island. The park is perfect for those seeking solitude and scenic beauty. Visitors can explore the 200-year-old Potawatomi Lighthouse, hike a few trails, and camp at one of the island’s primitive campsites.

  • Ellison Bluff State Natural Area: Ellison Bluff State Natural Area is a fantastic spot for hiking and soaking in nature's beauty. The park features stunning limestone cliffs that tower above Green Bay, offering breathtaking views. The wooded trails are perfect for peaceful nature walks, birdwatching, and photography, making it a must-visit for nature lovers.

  • Europe Bay Woods: Europe Bay Woods is a great place to hike and enjoy the great outdoors. With its diverse forest ecosystems and calm atmosphere, it’s perfect for those looking to escape into nature. The trails meander through hardwood forests, wetlands, and along the shoreline, giving you plenty of chances to observe wildlife and enjoy the serene surroundings.

  • Cave Point County Park: Another great spot is Cave Point County Park, famous for its dramatic limestone cliffs and cool underwater caverns, a hit with kayakers and snorkelers. This unique park offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline, where the powerful waves of Lake Michigan have carved out impressive formations in the rock. Adventurous visitors can explore the underwater caves by kayak or snorkeling, experiencing the thrill of discovering hidden chambers and observing the diverse marine life. The park also has picnic areas and walking trails, making it a perfect location for a day trip filled with exploration and relaxation.



Beaches

Door County’s beaches are known for their beauty and are ideal for a relaxing day by the water.

  • Whitefish Dunes State Park: Check out Whitefish Dunes State Park Beach for its stunning shoreline—perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and picnics! This picturesque spot offers a beautiful stretch of sand where you can relax under the sun, take a refreshing dip in the clear waters, and enjoy a delightful picnic with family and friends.

  • Whitefish Dunes State Park: Famous for its sand dunes and beautiful beachfront, Whitefish Dunes State Park is a popular destination for beachgoers and nature lovers. The park offers several hiking trails that through the dunes, forests, and wetlands.



Wineries & Breweries

Door County is home to numerous wineries and breweries, making it a fantastic destination for wine and beer aficionados. Many venues offer guided tastings and tours that provide deeper insight into the winemaking and brewing processes. Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Door 44 Winery: Located in Sturgeon Bay, Door 44 Winery produces award-winning wines made from locally grown grapes. Their tasting room offers a selection of red, white, and fruit wines to sample and purchase.

  • Lautenbach's Orchard Country Winery & Market: Check out Lautenbach's Orchard Country Winery & Market in Fish Creek. The winery has been producing delicious fruit wines since the 1950s and offers tastings of their award-winning cherry, apple, and other specialty wines.

  • Door Peninsula Winery: Located in Sturgeon Bay, this winery offers a vast selection of fruit wines and has been crafting award-winning wines for over 40 years. Visitors can enjoy a tasting experience and learn about the winemaking process.

  • Island Orchard Cider: Nestled in Ellison Bay, this cidery specializes in European-style ciders made from locally grown apples from their orchard on Washington Island. The scenic location and artisanal craftsmanship make their ciders truly unique.

  • Door County Brewing Co.: Located in Bailey's Harbor, this taproom is known for its delicious craft beers and casual atmosphere. It's a great place to gather with friends and enjoy some locally brewed beers.


There are countless other wineries and breweries to explore in Door County, making it a must-visit destination for any wine or beer enthusiast. And with its scenic beauty and charming small-town vibes, Door County is an excellent place to relax and unwind while sipping on some delicious drinks.


Pro Tip: Before heading to a winery, make sure to pick up some cheese from a local cheesemonger or market. Door County is known for its delicious artisanal cheeses, and pairing them with your wine tasting can elevate the experience. Harbor Ridge WInery is right next to the Wisconsin Cheese Masters stores so you can enjoy both while sitting on their joint patio!



Cherry Picking

Cherry picking is one of Door County's most beloved seasonal activities, drawing visitors from near and far to experience the joy of harvesting sweet, juicy cherries directly from the orchard. The region's temperate climate and fertile soil create the perfect conditions for growing an abundance of cherry varieties, including Montmorency and Balaton cherries. Many local farms open their orchards to the public during cherry season, typically from mid-July to mid-August.


One popular destination is Soren's Valhalla Orchard in Sturgeon Bay, where visitors can pick their own cherries and explore a variety of cherry-based products in their farm market. Another favorite is Paradise Farm Cherry Orchard, or Seaquist Orchards Farm. Robertson Orchard is a great option if you have or like dogs, since it's very dog friendly!


Shopping

Door County offers a delightful shopping experience with its eclectic mix of boutiques and gift shops. Downtown Fish Creek is a great starting point, featuring a variety of stores selling clothing, artisan crafts, and local souvenirs. Be sure to visit the farmers markets held weekly during the summer months in downtown Fish Creek or Sister Bay for a chance to purchase local produce, handmade products, and unique finds.


Ghost Tour

For those intrigued by the supernatural, Door County offers thrilling ghost tours that delve into the region's haunted history. These tours take visitors through some of the most spine-tingling spots in the area, sharing eerie tales and legends that have been passed down through generations. Visit haunted locations such as old cemeteries, historical homes, and other spooky sites, all while the guide narrates fascinating stories of ghostly encounters and paranormal activity.



Drive-In Movie

For a nostalgic and charming evening experience, consider visiting the Skyway Drive-In Theatre in Fish Creek, one of the few remaining drive-in cinemas in the Midwest. Established in 1950, the Skyway Drive-In provides a perfect blend of retro ambiance and modern movie entertainment. Guests are invited to park their cars under the stars and enjoy the magic of watching their favorite films on a giant outdoor screen. The theatre is equipped with state-of-the-art digital projection and sound, ensuring a high-quality viewing experience.


The Skyway Drive-In typically operates from May through September, showing a rotating selection of new releases and classic favorites. Before the movie begins, visitors can visit the concession stand, which offers a delightful array of classic movie snacks, including popcorn, candy, and sodas. Some evenings feature double features, where guests can enjoy two movies for the price of one.


Water Activities

Door County is a haven for water enthusiasts, offering a plethora of activities to enjoy its pristine lakes and charming coastline. Whether you're an adrenaline junkie or prefer a more leisurely approach, there's something for everyone. Explore the beautiful shoreline and caves by renting a kayak, enjoy sailing experiences at the county's marinas, indulge in freshwater and deep-sea fishing, try paddleboarding on calm bays and inlets, explore underwater shipwrecks and vibrant aquatic flora and fauna through snorkeling and diving, and for thrill-seekers, experience jet skiing and parasailing with rentals and tours available along the coast.


Art Galleries

Door County boasts a vibrant arts scene with numerous galleries showcasing the work of local and regional artists. The peninsula's charming villages and natural beauty provide endless inspiration, making it a haven for creatives.

  • Peninsula School of Art: Located in Fish Creek, the Peninsula School of Art is not only an art gallery but also a community hub for visual arts education. The gallery features rotating exhibits of contemporary art, including painting, sculpture, and mixed media works. Visitors can also participate in workshops and classes to explore their own artistic talents.

  • Woodwalk Gallery: This unique gallery in Egg Harbor, housed in a historic barn, is home to an impressive collection of fine art. Woodwalk Gallery features work from over 70 regional artists, including paintings, photography, and fiber art. The gallery also hosts live music and other events, making it a cultural hub in the community.

  • Fine Line Designs Gallery: In Ephraim, Fine Line Designs Gallery exhibits a wide range of art, from paintings and woodwork to glass and metal sculptures. The gallery prides itself on showcasing American-made art and hosts an annual art fair that attracts artists and visitors from across the region.



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