With so much to experience in this plucky peninsula of Wisconsin, I barely that time to squeeze in all the highlights. It was such a fun, sunny and delicious trip – my first time in the Midwest, really. I tried to have zero expectations of what I might find there, and was pleasantly surprised around every corner. I’d certainly go back for the lakeside activities, hearty cuisine and thriving creative scene. Let’s get right to it!
Door County Highlights
Country House Resort
Hands down the best place to stay in Door County, Wisconsin. This beautiful, family-run resort has all the tranquility you’ll need for a relaxing getaway in a perfect central location. The rooms are expansive with views of the water and trees. The essentials and a little something extra are in many of the spaces – from kitchenettes and luxe toiletries to lofted king-sized beds and fireplaces. Walk a few minutes down to the shores of Lake Michigan as well for a dip or a boat ride.
Free Door County Bike Loans
Grab bikes, unchained in various parts of town. Amazing right? Just take good care of it and return it to the rack by the end of the day. It’s good to have a car to drive around as well, since things are spread out in the region. But once you hit towns, ditch the car and get on two wheels!
Open Door Bird Sanctuary
Wildlife needs to be protect everywhere in America, and the Open Door Bird Sanctuary is doing their part to help out. As executive director, Rob Hults is in charge of this project that both protects and rehabilitates birds in the local area – and worldwide. they have a large wooded property with several homes for the birds on site, and work hard to educate the local community and guests about their efforts.
What makes these guys special is their obvious passion about the conservation efforts and technique of training, as they never force the birds to perform or do anything they don’t want to do. They hope to expand in the near future and finalize plans for a more permanent solution long-term to care for the birds of prey.
Feel free to donate to this wonderful cause below:
Kayaking at Peninsula State Park
Who knew that Lake Michigan was so beautiful? Especially Green Bay, which I’d almost say rivals some ocean views I’ve seen all over the world. I’m a seaside fan through and though, but this place would almost convert me over to being a lake girl. I loved kayaking the bay as the water was bright blue and we could glide along the glassy surface with ease. Little inlets full of smooth stones were great spots for a quick break in the sun.
Learn a Little in Door County
Door County Coffee
Of all the stuff I thought I’d find in Door County, no offense, coffee was not one of them, Especially as I’m a huge European snob now and am hard pressed to find coffee strong enough for my tastes. But little did I know that Door County coffee is actually, in it’s purest form, sourcing the best beans worldwide that pass a very strict set of rules to be used in their blends. I learned all about it at Coffee Academy with the amazing owner Vicki. After a giant breakfast complete with all the iced coffee I could drink, Vicki came over and gave me a few espresso beans on the sly to try as well – and they were PERFECT. Get the ‘kitchen sink‘ for your meal too, you’ll thank me later.
Martime Museum Door County
While the museum itself is a fun step back in time, I really loved touring the John Purves tugboat outside. It dates back to 1919 and has gone all over the world to be donated and docked in Door County for tours and tale abound.
Door County Trolley Tour
Getting acclimated to the area is easy when you take a trolley. These trolley/bus tours offer a narrated look into the county’s prettiest bluffs and scenic parks. I personally learned too late that the trolley tour is ‘roadie’ friendly, so you can take a bloody mary or glass of wine with you. Next time!
Where to Eat in Door County
Lautenbach’s Orchard County Winery & Market
Grab a handful of local cherries and head out to the range to test your luck at the Cherry Pit Spit. Afterwards, enjoy a tour of the vineyards and orchards before grabbing a few tasters and souvenirs back in the expansive farm-style shop.
Don’t miss the chance to order a-la-carte from this place and try to sit upstairs as the sun goes down. Chow on perfect steaks that go best with the truffle and parmesan fries.
Chives Restaurant (& cocktails)
Bring on the cherries – I celebrated my arrival with a cherry-infused cocktails with away at Chives. Take a peek at thier kitchen window – it looks like an old library.
Door Artisan Cheese
All the cheese curds! As soon as I touched down in the Midwest I knew I wanted me some cheese curds as soon as possible. So I even luckier to stumple on some of the best in the county at this newcomer to the Wisconsin cheese world. Owners have classically trained in many of the Italian and French styles of cheese making, so they offer many varieties fresh from their aging rooms in the cool stoned caves under the store.
Glacier Ledge Restaurant
This is adjacent to the cheese shop and serves up beautiful Lebanese fare – unique to this area and completely delicious.
Door County Brewing Co.
Dad John McMahon was discouraged when his grown sons wanted to move away from Door County to find love and careers after their graduation. So in cahoots with his wife, he decided to start a brewing company in hopes to tempt the sons back with great jobs in the family business. it worked! They are now expanding into a massive building, complete with live music stages, bars and more to bring the area’s nightlife and local brews to the next level.
Fred & Fuzzy’s
Sip cherry margaritas on the shores of Lake Michigan at this iconic establishment. Those drinks go down easy with all the fresh seafood on the menu.
Door County Confectionery
They have a giant bathtub full of salt water taffy. That is all.
Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlour
I’ll forever remember my first FRIED cheese curd experience was held at Wilson’s. It’s made even more memorable by the giant cherry-covered ice cream sundae I had at the end. Don’t judge me.
Greens N Grains
Time to cleanse out all the cheese and ice cream with a trip to Door County’s premiere vegan-and-vegetarian-friendly cafe and health shop. I had some of the best breakfast all week at Greens n Grains – a stack of vegan blueberry pancakes and a iced chai latte.
Artist Havens in Door County
Birch Creek Performance Center
Crazy talented kids and their instructors spend summers at this property to learn all about the art of sound. many travel from all over the world, and use their traditional instruments and sounds to put on one-of-a-kind performances for the public.
Peninsula Players Theatre
You might feel like you’re driving forever, but it’s well worth the detour to see a play at this multi-million dollar complex hidden in the woods. They often write their own plays and its performed by world-renowned talent. The theater space itself is beautiful and airy, but the highlight is intermission, when bonfires roar on the banks of Lake Michigan as the sun starts to set. Have a cool glass of wine and watch the magic.
Margaret Lockwood Gallery
Margaret and her husband have set up camp in Door County and plan to stay. Their house is both a home and a gallery that is open to the public. Margaret’s artwork is dream-like and colorful, highlighting natural landscapes on various materials, from wood to canvas.
Have you been to Wisconsin? What’s your favorite part of the Midwest?