DESTINATION: Door County, Wisc. - A 70 Mile Long Vacation Destination
Published: Wednesday, May 20, 2020
Grab your friends and family, slip on the shades, and steer the boat to Door County. Surrounded by water, this 70-mile long peninsula juts into Lake Michigan along Wisconsin’s eastern coast and combines natural beauty and outdoor recreation with acclaimed performing arts, renowned galleries and shops, scrumptious local cuisine, and pampering accommodations.
10 Great Activities to Find in Door County!
Artists have flocked to Door County for many decades. The beautiful landscapes provide the perfect inspiration. Visit the many galleries across the peninsula and Washington Island to view various mediums. Most galleries offer pieces for purchase for the perfect memento from your vacation.
Door County has one of the largest concentrations of lighthouses for any county in the United States. The 11 lighthouses throughout Door County prove to be favorite destinations for visitors. Four lighthouses are regularly open for tours to the public from May-October.
Another great way to learn about the lighthouses and the rich maritime heritage is by visiting the Door County Maritime Museum. The museum is currently building a 10-story lighthouse tower with hands-on exhibits and an observation deck overlooking the waterfront that is scheduled to open late 2020/early 2021. The museum also coordinates the Door County Lighthouse Festival twice a year to allow visitors a chance to explore many lighthouses not normally open to the public. Scheduled dates in 2020 are June 12-14 and October 3-4.
Our acclaimed theaters—featuring Broadway hits to Shakespeare to musicals written with a Door County twist—provide visitors with great entertainment options from June through October and beyond. The theaters in Door County provide the perfect place for a date night or a place to laugh with the whole family. If you want an evening of music, the county offers a number of venues that offer concerts nightly during the warmer months of the year.
The most popular dinner in the county is a traditional Door County fish boil. The history of the fish boil has roots in the county’s Scandinavian heritage. The popular meal consists of whitefish, onions, and potatoes in a large kettle over an open wood fire and is highlighted when the boilmaster pours kerosene onto the fire creating a large flame and making the kettle boil over. While this dramatic flame signals dinner is ready, it also allows the impurities, such as fish oil or ashes from the fire, to be removed prior to pulling the food out of the kettle. Many restaurants offer fish boils daily and each offer something a little different. The best way to end a fish boil in Door County is with a piece of cherry pie.
6) Wine, Brew, and Spirits
You may not think of Wisconsin as a wine region, but Door County boasts eight wineries on the Door County wine trail. Many wineries use a cold weather variety of grape such as La Crosse, St. Pepin, and Marechal Foch. Wineries also like to infuse the local flavor of Door County by using apples and cherries in some varieties of their wines.
Beer has become very popular on the peninsula and today we offer four breweries and a taproom. If beer and wine are not your thing, Door County Distillery and Hatch Distilling Co. offer spirits such as whiskey, gin, and brandy.
When you’re traveling in Door County by boat, various communities around the peninsula and Washington Island have marinas that offer facilities such as laundry, showers, and restrooms. Skipper Buds at Quarterdeck Marina in Sturgeon Bay, Baileys Harbor Marina, Egg Harbor Marina, and Fish Creek Marina also offer fueling opportunities. Many marinas are steps away from the heart of the community for easy access to dining, shopping, and other activities.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift or something to remind you of your trip to Door County, the various communities in Door County offer a diverse amount of stores ranging from boutiques, clothiers, gift shops, and specialty food stores.
In the summertime, Door County cherries shine. The Montmorency cherry is a tart cherry that is perfect for baking. Cherry pies are a favorite at many restaurants and farm markets. Cherries can also be found in salsa, jam, wine, and many other items. Another great way to taste the local flavor is by exploring the weekly farm markets or several orchard-owned retail outlets.
Outdoor activities abound in Door County with five state parks and 19 county parks. Potawatomi, Peninsula, and Rock Island State Park all offer limited dock space for boaters. Most parks offer trails for hiking and perfect picnic spots on land.
Surrounded by water, it’s not hard to find a beach in Door County. In fact, we offer 53 public beaches! Take a refreshing dip, build a sandcastle, or explore with a kayak or stand up paddle board. Many operators across Door County and Washington Island provide tours on the water such as scenic tours, kayak tours, parasailing, and fishing charters.
Find out more information about Door County, Wisconsin, by visiting www.DoorCounty.com.
This article first appeared in the Launch Issue (May/Jun) 2020 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.