The Best of Door County Wisconsin: Cherries, Parks, Lakes, Packers, and More

By posted on July 2, 2018 11:00AM
Joe Jo's Pizza Door County

Wisconsin is a beautiful state, and Green Bay and Door County are home to some of the most popular attractions. No trip to the area is complete without a visit to Lambeau Field, home of the world famous Green Bay Packers. But don’t neglect a drive north up the peninsula they call The Door. You will be delighted by acres of cherry orchards, miles of beautiful coastline, picturesque parks, music, art and theater.

Boating in Door County Wisconsin
Photo courtesy of Door County Visitor Bureau

Add to that list great food, friendly people, golf, hiking and biking. With countless shops and inns as well you have the makings of a great vacation.

Natural Beauty Around Every Turn

Door County’s natural beauty draws hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Of special note are the five state parks, each one as beautiful as the last. Starting in Sturgeon Bay you come to Potawatomi State Park, named after the dominant Native American tribe in the region. Heading north up the west coast of The Door visitors hit Peninsula State Park. This is the largest and most extensive of the state parks.

Peninsula State Park Sven's Bluff Door County
Photo courtesy of Door County Visitor Bureau

At the northern tip of the peninsula, you have to board a ferry and travel through Death’s Door to arrive at primitive Rock Island State Park. Returning back down on the eastern shore on the Lake Michigan side, lovely Newport State Park, the state’s only formally designated wilderness park, hugs the northeastern coast of the peninsula. Finally, travel south past picturesque Cave Point Park with its limestone cliffs and arrive at Whitefish Dunes State Park.

Peninsula State Park

Peninsula State Park is centrally located on the western shore near Fish Creek. It offers an 18-hole golf course, 468 campsites, bike trails, a lighthouse and eight miles of picturesque coastline. Bring your camera, and keep a watchful eye out for deer, wild turkeys and other wildlife. Enjoy the history and views of the restored Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and Museum. The lighthouse is perched on a bluff 76 feet above the gorgeous waters of Green Bay.

Horseshoe Bay Golf Club 18th Hole in Door County
Photo courtesy of Door County Visitor Bureau

Bikers can hit the Sunset Trail, an easy path that follows the winding coastline. The Trail, which makes a complete loop through the park, is just under 9 miles. For bikers’ convenience, an excellent bike store is located just north of the entrance. During winter, when the snows are deep and the park is carpeted in white, snowmobilers and cross country skiers converge on the many trails set aside just for them.

The Arts in Door County

For those who have a taste for art, music and theater, Door County offers many options to satisfy those appetites. Among the many galleries are Frykman Studio Gallery in Sister Bay, and Francis Hardy Gallery in Ephraim. Next, stop by the fascinating Popelka Trenchard Glass Museum in Sturgeon Bay. For a fun day of participating in the artistic process, visit Hands on Art Studio in Fish Creek. Budding artists can enjoy creating their own jewelry, paintings, metalwork, or other project of their choosing.

Door County Shakespeare Macbeth
Photo courtesy of Door County Visitor Bureau

Theatre lovers will have a great time at productions presented by the Peninsula Players in Fish Creek, America’s oldest resident summer theater. Or enjoy professional original musicals under the stars at Northern Sky Theater. And don’t miss the classical theatrical plays by great playwrights including Shakespeare, Moliere, and Oscar Wilde put on by Door Shakespeare.

Kayaking, Sailing and Water Activities

Kayaking and sailing are some of the favorite activities of visitors to The Door. Kayakers can bring their own, rent, or join a group tour.

Peninsula State Park Kayakers
Photo courtesy of Door County Visitor Bureau

Whether a beginner or a seasoned enthusiast, great outfitters like Door County Kayak Tours in Fish Creek offer outstanding tours that include caves, lighthouses and shipwrecks while enjoying the beautiful Door County coastline.

Maritime Museums, Lighthouses, and Shipwrecks

According to Amy Paul, Public Relations Manager at Door County, the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay showcases the area’s rich maritime roots.

Cana Island Lighthouse Door County
Photo courtesy of Door County Visitor Bureau

Hard-working fishermen, brave ship captains, skilled craftsmen, bold inventors and lonely lighthouse keepers are just some of the personalities you’ll discover in the galleries of the museum. Visitors can tour the brightly painted John Purves tugboat, or go to the simulator on the second floor and steer the 400 foot freighter, the Elba, interactively through the bridges of Sturgeon Bay.

Cherry Orchards, Cherry Strudel and Cherry Jam

One of the few places in the United States that has the ideal climate and topography for growing cherries, Door County is everything cherry. With over 2,500 acres of orchards, visitors can pick their own at numerous orchards up and down The Door. Some of the most popular include Hyline Orchards in Fish Creek, Alexander’s Cherry Orchard in Brussels, and Cherry Lane Orchards in Sturgeon Bay. Cherry picking season is generally mid/late July through August.

Cherry Picker in Door County
Photo courtesy of Door County Visitor Bureau

Wood Orchard Market is a favorite stop for fresh cherries, fresh produce, jams, jellies, and some of the best cherry strudel around. It even has a playground for the kids!

Lots of Choices for Food

Lobster Tail and Salmon ala Oscar

Door County is well known for their excellent dining options. We enjoyed a lovely evening at Alexander’s in Fish Creek, one of the best fine dining venues on the peninsula. They specialize in seafood, hand-cut steaks, original creations and homemade pastries and desserts from their own in-house pastry chef. My wife gave high praises for her Salmon ala Oscar, a fresh Norwegian salmon charbroiled and served on fresh asparagus, topped with lump crab meat and finished with hollandaise. I was in heaven with the Cold Water Australian Lobster Tail and a perfectly seared Filet Mignon.

Winner of the Best Breakfast in America Challenge

For breakfast, treat yourself to a table at The White Gull Inn, an intimate historic inn and restaurant in Fish Creek. You don’t want to leave the peninsula without trying their famous Door County Cherry Stuffed French Toast, featured as the Winner of the Best Breakfast in America Challenge on Good Morning America. Two golden brown slices of egg bread, with pockets of Wisconsin cream cheese and Door County cherries, served with real maple syrup and three slices of delicious bacon – Yum!

Traditional Wisconsin Fish Boils

While enjoying breakfast, we learned that some of the best traditional Door County fish boils in the area are held at The White Gull Inn.

Fish Boil at White Gull Inn
Photo courtesy of Door County Visitor Bureau

The classic menu consists of fresh whitefish, baby red potatoes, and white pearl onions followed by fresh Door County cherry pie. The White Gull Inn serves fish boils on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from May through October and Friday evenings the rest of the year. Other well-known fish boils include Pelletier’s in Fish Creek and the Old Post Office Restaurant in Ephraim.

Pizza, Gelato and Quilts

Another fun stop was Joe Jo’s Pizza and Gelato in Ephraim. Here diners can admire the intricate quilts made by the owners while enjoying their excellent thin crust pizza and gelato.

Gorgeous quilts at Joe Jo's Pizza Door County
Photo by Scott Kendall

You have to try the chocolate peanut butter and Mama Mia, a delicious cherry cheesecake flavor.

We also enjoyed excellent meals at The Inn at Cedar Crossing in Sturgeon Bay and Door County Coffee and Tea in Carlsville. Other Door County favorites include Al Johnson’s, the Swedish restaurant and store famous for the goats on its sod roof. And be sure to try their excellent Swedish pancakes.

Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant Goats
Photo courtesy of Door County Visitor Bureau

Door County Brewing in Bailey’s Harbor is well known for its giant pretzels and selection of craft beers, including Big Sister, Little Sister, and Polka King Porter. For a fun, family friendly place that provides an intimate experience with farm animals in a rural, woodsy nature, try The Farm just outside of Sturgeon Bay.

Landmark Resort

A Door County Magazine survey named this beautiful resort located in Egg Harbor on the bluffs overlooking the waters of Green Bay the “Best of Door County” for ten consecutive years based on a readership survey conducted by Door County Magazine. Currently under a $4 million renovation project, to be completed in April of 2017, Landmark Resort is being updated to the high standards expected by visitors. Many suites have a beautiful view of the bay beneath a canopy of hardwoods.

So what are you waiting for? Start packing for your visit to beautiful Door County. Whether it’s for a romantic getaway at a historic inn, an adventure filled weekend of hiking, biking, or water sports, or a family outing to the great outdoors, Door County has something for everybody. Welcome to Door County – Wisconsin’s gift to the world.

Where to Find It

Where to Eat

Breakfast
The Inn at Cedar Crossing, 112 N 3rd Ave, Sturgeon Bay
The White Gull Inn, 4225 Main St, Fish Creek

Lunch
Door County Coffee and Tea, 5773 State Highway 42, Egg Harbor
Joe Jo’s Pizza and Gelato, 10420 Water St, Ephraim
Wild Tomato, locations in Sister Bay and Fish Creek

Fine Dining
Alexanders, 3667 Egg Harbor Rd, Gibraltar
Waterfront Restaurant, 10947 State Highway 42, Sister Bay

Where to Stay

Landmark Resort, 4929 Landmark Dr, Egg Harbor, WI
The Ashbrooke, 7942 State Highway 42, Egg Harbor, WI

Scott Kendall is a freelance travel writer who has lived in The Woodlands, Texas for the last 25 years. He has travelled extensively throughout the US and has made several trips to Europe, spending much of that time in Germany and Italy. Outside of the continental US he has travelled to Guam, Alaska, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Bahamas and Canada. Scott has been married to a wonderful woman, Julie, for almost 30 years, and is the proud father of two great sons. Scott has had a long career teaching special education and coaching tennis after his military service as a Navy Officer, and is excited about the current chapter in his life as a freelance travel writer.

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