Door County, Wisconsin | Top 10 Places to Visit, Where to Stay and Eat

Door County also known as “Door of Death” is a popular but less explored tourist destination located in the northeastern part of Wisconsin state of USA. It is a perfect getaway for nature lovers, adventure seekers, and those who appreciate art and culture.

The county is known for its beautiful scenery, stunning coastline, cherry orchards, wineries, and charming small towns with total 6 state parks which are among the highest of other states including Peninsula State Park, Whitefish Dunes State Park, Newport State Park, Potawatomi State Park, Grand Traverse Island State Park, and Rock Island State Park.

Door County is home to many scenic and charming small cities that you will love to visit such as Ephraim, Fish Creek, Sister Bay, Baileys Harbor, Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor, Washington Island, Ellison Bay, and Gills Rock. If you’re planning a trip to Door County, make sure to check out these top 10 attractions in Door County.

Top 10 places to visit in Door County

Peninsula State Park

beautiful autumn forest at Peninsula State Park in Door County of Wisconsin
Beautiful autumn forest at Peninsula State Park

Peninsula State Park is the most popular state park in Wisconsin. The park is located on a peninsula just out into Lake Michigan, offering stunning views of the water and surrounding countryside with 3776 acres of area on Green Bay. You can enjoy hiking, biking, camping, fishing, and swimming on the park’s beautiful beaches. Here you can also enjoy golf, a nature center and historic Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, 468 campsites, 3 group camps, and a summer theatre, and the park is open year-round with the unavailability of some parts in some seasons.

Cave Point County Park

Cave Point County Park is located at 5360 Schauer Road on the eastern side of Door County, offering breathtaking views of Lake Michigan’s turquoise waters. The park is known for its picturesque sea caves, limestone cliffs, and underwater caves, making it a popular spot for kayaking and scuba diving. You can also enjoy hiking on trails along the shore of scenic Michigan Lake.

Washington Island

Washington Island is a beautiful island located just off the coast of Door County and is the largest in a group of islands including Plum Island, Detroit Island, Hog Island, Rock Island, Pilot Island, and Fish Island. You can take a ferry to reach the island and enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and many other water activities. The total number of people living on Washington Island is around 700 and most were Scandinavian immigrants. The island is also home to several historic sites, including the Stavkirke, a traditional Norwegian church.

Fish Creek

Fish Creek in Door County Wisconsin

Fish Creek is a charming and vibrant small town located in the heart of Door County. The town is known for its unique shops, and art galleries, enjoying meals in scenic and vibrant restaurants, and recreational activities. You can also enjoy visiting lighthouses, hiking, biking, swimming, paddling, and other water activities in the town’s many parks and beaches. Peninsula State Park is adjacent to Fish Creek so you can explore and do many activities here.

Ephraim

Ephraim is another picturesque small town located on the shore of Eagle Harbor. The town is known for its historic white buildings, beautiful beaches along the long Green Bay shoreline, and charming shops to shop for various items including clothing, jewelry, home furniture, fine arts, etc., and restaurants to enjoy your meals. Every season is enjoyable in Ephraim including water activities like jet-skiing, paddle boarding, Kayaking, and many more.

Door County Maritime Museum

The Door County Maritime Museum is located in Sturgeon Bay, Baileys Harbor, and Gills Rock. It is dedicated to preserving the maritime history and culture of Door County. You can explore several interactive exhibits, including a restored tugboat and a collection of ship models.

Door County Cherry Orchards

Door County is known for its cherry orchards, which produce some of the best cherries in the country. You can take a tour of the orchards, pick-your-own cherries, and sample some of the delicious cherry products, including pies, jams, and wine. Some popular cherry farms include Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery & Market, Seaquist Orchards Farm Market, Soren’s Valhalla Orchards LLC, and many more. The best time to experience cherry farms is from mid-July to mid-August.

Door County Wine Trail

The Door County Wine Trail is a scenic route that takes you to several wineries in the area. There are about 8-9 wineries with scenic trails and you can sample some of the best wines in the state and enjoy the beautiful countryside. Fruit wines specially prepared from cherries and apples are popular here. In June month Door County Wine Festival is also organized in which you can taste unlimited award-winning wines.

Cana Island Lighthouse

Cana Island Lighthouse is a historic lighthouse built in 1869 located on a coast of a small island Baileys Harbor and is the tallest building in Door County. You can climb to the top of the lighthouse and enjoy stunning views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding beautiful nature.

Newport State Park

Newport State Park is a beautiful state park located in Ellison Bay, on the northern tip of Door County, and covers an area of more than 2300 acres with 11 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. The park is known for its dark skies, making it a popular spot for stargazing. You can also enjoy miles of scenic hiking trails, biking, skiing, water activities, and backpack camping in the park. Whitetail deer, foxes, coyotes, and other wildlife are also spotted here.

Best attractions of Door County

Explore the least explored in the USA

Where to stay in Door County

After reaching Door County of Wisconsin State of USA, you don’t need to worry about accommodations. Here there are options for a wide range of stays to suit every type of traveler and budget. Whether you’re looking for a cozy bed and breakfast, a rustic cabin in the woods, or a luxurious resort, Door County has all it. Here are some options from which you can choose to stay in Door County.

Bed and Breakfast

Door County has numerous charming beds and breakfasts that offer a comfortable and unique lodging experience. These B&Bs are often located in historic homes and feature personalized service, homemade breakfast, and cozy rooms. Some popular options for bed and breakfast include the White Lace Inn in Sturgeon Bay and the Eagle Harbor Inn in Ephraim.

Cabins and Cottages

For those looking for a more rustic lodging option, Door County has a variety of cabins and cottages available for rent. These accommodations offer a cozy and secluded retreat, often with stunning views of the surrounding nature. Some popular options include the Homestead Suites in Fish Creek and the Rowleys Bay Resort in Ellison Bay.

Hotels and Resorts

Door County also has a number of hotels and resorts for those seeking a more luxurious experience. These accommodations offer amenities like pools, spas, and restaurants, and are often located near popular attractions. Some popular options include The Landmark Resort in Egg Harbor and The Lodge at Leathem Smith in Sturgeon Bay.

Campgrounds

For those who love stargazing and open sky, Door County has several campgrounds available for tent and RV camping. These campgrounds offer access to the county’s beautiful parks and natural areas and provide a budget-friendly lodging option. Some popular campgrounds are located in Peninsula State Park and Newport State Park.

Affordable lodging in Door County

Here are some affordable lodging options to look at in Door County including Peninsula Park-View Resort in Fish Creek, Door County Camping Retreat in Sturgeon Bay, Ephraim Motel in Ephraim, Open Hearth Lodge in Sister Bay, Bailey’s Grove Travel Park in Baileys Harbor, Julie’s Park Cafe & Motel in Fish Creek, Harbor Lights Lodge in Egg Harbor, and many more.

Top 5 restaurants in Door County

Door County will not disappoint you to satisfy your hunger after wandering around and it is known for its delicious local cuisine especially lots of varieties of fish dishes and farm-to-table dining options. Here are some of the top restaurants to enjoy your meals in Door County.

Wild Tomato Wood-Fired Pizza and Grille

Wild Tomato is a popular restaurant with locations in Fish Creek and Sister Bay. They offer delicious wood-fired pizzas made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients, as well as a variety of salads, appetizers, burgers, sandwiches, and craft beers.

The Cookery Restaurant and Wine Bar

Located in Fish Creek, The Cookery is a farm-to-table restaurant that sources many of its ingredients from local farms and gardens. The menu features creative dishes that showcase the best of Door County’s culinary offerings, including fresh seafood and seasonal produce but the restaurant is closed permanently now.

Harbor Fish Market and Grille

Harbor Fish Market and Grille is located in Baileys Harbor with a scenic view of Lake Michigan and offers a wide range of seafood dishes, as well as burgers, salads, and sandwiches. You can also enjoy meals in the outdoor waterfront dining area. They also have a market where you can purchase fresh seafood to take home.

Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik

Al Johnson’s is an iconic restaurant located in Sister Bay that is famous for its Swedish pancakes and goats on the roof. The menu features traditional Swedish dishes, as well as American classics like burgers and sandwiches. The restaurant has an outdoor dining area and a shop.

The White Gull Inn

The White Gull Inn is a historic inn and restaurant located in Fish Creek. They are famous for their cherry-stuffed French toast, as well as fish boil and their delicious breakfast and brunch offerings. The restaurant also serves dinner and features a rotating menu of seasonal dishes.

Activities to do in Door County

Door County, Wisconsin is a popular tourist destination that offers a wide range of activities and attractions for all ages of visitors. There are many popular outdoor activities in Door County to do. Here are some of the top activities to enjoy in Door County.

Explore the State Parks

Door County is home to six state parks that offer hiking trails, beaches, and scenic vistas. You can explore the sand dunes at Whitefish Dunes State Park, hike to Eagle Bluff Lighthouse at Peninsula State Park, or kayak along the shore at Newport State Park.

Visit the Wineries and Breweries

Door County is known for its local wineries and breweries, which offer tastings and tours for wine lovers. You can sample award-winning wines at wineries like Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery and Vineyard or enjoy craft beer at a brewery like Door County Brewing Company.

Take a Ferry to Washington Island

Washington Island is a secluded island off the coast of Door County that can only be accessed by ferry. After reaching here, you can explore the island’s beautiful beaches, lighthouses, and museums, or take a scenic bike ride along the island’s quiet roads.

Door County art galleries and studios

Door County is home to a vibrant arts community, with many galleries and studios showcasing the artwork of local artists. You can go for something different experience in many art galleries and studios in Door County that includes Edgewood Orchard Galleries, Plum Bottom Gallery, Ellison Bay Pottery Studios, Ephraim Pottery, The Hardy Gallery, and Door County Art League Gallery.

Visit Historic Sites and Museums

Door County has a rich history, and you can learn about the area’s past at museums and historic sites like the Door County Maritime Museum, the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, and the Peninsula School of Art.

Best Door County fish fry

Fish fry is a popular Wisconsin tradition, and Door County has several restaurants that serve up delicious fish fry dishes including The Viking Grill, Sister Bay Bowl, The Cookery, Harbor Fish Market & Grille, Rowleys Bay Resort, The White Gull Inn, and many more.

Door County bike trails and rentals

Over 20 miles of bike trails in Peninsula State Park, Sunset Trail, Ahnapee State Trail, and trails in Whitefish Dunes State Park are some of the popular areas for biking with great scenery to enjoy in Door County. There are plenty of bike rental options including Nor Door Sport & Cyclery, Edge of Park Rentals, Bay Shore Outfitters, and many more.

Kayaking tours in Door County

Kayaking is a great adventure activity in Door County to its natural beauty with many scenic waterways, stunning rock formations, and abundant wildlife. You can choose from many available kayaking tours in Door County such as Door County Kayak Tours located in Fish Creek, Cave Point Paddle and Pedal located in Sturgeon Bay, Door County Adventure Center located in Sturgeon Bay, Lakeshore Adventures located in Baileys Harbor, Bay Shore Outfitters located in Sister Bay, and other tour operators are also available.

Door County fall foliage drives

Fall is a beautiful season to enjoy in Door County, with vibrant foliage and scenic drives that offer stunning views of the fall colors. You can experience memorable foliage drives at Door County Coastal Byway, Rustic Road 10, Mink River Road, Kangaroo Lake Drive, and Gibraltar Road.

How to reach Door County

Door County is located in northeast Wisconsin and is easily accessible by many modes of transportation. Here are some of the ways to reach Door County.

By Car

Door County is located approximately four hours north of Milwaukee and three hours north of Green Bay. You can reach Door County by taking Highway 43/57 north of Milwaukee or Green Bay. Roaming around Door County will be most convenient for you.

By Air

The closest major airport to Door County is Austin Straubel International Airport in Green Bay, which is approximately a 90-minute drive from Door County. Another option is to fly into Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport, which is approximately a four-hour drive from Door County.

By Ferry

In the summer months, you can also reach Door County by ferry. The Washington Island Ferry departs from the mainland town of Northport and travels to Washington Island. The Door County Ferry departs from Northport and Gills Rock and travels to Washington Island and the nearby Rock Island State Park.

Once you’ve arrived in Door County, the best way to get around is by car, bike, or on foot. Car rentals are available at airports, and bikes can be rented from numerous shops throughout the area.

FAQs about Door County

  1. What is Door County known for?

    Door County is known for its scenic beauty, with miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan and Green Bay, as well as its charming small towns, local cuisine, and arts scene.

  2. When is the best time to visit Door County?

    Your interest is most important to choose the best time to visit Door County for you. The summer months (June-August) offer warm weather and numerous outdoor activities, while the fall months (September-November) are popular for fall colors and harvest festivals. The winter months (December-February) offer snow sports and holiday festivities, while the spring months (March-May) offer blossoming cherry trees and spring festivals.

  3. What are the top attractions in Door County?

    The top attractions in Door County include Peninsula State Park, Cave Point County Park, Washington Island, Door County Maritime Museum, and numerous wineries and breweries.

  4. What are the best beaches in Door County?

    Some of the best beaches in Door County include Nicolet Beach at Peninsula State Park, Whitefish Dunes State Park, Cave Point County Park, and Schoolhouse Beach on Washington Island.

  5. What is the food and drink scene like in Door County?

    Door County is known for its local cuisine, with a focus on farm-to-table dining and fresh, locally sourced ingredients. You can sample local wines and craft beers at numerous wineries and breweries, as well as enjoy seafood, cherries, and other local specialties at restaurants throughout the area.

  6. What are some popular events and festivals in Door County?

    Popular events and festivals in Door County include the Door County Cherry Festival, the Fish Creek Winter Festival, the Door County Beer Festival, and the Door County Plein Air Festival, among many others.

  7. What is the weather like in Door County?

    The weather in Door County varies throughout the year, with warm summers, cool falls, snowy winters, and mild springs. You should come prepared with appropriate clothing for the season they plan to visit.

  8. What are romantic things to do in Door County?

    Door County is a lovely destination for lovely couples looking for many romantic getaways. You can go for a hiking or scenic drive on the Coastal Byway and on the Door County Cherry Blossom, both are popular. You can also go for wine tasting at popular breweries or wineries or stay in some romantic inn or bed and breakfast with a scenic view of the area and enjoy romantic time amenities such as fireplaces and a whirlpool tub. You can also go for a sunset sail after a romantic dinner.

  9. Which are pet-friendly hotels in Door County?

    The Ashbrooke Hotel, Bay Shore Inn, Bridgeport Waterfront Resort, Eagle Harbor Inn, The Landing Resort, Open Hearth Lodge, etc are some of the popular pet-friendly hotels with easy nearby places.

  10. Which Door County lighthouses to visit?

    Door County is popular for its historic lighthouses that are worth visiting. Some of the top Door County lighthouses that you can visit include Cana Island Lighthouse in Baileys Harbor, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse in Peninsula State Park, Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Lighthouse in Sturgeon Bay, Sherwood Point Lighthouse in Sturgeon Bay, Baileys Harbor Range Lights in Baileys Harbor, and Plum Island Range Lights in Plum Island.

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