A Spectacular Spot: Door County Offers Endless Enjoyment

don’t miss a visit to Wisconsin’s cool thumb

Tom Giffey

TIME TO SET SAIL. Baileys Harbor is on the Lake Michigan shore of Door County. (Photo via Pixabay)
TIME TO SET SAIL. Baileys Harbor is on the Lake Michigan shore of Door County. (Photo via Pixabay)

You don’t have to cross international borders, take a Caribbean cruise, or visit a movie studio theme park to have a memorable getaway. Here in the Upper Midwest, we’re lucky to have a whole host of both well- and little-known vacation locations within just a short drive. We asked our writers to tell us about some of their favorites across Wisconsin and Minnesota.

I somehow managed to live nearly three decades in Wisconsin before I first took the opportunity to explore Door County. I knew its reputation as a place for relaxation and recreation, but for whatever reason I never made the trip.

I’m glad I finally did: Located about a half day’s drive across the state from the Chippewa Valley, Door County has endless options for vacationers of all kinds. Like any good getaway spot, Door County is the kind of place where the worries of your everyday life can evaporate – in this case, to be carried out to Lake Michigan on a cool summer breeze.

Geographically speaking, Door County is Wisconsin’s thin, water-edged thumb, surrounded by Green Bay to the west and Lake Michigan to the east. Along all that lakeshore are some unforgettable parks: Among my favorites are Peninsula State Park, with its many trails, camping areas, and a lighthouse you can tour; Whitefish Dunes State Park, which will make you feel like you’ve reached the ocean (minus the saltwater and sharks); and Rock Island State Park, which is worth a ferry ride off the far tip of Washington Island.

Door County’s rustic roads are dotted with small towns full of boutiques, candy stores, eateries, and artisan shops of all kinds. You can enjoy a theatrical night at Peninsula Players in Fish Creek or dine at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay (don’t forget to look for the famed goats on the roof).

There are the more than half a dozen wineries, plus many orchards growing the peninsula’s renowned cherries: Come between mid-July and mid-August, and you can pick your own. And no trip to Door County would be complete without a visit to Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor in Ephraim, where the jelly bean in the bottom of the cone is the cherry on top of a visit to Door County.

Learn more about what to see and do in Door County at doorcounty.com.