We go to Door County a lot, probably too much. While I’m usually partial to trying out new places, this is somewhere I love coming back to again and again. It was the first trip my husband and took together and it has a special place in my heart. I love that there is such a variety of things to do: outdoor activities, fine dining, art and more. Here’s a list of my 5 favorite places to explore and 5 favorite things to eat!
5 Favorites to Explore:
- Boat Tour
When you’re on a peninsula surrounded by water, it’s a safe assumption that a boat tour is a must! There are many boat tour options or you can rent a boat and explore yourself. Our favorite tour is put on by The Shoreline. There are several tours to pick from, based on your interests. We took the Death Door Lighthouse Cruise with stop on Plum Island. What was cool about this one was that you get to dock on and explore Plum Island. When we stopped, there was someone from the Green Bay National Wildlife Refuge who answered some questions about talked to us about finding porcelain sea glass pieces and fossils. (We love exploring for sea glass!)
2. Newport State Park
There’s no shortage of beautiful State/County Parks in Door County. We love Newport State Park because not only is it gorgeous, it’s much quieter than some of the more popular parks (Peninsula State Park, Cave Point State Park). We’ve gone there many times during busy season and there have been very few people on the beach. It’s the first place we ever found sea glass! Also, there are many hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing trails. One other cool thing is that it is a designated Dark Sky Park. A Dark Sky Park is a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights.
3. Visit During Winter
For the last two winters we have travelled to Door County for Valentines Day. I can’t recommend Door County in the winter enough! The winter scenery is breathtaking. Visiting Cave Point during winter is my ultimate favorite. If you’ve been in other seasons, you know it’s beautiful. I would say it’s EVEN BETTER in winter. I mean, take a look at these pictures!
Another fun thing you can do in Door County during the winter is snow shoeing. Our first winter we rented them from Nor Door. Conveniently, their Fish Creek location is very close to Peninsula State Park. My husband loved renting snowshoes so much that he promptly ordered us our own as soon as we came home, haha. It’s a great way to explore the state/county parks! Other than that, I recommend getting a room with a fireplace and getting cozy!
4. ALL. THE. LIGHTHOUSES.
As I mentioned in my post on Southeastern Lake Michigan, I love lighthouses. Not really sure what it is about them. They’re historic and picturesque. There are ELEVEN light houses in Door County alone. That’s not even counting the additional ones you can see if you are driving up from south. My two favorite are Cana Island and Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal North Pierhead Light.
Cana Island is special because May-October it is open to visitors to tour. A lot of lighthouses are only open a few times a year for tours. There’s also a gift shop on site. The other REALLY fun thing you can do is take a tractor ride across to the island. It’s a blast!
5. Bailey’s Harbor
Known to many as the “quiet side” of Door County. Bailey’s Harbor is less touristy, peaceful and filled with unique things to do. If you want to be outdoors, we love Ridges County Beach. The dune like beach sets it apart from the other beaches in Door County. It’s usually pretty secluded. It’s also a good spot to take a kayak since the parking lot and beach are close together.
Bailey’s Harbor is also home to some great shopping. What I love is that the shopping is actually for useful stuff and not just vacation trinkets. My three favorites are Waseda Farms, Jackalope Trading Co., and Good Leaf Greenhouse. Waseda Farms is an organic farm that sells organic/grass fed meat, organic produce as well as dairy and other grocery items. They also have walking paths where you can view the animals and gardens. We scored some wild ramps picked from the property the last time we are at the store. In my opinion, it’s the perfect stop for picnic food. I think next time we’ll also grab some meat to take home! Jackalope Trading Co. is a boutique that carries curated accessories and home goods from local artists. I always want to snatch up all the jewelry in the store! Good Leaf Greenhouse is new to Bailey’s Harbor and we were lucky enough to check it out during our last visit in May 2021. They have gorgeous houseplants. I wanted to buy everything, but we already have a house full of plants. I’ll be back next time for some plant goodies! Bonus points: They also sell beer and wine!
There are an unlimited number of places in Door County to drink & eat delicious food.
Here are my top 5 favorite places:
I have a love affair with Trixie’s. I might even venture to say this is my favorite restaurant, ever. Every detail is beautiful! The minimal white décor with pops of pinks and blushes, their use of local and growers and seasonal food, their focus on serving female winemakers and of course their delectable and gorgeously presented food!
We tried Parador for the first time about three years ago. It was our first introduction to tapas/small plates and has honestly been a game changer. Small plates are my preferred way to go now. It gives you a chance to try a wider variety of menu items and try things you normally wouldn’t. Parador sits in the middle of the Egg Harbor hustle and bustle and is housed in a quaint and historic building. We’ve never had something we didn’t like there. I highly recommend the charred cauliflower, patats bravas and the bomba.
What kind of Wisconsinite would I be if I didn’t recommend some cheese stops! There is no short supply of great cheese in Door County. During many of our visits we’ll stop at a cheese place and make ourselves a charcuterie picnic. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and CHEESE ! One of our favorites is Renard’s Cheese. We typically stop here on our way out of town and stock up on fresh cheese curds! Another favorite is Wisconsin Cheese Masters. They sell a wide variety of specialty cheeses made by Wisconsin master cheese makers. Including blues, cheddars, European styles, goudas, Italian styles and Wisconsin originals. There are so many choices it’s hard to make a decision. They let us try a ton of different kinds to help us make our pick. If you want to enjoy a meal or some great gelato with your cheese Door County Creamery is the place to stop. They specialize in goat cheese and even sell goat milk gelato. It’s a fun place!
When visiting Door County we always fit in a trip to Wild Tomato Pizza. They serve great wood fired pizza and have locations in Sister Bay and Fish Creek. I JUST read an article that opened another location called Wild Pizza Works in Egg Harbor where they will serving Roman style Pizza. I’m really excited to visit our next time in Door County! All of their specialty pizzas are great! I’m partial to their Donation Creations. It’s a monthly feature pizza where $1 of the proceeds benefit a Door County Nonprofit. They are always creative and unique and unbelievably delicious!
My husband loves coffee and we like to buy from local places and local roasters. We typically stock up when going to Door County or on any trip for that matter. One of our favorites is Kick Ash in Ellison Bay. It’s housed in a really cool building that was formally a church. It also has a retail shop and bakery. We always buy beans here when we are in town and hope they last us until our next visit to Door County! Another new favorite is Lawlss Coffee in Sturgeon Bay. We stopped on our way back home on our last trip. They had great coffee and some really unique options. It is housed in a historic building that is absolutely stunning!