Called the “Hudson Bay of the Midwest” at least by locals, Door County Wisconsin is a favorite year round vacation spot in Wisconsin.
Head east from Green Bay (the home of the Green Bay Packers) for about 35 minutes along Wisconsin State Highway 57, and you’ll find yourself entering Door County. Door County occupies most of the peninsula that forms Green Bay itself. It’s the “thumb” of the Wisconsin map. The two main highways servicing Door County are Wisconsin State Highway 57 and Wisconsin State Highway 42. In fact, Hwy 57 and Hwy 42 twist around each other and meet in a couple places in Door County. Door County is a wonderful place just to drive from town to town and village either using the state highways or the county roads. Most of the county iswooded or farmland. Door County is well know for it’s fall colors.
The Cities, Towns, and Villages of Door County.
Sturgeon Bay is the largest city in Door County. The rest of Door County is covered by small towns and villages. In fact, I have seen very few stoplights outside of Sturgeon Bay. Most of the towns and villages make do with just a few stop signs. This can make a few areas a bit busy on weekends when there is a lot of traffic (one particular corner of Fish Creek, Wisconsin comes to my mind). You may also need to walk a bit to park on busy weekends. This by no means is anything like a traffic jam even by Wisconsin standards, so don’t be afraid you will find heavy traffic like a big city.
Lodging in Door County.
Big name (or even small name) hotel chains are noticeably rare in Door County itself. We made the mistake of staying in a chain motel in Green Bay one year and driving to Door County during the day adding an extra hour or two of driving each day. There are large numbers of wonderful locally run motels, resorts, bed-and-breakfasts, and lodges in Door County. I would highly recommend picking one of them over a chain any day. I’ve found local service is exceptional.
Door County has activities that make it popular year round.
During the warmer months there is plenty to do.
There are several state parks and forests to visit. There are lots of bike trails to ride and many of them near on in the state parks and forests. You’ll find bike racks on a lot of the cars you see in Door County, WI. Hiking is another great way to spend time.
There are many public beaches. Many of the resorts also have a private beach too. You’ll want to make sure you have an indoor pool where you stay if you want to swim outside of summer though. Green Bay and Lake Michigan are a bit chilly most of the year.
Door County is a major boating and fishing destination. There are a large number of marinas throughout Door County and finding a public boat launch will not be difficult. You’ll find plenty of boating suppliers and dealers. Sturgeon Bay is filled with yachting services. Even if you don’t fish yourself, the local fishing boats are an icon themselves.
The fun in Door County does not stop with the arrival of cooler weather.
Those bike trails turn into cross country ski trails during the winter. There is also snowshoeing to be done.
There are a large number of marked snowmobile trials. Wisconsin is one of the few places you’ll see marked snowmobile signs on roads.
Finally, there is deer hunting season. I’m not a deer hunter, but living in Wisconsin, I’ve known a lot of hunters that head up to Door County every year for deer season. I’ve seen several places offering hunting and fishing licenses along the highways. Deer season is probably not a good time to go to Door County and hike in the woods obviously.
Like I mentioned at the start, Door County is great place to just drive. Enjoy the beautiful Wisconsin sights. Drive to the next village or town. Do some shopping. It’s only a few minutes to the next town almost anywhere in Door County. At the very top of door county on Highway 42 between Gills Rock and Northpoint you’ll find one of the most twisting roads you’ll ever see.
Shopping and restaurants in Door County.
Again, outside of Sturgeon Bay, I’ve not seen a chain restaurant in Door County (well maybe a Subway at a gas station). Nearly all the restaurants are local. The good in Door County is very good. There are a large number of farmer’s markets featuring apples, cherries, and locally made breads and jams. You’ll find lots of homemade fudge featured at them too. Shopping in Door County is very different from many places. The shops are local. They often feature local crafts and arts. Something to definitely check out and take home is Door County Coffee.
There are large numbers of art stores and galleries. Photography, watercolors, and sculptures are featured. Mostly by local artists. A notable exception is the Asian gallery at the Linden Gallery just north of Sister Bay featuring a large amount of original work from Asia, especially China. It was a real surprise to find this gallery in Wisconsin during a drive. You will also find antique stores throughout the county.
Door County is a great place for a weekend getaway.
I recommend a finding a place to stay in Egg Harbor or Fish Creek. From there, most of the county is only about a half hour drive in any direction. You could spend a day taking the ferry to Washington Island (a trip I have yet to make myself). For the sports minded, Green Bay and Packerland are close enough for a day trip also. In fact, spending a game night in Door County instead of a long drive home might be one of the best ways to enjoy a game.
Need more information on Door County? Try the official Door County Website.
Google Map of Door County, WI
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