For a refreshing getaway from urban living, you won’t be left wanting for anything when you head to Door County, Wisconsin, for a vacation. You’ve got your fresh air and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in it. There’s food to satisfy both the sweet tooth and savoury types (hello, delicious cheese, it is Wisconsin, after all) and a wealth of history that’ll satisfy the history buffs. Here are your essentials of what to do when visiting this pretty peninsula in the Midwest.
Where to stay
There are a number of options along the peninsula ranging from hotels and bed and breakfasts and condos to rent. For a comfortable one- or two-bedroom suite equipped with a kitchen, stay at the Waterbury Inn. There are homey shared spaces, such as the spacious living room decked out with a big-screen TV (where you’ll find guests gathering to watch the game together) and there is both an indoor and outdoor pool to take a dip in. The inn is conveniently located in Ephraim so you’ll be quite central, plus by staying here you can boast about surviving a stay in a dry town (don’t fret, if you really must have a beer or wine with your meal, just drive over to the next town or bring your own).
What and where to eat
No visit to Door County is complete without (1) eating cherry pie and (2) attending a fish boil. For the cherry pie, stop into Door County Coffee & Tea Company, which is the quintessential country bakery—it smells of delicious baked goods and coffee, the staff makes you feel right at home and you can enjoy the treats at one of the tables in the sunshine-filled cozy dining area. As for the fish boil, this Great Lakes tradition dates back more than 100 years and involves boiling fish, potatoes and onions in a large kettle over a fire. Once this is cooked, kerosene is poured onto the fire, causing the water to boil over, which is said to eliminate any fishy taste—load it onto your plate with some butter to add flavour. Fish boils are available at many restaurants and have several seatings, but we hear Rowleys Bay Restaurant offers one of the best—plus it includes a fun historical re-enactment.
What to see
There are plenty of lighthouses you can visit in Door County, and while they’re worthy of a visit, if you have limited time, for something truly jaw-dropping in the area, visit Stavkirke. You’ll find this medieval Scandinavian wooden Christian church, built by island craftsmen, on Washington Island. Be sure to take time to head inside to check out the woodwork and beautiful hand carvings. And while you’re on Washington Island, you must enjoy some R&R at Schoolhouse Beach, one of only five beaches worldwide with smooth, all-white limestone rocks.
What to do
With 300 miles of shoreline in Door County, it’d be a travesty to not enjoy some time on the water. Book a kayak tour with Kayak Door County to paddle off some of that cherry pie you’ve been eating daily on your vacation—no worries if you’re a newbie, the guide will help you learn the basics. Depending on where you kayak, you may be lucky enough to see a shipwreck or even some Native American etched petroglyphs in the rocks along the shore.
Where to shop
We’re always partial to foodie souvenirs rather than a T-shirt. And as long as your drive or flight isn’t too long, cheese is the way to go when it comes to what to grab up here, it is dairy land, after all. Visit Schoolhouse Artisan Cheese and the knowledgeable staff will help you find the right choices to please your palate—taste test a few to be sure of your favourites. The only downside: your souvenir will most definitely disappear quickly once you get home.