At only 45 miles from one end to the other, Door County is misleadingly small if you’re looking at a map. There’s so much here that even with a full weekend, you’ll likely visit just the highlights, but you’ll leave refreshed. A week-long trip would allow for more relaxed exploring.
Start in Sturgeon Bay, learning about the history of shipping and shipbuilding at the Maritime Museum. Head to Potawatomi State Park to get outdoors and get the blood moving after the drive up the day before.
It’s time for the bay side. Avoid the congested state highway and head northward to walk along the harbor side or browse the shops in Egg Harbor before strolling through the historic downtown of Fish Creek and sampling a trail in Peninsula State Park. Head to Ephraim and secure your lodging. A great way to relax is to watch the sun go down on South Shore.
Head to Washington Island for a lovely day trip without your car. Park it in Gills Rock in the morning and take a bicycle over (or rent one there). You can take in virtually all of the sights in a day before hopping the ferry back and overnighting in Baileys Harbor.
Take a casual drive down the lake side to The Ridges Sanctuary and Cana Island Lighthouse near Baileys Harbor. Afterward, jump in the car for a short drive south to sit atop the dunes and take pictures of sea caves at Whitefish Dunes State Park.
If you have extra time to explore Door County, there are many other sightseeing and recreational options to extend your trip by two or three days.
Within Door County
Try the hiking or bicycling at Newport State Park, the last vestige of untouched wilderness in the county. At some point you may want to get on the water; top picks are either kayaking around Peninsula State Park, taking a tugboat cruise of the county out of Sturgeon Bay, or hiring a fishing charter out of Baileys Harbor. Isolated Rock Island State Park is as far from anywhere as you can get in the county and offers some of the best camping in the state.
To understand the region’s dominant religion, visit Green Bay to learn everything there is to know about the Green Bay Packers professional football team and take in a game.
The Fox Cities are worth a day for the region’s history of paper making along with Harry Houdini at The History Museum at the Castle, which includes the Houdini Collection, and Oshkosh for the nation’s premier aircraft museum, the EAA Air Adventure Museum. Another day could be spent snapping pictures of Point Beach State Forest’s lighthouse before learning about the crucial part that Manitowoc has played in shipbuilding at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum.
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Wisconsin’s Door County.