We spent a leisurely week in Door County, WI, a four-season tourist haven. This picturesque county has so much to offer: 5 state parks, 10 lighthouses, 300+ miles of shoreline, colorful farmers’ markets, boutique shops and wineries, stunning flower gardens, and countless mouth-watering restaurants. We were reminded around every turn that this is a big dairy state, given the number of ice cream shops we encountered. Needless to say, we felt compelled to sample a few.
Door County was named after the strait that runs between Door Peninsula and Washington Island. This dangerous passage, strewn with shipwrecks, sits where the waters of Green Bay join the open waters of Lake Michigan and has been given the nickname “Death’s Door“.
Early on we spent an enjoyable evening with Jay and Beth, the couple from whom we purchased the RV, along with Beth’s mother. They made the decision to sell the RV and purchased a terrific 2-acre property right on Sturgeon Bay. Their loss was our gain, but the sunsets they traded for are spectacular! After dinner we sat around a bonfire on their little stretch of beach and watched the sunset.
We spent our stay at Tranquil Timbers RV Park, right outside of Potawatomi State Park, where we took pleasure exercising daily along the shores of Sturgeon Bay.
I believe that the pictures below give a good representation of the color and character of the towns and villages of Door County, so I will let them speak for themselves mostly, with a few of my thoughts thrown in for explanation.
The seat of Door County is Sturgeon Bay, a historic community that dates back to 1835. With a population of 9778, it boasts an alluring waterfront and 17 separate annual festivals, making it one of Wisconsin’s premium vacation getaways.
Egg Harbor, population of roughly 280, was named one of the top ten “Coolest Small Towns in America” by Budget Travel Magazine in 2010. Parks, beaches, a marina, golf courses, boutique shops, galleries and restaurants abound, not to mention the striking flower gardens.
Fish Creek, in the heart of the peninsula, takes pride in a historic main street, with enticing shops, galleries, and restaurants. With a population of 929, it has some of Door County’s best performing arts, as well as great marinas and beaches.
The Cookery, originally opened in 1977, had seating for 20. A subsequent fire closed it for a time, and when it reopened, it included a second story with wine bar and a seating capacity of 85. The seafood chowder is delicious!
The Oilerie, a very popular shop, was opened by a couple in 2003 after a visit to Europe, where they experienced charming little boutique olive oil shops. They decided to bring this concept to the US, where it has done very well. It is wonderful to be able to taste test the various olive oils and balsamic vinegar prior to purchase. Their 25-year old balsamic is exquisite, and their truffle oil and roasted walnut oil have found a place in our home also.
Along with the delightful shops and restaurants, Fish Creek is also home to Peninsula State Park, where we were able to spend an afternoon hiking.
Sister Bay, population of 870, boasts the largest public waterfront, with a sand beach, docks, an extensive park area, and a gazebo that hosts free concerts in the summer. It was voted #1 in Wisconsin for small town dining by a state-wide survey.
The Door County Bakery is best known for their Corsica bread, heavy and laden with extra virgin olive oil.
Jacksonport, population of 750, is home to some of the county’s most scenic shoreline parks. Cave Point County Park, in our opinion, was certainly one of the most picturesque.
With a population of 310 full-time residents, the village of Ephraim exhibits a blend of Norwegian and Moravian heritage. It is an artists’ haven and houses a graffiti-covered warehouse on Anderson Dock, now known as the Hardy Gallery. It was commonplace when fishermen docked that they write their names and name of their boat in paint on the sides of the warehouse and this tradition continues today.
A relaxing few hours can be spent sitting on the lawn at Fred and Fuzzy’s Restaurant, sipping on a cherry marguerita. It was a great way to while away a sunny afternoon.
We enjoyed perfect weather while in Door County. The day we were planning to leave, the skies were overcast, which was our sign to move on. We headed back to Elkhorn to have a part replaced on our refrigerator and plan to spend the weekend back at Chain O Lakes State Park, a great park for hiking and just soaking up some summer sun. Have a great holiday weekend!