Are you planning a trip to the Midwest this year? If so, you should definitely consider adding Door County, Wisconsin, to your itinerary. Here are some of the most unique, scenic, and fun-filled things to do in Door County. This charming peninsula, known as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest,” is brimming with attractions that promise an unforgettable vacation experience.
Famous for its cherry orchards, Door County is a haven of natural beauty, boasting five state parks and 300 miles of picturesque shoreline along Lake Michigan. But the best things to do in Door County are not limited to stunning landscapes. There is so much more to this vacation paradise that makes Door County a must-visit. The region is also steeped in history, with lighthouses dating back to the 19th century and charming small towns that have preserved their old-world charm.
From Sturgeon Bay to Washington Island, from the breathtaking Cave Point County Park to the historic Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, there is no shortage of things to do and places to visit in Door County. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history buff, a foodie, or an adventure seeker, Door County has something to offer. To help you plan your trip, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best places to visit in Door County. Let’s dive in! Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Door County, Wisconsin.
Best Places to Visit in Door County, Wisconsin
Ready to find out all the coolest things to do in Door County, Wisconsin? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this underrated vacation destination. So keep reading to discover all these unique Door County places to visit.
Are you looking for historical and cultural sites? Or maybe you’re craving for some exhilarating activities? Or perhaps would you prefer a tranquil getaway in nature? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Door County can meet your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Door County, Wisconsin that you should know about.
1. Cave Point County Park
Looking for the best things to do in Door County, Wisconsin? Don’t miss this one! If you’re looking for a natural spectacle in Door County, your first stop should be Cave Point County Park. This county park is a true gem of the Midwest, known for its underwater caves and towering limestone cliffs. Each overlooks the sparkling waters of Lake Michigan.
The park offers a plethora of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. You can explore the hiking trails that wind through the park, offering breathtaking views of the lake and the cliffs. If you’re a photography enthusiast, you’ll find endless opportunities to capture the beauty of the park. This is especially so during sunrise when the park is bathed in a soft, golden light.
For the more adventurous, the park’s clear waters are perfect for swimming and diving. The underwater caves are a sight to behold, with their intricate formations that have been carved by the waves over thousands of years.
Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat in nature or an exciting adventure, Cave Point County Park is a must-visit destination in Door County. As such this Door County attraction is one of the most popular sights in Wisconsin.
2. Washington Island
A visit to Door County would be incomplete without a trip to Washington Island. Escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland and venture to the serene Washington Island, a hidden gem in Door County. Accessible only by ferry, this island offers a tranquil retreat with its quaint charm and scenic beauty.
One of the island’s main attractions is Schoolhouse Beach, where you can go swimming in the crystal-clear waters of Lake Michigan. The island is also home to Wisconsin’s oldest lighthouse, which you can climb for panoramic views of the surrounding area.
For the active traveler, Washington Island offers a host of outdoor activities. You can explore the island’s scenic trails on foot or by bike, go fishing in the surrounding waters, or even try your hand at golfing at the island’s golf course.
Don’t forget to sample the local cuisine. The island is known for its fresh fish boils, a traditional Wisconsin dish that is a must-try for any foodie.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a bit of both, visiting Washington Island is one of the most fun things to do in Door County that should not be missed on your itinerary.
3. Whitefish Dunes State Park
Yearning for a getaway like no other? This thing to do in Door County has got you covered. For a day of relaxation and exploration, head to Whitefish Dunes State Park, one of Door County’s most beloved natural attractions. This 867-acre park is known for preserving the largest and most significant dunes on the western shore of Lake Michigan.
The park’s sandy beach is perfect for lounging and swimming. While the clear waters of the lake invite kayaking and paddleboarding. The park’s diverse landscape also includes a forested area with hiking trails that offer stunning views of the dunes and the lake.
History buffs will appreciate the park’s cultural significance. The area was once home to Native American tribes. In fact, the park preserves several archaeological sites dating back to 100 BC. You can learn more about the park’s history at the Nature Center, which offers educational exhibits and programs.
Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun on the beach, hike through the forest, or delve into the region’s history, Whitefish Dunes State Park offers a rewarding experience for all visitors. It’s easy to see why this is one of the best things to do in Door County!
4. Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
History lovers will love this top thing to do in Door County, Wisconsin. Step back in time and explore Door County’s maritime history at the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse. Nestled in Peninsula State Park, this historic lighthouse was built in 1868 and has since been a beacon for sailors navigating the treacherous waters of Green Bay.
Today, the lighthouse is a museum that offers guided tours, allowing visitors to learn about the life of a lighthouse keeper in the 19th century. Each room in the lighthouse is meticulously preserved and furnished with period-appropriate pieces, providing a glimpse into the past.
The lighthouse isn’t just about history, though. Its location atop the bluff offers panoramic views of the surrounding waters and landscapes. It’s a perfect spot for photography or simply soaking in the beauty of Door County.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast or a lover of scenic views, the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse is one of the most unique things to do in Door County you don’t want to miss.
5. Peninsula State Park
Attractions in Door County, Wisconsin come in all shapes and sizes, but this one is among the best! For an all-encompassing Door County experience, look no further than Peninsula State Park. Spanning nearly 4,000 acres, this park is a treasure trove of outdoor recreation and natural beauty.
The park is home to a variety of landscapes, from dense forests and wetlands to towering bluffs and sandy beaches. Hiking and biking trails wind through these diverse terrains, offering stunning views and opportunities to spot local wildlife.
For those seeking a bit of culture, the park houses the Northern Sky Theater, an outdoor venue that hosts musicals and plays during the summer months. Golf enthusiasts will appreciate the park’s 18-hole golf course, which offers challenging play amidst beautiful scenery.
Don’t forget to visit the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse located within the park. This historic lighthouse offers guided tours that provide insight into the region’s maritime history.
Whether you’re a nature lover, a culture vulture, or an adventure seeker, Peninsula State Park has something for everyone. Is this one of the coolest things to do in Door County? You bet!
6. Stone’s Throw Winery
For wine lovers, a stop at Stone’s Throw Winery is one of the best things to do in Door County. Established in 1997, this boutique winery offers delightful wines made from California grapes. It’s truly a unique taste experience in the heart of the Midwest.
The winery offers daily tastings where you can sample a variety of their wines, from robust reds to crisp whites. Knowledgeable staff are on hand to guide you through the tasting and answer any questions you might have about the wines or the winemaking process.
But it’s not just about the wine. The winery itself is a beautiful destination. Nestled amidst lush vineyards, the winery’s Italian-style building exudes charm and elegance. It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy a glass of wine on a sunny afternoon.
For a more immersive experience, consider taking a tour of the winery. You’ll get a behind-the-scenes look at the winemaking process and learn about the history and philosophy of Stone’s Throw Winery. As such, I recommend this thing to do in Door County to everyone I meet.
7. Johnson’s Park
This is one of the most fun things to do in Door County, hands down. For a fun-filled family day out in Door County, head to Johnson’s Park. This local amusement park is a favorite among both locals and visitors. It offers a variety of activities that promise a day of laughter and excitement.
The park features an 18-hole miniature golf course that’s perfect for a friendly competition among family members or friends. For those seeking a bit more speed, the go-kart and mini-go-kart courses offer thrilling rides around the track.
If you’re a sports enthusiast, you’ll appreciate the park’s batting cages where you can practice your swing. And for a dose of nostalgia, head to the old-timey arcade filled with classic games that will take you back to your childhood.
But it’s not all about the activities. Johnson’s Park also offers a variety of food options, from classic American fare to sweet treats, ensuring you won’t go hungry during your visit.
Whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart, Johnson’s Park is a must-visit destination in Door County. As one of the top Door County attractions, you’ll definitely want to add this to your travel itinerary.
8. Door County Maritime Museum
Looking to visit one of the best places in Door County, Wisconsin? Add this to your bucket list! Immerse yourself in the rich maritime history of the Great Lakes at the Door County Maritime Museum. Located in Sturgeon Bay, this museum is a treasure trove of nautical artifacts, exhibits, and stories that bring the region’s seafaring past to life.
The museum houses several exhibits that cover various aspects of maritime history. This includes everything from the construction of lighthouses and the life of sailors to the shipbuilding industry and the role of the Coast Guard. One of the highlights is the restored tugboat John Purves. This is where you can take a guided tour and get a glimpse of life aboard a working tug.
For a panoramic view of Sturgeon Bay and its working waterfront, climb the 10-story Maritime Lighthouse Tower. The view from the top is simply breathtaking and offers a unique perspective of the area.
Whether you’re a history buff or simply curious about Door County’s maritime heritage, visiting the Door County Maritime Museum is one of the best things to do in Door County you should experience.
9. Jacksonport Cottage Gallery & Gifts
Experience Wisconsin in style at this unique place to visit in Door County. For art lovers and souvenir hunters, a visit to the Jacksonport Cottage Gallery & Gifts is a must when in Door County. Opened in 1984, this charming gallery showcases the works of local Door County artists, offering a unique insight into the region’s vibrant art scene.
The gallery features a wide range of art, from paintings and sculptures to pottery and jewelry. Each piece is unique and tells a story, reflecting the beauty and spirit of Door County. Whether you’re an art connoisseur or a casual observer, you’re sure to appreciate the talent and creativity on display.
In addition to art, the gallery also offers a selection of gifts and souvenirs. From handmade crafts and home decor to local food products and books, you’re sure to find the perfect memento of your visit to Door County.
With its warm and welcoming atmosphere, the Jacksonport Cottage Gallery & Gifts is more than just a gallery – it’s a celebration of local art and culture. No wonder this is one of the top things to do in Door County for the most discerning tourists.
10. Segway the Door Tours
As far as things to do in Door County go, this activity is among the coolest! For a unique and exciting way to explore Door County, consider taking a tour with Segway the Door Tours. These guided tours offer a fun and eco-friendly way to see the sights, with the added thrill of riding a Segway.
The tours cover various parts of Door County. This covers everything from the scenic shores of Lake Michigan to the charming streets of Sturgeon Bay. Each tour is led by a knowledgeable guide who shares interesting facts and stories about the area’s history and attractions.
One of the highlights is the Peninsula State Park tour. It takes you through the park’s beautiful landscapes and historic sites. For a more urban experience, the Sturgeon Bay tour offers a glimpse of the city’s vibrant arts scene and maritime heritage.
Whether you’re a first-time Segway rider or an experienced one, Segway the Door Tours provides a memorable adventure that allows you to see Door County from a different perspective. There’s just so many reasons to love Segway the Door Tours that’s why this is one of the most fun Door County things to do for me.
11. Cana Island Lighthouse
For a unique experience like no other, you’ll want to check out this top place to visit in Door County, Wisconsin. For a taste of Door County’s maritime history coupled with stunning views, make your way to the Cana Island Lighthouse. This iconic lighthouse has been guiding sailors through the waters of Lake Michigan since 1869, making it a significant part of the region’s heritage.
Visitors can climb the 97 steps of the lighthouse tower for a panoramic view of the surrounding area. The sight of the sparkling lake, the lush island, and the distant shoreline is truly breathtaking and worth the climb.
The lighthouse also houses a small museum. This is where you can learn about the history of the lighthouse and the life of its keepers. The original Fresnel lens, which once illuminated the tower, is on display and is a marvel of 19th-century technology.
Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a lover of scenic views, or simply looking for a memorable experience, the Cana Island Lighthouse is a must-visit attraction in Door County. There’s so much to see at the Cana Island Lighthouse. As such, it’s no wonder it’s among the best things to do in Door County.
12. Sister Bay
It would be a crime to write an article on the top things to do in Door County without mentioning the charming village of Sister Bay. Known for its scenic beauty, vibrant arts scene, and excellent dining options, Sister Bay offers a quintessential Door County experience.
The village is home to a beautiful waterfront park where you can relax and enjoy the stunning views of Green Bay. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are opportunities for boating, fishing, and hiking. In the winter, the park transforms into a winter wonderland with ice skating and sledding.
Sister Bay is also known for its thriving arts scene. The village hosts several art festivals throughout the year. It’s also home to numerous galleries showcasing the works of local artists.
When it comes to dining, you’re spoiled for choice in Sister Bay. From traditional fish boils to gourmet cuisine, there’s something to satisfy every palate. Don’t forget to try the local cherries, which are a specialty of Door County.
Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or cultural experiences, Sister Bay has it all. With so much charm and personality, Sister Bay is one of the top places to visit in Door County.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Best Things to Do in Door County, Wisconsin
Looking for more content on the top things to do in Door County, Wisconsin? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Door County:
What is the best time to visit Door County?
Door County is a year-round destination with each season offering its own unique charm. Summer (June-August) is the most popular time to visit, with warm weather perfect for beach activities and outdoor exploration. Fall (September-November) offers stunning fall foliage, while winter (December-February) transforms the area into a snowy wonderland ideal for winter sports. Spring (March-May) is a quieter time to visit, with fewer crowds and beautiful cherry blossoms.
How many days do I need in Door County?
A weekend getaway can give you a taste of what Door County has to offer. But to truly experience the area and visit all the attractions, a week-long trip is recommended.
How do you spend a day in Door County?
Door County, Wisconsin offers charming small towns, beautiful shorelines, lush state parks, and vibrant arts scene. Spending a day here can be a wonderful experience, and here’s a way you could structure your time:
Morning in Door County:
Breakfast: Start your day with breakfast at one of the local cafes or bakeries, known for freshly baked goods and wholesome breakfasts.
Visit Peninsula State Park: Spend the morning exploring Peninsula State Park. You can hike, bike, or even drive through parts of the park to see stunning views of the water. If you like, you can rent a kayak or paddleboard to explore the shoreline.
Lunch in Fish Creek: Head to Fish Creek, one of the charming towns in Door County, for lunch. You’ll find many restaurants offering local specialties like whitefish sandwiches or cherry pie.
Shopping and Art Galleries: Spend some time wandering the shops in Fish Creek or nearby Egg Harbor. Many local artisans sell their wares here, and you can find everything from pottery to jewelry to gourmet food items.
Wine Tasting: Door County is home to several wineries. Consider visiting one for a tasting. Many specialize in fruit wines made from local cherries and apples.
Explore a Lighthouse: Door County has several historic lighthouses. Consider taking a tour of one such as Cana Island Lighthouse.
Evening in Door County:
Dinner in Sister Bay: Head to Sister Bay for dinner. You’ll find a variety of dining options from casual to fine dining. Enjoy the beautiful sunset over the water as you dine.
Attend a Performance: If you’re visiting during the summer, you might catch a performance at the Northern Sky Theater, known for its original musicals performed under the stars.
Is Door County family-friendly?
Absolutely! Door County offers a wide range of activities suitable for all ages, from outdoor adventures to educational museums. There are also many family-friendly accommodations and dining options.
What is Door County known for?
Door County, Wisconsin, is often referred to as the “Cape Cod of the Midwest.” It’s known for several distinct features and attractions:
- Cherries: Door County is famous for its cherry orchards, producing a significant portion of the United States’ cherry crop. Visitors can enjoy cherry picking in the summer and indulge in various cherry-related products, including jams, pies, and wines.
- Lighthouses: Door County has 11 historic lighthouses scattered along its shores. It’s earned a reputation as a haven for maritime history enthusiasts.
- Outdoor Activities: The area’s diverse natural landscapes make it a popular destination for outdoor activities. This includes hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, and more. The scenic beauty of places like Peninsula State Park and Potawatomi State Park draws nature lovers from all over.
- Waterfront Views: Surrounded by Lake Michigan and Green Bay, Door County boasts over 300 miles of shoreline. It offers breathtaking waterfront views, beaches, and unique geological features like sea caves.
- Wine and Culinary Delights: Known for its wineries, Door County offers wine tastings. It’s best known for its fruit wines made from local produce. The culinary scene emphasizes local and fresh ingredients, with a focus on fish boils, a traditional and social dining experience that’s a must-try.
- Small Town Charm: The peninsula is dotted with charming small towns and villages. This includes Fish Creek, Egg Harbor, and Sister Bay, each offering its own unique character, shops, and dining experiences.
- Seasonal Activities: Throughout the year, Door County hosts various seasonal events and activities. Fall brings stunning foliage and harvest festivals. Winter offers opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and cozying up by the fire.
The blend of natural beauty, outdoor adventure, cultural richness, and culinary excellence makes Door County a beloved destination for travelers seeking a peaceful yet engaging getaway.
What local food should I try in Door County?
Door County is famous for its cherries, so don’t miss out on cherry pie or cherry jam. The region is also known for its fish boils, a traditional Wisconsin dish that’s a must-try.
What is famous for Door County, Wisconsin?
Door County, Wisconsin, is renowned for its stunning natural beauty. This includes five state parks, 300 miles of shoreline along Lake Michigan, and picturesque cherry orchards. It’s also famous for its rich maritime history, charming small towns, and local culinary delights like the traditional fish boil and cherry pie.
What is the prettiest town in Door County?
While each town in Door County has its own unique charm, many visitors are drawn to Ephraim. With its historic buildings, stunning waterfront, and the backdrop of Peninsula State Park, Ephraim offers picturesque views that are hard to beat.
Final Thoughts on Exploring Door County, Wisconsin
Door County, Wisconsin, is a destination that captivates with its natural beauty, rich history, vibrant arts scene, and warm Midwestern hospitality. Whether you’re exploring the scenic trails of Peninsula State Park, stepping back in time at the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, or savoring local flavors at a charming winery, Door County promises an unforgettable travel experience. So pack your bags and get ready to explore the Cape Cod of the Midwest. Door County is waiting to welcome you!