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Where to go when visiting Door County, Wisconsin

Ever since I was a toddler, my family has been going up north to Door County, Wis. for family vacations and holiday getaways. Located in the peninsula of Wisconsin, Door County is full of small towns with unique names, quaint shops and amazing food. 

Being able to connect with nature and explore everything the peninsula has to offer is what makes Door County so special and that’s why we always come back. There are tons of things to do on the peninsula and everyone’s experience is different, but here is a list of recommended places to go and things to see. 

Where to stay: Bailey’s Harbor Yacht Club Resort

Located in Bailey’s Harbor, this beautiful hotel is right on Lake Michigan and has friendly staff and spacious condominiums to stay in. My family has always appreciated the two pools, marina within walking distance and stunning landscape that surrounds the resort. Bike paths, nature trails and a beach right down the road also add to the curb appeal of Bailey’s Harbor and we always leave thoroughly enjoying our stay.

Where to eat:

Al Johnsons (Sister Bay, Wisconsin): Al Johnsons is probably the most unique restaurant I have ever been to. The restaurant is famously known for having live goats on the roof, authentic Swedish food and a vast gift shop. The owners have also expanded in recent years and now have a second gift shop and an outdoor restaurant and bar right next door to allow for more shopping and additional seating options. Although it’s a weird combination, I highly recommend ordering the Swedish meatballs and Swedish pancakes for a delicious and filling meal. 

Boathouse on the Bay (Sister Bay, Wisconsin): Right down the road from Al Johnson’s is Boathouse on the Bay and the atmosphere and decor of this restaurant is unbeatable. Sitting on the roof and watching the sunset while enjoying their famous catfish po’boy is quite literally heaven on Earth. Their cajun mayo elevates every dish and they have the best key lime pie I’ve ever eaten. Boathouse also has live music once a week and the mix between being right next to the marina and having a front row seat for the sunset is just a perfect way to enjoy dinner.

Cornerstone Pub (Bailey’s Harbor, Wisconsin): If you’re looking for delicious pizza, the Cornerstone Pub is the way to go. The staff is not only super friendly and accomodating, but the food is phenomenal and leaves you seriously satisfied. Anything from their wraps to their fish is a great choice from the menu and they have a large drink menu as well. Our most notable experience at Cornerstone was going in to pick up a pizza and meeting Hockey Hall of Fame member Tony Esposito!

Where to shop:

When driving around the peninsula, you notice that each town is different and has its own unique things to offer. Shopping in Door County isn’t like shopping at Target or at a large scale mall. These are all family owned businesses and you can’t find anything like it outside the peninsula. 

For example, Sister Bay is very tourism centered and offers a wide variety of restaurants and stores while also being right on Green Bay. Bailey’s Harbor is geared towards fishing charters, kayaking, zip lining and restaurant hopping. Fish Creek, Ephraim and Egg Harbor have the most shopping options available and have a good selection of restaurants, breweries and coffee shops as well. 

There’s also so many orchards and cheese stores all over the peninsula and each has their own niche they specialize in, so just going and walking around is a fun time. I highly recommend spending a day in each area and really exploring everything it has to offer. The towns are all within driving distance of each other and we never spent more than 25 minutes driving from town to town. There’s also plenty of gas stations on the peninsula so that isn’t an issue either! 

Nature related activities:

As previously mentioned, there’s fishing charters, zip-lining, kayaking, boat rentals and pretty much anything else you can think of that’s water related. My family went on a salmon charter this summer and it was such an amazing experience and absolutely worth the money! 

Another very popular activity is going cherry-picking and walking around the orchards. We had never gone cherry picking before this summer and it was such a fun experience and was also a great bonding moment for all of us. We’ve also gone on countless walks along the beach and on nature trails so there truly is something for everyone and you leave feeling refreshed and at peace! 

Door County, Wis. has so much to offer for families, individuals and groups of friends going on vacation. According to Covid Act Now, Door County has a “2.9% positivity rate and 69% vaccination rate,” so they are also responding to the pandemic to keep businesses and tourism alive in the area. Whether you visit now or after the pandemic is over, Door County is guaranteed to connect you with nature and help you make memories that will last a lifetime.

Sophia Donis

Mizzou '23

I’m a Journalism major with a minor in Political Science from the Chicago suburbs! I love interior design, spending time with my friends and snuggling up with a good book!
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