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Surprisingly, not many people, including native Wisconsinites, are familiar with Door County. It is a great escape from the busy life we live and has so much to experience and explore. Door County is a common vacation spot for my family so I thought I would share some of my favorite spots you can consider for your next trip and hopefully you will fall in love with this peninsula as much as I have. 

With each town in Door County having so much to individually offer, there really isn’t a wrong place to choose. Each town is about a 15-minute drive from each other and it is definitely worth visiting each of them. Below are some of the best places to stay depending on what kind of vacation you’re looking for. There are also many restaurants to choose from in Door County, however, only the cool kids know of the best resturants to make your Door County experience complete (keep reading to find out what they are!). Additionally, Door County is a great place to relax and enjoy the slow-paced lifestyle or find adventure with outdoor activities and active events. 

Keep reading to find out my suggestions on where to say, where to eat and what to do.

Bailey’s Harbor

This town is one of my personal favorites as it is right on Lake Michigan and isn’t very touristy so you are ensured a relaxing vacation. There are many places to choose from to eat as well as a few boutiques to shop at. This town is home to beautiful sceneries and hiking trails for those who like to stay active on their vacations. There are places to rent kayaks and paddleboards so you can experience the lovely harbor from the water. It is just a short drive to Cave Point, a great place to hike, kayak, or even go cliff jumping for the adrenaline junkies. 

Fish Creek

If you are more of a fan of a busy vacation with lots going on around you, Fish Creek is the place to stay. There are many restaurants to choose from and endless amounts of shops to peruse. What makes this town great to stay in is that it is located between Sister Bay and Egg Harbor, and just a short drive to both. It is perfect for those who want to see as much of the peninsula as possible. 

The Bearded Heart Coffee (Bailey’s Harbor)

If you’re looking for a place to grab a healthy breakfast or lunch, this is definitely the place. Despite its smaller menu, everything is delicious and there are so many untraditional food pairings that you will be pleasantly surprised to try. Not only will the food make you fall in love with this place but the earthy and cozy atmosphere will make you a regular here on your trip. 

Al Johnson’s (Sister Bay)

Despite being quite a big tourist attraction in Door County, this Swedish restaurant and shop is a must for first-time visitors. Although the Swedish pancakes are a classic to try, their large menu will surely have something for everyone. The most unique part of this restaurant is the goats on the roof, which is not something you see every day, and the story behind the goats is definitely worth a read. After you eat, you can shop in Al’s Butik and see a variety of traditional Scandinavian clothing, gifts, and food.

Door County Brewing Co. (Bailey’s Harbor)

This family-owned craft brewery is a must-stop for anyone traveling to Door County. Although the popular crowd consists of craft beer enthusiasts and those over the age of 21, they have many options for everyone. Their house-made Root Beer and Cream soda will leave you wanting more. The beer garden in the back is a great place to sit around a fire and have some drinks. My personal favorite of this brewery is the Food Trucks available in the Beer Garden. A local restaurant, Chive, another personal favorite of mine, stations their food truck at the brewery with delicious dinner options. There is also a handmade wood fired pizza truck that makes some of the best pizzas I have ever had.

Door County Creamery (Sister Bay)

This restaurant will become a staple in your trips to Door County once you have tried it. Even though some people may be deterred from trying a place that only uses goat cheese, I assure you everything on the menu is delicious. If you get the chance to visit in the summer there is goat milk gelato and sorbet which is definitely worth a try. They even partnered with Ironwood Yoga to have goat yoga for anyone like me who has that on their bucket list. 

Day Trip to Washington Island

Located north of the peninsula, Washington Island is definitely worth a trip. No cars are allowed on the island so it’s a great opportunity to walk or bike around the island and explore. While there are many beaches to relax at and restaurants to enjoy, a must-see is the Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm. For only $5, you can walk through the fields of lavender and if you happen to be visiting in July or August, the farm features a pick-your-own-lavender-bouquet. 

Hiking at Cave Point

Cave Point County Park is a popular destination for visitors and it’s no question why. The gorgeous landscape of Lake Michigan and carved limestone rocks is perfect for walking along the cliffs. On your hike, you will notice rocks everywhere stacked very high, which is a unique tradition to do when visiting this park. The underwater caverns are amazing to explore by scuba divers or kayakers. If you are a fan of a thrill on your adventures, there are great spots to go cliff jumping. 

Door County Century Bike Ride

If you enjoy an active vacation this bike ride held every year in September is a must. This event is not a race so bikers can take their time and can choose to bike 30, 50, 75, or 100 miles. The scenic roads along shorelines and limestone bluffs are gorgeous to bike on. After you finish this great workout you can enjoy a pasta dinner and their famous door county cherry pie.

*Disclaimer*: Traveling during the Covid-19 pandemic is not advised, please travel safely if you plan to do so. Many of the places I mention are not open to the extent that they normally are, and for any places that are open, masks are required at all times.

Charlotte Nielsen is a sophomore at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She is majoring in Retailing and Consumer Behavior with a Certificate in Design Strategy. In her free time she loves to cook, bike, and listen to music.
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