Ever since I moved to the Milwaukee area about 15 years ago, I have been absolutely enthralled with the Door County region in Northeastern Wisconsin. It is an absolutely stunning area that is an immensely popular vacation spot for people in the Midwestern United States.
I chose to write about this area today because I am currently in Door County trying to get a photograph I have been chasing for the past few years. I have been dreaming about getting a winter shot at Cave Point County Park, pictured above, with a perfect sunset. The shoreline is drop-dead gorgeous, and they get some fantastic sunsets in Door County. I am hoping today is the day that I can put the two of those together and get an amazing shot.
Let me tell you a little bit more about the area I am exploring. The Door County region of Wisconsin, if you were to look at a map of the United States, is the little thumb in Northeastern Wisconsin that sticks out into Lake Michigan. It is an immensely beautiful area that offers a wealth of activities for tourists to enjoy. Stunning lake views, fantastic hiking, beautiful beaches, delicious cherry picking, and a variety of local wineries are just some of the many fun activities you can find in Door County Wisconsin.
How to Get There
If you would like to visit Door County, the largest major metropolitan city with an airport is Green Bay, Wisconsin. Green Bay sits just 46 miles, or roughly a 50 minute drive, south of Sturgeon Bay, which is Door County’s largest city. If you would like to visit from Milwaukee, which is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin, Door County is 145 miles, or roughly a 2.5 hour drive, north of Sturgeon Bay.
Once you get to Door County, there are two major roads that head north thru Door County. These are highways 57 and 42. These highways intersect roughly 6 miles before you get to Sturgeon Bay.
If you are coming from Green Bay, you are going to take highway 57 North into Door County to Sturgeon Bay. From there, you can either take highway 42 along the West Coast of Door County, or highway 57 along the East Coast. The two highways converge near Sister Bay in the North.
If you are coming from Milwaukee, you are going to want to take highway 43 out of Milwaukee Northward. This will take you along the coast of Lake Michigan. From there, you can either decide to head to Green Bay and then take highway 57 into Door County (the faster route), or take highway 42 along the coast into Door County. When I visit from Milwaukee, I like to take highway 42 because it is the more scenic route.
Top Things to See and Do
There is plenty to see and do in Door County, Wisconsin. Whether you visit in the summer to enjoy the many fabulous beaches and pick some cherries, or in the winter to do some snow shoeing or cross country skiing, Door County is a great place to visit year-round.
In addition to the fun activities in Door County, there are a number of other very scenic and fun locations in close proximity to Door County. These include Mackinac Island, Pained Rocks National Lake shore, and Isle Royal National Park in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I will be visiting all three of these locations this summer and hope to write more about them then. All three locations are stunningly beautiful and a relatively short drive from Door County. Before I get into some of my favorite activities in Door County, here are some additional resources that you can use to plan your trip.
- Door County Visitor’s Bureau – Visitor’s Guide
- Midwest Living – Door County Trip Guide
- Fodor’s – Door County Travel Guide
- Travel and Leisure – Mackinac Island Travel Guide
- Plan Your Visit – Isle Royal National Park
- Plan Your Visit – Painted Rocks National Lakeshore
Beaches and Lake Views
There are a lot of wonderful beaches in Door County, which makes it a great place to hang out during the warm and humid summer months in Wisconsin. You will find people sun bathing, swimming, boating, and fishing near many of the county’s beaches. If you are looking for calmer waters, the beaches along the Green Bay on Door County’s Western Coast is your best bet. If you are looking to see some waves and impressive coastlines, then you will want to check out Door County’s Eastern shores of Lake Michigan.
One of my favorite things to do in Door County is pick fresh cherries. The unique soil conditions and cooler spring months on the peninsula make Door County ideal for growing cherries. By late July or early August, the cherries start to turn from their unripe yellow color to a deep, dark red. This is the signal that cherry picking season in Door County has begun.
If you would like to pick your own cherries, you will want to plan your trip to Door County for late summer. However, regardless of when you visit, you will be able to buy plenty of local cherry products throughout Door County. This includes a wide array of cherry flavored and accented wines at the local vineyards.
While Door County isn’t Sonoma Valley in California, there are some absolutely fantastic wineries in Door County. In addition to being a great place to grow cherries, Door County is also a great place to grow grapes. Many of the wineries in Door County grow their own grapes locally, so there are some stunningly beautiful vineyards on the peninsula as well.
One of our favorite things to do when we visit Door County is stop and visit some of the wineries to do some tastings. Our favorite winery in Door County is undoubtedly Stones Throw Winery, which is located in Bailey’s Harbor. They have some absolutely fantastic wines, and their winery is drop-dead gorgeous. Below are some of the other pictures we took of Stones Throw Winery, as well as a night image we took at a shop that sells wine and olive oil in Fish Creek. You will find a lot of these shops throughout Door County, and would recommend stopping in a few to check out the locally made products.
Hiking and Snow Shoeing
If you like to be active outdoors, then Door County is a playground that you will absolutely enjoy. There are five state parks in Door County, and each of them offers a plethora of hiking trails and activities. In addition to hiking, the park trails are fantastic for snow shoeing and cross country skiing in the wintertime. Below are some images that I took during a snow shoeing expedition in Peninsula State Park a few years back. It was incredibly beautiful and an absolute blast.
In addition to the state park trails, the Ice Age Trail also passes thru Door County. If you are looking for a more challenging hiking experience, the Ice Age Trail stretches across the entire state of Wisconsin and is a great trail for long-range hikes. One of my goals in the coming years is to hike the entire length of the Ice Age Trail in Door County. I think this would be an amazing experience.