LAST UPDATED: 4/23/23 – Door County Wisconsin Travel Guide
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.
In this Door County Wisconsin travel guide, I am going to provide you will all of the information that you need to plan a successful trip to see Door County in Wisconsin. I cover the best times to visit and the best ways to get there so that you can maximize what you are able to see and do on your trip.
I also outline all of the top things to see and do while you are there and where the best places to stay and eat are. With the information in my Door County Wisconsin travel guide in hand, you can be confident that your trip to see one of Wisconsin’s most beautiful regions will be one that you remember for the rest of your life.
|Top Things to See and Do|
|How to Get There|
|Best Time to Visit|
|Where to Stay|
|Where to Eat|
|Recommended Tours and Excursions|
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.
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 sunbathing, 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 are your best bet. If you are looking to see some waves and impressive coastlines, then you will want to check outdoor 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.
|Snowshoe Gear Guide for Adventure Travelers|
If you like to kayak, then Door County is the place for you. It has some of the best waters in the American Great Lakes region to go kayaking. In particular, Cave Point State Park is an amazing place to go kayaking. If you don’t own your own kayak, you don’t need to worry. In the Recommended Tours and Excursions section of this Door County Wisconsin travel guide I have provided you with some kayaking tours I recommend.
Explore the Lighthouses
If you love lighthouses as much as I do, then you are in for a real treat when you visit Door County. There are a number of beautiful lighthouses that you can photograph and even tour. If you are starting to plan your Door County adventure and want to fit some lighthouse stops on your itinerary, I would recommend checking out the Door County Pulse website for more information and history of all of the area’s lighthouses.
List of the Door County Lighthouses you can see:
- Baileys Harbor Range Lights
- Birdcage Lighthouse
- Cana Island Lighthouse
- Chambers Island Lighthouse
- Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
- Pilot Island Lighthouse
- Plum Island Lighthouse
- Sherwood Point Lighthouse
- Sturgeon Bay Canal North Pierhead Light
Marvel at the Beauty of Cave Point
There are a number of incredible state parks in Door County, but one of my favorites is undoubtedly Cave Point State Park. It has some of Door County’s must rugged, rocky, and beautiful coastline. There are plenty of hiking paths that you can enjoy that stretch up the coastline.
Also, many of Door County’s best kayak tours operate in this area. For more information on where Cave Point State Park is located, please see the map I have included in my Door County Wisconsin travel guide below.
Shop at the Lovely Local Boutiques
Another great thing to do when visiting Door County in Wisconsin is to shop at all of the small-town boutique stores. Cities like Fish Creek have a wide array of different stores the downtown area. One of the best places in Fish Creek to get your shop on is Founder’s Square. There are some amazing shops and restaurants in the area and the views of the water are incredible.
In addition, some other great places to go shopping in Door County include the following:
Get Out on the Water
No visit to Door County in Wisconsin is complete without getting out on the water. If you think the views of the lakeshore are pretty from land, wait until you see how breathtaking it is from the water. If you don’t want to get out into a kayak, I would definitely recommend bringing your boat with you to Door County if you have one.
And if you don’t own a boat, not to worry. I have provided you with some great boat tours that are available in the Recommended Tours and Excursions section of this Door County Wisconsin travel guide below.
Photograph the Incredible Winding Road
One of the neatest photography opportunities in Door County is this beautiful winding road in the north part of the peninsula. It is a beautiful place to take a photograph, especially in the autumn when the trees are colorful.
The winding road can be found on highway 42T between Gills Rock and Northport. If you would like to see the location on a map, I have included one for you to review in my Door County Wisconsin travel guide below.
How to Get There
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.
Green Bay and Milwaukee are the Closest Large Cities
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.
Getting Around Door County
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.
Best Time to Visit
Average Temperature (°F)
The average temperature in Door County can differ significantly throughout the year. In order to assist you in planning the right time to visit, I have included a chart with the average high and low temperatures for Door County, Wisconsin for you to review below.
Average Precipitation (Inches)
Door County gets a fairly consistent amount of rain and snow throughout the year because it is surrounded by Lake Michigan. If you would like to know how much precipitation to expect during your visit, I have included a chart with the average monthly precipitation for Door County below.
Visiting in Spring
Spring is a great time to visit Door County. Many of the peninsula’s restaurants, shops, and resorts start to re-open after being closed for the winter. Depending on when you visit in the Spring, some of these shops and resorts may not be open quite yet, so make sure you check ahead before visiting. However, because it isn’t yet the busy season of summer, spring can be a great time to visit to avoid the crowds. It can still be rather chilly, so make sure you pack a light jacket and long pants for your visit.
Visiting in Summer
Summer in Door County is absolutely beautiful, which is why this is the busiest time of year on the peninsula. There are a wide range of activities available for you to enjoy, including hiking, boating, swimming, golfing, and kayaking. However, the hotels and resorts book well in advance for this time of year, so plan ahead. You should also expect to deal with big crowds and lines at restaurants, shops, and wineries.
Visiting in Fall
The autumn is my favorite time of year to visit Door County. The days are still fairly warm, but the summer crowds have left. In addition, the changing colors of the trees make Door County absolutely breathtaking this time of year. In can be somewhat chilly in the evenings, especially if you visit in late autumn. So, make sure you bring a jacket and long pants with you if you plan to visit in the fall.
Visiting in Winter
While many of the peninsula’s shops, restaurants, and resorts close during the winter, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do in Door County during wintertime. The state parks in the area have some fabulous snow shoeing and cross-country skiing trails. Many of the area’s wineries are also still open for tastings during the wintertime. Door County can be a great place to get away for a romantic getaway during winter.
Where to Stay
One of the most important decisions you are going to have to make when planning your trip to see Door County in Wisconsin is where you will stay. When you travel, the accommodations you choose are oftentimes amongst the biggest expenditures for your trip. So not only do you need to be comfortable where you are staying, but you also need to be comfortable with how much you are paying to stay there.
Finding the right accommodations for your trip involves looking at the amenities, the location, and most importantly, the price. If you are starting to plan your trip to Door County and want some hotel and resort suggestions, I have included some great options at different price points in my Door County Wisconsin travel guide below for you to review. As always, don’t be afraid to expand your search to room sharing sites such as Airbnb or VRBO if you aren’t finding a hotel or hostel that meets your needs.
Where to Eat
When most people plan a trip, the primary focus is on how to get there, where to stay, and what is on the list of things to see and do. What many travelers neglect to plan, is where to eat when you are there.
Granted, it is sometimes fun to be spontaneous when choosing a restaurant while traveling, and it is always smart to get recommendations when you arrive.
However, it can also be advantageous to have some ideas of restaurants you would like to try during your trip written down beforehand as well. This way you can be assured that you won’t miss out on a highly recommended culinary experience that you will regret.
To help you decide on some restaurants in Door County to add to your list, I have included a list of some highly recommended options for you to review in my Door County Wisconsin travel guide below.
|Harbor Fish Market & Grille (Bailys Harbor)||Steakhouse, Seafood, Veggie||$$-$$$|
|The Fireside Restaurant (Egg Harbor)||American, Southwestern, Cajun||$$-$$$|
|Old Post Office Restaurant (Ephraim)||American, Seafood, Veggie||$$-$$$|
|Waterfront Restaurant (Sister Bay)||American, Seafood, Veggie||$$-$$$|
|Wickman House (Ellison Bay)||American, Healthy, Veggie||$$-$$$|
|White Gull Inn (Fish Creek)||American, Veggie||$$-$$$|
Recommended Tours and Excursions
There is an abundance of amazing things to see and do in Door County and one of the best ways to experience those things is on a tour. If you are looking for fun tours and excursions to fill out your trip, I have included some category links to recommended tours and excursions you can review in my Door County Wisconsin travel guide below.
One thing that Door County is not in short supply of is amazing things to photograph. I was able to capture a lot of great photographs while touring the Door County, and I have included some of my favorites in a gallery in my Door County Wisconsin travel guide for you to review below.
If you would like to view some more of my top photos from this trip, as well as photos from some of my many other travel adventures, make sure you are following me on Instagram as well!
We love Door County but have never been there in the winter. You are a brave man! Your photos are lovely!
Thanks LuAnn! This morning was the scariest time I have ever had while photographing a landscape. Going to write about it. It’s a whole new world in the winter.
I know I can be a klutz on ice (broke one wrist and badly sprained the other several years ago), so I am anxious to hear your story. I am imagining some scary scenarios.