Door County Wisconsin offers charming towns filled with restaurants, eat lawyers, stroll galleries, and  shop

Visiting Door Country Wisconsin

Some places urge you to just kick back and relax, then parade a host of activities and events to compete with that same inactivity. But Door County in upper Wisconsin offers visitors a true kickback opportunity, as well as charming towns filled with restaurants, galleries, and shopping.

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Reminiscent of Cape Cod, and the coastal towns of New England, the Peninsula offers beguiling villages along the waterside Route 42. These are the kind of places that make you want to stay and explore, and enjoy the sunset. The best way to experience the peninsula is probably to take Route 42 one way, and then Route 57 the other way, making plans to stay at a couple of nights, or more to take advantage of the courses and performances offered in the area. Although tiny villages dot both coasts, the larger ones with more amenities are on the east side of the peninsula.


Cana Island is a wonderful lighthouse. It was once a true island, but over time, the water disappeared and now there's a rocky path to the lighthouse. Visitors will need closed toe shoes to explore the lighthouse, but just walking along the beach is fascinating marine delight.

Door County Maritime Museum organizes a yearly June Lighthouse Festival.

Explore the lighthouses of Door County Wisconsin

State Parks and Performing Arts

Peninsula State Park features 6 miles of shoreline and gorgeous sweeping views. There's also the Eagle Bluff lighthouse as well as all those wonderful outdoor activities. Whitefish Dunes State Park has the tallest dunes in Wisconsin, and Nicolet State Park is one of the smaller but has a lovely beach.

Beginning as early as the 1930s, there has been performances in Door County. The Peninsula Players Theatre dates back to 1935 and has been doing summer stock ever since. Peninsula State Park has its on troupe providing original musical productions celebrating the stories of lumberjacks, fisherman, and other men and women who settled in the area. In addition there are free community concerts in the major villages. Sister Bay offers afternoon Concerts in the Park overlooking the water. Egg Harbor has its concerts in the park on Thursdays from 5PM to 6:30PM. Bring a blanket and enjoy. The Door Community Auditorium offers year-round programming for theatre, dance and music.

Cooking, Crafts, and a Drive-In Movie

The Clearing Folk School in Ellison Bay offers one and two day classes on art and crafts. Ellison Bay also have the Savory Spoon with cooking classes. On highway 42 between Fish Creek and Ephraim, stop by The Skyway -- a true drive-in movie theatre since 1950.

The Door County Trolley offers a range of tours that are a great introduction to the peninsula. Of course there's also a full range of sailing crusises and charters


As you would expect in a tourist area, there are lots of enticing places to eat. But two dining experiences stand out. Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant and Wisconsin Fish Boils.

 A tourist attraction Must is a traditional fish boil Door County Wisconsin

Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay

Al's is famous for the goats on the roof. Yes, you did read that correctly. Al was given a goat years ago, and apparently took quite a fancy to it. Over the years, others have joined and now there are several goats who live elsewhere but visit the roof of the restaurant every day in good weather. The roof, it should be noted, is planted with grass for a touch of authenticity, harkening back to Swedish sod roofs. It also helps the goats feel at home and the goats keep the sod trimmed reducing the need to mow the roof. Inside, people feel at home with the wonderful Swedish-themed decor and dining specialties. Gawk at the goats, then go inside and enjoy a taste of Sweden.

Wisconsin Fish Boil

This is a must-do experience. Lake Michigan whitefish is caught by local fishermen and cooked outside over roaring fire. Potatoes and onions are added to the pot first and then the fish. And then comes the "boil over". Make sure you find out what time the boil master is going to do the "boil over" because if you miss that, you're just going to have boiled fish for dinner. Juicy boiled fish, but without all the show. There are plenty of locations, we enjoyed our fish boil at the Old Post Office Restaurant in Ephraim.
For more information contact Door County Visitor Bureau or call 1- 800-52-RELAX (973529)

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Neala McCarten

Unless otherwise indicated, all photos by the author

Updated: January 3, 2017

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