Sturgeon Bay is the peninsula’s year-round destination, where almost all shops and restaurants stay open throughout the winter months. Each February, the city hosts its annual Fire & Ice Festival, which is the perfect cold-weather event to plan your trip around. Here’s your guide to a great winter weekend in Sturgeon Bay.
Take your pick from a wide array of historic B&Bs tucked into cozy city streets, lodges and resorts with exquisite amenities, or more-affordable hotels, motels, and inns. Once you’ve checked in, check our calendar for up-to-date schedules for live music, theaters, and galleries.
If you love a classic Wisconsin dining experience, you’ll find few better than a visit to one of the city’s supper clubs. Nightingale Supper Club, Donny’s Glidden Lodge, and The Mill Supper Club all offer incredible food and drinks and a nostalgic Wisconsin aesthetic.
Rise early to head a few miles outside the city to the Sturgeon Bay Canal North Pierhead Lighthouse. This spot is a favorite of photography pros who love to catch this bold red lighthouse set against the white winter landscape at sunrise. (Bonus: the sun doesn’t ruse until about 7 a.m. here in winter.)
The lighthouse located at the U.S. Coast Guard Station at the eastern edge of the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal, the manmade pass built in 1899 to drastically reduce shipping times for cargo moving between Green Bay and ports in southern Lake Michigan.
After getting your photo fix, head back to the city for some coffee and great pastries or delicious breakfast and lunch options.
The Door County Maritime Museum is open year-round and is a fantastic stop for maritime buffs of all ages. Kids love the interactive exhibits, and history fanatics will be enthralled with the wealth of information about how Sturgeon Bay’s boatbuilders made an international impact. This museum is consistently hailed as the best in the county and is a great way to enjoy a couple of hours learning about the city.
Next, explore Sturgeon Bay's burgeoning shopping and gallery scene. The Madison Avenue corridor includes fine outfitters, resale shops, and specialty food options.
Across the bay you’ll find Third Avenue and a slice of small-town charm. This historic shopping district is home to boutique shops, bustling water holes, and some of the city’s best restaurants and diners. Grab dinner on the avenue, stroll down to catch a show at Third Avenue Playhouse, a movie theater repurposed into a home for performing arts. End your evening with a cocktail at one of the city’s staple taverns, all without ever moving your car.
Another option is to head about 15 minutes north of the city to check out Cave Point County Park, one of the most-photographed spots in Wisconsin. Come winter, the waves that splash into the rocks become icicles that dangle from the outcroppings and create extraordinary ice formations.
If you’re a cross country skier, head to Whitefish Dunes State Park, where 14 miles of trails offer an amazing experience. You can also ski closer to the city at Crossroads at Big Creek, a nature preserve and heritage site on the edge of the city where you can ski for free.
After you’ve made your outdoor excursion, grab a bite to eat and head home with a newfound knowledge of the unique history of Door County’s largest city, and a new appreciation for the food and beverage scene that’s putting this community on the map.