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Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

The Lakeside City that Lives On, and For, the Water

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63 °F

From orchards and farms to some of the Wisconsin’s best birding, Door County is a nature-lover’s dream in fall.

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Women on a bridge overlooking a marina

Big City, Small-Town Charm

Maritime charm and natural beauty meet a blue-collar ethic in Sturgeon Bay, Door County’s world-renowned shipbuilding hub. From thousand-foot boats and small bass-fishing boats to the acclaimed Door County Maritime Museum, this community’s heritage is all about the water.

But Sturgeon Bay offers much more than just views—here lies the heart of the county’s music and arts scenes, world-class parks, historic shopping districts, and countless dining options ranging from supper clubs to hole-in-the-wall pubs and cozy coffee shops.

A closeup of a scallop dish

Sturgeon Bay Restaurants

Sturgeon Bay’s dining and drinking scene is as diverse as they come, with fine dining in historic landmarks, sushi, ethnic restaurants, healthy kitchens, greasy spoons, and everything in between. One constant is the imprint of the city’s nautical past, represented in the art, on its menus, and in the names of the establishments that make Sturgeon Bay an authentic representation of small-town America.

Sturgeon Bay Favorites

Sturgeon Bay Lodging

With a sprawling resort and conference center on the canal, shoreline resorts on the edges of the city, national hotels, themed hotels, and historic B&Bs nestled into the fabric of the neighborhoods, Sturgeon Bay has every type of accommodation imaginable. You’ll find plenty of rental homes and condo options, plus campgrounds outside the city.

Woman kayaking on the lake

Things to Do in Sturgeon Bay

 Sturgeon Bay is a fisherman’s mecca, with some of the best bass fishing in the world. Tour a restored tug, visit the phenomenal Door County Maritime Museum, learn the history of Door County, stroll down historic 3rd Avenue, or step into nature at Potawatomi State Park on the city’s edge. From sunrise to sunset, you’ll find a never-ending list of great activities in Sturgeon Bay.

Deeper Dive: Sturgeon Bay

Door County’s Maritime Historical Sites

Living and working on Lake Michigan has long been a part of the Door County identity, and relics of the region's maritime roots can still be seen today at these nautically inspired attractions.
Wooden building in the distance surrounded by trees.

Architecture & Landmarks

Door County architecture and landmarks tell a story of its people, its culture, and a place where nature, recreation, and family time are valued above all else.
A wooden walkway leading out to Haines Beach.

Scenic Attractions

Some of Door County's top attractions are the outdoors. From the traversing the sand dunes of the Lake Michigan to trekking through wooded forests to exploring the islands, caves, and bluffs left behind by glaciers, there's no shortage of ways to experience Door County's stunning scenic attractions.

Door County Spring Birding Guide

Between 300 miles of shorelines, 13 protected Door County Land Trust sites, and dozens of state, county, and municipal parks and greenspaces, there is definitely no shortage of places to keep your eyes peeled for local avian life.

Splendor & Solitude at County Parks

One of the area’s best-kept secrets for escaping crowds and finding peace in nature is heading to these 19 county parks spread throughout the peninsula and Washington Island.

7 Must-Dos in Sturgeon Bay

1. Cast a line

If you like fishing at all, this is the place to do it. The fishing here is so good that it hosted 2015’s ESPN bass-fishing world championship.

2. Take a lighthouse tour

Sturgeon Bay is home to three lighthouses: the North Pierhead lighthouse, the Sturgeon Bay Canal Station light, and the Sherwood Point light.

3. Hit three distinct shopping districts

The West Side, Third Avenue, and Jefferson Street all offer different but equally enticing shopping experiences, from quaint, small-town shops to sophisticated boutiques.

4. Visit the Door County Maritime Museum

Learn how vital Sturgeon Bay was to the World War II effort, cranking out a Naval ship every five days! You’ll also learn that the city is home to innovations like the self-unloading shipping container and the box shipping container.

5. Explore Potawatomi State Park

In the early days of the National Park System, the land that is now Potawatomi State Park in Sturgeon Bay was considered for national park status. Instead, the eastern terminus of the Ice Age Trail is found in the park and serves as a gateway to outdoor adventure.

6. Visit Sunset Park

As fine a city park as you’ll find, Sunset Park offers a perfect place for a picnic, a sunset photo, or room for kids to roam. It’s also a great place to admire the mammoth Gantry Crane of Bay Shipbuilding.

7. Catch a performance

Once a movie theater, the Third Avenue Playhouse hosts wonderful small productions in the historic district throughout the year.

Sturgeon Bay Annual Events

A man carving an ice sculpture
February

Fire & Ice Festival

Professional and amateur ice sculptors take up their picks, turning huge blocks of solid ice into beautiful, intricate works of art. Music, food, drinks, and activities follow.
Closeup of a ship in the shipyard
May

Shipyard Tours

Once a year, several shipyards in Sturgeon Bay open their doors to the public. Visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at how ships are designed, built, and repaired as well as tours of local vessels.
Two men holding up fish
May

Open Bass Tournament

This fishing competition is held on the open waters of Lake Michigan where scores of smallmouth bass swim and fishermen from around the Midwest compete for the biggest and heaviest haul.
People running in a race
October

Fall 50 Footrace

Teams of 2–5 compete in a day-long footrace across Door County, witnessing the beauty of multiple towns and landmarks, all when fall colors are at their peak.

Discover Door County

Trip Planner

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Door County Events

Find Door County events for every kind of trip, including festivals, performances, and kids’ events.

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