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The Family Time Sustainability Bucket List


It’s no secret the Door County community is on a mission to protect, preserve, and care for the local environment and culture. We’re excited to see word is spreading that you can have a fun, satisfying, and action-packed adventure up here while still ensuring your trip activities sustain and respect our local communities and outdoor spaces.

With more and more visitors seeking outdoor-centric activities that they know won’t harm the local environment or ecosystems, we’ve compiled a list of 25 fun-filled, family-friendly activities perfect for teaching kids about the beauty of the great outdoors and the importance of being a good steward for our wild places.

Choose one for a day trip or aim to check off all 25 from your to-do list—either way, you’re sure to learn something new and gain a new appreciation for the natural beauty all around us in Door County.

1. Take a day-long hike, keeping things slow and stopping to take in the incredible forest, lake, and peninsula views.

2. Or keep it simple with a hike that only takes 1-2 hours.

3. Hit the beach where you can swim, play water games, build sand castles, rent canoes, or just enjoy the amazing scenery that nature created.

4. Test your balance on a standup paddle board while appreciating the massiveness of the Great Lake beneath your feet.

5. Become one with the lake on a kayaking tour—no experience required.

6. Meet some friendly farm animals at The Farm or Plum Loco Animal Farm to introduce kids to animals and impart the idea that animals are beautiful and fascinating but should be revered from afar.

7. Or go wildlife viewing and look for birds, small mammals, insects, and more. Watching animals in their natural habitats can help kids see there’s a whole, wild world out there to be discovered from a safe distance.

A young girl looks toward the sky with binoculars in front a trailhead sign

8. Pick your own cherries, apples, or other fruit and start a discussion about where our food comes from.

9. Enjoy an island adventure and lake views via bicycle—and teach them that fitness is not only healthy but fun and rewarding too.

10. Learn about local history at a museum, such as the Door County Historical Museum, Door County Maritime Museum, Jacobsen Museum, or the Washington Island Farm Museum.

11. Keep the history lesson outdoors and visit open-air educational sites like Crossroads at Big Creek, The Ridges Sanctuary, or Island Lavender.

12. Or explore the indoor/outdoor Corner of the Past museum and explore 15 lovingly preserved buildings filled with artifacts, photos, videos, and more that lend insights into Door County’s past.

13. Attend a play or musical event and get the kids excited for the performing arts—and instill the idea that arts and cultural pursuits are as worth preserving as our outdoor ones.

A crowd watches a performance at an outdoor forest theater

14. Bring your fishing equipment and cast a line from a marina or charter a fishing boat and learn how to fish safely and sustainably from the pros.

15. Go lighthouse hunting and reflect on Door County’s rich maritime past and how the lake and the local shipbuilding culture have influenced day-to-day life.

16. Attend a community farmers market or visit an orchard or farm market (PDF) and see what it really means to eat fresh, local, and seasonal produce and ingredients. Find fruit, vegetables, spreads and jams, specialty foods, cheese, meats, condiments, beverages, and other foods unique to Door County.

17. Snap some photos of incredible sunsets while enjoying those artisan snacks you found at the farmers market.

18. Do some stargazing and constellation-chasing at Newport State Park and marvel at the largeness of the planet and the universe. Stay overnight at one of the walk-in campsites for a true wilderness experience.

19. Pump up the fun with mini-golf, zip lining, or a drive-in movie to remember that any time spent outdoors is worthwhile.

20. Climb every stair of the brand-new Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park and capture some incredible photos at the top. Enjoy a quiet moment to take in the views of Lake Michigan and think about how rare and special it is to be above the treetops.

21. Hop the cherry train or the trolley for a guided tour of peninsula or island attractions. Traveling by train, trolley, or other group transportation is more eco-friendly than riding in individual cars and means you see a larger swath of the island. Plus, a tour guide will share all kinds of history, fun facts, and insider knowledge.

22. Take a tour of a cheese factory or shop and see how Wisconsin’s favorite food is made and gain a new appreciation of farming and agriculture.

A worker stands over a vat of fresh cheese curds

23. Go camping for at least one night—it’s never too early to start developing a passion for living outdoors.

24. Take a guided naturalist tour at a state park to get an in-depth lesson about its ecology and history.

25. Give geocaching a try. You truly never know what you might discover, and you’re almost certain to get off the beaten path and see new sides of the county.

Before you embark on one or more of these family adventures, be sure to sit down with the kids and go over the Door County Leave No Trace 7 Principles or watch the video collection to prepare them for a spectacular and sustainable vacation spent in Door County’s great outdoors.

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