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10 Ways to Get the Full Winter Experience

If the colder weather, grayer days, and longer nights already have you dreaming of a wintertime getaway, Door County should be your first stop.

Not only is it a snowy, icey wonderland come mid-winter (and sometimes as early as late fall), Door County has plenty to see and do even if the weather isn’t cooperating. Plus, hundreds of local businesses and attractions are open year-round and ready to welcome you indoors after a cold day outside, including shops and stores and food and drink spots.

So ditch the winter blues and embrace the season—cold, wind, snow, and all—with these 10 must-do wintertime activities. 

Snowshoeing & Cross Country Skiing

If you’ve always wanted to try snowshoeing or cross country skiing, this is your sign to finally give it a go! Local equipment lenders can set you up with the basic gear, and a few standby sports stores can help you find the right winter clothes and accessories.

Winter Hiking & Biking

Take a wintery hike or fat-tire bike ride. Whether by foot or wheel, getting outdoors, braving the elements, and admiring winter’s beauty up close is one of the best ways to appreciate the season even more.

Hit the Ice

Live like a local for a few hours and hit an ice rink or a frozen lake for some ice skating, ice hockey, or broomball. The Teresa K. Hilander Ice Rink in Sister Bay is great for indoor skating, and inland lakes are perfect for outdoor skating once temperatures are well below freezing and the water freezes over.

Museums

If some learning and edification is more your goal—or you just need to escape the cold for a few hours—check out a local museum. Choose from the two locations of the Door County Maritime Museum (Sturgeon Bay and Gills Rock), two art museums (Francis Hardy Center for the Arts and the Miller Art Museum), a Belgian Heritage Center, and several historical museums,

Events & Festivals

Bundle up and attend an iconic Door County winter event, such as The Merry-Time Festival of Trees, Winter Fest, The Fire & Ice Festival, the Polar Bear Plunge, or the New Year’s Eve Fireworks & Cherry Drop.

Find a full list of events taking place December–February this year.

Sledding

Keep it simple and classic: find the biggest hill you can and fly down it on a sled. Pack your own in the car if you can or rent from sporting good stores. Some sledding-friendly hills in the area include the hill at the Sister Bay Sports Complex, the hill at Hole 17 in Peninsula State Park Golf Course, or Big Hill Park in Sturgeon Bay.

Winter Photography

There may be no better place for winter photography in the Midwest than Door County. From stunning natural beauty and ice formations to otherworldly ice caves to famously beautiful winter sunrises and sunsets, this is a place of wonder in winter and deserves to be seen and appreciated.

Ride an Ice Breaker

For a true Door County winter experience, hitch a ride on the Washington Island Ferry. In winter, the service uses special ferries called “ice breakers” that crash through the frozen lake and forge a path for the boat to carry passengers to the island. Not only is riding on an ice-breaker boat worth the trip in itself, the views of Lake Michigan in all its wintery, snowy, and icy glory will be stellar.

Support Local Artists

Catch a play, concert, exhibit, or other arts experience at one of these performing arts venues or check out a live performance or music event. Shows and music are a great way to spend a cold winter night, and you support local actors, musicians, and artists at the same time.

Parks & Preserves

Drive and sight-see or get out and explore on foot or ski—either way Door County’s county parks and nature preserves are beautiful and quiet places to find some solitude in winter, as are the state parks. Take a hike, enjoy a chilly winter picnic, or watch for winter birds.winter birds.




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