If you haven’t heard of the Danish and Norwegian concept of hygge, you are in for a real treat. Pronounced “hooga,” it’s the perfect counterpart to self-care that means invoking or fostering a sense of coziness, contentment, and well-being. Door County’s Scandinavian and Swedish heritage offers many ways to practice hygge on the peninsula and islands.
The Most Comfortable Place to Stay
Inspired by the Scandinavian history of Door County, The DӧRR Hotel is a portal to a uniquely distinct Nordic hotel experience in the heart of Sister Bay. Hygge is personified in its 47 well-appointed guest suites, offering laid-back luxury. Super cozy beds and spectacular views of Sister Bay from private patios or balconies are the place to celebrate Door County’s Danish, Swedish, and Norwegian heritage. Beyond a place to say, you are treated to a European-style breakfast every morning and happy hour or nightcaps in the lobby bar.
Comfort Food Personified
Sister Bay’s authentic Swedish family-owned restaurant is famous for goats grazing the sod roof, and its comfort food is Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik. Inside the casual, carpeted dining room, young ladies in Scandinavian garb dish out Swedish pancakes and meatballs served with Swedish lingonberries, Swedish crackers and Limpa bread on bread trays, specialty cheeses from Sweden, hearty soups and sandwiches, and much more, served on dishes from Porsgrund, Norway. You can grab a draft beer, wine, aquavit shots, and handcrafted cocktails at the Stabbur Beer Garden in season. The Stabbur (Kök) Kitchen has lawn games, drinks and food on the green space for families, while the over-21 crowd socializes at the long wooden bar and pergola-covered tables.
Snuggable Wearables and Home Decor
Inside Al Johnson’s is the retail store, Al’s Butik. This quaint shop has cozy things to take home, including traditional Scandinavian clothing, Swedish clogs, and Norwegian sweaters for men and women. Newer items offered include more modern women’s fashions from lines like Neon Buddha, Lior, and Icelandic and an exciting, unique color selection of the well-known clogs from Troentorp. Also owned by Al Johnson’s is Skål, a retail store next to Stabbur where you’ll find Scandinavian-influenced products, Stabbur souvenirs, beachwear, home goods, and Swedish food.
If you’re searching for gifts to warm the hearts of friends and family, stop in Glō Door County. This high-end professional cosmeceuticals store is based on the science and experience of board-certified dermatologists. Not only can you get personalized skin consultations and a full line of cosmetic services, but you can also browse the retail and artisan gift shop for self-care gifts, from healthy skincare for women and men to luxurious candles and a wide range of apparel.
Cozy Lunch and Games Combo
More hygge can be had in Sturgeon Bay when you stop in The Gnoshery. This gnome-inspired café offers delicious soups, sandwiches, and other “gnoshables” in Door County’s premier board game café. Hot, grilled sandwiches like the Gnome of Monte Cristo or the Gnubano or a peppermint swirl latte are sure to warm your insides on a cold winter’s day. Let friendly competition heat up with hundreds of games to choose from in the Stay and Play board game library to play there or purchase your favorites to take home.
Bringing the Heat
Portable hygge can come to you from Up North Sauna, the only rentable barrel sauna in Door County. The sauna is delivered to you with two bundles of cedar firewood for the sauna’s wood stove, a bucket and ladle, essential oils, and a 100-gallon dunk tank for ice or water or both. While sauna bathing is shown to have health benefits, this experience involves the ritual, from the stoking of the wood stove to the repeated rounds of hot and cold baths to the outdoor firepits, which is hygge.
The Art of Herbal Infusions and Mixology
Midsömmar Apothecary & Luminarium is a haven for those seeking a touch of serenity and a sensory journey through time-honored European ancestral herbal traditions, placing a special emphasis on Nordic herbalism, reflecting the robust Scandinavian heritage of both their family and the Door County community. The herbalists and apothecaries unveil a captivating array of traditional apothecary fare, from meticulously crafted tinctures and elixirs to the wholesome allure of oxymels, shrubs, liniments, hydrosols, and herbal honey.
Sips and Savors
Get a taste of hygge year-round at Sip, a bright and colorful restaurant in northern Ephraim owned by Swedish siblings. The delectable menu features fresh and colorful delights, from potato waffles with various toppings to vegan and gluten-free charcuterie boards. The beverage selection is equally enticing, offering champagne flights, specialty coffee, smoothies, beer, and wine.
Simply Scandinavian is a quaint, historic waterfront shop in Gills Rock with a million-dollar view of boats and ferries. Browse the ever-changing variety of handmade goods for purchase, including hand-turned wooden bowls, exquisite imported woolen hats and sweaters from Estonia, folk art Santa ornaments, yummy treats, and more, open seasonally.
FIKA Breaks for All
FIKA (fee-ka) is a Scandinavian tradition that complements hygge perfectly. FIKA is a daily respite usually taken in the morning and then again in the afternoon when co-workers, friends and family enjoy coffee and something sweet. This is exactly what you will find at Fika Bakery & Café in Fish Creek. The chef’s Swedish heritage shines through in this cozy café open seasonally. From gooey pecan sticky buns to savory ole rolls filled with Swedish meatballs and iced fika mochas to a hot cup of Joe, all who stop by will enjoy comfort foods galore.
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