By Jennifer Billock
Winter in Door County is a thing to behold: wooded expanses of snow, waves lapping up against sparkling icicles hanging from rocky outcroppings, wintry mists rising around lighthouses. Yet, for as much fun as there is to be had outdoors, indoor activities also thrive.
There’s something for everyone during the winter in Door County, whether you’re looking to get some active energy out, enjoy some time with the kids, learn a new skill, and more. Here’s how to spend those snowy days inside.
For the Creative Type: Craft Your Masterpiece
Why not spend your day enjoying some of the cultural aspects of Door County? A trip to an art gallery or museum might be just what you need. We have more than 100 galleries, studios, and exhibits, covering everything from pottery to watercolors to quilts. Or, if it’s a live show you want to see, you can find music ringing out from a number of indoor spaces over the winter, whether it’s open-mic night at a coffee shop or a live band in a bar. We’ve also got almost a dozen performing arts organizations, so you’ll never be without an in-person entertainment option.
For those who want to participate more than watch, get your creative juices flowing with art education opportunities. Local artist Deanna Clayton leads classes on a unique glass-casting technique called paté de verre. Hands On Art Studio has the materials for jewelry design, painting, and more. Peninsula School of Art brings national artists in for arts workshops, and Write On, Door County taps the creativity of storytellers of all types.
For the Foodies: Indulge in Culinary Bliss
Take the chilly winter days in Door County as an opportunity to indulge in our absolutely delicious culinary culture. Start your morning at one of our local coffee shops. Door County Coffee and Tea offers not just artisan coffee (the shop is a roaster) but also homemade breakfast. Or, choose to eat dessert first with a cup of their coconut cupcake-flavored coffee. If you’ve crossed Death’s Door via the ferry and want to snuggle up with a warm beverage, be sure to pop into Washington Island Coffee for creative drinks, pastries, and breakfast sandwiches.
Take time to relax and enjoy an afternoon of easy conversation with a group of friends and some adult beverages. Shipwrecked Brew Pub always has at least 10 microbrews on tap. Located at the northern end of the peninsula, Island Orchard Cider uses apples grown across the bay on Washington Island in its drinks. Door Peninsula Winery produces the largest wine selection of any Wisconsin vintner, so you’ll never run out of options. Hatch Distilling Co. offers refreshing cocktails with made-on-site whiskey, bourbon, gin, and vodka.
In the evening, embrace the Wisconsin way with a trip to a supper club, the iconic Dairyland dinner establishment. Locals have been enjoying the Nightingale Supper Club since 1913. Here, you can devour tradition — prime rib and an Old Fashioned, or a Friday-night fish fry. Sample schnitzel and other German specialties at the nearby Mill Supper Club (circa 1930).
For the History Buff: Step Back in Time
Since the 1600s, travelers — including French explorers Jean Nicolet and Father Marquette — have passed through Door County. That’s about four centuries of history that you’ll be living in once you step foot onto our beautiful peninsula. Take the time to learn about it while you’re here, and you’ll appreciate the experience even more.
Explore the past under and above the rippling waters surrounding Door County with a visit to the Door County Maritime Museum. You’ll learn about the fishermen, tradesmen, and ships’ captains that frequented the peninsula, how lighthouses worked to keep them safe, and an ominous part of Door County’s maritime history: Death’s Door. This once-dangerous passage on Lake Michigan gave the county its name.
Once you’re finished at the museum, head over to Egg Harbor for a Narrated Scenic Tour with Door County Trolley. You’ll hop into a heated trolley for a trip through the peninsula’s quaint villages while learning about the area’s history and notable attractions along the way. The company also offers chauffeured pub crawls, wine stops, and more.
For Health + Wellness Gurus: Winter Wellness Wonderland
We get it. You don’t want to run all over the glistening expanse of freshly fallen snow outside. But how will you get in your workout? Don’t worry, Door County has you covered. We’ve got two YMCAs (one in Sturgeon Bay and one in Fish Creek); countless fitness studios, athletic clubs, and yoga studios, and even a chance to rock climb during the winter at Door County Adventure Center (advance reservations required). So lace up those gym shoes. You’re going to put them to good use!
After your workout, rejuvenate your body by getting a massage, facial, or other spa treatment. Our healthful day spas offer everything from holistic massages and Reiki to complete purification journeys, combining cupping, aromatherapy, reflexology, and body wraps. Saguaro Day Spa and others use natural materials grown right here in Wisconsin.
For the Kids: Winter Wonders for Little Explorers
Are the snowsuits and gloves still drying out from a fantastic family day in the snow? Head over to The Gnoshery, a board game café where you can pass the time with pleasure instead of impatience. Grab a BLT or grilled cheese sandwich, then sit down with one of the hundreds of games in the Stay and Play board game library, or purchase one to take back to your hotel or vacation rental.
Speaking of libraries, Door County Library has eight branches open year-round, offering children’s activities, games, and books galore that encourage families to read and stay awhile.
For a more active adventure, make your way to Sister Bay Bowl, put the family to the test, and see who can get the highest score. Watch out, though — your kids might surprise you!
If your family’s not so much into gaming, go to our nature centers, where the outdoor experience heads inside. On Saturdays at Peninsula State Park’s White Cedar Nature Center, you and your kids can explore the natural splendor of fish and wildlife from the warmth of museum-quality showcases, sit down with a resource guide in the reading corner, or chat with a naturalist about all the animals that come out in winter.
Don’t miss the Cook-Albert Fuller Nature Center at The Ridges Sanctuary. There’s an exhibit that covers the history — both cultural and natural — of the surrounding preservation area. And you can feel good about going here, too; it’s the first LEED-certified commercial building in Door County.
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