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50 Must-Dos for Summer in Door County

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From the appearance of boats and fishing poles on our waterways to campgrounds, hiking trails, beaches, and open-air restaurants getting busier, there’s no doubt summer in Door County is where it's at! Before you pack your bags and head to our Wisconsin peninsula, check out these 50 quick ideas to help you craft the perfect summer getaway.

1. Fill up a bucket at a pick-your-own-cherries and/or berries farm, including Lautenbach’s Orchard, Meleddy Orchard, and Sorens Valhalla. Don’t forget to stop at the farm markets and grab some cherry-ified specialty items on your way out. Track the cherry harvest with our Cherry Blossom Report to find the perfect weekend.

2. The local live music scene in Door County is alive and well, and summer is when it's most active. On just about any night of the week, you’ll discover a venue or musical style for everyone. Don’t miss the Summertime Concerts in the Park, a beloved summer tradition in communities across the peninsula. 

3. Go to a show. Nearly a dozen performing arts organizations call Door County home, filling the calendar with theatrical, comedic, symphonic, and musical performances across the spectrum of genre and style.

4. Set an alarm to catch one of Door County’s spectacular sunrises. Know where to go, and grab some breakfast or coffee afterward. (Post-sunrise, late-morning nap encouraged.)

5. When the sun rises, the fairways are calling. Get up early and play 18 holes on one of Door County’s golf courses. Towering bluffs, rolling hills lined with fieldstone, panoramic water views, and bright green trees are just about everywhere you look, making for some rather unique, challenging, and scenic holes.

6. Explore a trail. The area is packed with trails and footpaths for logging miles. Start here to find inspiration for choosing a route or planning your weekend outside in nature.

7. Follow your heart stomach (your stomach’s heart?). Either way, spend a few days in search of the best local food and drink in Door County. Our culinary influences date back to the 1800s, but we’ve become a Midwestern culinary powerhouse. 

8. Summer definitely calls for at least one ice cream stop. Enjoy as you walk through town or beneath the glow of a dazzling Door County sunset.

9. Experience some old-school Wisconsin hospitality at a classic supper club. A brandy old-fashioned or an ice cream drink is a must at these time-honored, family-focused local treasures.

10. Eat some more. Door County’s culinary scene is expanding and offers a wide array of places to dine and drink al fresco — just be sure to call ahead to confirm open hours and seating availability.

11. Dine at a waterfront restaurant. The sight of gently lapping waves, the expanse of water stretching to the horizon, and perhaps a sunset painting the sky can create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere to enhance any meal.

12. When in Wisconsin, it’s not if you’ll eat something cheesy; it’s when. May we suggest perhaps the most coveted culinary gem to come out of the dairy state — cheese curds. While they are delightful right out of the refrigerated case, there’s nothing to compare to fried cheese curds. 

13. Follow up your #curdexperience with a locally brewed cold one, the perfect beverage to imbibe after all of that salty, cheesy goodness. Door County has deep roots in craft brewing, with many unique breweries to choose from.

14. Treat yourself to a true Door County specialty using this guide to local cuisine and cooking styles. Not only will you enjoy delicious dishes, but you’ll also gain an understanding of our region and its historical and cultural influences. 

15. Tried everything cherry? Already a cheese expert? Veteran of the supper club scene? If you’re on the hunt for something new and different, may we present four unique Door County food finds: cheese curds, belgian pie, lawyer fish, and the fish boil. Watch the video. 

16. Snap an iconic goats-on-roof photo at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant; bonus points for getting a selfie with multiple goats at once. Afterward, savor authentic Swedish flavors at this family-owned restaurant, where servers in Scandinavian garb dish out limpa bread, Swedish meatballs, pancakes with lingonberries, and more.

17. Venture about on two wheels on some of the top biking routes in Door County, where you can rent a bike or bring your own. 

18. For an extra dose of adventure, take a ferry to Washington Island for a self-guided biking tour. Rent a bike on the island, find a map or GPS, and explore 100 miles of smooth, rolling highways and tree-lined backroads. You can also bring your own bike on the Washington Island Ferry Line.

19. Hike the short but deeply rewarding Eagle Trail in Peninsula State Park — it’s one of the most picturesque in all of Door County. This trail can get popular at peak times, so have a backup trail in mind in case there’s a crowd.

20. Explore the trail less traveled at these 14 hiking spots at nature preserves protected by the Door County Land Trust. These nature preserves are places where not only wildlife and plantlife are preserved — but the deep human need to spend time in nature is protected too.

21. Hike the Sturgeon Bay section of the magnificent Ice Age Trail. Start at the eastern terminus in Potawatomi State Park and follow the trail for a few short miles as it meanders along the bay until it collides with Duluth Avenue and several businesses.

The entire Sturgeon Bay section is an ambitious 13.7 miles long, so feel free to turn around or hop off the trail when needed. You can also hike this in reverse: start from somewhere on Duluth Ave. or further south and end your hike at Potawatomi State Park.

22. Go camping in Door County. From remote hike-in campsites to campgrounds with RV parking and full amenities, Door County has the perfect campsite for getting your camp (or glamp) on at state parks or local campgrounds.

A camper sits in her tent at a remote campsite.

23. Did you know you can see the northern lights in Door County? With little to no light pollution, Door County’s northern reaches are ideal for capturing one of nature’s most spectacular performances. 

Your best bet for a glimpse is an overnight stay at Newport State Park’s backpack campsites, but on a clear night, you can also see the lights and stars of the Milky Way, brighter and more brilliant than you’ve probably seen before, in other parts of the county.

24. Get the full fish boil experience, a one-of-a-kind epicuren event that has been attracting visitors for more than 70 years. While early Scandinavian settlers brought the tradition from the homelands, residents carry on the tradition of this simple and satisfying meal today, only enhanced by each restaurant's own recipes, styles, and stories. Most meals include fresh-caught Lake Michigan whitefish with onions, potatoes, and corn with a slice of Door County cherry pie for dessert.

25. Visit a local winery or, if you’re up for it, take on the entire Door Counter Wine Trail. You’ll discover Door County is a small hub for winemaking and wineries in the Midwest, with nine wineries to sample and savor tasty varietals.  

26. Take Highway 57 on the lakeside or Highway 42 on the bay side (which includes Jens Jensen’s iconic curvy road) for a drive that takes you up the entirety of the peninsula. Hwy. 42 terminates at the Northpoint Pier, which makes a good turnaround point; Hwy. 57 ends where it connects to Hwy. 42, in downtown Sister Bay. For an extra-long drive, take both. Together, these two highways form the Door County Coastal Byway.

27. Take a scenic drive across the peninsula — Skyline Road in Peninsula State Park, Kangaroo Lake Circle in Baileys Harbor, and the farm-lined roads of Southern Door are favorites. Or, trek to Washington Island via ferry and explore its mysterious forested backroads. Check out these recommended motorcycle drives that are just as beautiful by car or bike.

28. Hop on a Door County Trolley and take a guided wine tour, cherry tour, lighthouse tour, scenic tour, or supper club tour — the list goes on!

29. Find a new go-to or return to an old favorite resort, hotel, B&B, cottage, or other lodging. Or, think outside the box and consider staying somewhere a little left-of-center this year at some of the most unique lodging in Door County.

30. Enrich your mind and immerse yourself in Door County’s local history at museums and cultural attractions, with tales of agricultural abundance, ecological wonders, and Great Lakes adventure. Use this historical itinerary or this list of official ‘historic places’ in Door County as a jumping-off point for locating attractions that grab your attention.

31. Nestled on Washington Island, experience the serenity and beauty of Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm, Shop & Le Café, the Midwest's largest lavender farm, with 20,000 lavender plants. Enjoy strolling through the lavender fields. Browse The Shop featuring All Things Lavender, Wisconsin's largest selection of luxurious products numbering 300. Unwind at Le Café for lavender infused treats.

Looking for a lavender shop option on the mainland? Visit Island Lavender Farm Market in Ephraim to browse their wide variety of home, bath and artisan food products with locally grown lavender.

32. Experience the living history of The Farm, a multi-purpose outdoor space where you and the kids can bottle-feed animals, learn about agricultural history, tour a pioneer-style camp, and check out special exhibits and hiking trails.

33. Chase amazing views from Sven’s Bluff in Fish Creek, Ellison Bluff or Door Bluff Headlands in Ellison Bay, or one of 11 lighthouses dotting the peninsula and islands. Peninsula State Park also offers some stunning views from its numerous lake-side trails.

34. Take to the skies and try parasailing or an airplane tour for an extraordinary bird's-eye view of the county.

35. If water is your wonderland, try some of our popular water sports, including scuba diving tours or chartering a fishing boat.

36. If the waves, wind, and wide-open space of Lake Michigan call to you, you’ve got plenty of options. Head to a marina, rent a boat or jet ski or try sailing. If you’d rather enjoy the views than steer the vessel, boat-tour operators have you covered.

37. Are you interested in paddling but appreciate the security of a seat and walls? You cannot go wrong with spending a few hours in a kayak.

38. Meet local farmers and food purveyors at a Farmers Market in Door County. You’ll be able to sample the flavors and take home some Door County delicacies. 

39. If you’re more of a land lover, fill up a cooler, grab a good book, and camp out in the sun and sand all day on a beach.

40. Take a walk along the Sturgeon Bay waterfront to see the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal and Coast Guard Station, as well as the famous red lighthouse at the end of the breakwater pier. Bring a camera.

41. Take a barn quilt driving tour and see dozens of pieces of local folk art. The Door County Pulse shared details of the barn quilt project’s meaning and origins, and we’ve got a quilter’s group tour itinerary to help you plan a trip.

A noble barn in the countryside adorned with a patriotic barn quilt.

42.  Try anything — or everything — Door County cherry. From pies, jams, and desserts to cherry juice, wine, and cherry bounce, there’s no shortage of cherry-infused snacks and drinks to choose from. Many orchards and farms offer other cherry-centric activities and products so you can appreciate the summer harvest and have some wholesome, rustic fun. These family-owned and -operated establishments produce cherries as well as apples, berries, dairy, and other products.

43. Become a shipwreck hunter for the day and scope out some of the area’s most fascinating underwater relics. Some wrecks can be seen right from a kayak or a boat without diving underwater. If you have diving experience, seek some extra thrills and rent snorkeling or diving equipment and head beneath the surface.

44. Get nostalgic and check out a drive-in movie. Door County is home to Skyway Drive-In Theatre, one of the last drive-in movie theatres in the state of Wisconsin. 

45. Stop at an artist’s studio or gallery. Door County has a hugely diverse arts scene featuring ceramics, paintings, drawings, sculptures, woodworking, glassblowing, and more. 

46. If all that art has your creative juices flowing, try some hands-on art experiences and make your own masterpiece to take home. This is great for kids, too!

47. Find that large-format wall art, perfectly minimalist ceramic bowl, or handsome model of a clipper ship you’ve been searching for at a boutique, home decor, or specialty store.

48. If self-care is on your mind, spend an afternoon at the salon or a whole day at the spa, relaxing and focusing on you.

49. Get up early and spend a quiet morning on the lakefront reading, writing, meditating, or doing nothing at all.

50. Take a mindful walk in the woods or along the water — it can be a hiking trail, a deserted beach, a pre-dawn campsite, a brief glimpse of the lake through trees, a quiet spot on your rental property, or even an early morning walk through town. When you find your spot, stop and take in the smells, the sounds, and of course, the sights. Notice how clean and pure the air is. Look at leaves and plants up close. Listen to the birds singing, the water rushing, or the trees rustling, and enjoy a quiet moment of wonder and gratitude.

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