50 Must-Dos for Summer in Door County
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 on!
Here are 50 quick ideas for recharging your batteries and crafting 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. If pick-your-own isn’t your thing, many orchards and farms offer other cherry-centric activities and products so you can appreciate the summer harvest.
3. Try anything—or everything—cherry. From pies, jams, and desserts to cherry juice, wine, and bounce, there’s no shortage of cherry-infused snacks and drinks to choose from.
4. Catch a sunrise: set an alarm, know where to go, and grab some breakfast or coffee afterwards. (Post-sunrise, late-morning nap encouraged.)
5. Or get up early and play 18 holes on one of Door County’s golf courses.
6. Take a run or 7. The area’s packed with trails, footpaths, and remote highways for putting in some miles. Start here to find some ideas and inspiration for choosing a route or planning a weekend full of gorgeous runs.
7. Follow your heart stomach (your stomach’s heart?). Either way, spend a few days in search of the best local food and drink.
8. At least one ice cream stop. Enjoy as you walk through town or beneath the glow of a 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!
10. Dine and drink al fresco—just be sure to call ahead to confirm open hours and seating availability.
11. Or dine within view of the water.
12. Eat something cheesy, preferably in curd or fried curd form.
13. Follow up your #curdexperience with a locally brewed cold one.
14. Treat yourself to a true Door County specialty, using this guide to local cuisine and cooking styles.
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, seek out some of the county’s most unique food finds.
16. Snap an iconic goats-on-roof photo at Al Johnson’s. Bonus points for getting a selfie with multiple goats at once.
17. Take to two wheels to explore some of the top biking routes in Door County. Rent a bike or bring your own. Or, if you want to experience the county on two wheels in a new way, give a segway a try.
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 ferry.
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 you may not have visited.
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 colliding with Duluth Avenue and a number of 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. Camp under the stars (or the comfort of a tent and rain cover) at a state park or local campground.
23. Chase the northern lights. With little-to-no light pollution, Door County’s northern reaches are ideal for trying to catch the awe-inspiring northern lights.
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.
25. Visit a local winery or, if you’re up for it, take on the entire Door Counter Wine Trail.
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 a trolley and take a 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.
30. Explore some local history at museums and cultural attractions.
31. Devote an afternoon to learning on an informal historical tour. 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.
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, Door Bluff Headlands, or one of 11 lighthouses.
Peninsula State Park also offers some stunning views from its numerous lake-side trails.
34. Take to the skies—try parasailing or taking an airplane tour for an extraordinary bird’s-eye view of the county.
35. Or find your sea legs and enjoy some scuba diving, charter fishing, or sailing.
36. If the waves, wind, and wide-open space of Lake Michigan call to you, heading to a marina or renting a boat or jet-ski should be on your to-do list.
If water’s calling but you’d rather enjoy the views than steer the vessel, boat-tour operators have you covered.
37. Interested in doing some paddling but appreciate the security of a seat and walls? You cannot go wrong spending a few hours in a kayak.
38. Try stand up paddle boarding and get a new view of the water—and stronger core muscles. Many kayak rental companies also offer SUP boards.
39. If you’re more a landlubber, 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. Here’s an article that details the barn quilt project’s meaning and origins.
42. Visit one of several farms in the area for some wholesome rustic fun.
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.
45. Make a stop at an artist’s studio or gallery. Ceramics, paintings, drawings, sculptures, woodworking, glassblowing, and more—Door County has a hugely diverse arts scene. Check individual artists’ websites or call about health/safety protocol and open hours before stopping by.
46. If all that art has your creative juices flowing, try out some hands-on art experiences and make your own masterpiece to take home. 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 R&R is on your mind, spend an afternoon at the salon or a whole day at the spa, relaxing and focusing on self-care.
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 or the water rushing or the trees rustling, and enjoy a quiet moment of wonder and gratitude.
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