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8 Free & Low-Cost Family Beach Activities


Door County is well known for its 300 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, lakeside hiking trails, and lively boating and water sports culture.

But it’s also known for its dozens of sandy, kid-friendly beaches perfect for a sunny summer day. So if your family’s style is less high-speed adventure and more relaxed beach day, our community shorelines have you covered.

Waterfront Park, Egg Harbor Beach, Whitefish Dunes State Park, Fish Creek Beach, and Nicolet Beach at Peninsula State Park all offer fantastic beach areas with family-friendly amenities like playgrounds, equipment rentals, restrooms, proximity to town, and plenty of ways to keep everyone entertained all day. The county’s inland lakes are also spectacular spots for beach getaways and water sports.

Here are just a few ideas for how to spend your beach day in Door County.

1. Swimming

Most of Door County’s community beaches are free and open to the public for all kinds of sunny-day activities. Work on your tan while reading a magazine or take to the lake for swimming, water games, catch or Frisbee, or sunning on a floatation device.

2. Sand Sculpture Competition

Castles may be the go-to structures for sand sculpting, but building them can take a lot of time, skill, and patience. Instead, challenge the family to sand-sculpture build-off where they craft animals, people, mazes, shapes, or whatever comes to mind.

3. Fishing

Go back to basics and see which fish you can catch from a pier, dock, beach, or boat. The waters surrounding Door County are chock-full of trout, salmon, whitefish, walleye, perch, and more. Bring your own fishing equipment or rent from an equipment lender.

4. Snorkeling

If your family has always dreamed of trying scuba diving in clear water and seeing the world below the surface, snorkeling is a great place to start. The local beaches have plenty of room to dive under the water and practice using fins and a snorkel. Bring your own or pick up a set at a sporting goods store like Lakeshore Adventures.

5. Rent a SUP or Kayak

Renting a stand up paddleboard or kayak may have an entry free, but spending even just an hour on the water, admiring the stunning shorelines, can be an incredible and affordable experience.

Several beaches offer onsite rentals, and many other businesses offer SUP/kayak rentals and delivery or transportation services. 

Better yet, if you have your own paddle-powered boats, head straight to these kayak launches throughout the region.

6. Venture to Washington Island—or Even Further

If your family sees itself as the adventurous type, drive to the very tip of the Door Peninsula, to Northport, where you can hop a car ferry. Take the ferry to the remote and beautiful Washington Island, where you’ll find plentiful beaches and lakeside parks to explore. (Just don’t forget your 2022 parks pass for entering Washington Island parks this summer.)

Those who want to see some of the most remote beaches in the state can trek to Rock Island State Park, the county’s rustic island park featuring multiple beaches, sandy shorelines, paddling opportunities, waterside hikes, and beachside campsites for taking in the views.

A bright red shovel standing upright in the sand on a remote beach.

7. Catch the Sunrise or Sunset

Door County is famous for both sunrises and sunsets, and it’s not uncommon to catch both on the same day. While sunsets are easier to find since you’ll likely already be out and about, there is no better way to start your day than watching the sunrise on a quiet beach.


8. Invest in a Water Experience

If you are willing to spend a little to elevate your on-the-water experience, take a guided boat tour, rent a boat and pilot it yourself, charter a boat to remote islands, or rent equipment to enjoy high-speed water sports like wakeboarding, jet skiing, or kiteboarding.

Explore the Beaches of Door County

Take a closer look at a few of Door County’s most popular family beaches in the Beaches of Door County video series.

Headed to Door County this summer? Brush up on water safety guidelines and the Door County Leave No Trace 7 Principles.

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