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9 Practical Tips for Making the Most of Your Summer Trip


After the last few months, we know everyone is eager to stretch their legs and set their sights on some new views, and we’re excited to kick off summer with travelers in the coming weeks.

But, as you unpause your plans and start daydreaming about your getaway once again, keep in mind that some things may have changed a bit since your last visit.

The restaurants and bars, the resorts and the B&Bs, the parks and the beaches, the arts and culture, whatever it is that draws you here—it’s all still here and as great as ever. But, there are a few things you should keep in mind before heading up here for a summer trip. 

1. Plan, plan, plan...

The best trips are those that strike a balance of thorough planning and joyful spontaneity, so do your research and be willing to change your plans if necessary. A new “best practice” when traveling is to have a plan B or even C, especially when visiting popular or iconic attractions.

But, by all means, dream big! Add that extra hiking trail to your itinerary, travel to that remote lighthouse, or check out that shop you’ve always meant to stop at, but be prepared for changes in business hours, number of guests allowed in indoor spaces, wearing masks when around others, and other safety measures.

You can use our Trip Planner tool, itineraries, or the digital Destination Guide as a jumping-off point.

2. ...And then verify, verify, verify

Call ahead to businesses to verify their hours and ask about any changes in service or operations so you know what to expect before you get there. Be sure to ask about and respect any safety precautions businesses may have in place, such as enforcing the 6-foot social-distancing rule, limiting the number of participants in a group activity, or having a limited number of customers inside at a time.

Things can change quickly, so it’s a good idea to verify hours/operations on the day of your visit as well as when initially planning it. (Pro-tip: use the Trip Planner to keep track of the spots you plan to visit and save their phone numbers to an itinerary.)

Aerial view of Gills Rock waterfront.

3. Wear a face mask around others

Masks are an easy way to help reduce the spread of viruses and demonstrate you’re observing social-distancing etiquette.

Wearing one may take some getting used to, but we’re requesting visitors bring and wear masks as often as they can, especially when around people who aren’t in their travel parties. While no one is required to wear a mask in public spaces, individual businesses may have their own rules, so be sure to respect the protocol they’ve put into place to keep employees and visitors safe.

4. Plan dining and meals ahead of time

Restaurants and bars of all kinds are making adjustments to their operations and dining spaces, so doing the legwork of planning out where to dine or purchase groceries now may save you time later.

Account for potentially shortened business hours, longer wait times, lowered capacity in restaurants and bars, space dividers between tables or employee/non-employee spaces, more opportunities for al fresco dining, and/or reservations being required.

Most restaurants will continue to offer curbside pickup orders and some may still do delivery, so consider taking advantage of to-go meals as well. Grab some food and head to a park, shoreline, marina, walk-and-eat session, or your private lodging.

5. Embrace the wide-open space

Social distancing is the new normal, so it’s pretty fortunate that we have so much outdoor space up here.

Door County’s five state parks (state parks sticker required!) and 19 county parks are absolutely worth visiting, but be aware they can get very busy on spring and summer weekends, making social distancing more difficult.

To avoid the crowds and do your part in social distancing, visit outdoor spaces before 10am, after 4pm, or on weekdays and check out local nature preserves and other less-trafficked green spaces if possible.

Shoreline view at Peninsula State Park.

6. Consolidate shopping trips & supply runs

If you must get supplies while you’re up here, try to reduce your number of stops by getting as much as you can at one location and observing social-distancing measures when in stores and shops (wearing a mask, hand sanitizing before and after leaving, etc.).

7. Be extra vigilant to leave no trace

Most parks and outdoor spaces are open for business, but they may still have some limited services. So, it’s extra important to leave no trace of your visit when you leave a park or outdoor space.

As always, properly dispose of any trash and be ready to take it out of the park with you when you leave if waste bins are full or unavailable. Be aware that amenities like restrooms and ranger centers may be closed or operating at lowered capacity, so plan ahead.

8. Pick up some art, decor, or souvenirs—but do it curbside or online

Many if not most of the galleries, shops, boutiques, and stores of Door County will be open for in-person business, but you’re likely to encounter some new in-store rules, especially limited customer capacities.

If you know what you’re looking for, call ahead to a shop and ask for an employee to meet you outside with the items. This is great for quick purchases, like if you forgot a pair of flip-flops or you lost your sunglasses in Lake Michigan and any pair will do.

Pickup is also great for online shopping—you can see what the store has to offer online, purchase it, and pick it up shortly after.

9. Remember, this is larger than all of us

Strive to be empathetic, patient, and kind when traveling this summer, and remember that everyone’s doing their best to be safe and enjoy some much-needed relaxation. 

Keep in mind others’ risk tolerances may differ from yours and do your best to observe social-distancing etiquette in all situations. Everyone’s approach to travel varies, so be sure you’re observing your own boundaries as well as others’. We all play a part in creating the Door County experience and keeping it the safe and welcoming place it always has been.

The people, places, and things you love about Door County may look a little different this year, but it’s still the same serene, lakeside oasis you know and love. Just know that even though we’re all taking care to physically distance in order to keep each other safe, our communities remain as strong, vibrant, and tight-knit as ever.

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