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Top Outdoor Activities for a Socially Distanced Vacation


If you’re looking for some low-contact vacation activities and trip ideas that allow you stay physically distant from other travel parties but still offer you the full Door County experience, we’ve got you covered!

A major part of Door County’s appeal is its vast, wide-open spaces, hundreds of miles of shoreline, and many parks, forests, inland lakes, scenic backroads, and public-access green spaces, so there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors in this time of social distancing. 

In addition to the region’s many indoor attractions like shopping, dining, gallery hopping, and family activities, here are a few ways to recreate responsibly outdoors when you visit this year. 

A Paddle-Powered Weekend

If the paddling life has ever called to you, now is the time to give it a try! Whether piloting a kayak solo, working with someone else (preferably a housemate!) to paddle a tandem kayak or canoe, or using those core muscles to guide a stand up paddle board, paddling is a great activity for physical distancing. Plus, you get to see the shoreline from the perspective of the water (a must-do) or enjoy the serenity of an inland lake, get some low-impact exercise, and take in some sun while avoiding crowded beaches.

Most companies offering watercraft rentals or on-water tours are open for business with various health measures in place. You can definitely still get out on the water and take in the famous Door County shoreline from this new view, but be sure to call the company ahead of time to confirm business hours, make a reservation, and ask about any changes in protocol.

Find kayak, canoe, & watercraft rental companies
More on paddling & boating in Door County

A woman kayaking among caves and rock formations.

Take Up Birding & Hit the Trail

In need of a quiet activity that takes you deep into the woods and can be done solo or with a partner? Birding might not be top of mind, but it’s the perfect activity for times when you need a little extra personal space.

Track down a guide to birds of Door County, Wisconsin, or even just North America, find a pair of binoculars, and pick a nature preserve or park to explore.

More on birding in Door County

Take a Long, Isolated Hike

One of the earliest forms of socially distanced recreation, hiking is an excellent way to get in some nature time while maintaining a safe distance from other groups.

Some of the area’s top trails will likely be crowded during peak hours and weekends, so do some extra research and hit a lesser-trafficked trail, preserve, or park. If you’re looking to stay off the beaten path, aim for a hike on the north or south ends of the peninsula—such as in Newport State Park on the northeast tip or the Ahnapee Trail in Southern Door. Or, go during off hours—before 10am, after 4pm, and on weekdays. You can also bike on many of the trails and hundreds of miles smooth, secluded highway and backroad.

Where to hike in Door County

A family hikes on a forested boardwalk trail.

Picnicking in the Park

Picnicking can be an outdoor sport if you try hard enough! 

Get together a picnic kit with a durable blanket (a sleeping bag’s great in a pinch), your best sunhat, cards or a board game that travels, a favorite beverage or wine, and some local delicacies and find a secluded spot in a park. Many state and county parks, beaches, marinas, lodgings, and public outdoor spaces have picnic tables or benches as well, allowing you to maintain distance from other parties.

Make it a meal, make it an afternoon snack, or get creative and enjoy a lakeside picnic breakfast—however you do it, be sure to stock up on supplies close to home if you can or be ready to observe social distancing etiquette when shopping.


Golf or Disc Golf

Although purists on either side would argue these two sports shouldn’t be compared, golf and disc golf offer many of the same perks: a few hours in the sun, a leisurely stroll across well-manicured green spaces, low-impact exercise, a relaxed-yet-competitive spirit, and the ability to play solo or in small groups.

Disc golf has the lower barrier to entry (just buy a disc from a sports store near you and start throwing), but original golf requires more specialized gear and clothing. Some golf courses in the area offer rentals, so ask about equipment options when you make your reservation.

Find golf courses
Find disc golf courses

Take a Scenic Drive or Ride

Add a road trip component to your vacation and view iconic sights-such as cherry or lavender fields, from the safety of your car, motorcycle, or even bike.

Check out the 5 “must-ride” roads in Door County here or learn about the Door County Coastal Byway here. Add an extra element of adventure by taking a car/bike ferry to Washington Island and driving the island’s backroads to take in the lake and forest views.

If spontaneity is more your style, hop on Highway 42 (west side) or 57 (east side) and drive...pretty much anywhere! Door County is a land of stunning natural landscapes and scenic roadside vistas.

Social Distance with the Fishes

Few activities feel more primal or as back-to-nature than casting a fishing line from aside a waterway or over the side of a boat. Whether a chartered boat, motorboat, or a self-propelled fishing kayak is more your thing, there’s a body of water and a rental shop for you. If you’ve got your own gear, head straight to this list of local boat launches.

As always, call ahead to make a reservation and learn about safety protocol.

Find a boat rental
More on local fishing

Getting outdoors is a great way to clear your head and get some fresh air while observing physical distancing measures at the same time. Even when outdoors, visitors are encouraged to embrace the 6-foot rule, wear masks when around others, and practice proper hygiene so we can all stay safe and enjoy another fantastic Door County summer. No matter how you enjoy your time in Door County, we hope you’ll do it safely, responsibly, and mindfully. 

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