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Door County Holiday Traditions


For some it’s a favorite meal. For others it’s a family game of touch football, or a drive through town to judge the year’s decorations. Holiday traditions in Door County take many forms.

Though the peninsula and Washington Island is best known as an escape in the warmer months of May through October, many families have created a deep connection to the Door’s less crowded days, especially the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons. They return year after year to recapture the special feeling only memories with family can evoke.

Create your own holiday memories with these ideas for building your own family traditions.

Fly Down Hill 17

For those with kids, a snow day trip to Hill 17 in Peninsula State Park is about as good as it gets. Located on the 17th hole of the park’s golf course, this hill is great for a toboggan run, tube, or sled – with or without brakes. 

Holiday Buffets

Sometimes it’s nice to forget about cooking and spend that time engaged with family. For many families, a familiar table at one a Christmas or Thanksgiving buffet at a favorite Door County restaurant is an unbreakable family tradition.

The Hunt for the Perfect Tree

Nothing gets you in the spirit quite like putting up the tree, and for some of us, it takes a little hunting to find just the right one. Gather the clan and head out to the tree farms of Door County to find the perfect tree to protect this year’s gifts.

Christmas Shopping

Some love to shop for seasonal decorations at one of the county’s Christmas specialty stores, while others like to make an annual tradition of perusing the boutiques, clothiers, and gift shops of Door County to find the perfect gift they can’t get anywhere else. Holly Days, Capture the Spirit, Christmas By the Bay, Christmas in the Village and other celebrations are great ways to catch stores with sales and special hours. 

Reuniting with Old Friends

The holidays bring families together, but it’s also a time to reunite old friends. For many locals, the night before Thanksgiving is a favorite evening to head to one of the few taverns that’s still open and meet up with old friends in town to see their families, or to just sit and see who walks through the door. If you’re in town, head out and make some new local friends of your own.

Holiday Home Tours

Each year the Holiday Home Tour raises funds for the Northern Door Children’s Center, a vital part of the community. The self-guided tour takes you to five distinct homes beautifully decorated for the season.

Polar Plunge

Whether you need to wipe away the fog of New Year’s Eve celebrations or just start the year with a brisk awakening, the Jacksonport Polar Bear Plunge is your way to renew. It’s been a tradition of the Jarosh family for more than 30 years, and they’re happy to embrace newcomers to the fold of up to 1,000 people who join them in their annual run into Lake Michigan on New Year’s Day.

New Year’s Day Parade

Egg Harbor’s New Year’s Day Parade has been a favorite tradition for decades. Though small, it makes up for what it lacks in size with more than enough goofiness and laughs. Grab a cup of hot cocoa and see it for yourself to start the new year.

Do you have a favorite Door County holiday tradition? If so, post it in the comments below. We’d love to hear about it!

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