If you haven’t experienced Door County in the wintertime before, you might be surprised to find many fun activities to partake in, both indoors and outdoors. Here are some of the highlights to consider adding to your winter getaway plans!
Join the Locals for Frosty Fun
Fish Creek Winterfest
Celebrate all things winter under the warmth of a large heated tent overlooking the frozen waters of Green Bay at the Fish Creek Winterfest. Traditionally held the first weekend of February, enjoy the Stumpf Fiddle Contest, wacky cook-offs, music, food, and various games like snow bowling, minnow racing, the world-famous bike toss, and the popular Fruit Loop Run, the annual casual family-friendly race where participants dress in pairs outrageous silly costumes and run, walk, stroll, waddle, or dance their way to the finish line.
Sturgeon Bay Fire & Ice Festival
Each February, Sturgeon Bay’s bustling downtown turns into a scene out of a winter fairy tale at the Fire & Ice Festival. The weekend festivities kick off with an enchanting luminary-lit hike at Crossroads at Big Creek Nature Preserve on Friday. Saturday, watch novice and professional ice carvers transform blocks of snow and ice into works of art. Generous helpings of local flavors and spirits pair nicely with the gawking. Explore Sturgeon Bay with free Door County Trolley rides around downtown, where you can treat yourself to some shopping and delicious dining.
Jacksonport Polar Bear Swim
Since 1986, adrenaline-seekers have been ringing in the new year with an icy plunge in Lake Michigan. Whether you join in on the fun, join the supportive warming crew or play spectator, you won’t want to miss Jacksonport’s Polar Bear Swim.
Mayberry’s Carriages and Sleigh Rides
Bundle up for a horse-drawn sleigh ride through snow-covered orchards and forested woods surrounding Lautenbach's Orchard Country Winery & Market with Mayberry's Carriages and Sleigh Rides. After the tour, sample wines, ciders, and other goodies at the market.
Candlelight Ski in our State Parks
Strap on your skis or snowshoes for a peaceful jaunt along Whitefish Dunes State Park's, Peninsula State Park's, or Newport State Park’s candlelit trails. At the end of each trail, you'll warm up with refreshments and a blazing bonfire. Don’t have skis or snowshoes? No worries! These trails are hiker-friendly, too. Check the Wisconsin DNR site for complete details as they become available.
Annual Door County Pond Hockey Tournament
The Door County Pond Hockey Tournament returns to the Sister Bay Sports Complex, with seven divisions competing. It’s not just a weekend of competitive fun for hockey players, though — fans, friends, and family are encouraged to enjoy the festivities.
Ditch your snow boots for some ice skates at the Teresa K. Hilander Ice Rink in Sister Bay and the Sturgeon Bay ice rink. It’s never too late to learn to skate, and photos of rosy-cheeked kids gliding across the ice make for treasured memories.
Door County is a top destination for ice fishing in the country. Anglers flock here to catch whitefish, trophy walleye, northern pike, and perch. Little Sturgeon Bay, Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Ephraim, and Sister Bay offer some of the most reliable and accessible ice fishing around. Fishing charter guides will set you up with bait, gear, and shanties and offer tips on the best techniques.
Sledding in Door County
Got a need for speed? Hole #17 on the Peninsula State Park Golf Course is famous for its steep hill, and when conditions are right, it becomes the ultimate sledding hill.
“Little kids think Hill 17 is a mountain,” local Laura Beck wrote in Door County Living magazine, remembering her time on the northeast Wisconsin mountain. “It seemed to take forever to work those little legs all the way to the starting point. Eyelids peeled backward. Cheeks burned from the chilly wind. Stomachs flew up to the throat and fluttered.”
It is a feeling many locals and visitors can call to memory instantly, and it is still there for all looking to spend a snowy winter day in one of the state’s most treasured state parks.
Pack the sled (or tube!), pull on your mittens and visit the Sister Bay Sledding Hill at the Sister Bay Sports Complex for more downhill adventures and other family activities, both outdoors and in. Look for an “Open” flag on top of the hill —the hill is only open once enough snow has covered the hill and has allowed for the installation of snow fencing. In Sturgeon Bay, Big Hill Park’s Incinerator Hill is steep and has two drop-offs.
Ice Shoves: The Midwest's Version of Glaciers
On the western shoreline, you can find "ice shoves." Because Green Bay completely freezes over with ice 2–3 feet thick, the ice continuously expands and can force large pieces of ice up and onto the shore. Some years, the combination of ice and wind has seen shoves more than 10 feet high! These slow-forming structures — usually found in late winter and early spring — are a unique sight to see and best admired from a safe distance. Please practice extreme caution at all times.
Cross-Country Ski, Snowshoe, Fat Bike or Snowmobile Across the Door County
When there is snow, there is no shortage of winter activities to take advantage of. From tranquil cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to fat tire biking and thrilling snowmobiling, you will find it hard to stay inside.
Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are a favorite winter activity for many locals and visitors alike. Peninsula State Park, Whitefish Dunes State Park, and Potawatomi State Park offer miles of ski and groomed trails. Newport State Park is a great place to learn, with trails ranging from the short and accessible to the long and rolling. You can also ski groomed trails at Crossroads at Big Creek.
If you really want to go off-script with snow play, try fat-tire biking. These winter behemoths can conquer any amount of powder. Fat-tire raiders get deep into otherwise impenetrable backcountry, gliding on specialized bikes. Rent your bike at Nor Door Sport & Cyclery and take your family into the heart of Peninsula State Park. For prepared riders itching for a challenge, take on any section of the 48-mile Ahnapee State Trail.
More than 250 miles of trails permeate the farthest corners of the county, allowing near-endless snowmobile riding through white gold. Most of the trails cross otherwise closed private land, giving riders a rare glimpse into the county’s untamed backcountry. A heralded collaboration of clubs and private landowners makes this adventure possible for responsible riders. Don’t own a snow machine? No problem; rent a snowmobile from Door Peninsula Sales and Storage in Sturgeon Bay.
Ready to start planning your winter getaway? Grab a cup of cocoa and snuggle in—it’s time to discover more Door County winter adventures.
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