Now that autumn is here, the crowds have begun to thin out, the leaves and trees are growing more vibrant by the day, and you’ll be hard-pressed not to find a gorgeous fall scene around every corner in Door County.
The changing seasons provide a stunning show in the forest canopies across the county. Door County’s fall colors slowly come and go, eventually falling from the branches, with a peak array of colors ranging from early to late October. Because Door County is a long and tall peninsula, the northernmost portions of the county will begin to show peak fall colors first, and then the colors make their way south in succession. You can keep up to date on the best time for fall colors with our Fall Color Report.
Find a Fall Event
Door County hosts many colorful events every fall that provide excellent opportunities to experience the foliage and some of Door County’s most iconic sites. Enjoy the start of the fall season with September events like Autumnfest in Baileys Harbor, Marinafest in Sister Bay and Harvest Fest in Sturgeon Bay. The fall fun continues into October with the bi-annual Lighthouse Festival featuring 11 lighthouses across the Peninsula and Islands, Pumpkin Patch Festival in Egg Harbor, Fall Festival in Sister Bay, Jack O’Lanter Days in Fish Creek and Fall Fun Fest and Cider Pressing Party on Washington Island. You can find all the details plus more events happening in Door County by browsing our events calendar.
Scenic Walks & Hikes
Enjoy a scenic walk on a trail such as the 2.8-mile Red Trail at Whitefish Dunes, the 3.6-mile Tower Trail at Potawatomi State Park, or any of the trails at Door County Land Trust Nature Preserves, ranging from 0.5 to 3 miles. If you’re searching for longer autumn hikes, Door County has treks that last a few hours to even a whole day.
Trails aren’t even necessary to see fall colors. Step outside your door and wander through the downtown area of the town you’re staying in. Most local communities’ downtowns are located on or near the shoreline and offer excellent lake views, quaint shops, cafes and coffee shops, and quiet streets perfect for stopping to admire the leaves. Ephraim, Fish Creek, Ellison Bay and Baileys Harbor all offer great views and plenty else to see and do as you stroll through town.
Hop aboard a boat tour, kayak tour, or ferry ride and appreciate the kaleidoscope of fall color from the water. From the lake, you can admire the colorful treelines on faraway shores, quaint towns nestled along the shoreline and color-rich beaches, bays, coves and bluffs you might not otherwise see.
At Farm & Orchard Markets
Visit roadside orchards and farm markets while on a scenic drive on Highway 42, Highway 57 or just about any side road. Some are simple makeshift stands or trailers on the side of the road selling a single item like tomatoes, apples or pumpkins. Others are as extensive as a brick-and-mortar store with hundreds of food products and canned goods, fall produce and décor, local drinks and spirits and other artisan goods. You'll even find some offering pick your own apples in their orchard.
Plan your drive around these great roads and highways to take in fall color, whether by car, motorcycle, or bike.
Camping In the Woods
You can’t forget to pack an extra-warm sleeping bag, multiple clothing layers and a thermos of your favorite hot beverage. Camping among the ambers and oranges of an autumn forest and truly immersing yourself in the seasonal transition is worth bundling up for this unmatched experience.
If sleeping outdoors during a Wisconsin autumn sounds a little too harsh for your tastes, many campsites and campground facilities are open for day use.
Take a driving tour of the countryside to experience a variety of rustic and historic roadside attractions that can transport you back to a more pastoral time.
Belgian chapels are relics of Door County’s earliest European settlers. These humble places of worship were once used for peaceful and quiet solo worship and can be found across Southern Door County, on farms and in other natural settings.
If you want to make a day of seeing spiritual sights, choose a few from the Spiritual Journey itinerary. Or, plan to see a few historically or culturally significant sights from our Historical Itinerary, most located in or near natural settings.
Up Above the Treetops
Mountain Park Tower is an 186-stair lookout tower located in the north-central part of Washington Island. Ambitious view-seekers can climb the stairs and enjoy views of the island and lake during the climb up. The tower is also located in a beautiful wooded area, so fantastic fall colors are visible even from the ground. While visiting Washington Island, you can also take in fall colors at Schoolhouse Beach or on a bike ride.
From May 1 to October 31, you can climb Eagle Tower to get high above the Niagara Escarpment on the Peninsula’s northeast shore. This popular structure winds through the trees on an 850-foot, fully accessible canopy ramp or by climbing 100 stairs and offers a spectacular bird’s eye view of Peninsula State Park.
For breathtaking views from the Sturgeon Bay waterfront, visit the Jim Kress Maritime Lighthouse Tower and discover ten floors of interactive educational exhibits that lead to one of the best views of the waterfront and the surrounding trees at the top.
More Ways to Do Fall in Door County, Wisconsin
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