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If I'm ever feeling blue, an afternoon wandering charming downtown Sturgeon Bay has a way of cheering me right up. Although visitors to the peninsula sometimes bypass the city of 9,000 people, everyone in Door County know that "Sturge" is where it's at for shopping, eating, or simply strolling the paths that run along the waters of Green Bay. One of my fondest memories of Sturgeon Bay was walking across the beautiful and historic steel bridge that joins the two sides of town, and seeing a full rainbow arcing over the bay. I was with my daughter at the time, and she wanted to know if we could go look for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. In a way, the town of Sturgeon Bay is that pot of gold...precious, unexpected, and a reward for those who seek it. The historic Michigan Street Bridge, aka the Steel Bridge, photo courtesy of DCVB.
Glas Coffeehouse, photo courtesy of Glas.
Let's start on the "west" side of town, which includes the shops and businesses on Madison Avenue. This area of the city was the original settlement, once called Sawyer.
There are charming storefronts and eateries tucked away on side streets, as well as one of my most frequent stops in town, Glas, the green coffeehouse. Glas, managed by Angie Jonas, boasts giant glass windows that let you look out at the canal, park, and the picturesque red Coast Guard tugs that grace our harbor. Glas is great for breakfast (yummy baked goods and oatmeal), lunch (try their bestselling grilled cheese and red pepper tomato soup), and, of course, just meeting friends for a cup of coffee or tea. (I love their London Fog, steamy Earl Grey tea with milk and a touch of sweetness. Yum!)
From Glas, head down the street to Northern Territory, a shop full of items large and small to make your cabin complete, or make your apartment feel more like the northwoods! Their wicker porch furniture sits outside the shop year-round, and beckons shoppers in to relax and enjoy the cabin and beachside decor, including items large and small. Across the street, Bay Shore Outfitters has the best outdoorsy fashion, including all the brands you'll want to achieve Door County chic. Their shoe selection is so cool, and I love their sale rack.
Bay Shore is also the place to rent paddleboards and kayaks for an adventure on the water. If the weather is fine or you want a bit of exercise, why not walk across the Steel Bridge to the other side of town for more fun? It will take you about 10 minutes, and the views from the bridge, even without a rainbow, are unparalleled. Head up to Third Avenue and you are now in the undisputed heart of town. My two girls rarely allow a trip to "town" without a stop at the Dancing Bear. This store is a child's paradise: toys, books, stuffed animals, and jewelry. But moms love it too, for their natural scents and bath products, jewelry, Hadley Pottery, gifts, and scarves. The Dancing Bear is the best place to pick up a baby or birthday gift, and they gift wrap anything....even Japanese Erasers!
A giant stuffed bear greets shoppers outside the Dancing Bear. Photo courtesy of the Dancing Bear. Continue down the street, and you'll find Cornucopia, a fabulous kitchen store that has everything a cook or hostess could need. My best ever find (and their top selling item) is the amazing ergomically engineered cheese knife. Really, once you try it you will NEVER cut cheese the old way again!
The Artists Guild is just a few doors down, and it is the go-to place for Door County artists, students, and kids for any art supply you could need. Owners Sarah and Jeff Bradley offer a wide selection of classes taught by renowned local painters, including kid's classes. Oh, and did I mention that they are the premiere custom framers in Sturgeon Bay?
Across the street, stop in at the Barn Door Quilt Shop, where there are always amazing hand-made quilts gracing the windows. Or step into Wilkins and Olander, a fine women's clothier who carry a huge selection of Vera Bradley bags, as well as classy women's clothing and shoes - including my favorites, Dansko.
The last shopping district that you shouldn't miss is Jefferson Street, which joins Third Avenue and heads up the hill. Don't miss the charming boutique Monticello, full of artisan-styled women's clothing, jewelry and gifts.
Then cross the street to Bliss, a unique interiors shop which is always graced with an amazing sculptural arrangement outside its entryway. Enter the shop, and you'll be inspired to add more color and funk to your decorating palette.
The friendly bar at the Inn at Cedar Crossing. All this shopping and walking have you tuckered out? Head back to Third Avenue and duck into the bar at the Inn at Cedar Crossing for a local beer or glass of wine, appetizer or sandwich. My favorite is their reuben, or if you're really hungry, try the Italian Wedding Soup, which comes topped with homemade meatballs. Don't forget to take some of their famous morning buns home with you for your breakfast tomorrow.
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