The orchards aren't the only things blooming this season. Savings are budding up all around the county so you can make the most of your trip. Plan your spring getaway with specials on lodging packages, area activities, restaurant specials, and retail sales.
Discover what makes the springtime in Door County so special. From the aromatic blossoms that blanket the county to the rejuvenating experience of getting outdoors and on the water, spring is a time for renewal. Watch to get a glimpse of what awaits you this spring, and find yourself in Door County.
Must-Do Spring Activities
Door County's Dark Skies
Open your door. Look up. Drop your jaw. That’s what happens when you view the night sky in a place with as little light pollution as any destination in America. See the stars, meteor showers, and the Milky Way as never before, with no place better than an internationally recognized Dark Sky Park.
Hike in Bloom
The trails of the county’s peninsula and islands come alive in April, when the first signs of spring wildflowers push through the soil. Hike amid the sounds of returning migratory birds as the forest’s first buds show and the forest bed is covered in the first bright splashes on nature’s canvas.
Find Your Zen
Wherever and however you like to center yourself, you’ll find a path here. From hot yoga to gentle restoration, you can find studios and classes up and down the peninsula and on Washington Island. Practice in tune with beautiful surroundings by stretching on the beach, centering yourself on a paddleboard, or swaying with the trees in our parks.
Eat Well, Eat Local
Find morels, chanterelles, and black trumpets in the woods, or look for them popping up on local menus, giving plates a unique flavor for a short window every spring. Whether you’re foraging for yourself or on a menu, your window is short. By the time the weather heats up, these flavors will be gone.
The Zen of The Clearing
By the time you get to Ellison Bay near the tip of the Door Peninsula, you’ve already taken a giant step back from the pressures of the grind. But even then, a short drive down Garrett Bay Road, a greater remove awaits. The Clearing Folk School has been re-wiring minds for more than 80 years.
Mike Schneider has been there for almost a quarter of that time. He became the executive director in 1999, taking the charge to oversee one of the most treasured places in Wisconsin.
“You drive between those stone columns and down that winding driveway and your worries and cares melt away,” he says. “And that is exactly how Jens Jensen would have designed it.”
Jensen is the famed Danish landscape architect who founded The Clearing after a career transforming the parks of Chicago. His impact there was documented in the film, The Living Green. His hands are all over northern Door County’s landscape. He influenced the design of the famous curvy road to the Northport ferry dock, and he helped preserve The Ridges Sanctuary. But The Clearing is his calling card.
“Jensen wanted a place that was on the edge of the wild, overlooking the water, high on a bluff, with a view of the setting sun,” Schneider says. “Something very much like where he grew up in Denmark. He came to Door County in 1919 and found it on this site.”
In a time when we’re seldom far from a screen, The Clearing is a rare experience. There is no Wi-Fi access, aside from the photographer’s studio, and most students immerse themselves not only in the classes, but in the grounds.
“There are more and more people living in urban areas who don’t get to experience this kind of environment very often,” Schneider says. “They see that lake and these grounds and it soothes them. That experience is really meaningful to a lot of people.”
The Clearing is situated on the bluff just north of Ellison Bay, set back on 127 pristine acres of forested landscape. Trails weave throughout the grounds, giving students room to contemplate, meditate, and get lost in nature between sessions.
Coming down the winding driveway to the school, you come upon a clearing in the woods, but that’s not where it gets its name.
“That’s what most people think it’s named for, but it’s not,” Schneider says. “The Clearing is named for the clearing of your mind, that’s what Jensen envisioned it here. You pull off the road and into another world. Walk around the grounds, sit in the adirondack chairs and read or look out onto the water. Then we serve the first family style meal with other students at 6 p.m. The magic of The Clearing is the community that develops every week. You get here Sunday, and by Tuesday this great community of diverse individuals has formed. We’ll do a reading from Aldo Leopold or Jens Jensen. The next morning you’re called for breakfast, and your class begins.”
When Jensen founded The Clearing it was a place for young architects to learn from the master, but when he died, Myrtha Faulkerson knew she had to reinvent this place.
“She added arts and culture programming, really expanded the breadth of what we offer,” Schneider says. “If she hadn’t, The Clearing would have died. Now we offer yoga classes, Tai Chi studies. If you look at our catalogue and can’t find anything you want to do, I feel sorry for you.”
But the spirit of the Clearing as Jensen envisioned it is still very much alive.
“We still ring a bell to call people to meals, eat family style, read a thought for the day,” Schneider says. “The buildings are all built in the Jensen Aesthetic. We could build a cheaper building, but Jens set the bar high.”
In Door County, and especially at The Clearing, it’s still possible to get lost, in the best of ways.