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Door County WI Vacation Recommendations?
Old 09-26-2014, 12:50 PM   #1
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Door County WI Vacation Recommendations?

We’re planning to spend this Sun-Wed up in Door County - never been up there before. Some guidance on what we're looking for is probably in order?
  • We’ve already booked accommodations, but our itinerary is otherwise flexible at this point.
  • We tend to like more upscale places and avoid outright tourist traps. We’re probably most interested in dining, shopping, galleries & natural settings – though DW is having an ankle issue that will preclude hiking trails.
  • DW likes unique hand crafted jewelry (though not gold or $ gems) and clothes, clothes, clothes - she looks much more than buys.
  • We enjoy being on or around the water, can’t get enough.
  • Already have a long list of places to eat, just whittling them down now. Only one cast is stone so far though.
Any recommendations from members who have spent time in Door County?

Thanks for your thoughts!

If you want to make suggestions without seeing what I’ve come up with, please stop reading here.

My research (strictly based on what I can find to read, so feel free to correct me!). In no particular order:
  • Looks like we’ll enjoy Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Ephraim & Sister Bay. Sturgeon Bay, Washington Island and the other small cities/towns/villages sound less appealing for what we're looking for?
  • Since DW can’t walk miles on end, we’ll probably limit our park visit to Peninsula State Park (for Eagle Tower), though all the others sounds nice as well. Ridge Sanctuary sounds better, but too much walking for DW?
  • We’ll probably take in a cruise tour (Shoreline Charters/Sister Bay or Fish Creek Charters).
  • We’ll probably drive by Al Johnson’s to see the goats on the roof, but not eat there.
  • We’ll visit a few wineries (Harbor Ridge?) and cheese shops (Schoolhouse Artisans or Wisconsin Cheese Masters).
  • Not a priority, but we might take in theatre one night at American Folklore Theatre, only because Peninsula Players features a play that doesn’t interest us.
  • Probably go to Wilson’s for our one obligatory ice cream shop visit.
  • Everyone says we should experience a fish boil. Looks like bland food with the only excitement being a 15 second boilover (that I've seen on youtube already)?
  • We like art, glass/sculpture and woven items, not so much into pottery. So far Maple Grove Gallery, Edgewood Orchard Galleries & Blue Dolphin House caught our attention.
  • Renting a bike to ride some easy trails near the water would be fun, but not sure where?
  • Kayaking sounds fun, but it’s probably too cold for that this late in the season?
I’ll keep reading/researching thru next Wed, but that’s what I’ve gathered so far…
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Old 09-26-2014, 01:23 PM   #2
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I was in Fish Creek a couple weeks ago. The main bike trail at Peninsula State Park was closed for maintenance so check to see if it still is before you rent a bike. If walking is limited, try a trolley tour. There are also boat tours. When I went it was in the 50's for highs so we didn't do anything on the water but i'm sure it would be fun in the right weather.
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Old 09-26-2014, 01:30 PM   #3
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Our favorite spot:
Sturgeon Bay Museum | Door County Maritime Museum
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Old 09-26-2014, 02:47 PM   #4
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A fish boil is so much better than you would imagine; it is very flavorful. You still might not like it, but as you say, "everyone says you should experience it." Why do you think everyone says that?
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Old 09-27-2014, 06:57 AM   #5
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Well, it's been about 40 years since I was up there but I enjoyed hiking around Newport State Park - beautiful area. And I am sure it won't help you but it is nice to know that there are a myriad of old ship wrecks to SCUBA dive on. The channel between the tip of the Door and Washington Island is called Death's Door for good reason. Speaking of this remote area, how about a boat trip to Plum Island. Read the five star book first to get in the mood.

Here are my brother and me (in blue) heading out to the Wreck of the Louisiana where I snapped the following picture.
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Old 09-27-2014, 08:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post

I'll second that. I found it quite interesting. Since Midpack is into sailing, may be interesting to him, or 'more of the same' if he has seen others like it. But worth checking out I would think.

As for the rest of our Door County trip (~ 15 years ago?), pretty much 'meh' for me, though other people I know go there every year and love it. To each their own.

My in-laws are Swedish, so I have been to several private fish boils. You could say bland, but I still think it is very, very good - butter makes boiled potatoes and fish and carrots and onions and limpa bread (slightly sweet rye bread) delicious, IMO. They don't do a 'boil over' at home, but that sounds pretty lame to me anyhow.

And since DW and others make Swedish pancakes at home (top with either butter, sugar and lemon juice, or butter and lingonberry preserves - mmmmm), the ones at Al Johnsons' were disappointing.

I'd say keep expectations low, and you'll probably have a good time and be glad you did it.

-ERD50
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Old 09-27-2014, 09:19 AM   #7
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Thanks for the input everyone. I'll keep reading until we leave tomorrow. I'm not sure what to expect now, sounds like we may have the same reaction as Mackinac Island (a truly beautiful place, largely spoiled by tourists unless you know your way around, and then it's wonderful). At least I think we're hitting Door County somewhat in the off-season between Summer and Fall Foliage.
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Old 09-27-2014, 12:48 PM   #8
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We got back from Door Co a few weeks ago. We enjoyed:

Maritime museum and tug boat tour in sturgeon bay

Lighthouse tours

Dinner at nightingale supper club

The goats on the roof of Johnson's restaurant

Driving around the county, but wish we had gone to Washington island

There were a lot of people kayaking- wish we had done done kayaking




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Old 09-27-2014, 12:50 PM   #9
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Oh- make sure you go to mels place in sturgeon bay for breakfast



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Old 09-27-2014, 04:51 PM   #10
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- I love the street festivals but not sure it is for you. Looks like Bailey Harbor has one the weekend you are there
- Someone mentioned the Penninsula Park bike trail rides
- Monarch butterflies stay in the Door and fly to Mexico. You may want to learn more about that http://doorcountytoday.com/mobile/ar...eView/id:21096
- We geochashed with our son which was unique and fun. I mention this just in case you may do it but not thought about it.
- Fish boil is something you should experience
- Door county wine. It is a tourist place but the place to buy Door wine
- Road side cider should be available now. Apple picking might be too difficult but another possible activity
- Ice cream at Wilsons. I've had better but it is the place where everyone goes

We use to go the same weekend in Oct each year as a family. We did not know the memories we created until our son planned his entire engagement event at the Sister Bay festival. It was good to know that the family time we spent made such a positive impact.
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Old 09-28-2014, 12:12 PM   #11
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Hope I'm not too late - this post prompted me to register finally! I've been going up to Door County annually for the last 40 years. Here are just a few thoughts/ideas to consider for anyone making the trip:

- If you're driving up from Chicagoland or the south during the day, exit I-43 in Manitowoc and take highway 42 up to 57 in Sturgeon Bay. Its a scenic drive along the lake and through some cool small towns. Most routes will take you all the way to Green Bay on I-43 and then hook up to 57 - but its not scenic.

- Check a Door County calendar if you haven't and see if anything special is going on. Festivals, etc. are always going on through mid-October and are usually worth checking out.

- The Lake Michigan side is always much quieter & less congested than the Green Bay side. Probably not an issue now with kids back to school - but worth considering during busy times.

- Tour the interior county roads while up there by car/bike. Great farm scenery and some hidden gems. Some great photo opportunities.

Some Activities:
- Peninsula State park is great for hiking or biking. NorDoor cyclery is right across the park entrance in Fish Creek and an excellent spot to rent bikes.. you can cruise the park & nearby Fish Creek.

- Visit the Cana island lighthouse off county Q north of Bailey's Harbor. They've done a terrific job restoring this over the last couple years. Some neat history of Lake Michigan commerce and the role of the lighthouse.

- I have a soft spot for 'The Farm' - a petting zoo/operating dairy farm on 57 a few miles north of Sturgeon Bay. Great for kids or a wife who loves animals

- Try Kurtz Corral for a horse ride - its somewhere off County I just west of 57.

- Can't go wrong with mini golf or gokarts! Quite a few options between Ephraim and Sister Bay.

- If the weather stinks - go bowling at the Sister Bay bowl (also see under food)

Food:
- I like the basic door county classic supper spots, so the Sister Bay Bowl is at the top of the list. Hasn't changed much at all since I can remember. Go for the fried lake perch!

- For a more traditional supper club experience, give the Greenwood a try. Just outside of Fish Creek at intersection of County F & A.

- Got to go to Wilson's for the ice cream & experience. Good spot for a quick lunch or after dinner for ice cream only. Or grab some ice cream & watch the sunset over the harbor/peninsula state park.

- Al Johnson's is ok for breakfast as long as there is no wait - but it is popular...

- Fish boils are more of a spectacle than a great meal usually.... can be hit or miss in my experience.

Spot for a Beer/Catch some football:
- Husby's in Sister Bay - right in town.
- AC Tap - on 57 between Sister Bay and Bailey's Harbor. Great local spot with good beer & bar food.

Shops:
Do explore around the peninsula - everyone has their favorites. I would check out Northcote Clock & Stein (& cottages) off county E by Kangaroo lake. Truly unique - imported German Cuckoo clocks everywhere!

Accommodations:
- Check out the Blacksmith Inn in Bailey's Harbor. An excellent bead & breakfast type spot for couples only.

Could go on & on! Have a great trip -
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Old 09-28-2014, 12:14 PM   #12
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Another great out of the way spot for food or drinks at happy hour - the Gordon Lodge Top Deck. Perfect spot for drinks at the end of the day. Its tucked away off county Q.
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Old 10-06-2014, 04:23 PM   #13
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We enjoyed the trip, and I suspect we'll go back again one day. Thanks to all who provided suggestions, we read them all and took advantage of as many as we could in a net 3 days.
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