Scenic Door County, Wisconsin
Jutting into the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan, Door County is a rocky peninsula dotted with tiny towns with maritime names like Sturgeon Bay, Fish Creek and Baileys Harbor. By fall, the coast is lined with rich autumn colors, and the crowds are thinned out enough that you can enjoy the tranquil peace of these lakeside communities.
FRIDAY 1 Sturgeon Bay
Begin at Sturgeon Bay, the only
“city” you’ll come across during your trip through Door County (pop. around 28,000). Strike out on the limestone clis of Potawatomi State Park ( dnr.wi.gov), about 5 miles north of town; dip into the shopping district along historic Third Avenue; or swing by the Door County Maritime Museum ($15; dcmm.org), which celebrates the community’s shipbuilding history. Stay at Chanticleer Guest House (from $180;
a converted farmhouse and barn tucked within 70 acres of private land.
SATURDAY 2 Egg Harbor
Heading north, the towns only get smaller. Egg Harbor is worth a stop for its docks of swaying sailboats and charming restaurants. Stretch your legs at Harbor View Park ( villageofegg harbor.org) and enjoy the full view of the shimmering blue waters of Green Bay before stopping in Harbor View Grill ( theharborviewgrill.com) for cocktails and flaky whitefish tacos.
3 Fish Creek
The town of Fish Creek has a delightfully walkable downtown area lined with shops, bars and cafés, like the popular Wild Tomato Wood-Fired Pizza and Grille ( wildtomatopizza.com) and frozen custard purveyor Not
Licked Yet ( notlickedyet.com). Fish
Creek Scenic Boat Tours ( fishcreekscenic boattours.com) leads cruises along the bay, checking out the turn-of-the-century mansions of “Millionaire’s Row,” historic lighthouses and many natural areas. Stay at Julie’s Park
Café & Motel (from $60;
juliesmotel.com), a great low-cost option located beside Peninsula State Park. The attached café serves eggs, sandwiches and burgers all day.
SUNDAY 4 Baileys Harbor
Across the peninsula, on the more laid-back Lake Michigan side of Door County, Baileys Harbor is a quaint hideaway and home of the rustic
Door County Brewing Co. Tap Room &Musical Hall( door county music hall .com). Sample the Little Sister Witbier or Polka King Porter and participate in friendly lawn games out front, or listen to live bands in the back.
5 Gills Rock
Passing through the small hamlet of Ellison Bay and the picturesque Ellison Blu State Natural Area ( dnr.wi.gov), you’ll reach the northernmost town on the main Door County peninsula: Gills Rock. The town consists of little more than a few shops, a maritime museum and one of the best restaurants in Door County, The Shoreline ( theshorelinerestaurant.com).
6 Newport State Park
Perhaps the best reason to visit this slice of Door County is Newport
State Park ( dnr.wi.gov), featuring o-deserted beaches that are a huge contrast to the crowded trails of Peninsula State Park, to the southwest. An even bigger secret can be found just a short drive away at Europe Bay Beach, a virtually locals-only beach where you can explore the sand dunes and take in the wonderful solitude. Stay at The Harbor Light Inn (from $99; harborlight
inndc.com), which has two guest suites inside a replica lighthouse. Eight other suites are located in the neighboring building.