Door County cabins
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Your guide to Door County
Welcome to Door County
Sometimes called the Cape Cod of the Midwest, Door County is a narrow, triangular peninsula that juts out from eastern Wisconsin into Lake Michigan. The county is remote enough to have preserved the legacy of the Potawotami, Belgians, and Scandinavians who have made it their home. Yet Door County’s population of more than 27,000 swells exponentially in summer, when visitors escape to its coastal parks and approximately 35 surrounding islands and delight in a host of cultural events, breweries, restaurants, and museums. Circling the county will bring you past lighthouses, beaches, forests of white spruce and balsam fir, cherry orchards, and charming Midwestern towns with names like Brussels and Egg Harbor.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Door County?
As you might imagine, the lake exerts a major influence on both the weather and the activities in Door County. Summer brings comfortably warm temperatures and flocks of visitors, who loll about the beaches and on the water from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Music lovers head to Fish Creek in August just for the Peninsula Music Festival, which draws spectacular performers from around the country. Fall’s crisp days are ideal for hiking and leaf-peeping, and if you arrive in September, you might catch Kermiss, a Belgian cultural festival in Brussels. Snowier than the rest of Wisconsin, Door County sees white roads and glittering trees from late October to mid-April — as well as enthusiastic cross-country skiers, ice skaters, and snowmobile riders.
What are the top things to do in Door County?
This city of 9,000, located in the geographical heart of the peninsula, is a port town straddling tiny Sturgeon Bay. Water activities here are plentiful, from kayaking and paddleboarding to fishing in Lake Michigan, and the Whitefish Dunes right outside town offer trails to explore. It’s easy to lose an afternoon wandering in and out of the galleries, restaurants, breweries, and the historical museum downtown.
Door County Coastal Byway
One of the loveliest scenic byways in the Midwest, this 66-mile loop starts in Sturgeon Bay and culminates in Gills Rock, hugging Lake Michigan along the east side of the peninsula and Green Bay on the west. And though you may only spend a few hours driving, you’ll want to allocate a day for the loop, making frequent stops to climb the Cana Island Lighthouse, fill your shoes with sand on the Jacksonport beaches, and admire the historic buildings in Gibraltar.
The biggest of the county’s islands, accessible via car ferry year round, this island hosts a small community of 700 permanent residents — as well as copious hiking and biking trails, soft-sand beaches, and golf courses. This island was home to one of America’s first Icelandic communities, and a pan-Scandinavian influence remains. Make sure to hunt down the peaked roofs and Nordic carvings of the Stavkirke, a modern recreation of a medieval Norwegian church. If the island doesn’t feel remote enough, take a passenger ferry to the car-free Rock Island state park (available Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day) for the day.