Door County Wisconsin has been a popular tourist destination for more than 100 years. What was once a playground for rich midwesterners looking to escape hot Chicago summers is now a vibrant community with a variety of four-season activities. These summer things to do in Door County appeal to anyone who loves art, history, and great food and drink.
Fun summer things to do in Door County
Door County is located between the waters of Green Bay and Lake Michigan. You may hear locals refer to things being on the “lakeside” or the “bay side.” The 70-mile-long peninsula is home to dozens of charming communities and 34 named islands. I spent three days in Door County and feel like I barely scratched the surface of everything there is to do. I’d love to return for some ice fishing one day but love my little list of summer things to do in Door County.
I was hosted by Destination Door County and Geiger Public Relations. My itinerary was very arts and food-focused, but there are many other things to do here. I encourage you to check out Destination Door County’s website to see all your options. There’s more than just cheese but the cheese earns its place as one of Wisconsin’s stars.
Check out Edgewood Orchard Galleries
4140 Peninsula Players Rd, Fish Creek, WI 54212
Edgewood Orchard Edgewood Orchard Galleries isn’t an orchard but an art gallery. There’s a wide variety of art showcased in the bright and airy galleries but what wowed me was the sculpture garden. There’s a shady, soft walking path featuring outdoor art for sale in the gallery. All the art and gift items felt very approachable so if you don’t consider yourself an art connoisseur, you’ll probably still be comfortable and enjoy Edgewood Orchard Galleries.
The grounds are very kid and pet friendly and it’s an enjoyable place to walk and take in your surroundings. The gardens are just as pretty as the art.
Visit Seaquist Orchards
11482 WI-42, Sister Bay, WI 54234
Seaquist Orchards is the largest grower and distributor of cherries in Door County. Their marketplace has lots of Door County and midwestern goodies, such as cherry pie, apple cider doughnuts in the fall, canned pie fillings, jams, salsa, and more, and lots of gifts.
See unusual art and apparel at Turtle Ridge Gallery
11736 Mink River Rd, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
Turtle Ridge Gallery features a variety of mixed-media three-dimensional art and handcrafted leather bags. There’s also a selection of ladies’ apparel and other gifts.
Visit Plum Bottom Gallery
4999 Plum Bottom Rd, Egg Harbor, WI 54209
Plum Bottom Gallery has three locations in door county. See a variety of art, glasswork, and jewelry. Plum Bottom Gallery features the works of over 200 artists.
Hang out at Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery and Market
9197 WI-42, Fish Creek, WI 54212
There’s a lot to do at Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery and Market. Enjoy a winery tour and/or a tasting or buy a glass or bottle to enjoy on the patio. Most of the wines are sweet, fruit wines. They also feature a selection of holiday wines and hard ciders.
The marketplace features lots of food and food-related gifts. Expect to find lots of baking mixes, jams, and salsa made with local fruit. You can also enjoy the family-friendly outdoor atmosphere and see how far you can spit a cherry pit.
Stop at The Vault for an afternoon snack
12046 WI-42, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
I’m sure you won’t have any trouble finding a snack in Door County but I think The Vault probably takes the prize for the most fun place to have an afternoon snack. The Vault has several varieties of popcorn and other fun snacks. The crown jewel in the vault is the root beer bar. Sample to see which is your favorite and then treat yourself to a full-size glass or even better, a root beer float.
Enjoy breathtaking views at Ellison Bay Bluff County Park
12050 Ellison Bluff Road Liberty Grove WI
If you’re looking for a peaceful park with scenic views, Ellison Bay Bluff County Park is where you’ll find them. There’s no water access but wooden steps lead down to a viewing point with spectacular views of Green Bay. Picnicking and trails are also available.
Sip at Door Peninsula Winery and Door County Distillery
5806 WI-42, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Door Peninsula Winery and Door County Distillery are colocated. Door Peninsula Winery has a robust selection of fruit wines, most of them on the sweeter side. The winery is one of Wisconsin’s oldest and has been in the winemaking business since 1974.
The original building was a school – when you see it you see it – and the rest of the winery, the tasting room, and the new distillery area have been built around it. The outdoor seating area is kid and pet friendly. Wine tastings are free and tastings at the distillery are $2 per sample. This is a great, friendly space to enjoy some local wine and spirits alongside beautiful scenery.
Stargaze at Newport State Park
475 County Rd NP, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
On our recent trip, we used the “International Dark Sky Park” pin in Google maps. When you enter the park, make sure you follow Newport State Park road until it dead ends in the parking lot. Follow the road until the end – do not stop at the park entrance hut.
Once you park, walk down the paved path about 200 yards to the water. It’s easier to find your way if you go before it gets dark but we walked the path in complete darkness and our eyes adjusted without using flashlights. I recommend you get any telescopes or tripods set up while there’s still some light and try to refrain from using flashlights or phones, as the light hinders your (and everyone else’s) view of the night sky.
Take a boat tour with Sister Bay Scenic Boat Tours
Want to explore Door County from the water? Book a tour with Sister Bay Scenic Boat Tours.
There are a variety of regular tours (see the map below) and specialty tours available. Boat rentals are also available.
The boats are fully accessible and have lots of seating and an upstairs viewing area. The captain and first mate are both very knowledgeable about Door County history and the first mate does double duty as a bartender. Nonalcoholic drinks and mocktails only.
Explore Peninsula State Park
9462 Shore Rd, Fish Creek, WI 54212
There are lots of activities to do at Peninsula State Park, including camping, picnicking, golf, and bike trails.
We explored the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse. I highly recommend going through the Door County Historical Society to get a guided tour of the lighthouse keeper’s quarters. It gives so much insight into what life was like in the late 1800s.
The most impressive thing about Peninsula State Park is Eagle Tower. Located atop Eagle Bluff, this 60-foot tall tower treats visitors to panoramic views of the park, surrounding islands, the Upper Michigan shoreline, and the village of Ephraim. The climb to the top is an easy one – 100 steps up with spots to rest if you need it. There’s also an accessible ramp so people with disabilities or families with strollers can go up and enjoy the view.
Places to eat
Door County has some delicious food and drink. They’re famous for Old Fashioneds, cherry pie (and cherry everything else), fish boil dinners, and lots of cheese. Here’s just a sampling of what’s available.
Shiny Moon Cafe in Fish Creek
4164 Main St 2nd Floor, Fish Creek, WI 54212
Since my short trip to Door County was full of eating (I have firsthand experience with each eatery I’ve listed) I was asked several times “What was your favorite place to eat in Door?” It is Shiny Moon Cafe in Fish Creek.
Shiny Moon is an open, airy, quirky, and fun place to grab breakfast or lunch. The menu is small but check the specials board for locally sourced, fresh goodness. I think we know when we find “Our kind of places” and this was it for me.
Sister Bay Bowl and Supper Club
10640 N Bay Shore Dr, Sister Bay, WI 54234
Sister Bay Bowl and Supper Club is the place in Sister Bay to get traditional Wisconsin supper club fare. If you need a pre or post-dinner activity, the onsite bowling lanes are to the rear of the bar.
Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik
10698 N Bay Shore Dr, Sister Bay, WI 54234
If you went to Door County and didn’t eat at Al Johnson’s, were you really in Door County? While the famous restaurant with the goats on the roof is about as touristy as it gets, the food is very good and the atmosphere, with servers in traditional Swedish dress, is a lot of fun. The menu has a variety of breakfast and lunch items, with the traditional Swedish meatballs and pancakes being delicious don’t miss them.
Even if you don’t eat here, stop by the garden and get a look at the famous goats on the roof and check out the gift shop. They have a fun selection of Swedish gifts and merchandise.
Clover & Zot
8054 WI-57, Baileys Harbor, WI 54202
Clover & Zot is the opposite of every food stereotype you’ve ever had of Door County. Wisconsin-sourced food meets an on-trend European-style menu in a breathtakingly beautiful setting on the Bay side of Door County. This is fine dining in a casual setting that manages to feel upscale without taking it to pretentious.
Grandma’s Swedish bakery at Rowley’s bay resort
1041 Co Rd Zz, Ellison Bay, WI 54210
If you’re a sweet breakfast kind of person, don’t leave Door County without having a half-pound pecan roll from Grandma’s Swedish Bakery. Their cinnamon rolls and cardamom coffee cake are also very popular.
The Old Post Office Restaurant in Ephraim
10040 N Water St, Ephraim, WI 54211
The Old Post Office Restaurant offers everything that makes Door County Iconic: a fish boil, cherry pie, and A+ hospitality.
Renard’s Artisan Cheeses
2189 County Rd DK, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
Sturgeon Bay is 43 miles from Green Bay, so if you’re flying to Door County, make sure Renard’s Artisan Cheeses is your last stop before boarding the plane for home. You can find cheese all over Door County but I think Renard’s is the best. They have a variety of cheese and cheese-related gifts to take home but they also have a lovely bistro. I recommend having lunch on site on the way to the airport and grabbing your cheese to take home.
I can personally vouch for the cherry chicken salad and the cheese spread flight. Perfection.
Cheese can be left out for 18 hours. Cheese curds can survive outside the fridge for a full 24 hours so this is the perfect place to grab your cheese.
Looking for more info on Door County?
Check out Destination Door County’s website. There are tons of things to do in Door County that I didn’t mention and didn’t do. I think this is one of those places that no matter how often you visit, you’ll always find something new to experience.
I was hosted by Destination Door County, Geiger PR, and their partners. All opinions are my own.