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If you enjoy shoreline landscapes, outdoor recreation, quaint towns and local entertainment, then you’ll love Door County, Wisconsin. This of the very best vacation destinations in the Midwest and this part of Wisconsin really does offer a little something for every type of traveler. From historic lighthouses to cherry picking and explorations of land and sea, here are eight great things to do on a trip to Door County.
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Many people who haven’t visited Door County before don’t realize what a vibrant performing arts scene this region has. For example, the Peninsula Players Theatre is the oldest professional resident summer theater in the country and has been putting on plays for the past 83 years. This theater specializes in productions of both contemporary and classical literature with some really talented actors and actresses. Tickets typically cost between $39 and $48 per person, and shows include Salvage, Living on Love, and the Drowsy Chaperone. There’s a bar with concessions at the theater, and the theater is also located to some great casual and fine dining restaurants.
Taking a hike at Cave Point County Park is also a must-do when you visit Door County. This unique park will change the way you think about Wisconsin landscapes, thanks to its underwater caves and rugged stone bluffs. When the waters are calm, it’s also fun to take a kayak out on the water here to see the caves up-close. Then in the wintertime, you can embrace the cold and snow with cross-country skiing and festive sleigh rides. There are actually five state parks in Door County, which means that you’ll have lots of opportunities to get outside and active during your Wisconsin vacation here. For example, Whitefish Dunes State Park is a great place to experience Lake Michigan’s sand dunes and learn about the Native American tribes that once lived in the area.
There are lots of art galleries worth exploring in Door County, including the Edgewood Orchard Galleries in Fish Creek. This gallery is located in a 1918 restored fruit barn and houses artwork by over 150 artists. Here you’ll find everything from jewelry to wood crafts, paintings, and sculptures. Stop by between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm daily between May and October. After browsing the art, take some time to walk through the outdoor sculpture garden and through the tranquil woods surrounding the gallery. If you love art, also make sure to check out the Frykman Studio Gallery in Sister Bay, the Ellison Bay Pottery Studios in Ellison Bay, and Popelka Trenchard Glass in Sturgeon Bay.
It’s always a good idea to start your exploration of a new place at the local history museum to get a better understanding of the place and people who have lived here. The Door County Historical Museum has lots of displays that tell the story of the original settlements here and how the region has been developed since then. This is a great place to bring your family because there are interactive exhibits for kids to explore as well. The museum is open daily from May through October from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm and donations are appreciated. Another great museum to check out here is the Door County Maritime Museum, which is on the waterfront and tells the stories of ship captains, fishermen, and lighthouse keepers through displays of boats and boating equipment.
Without a doubt, one of the big draws to Door County is the beautiful and historical lighthouses. One famous one that should be on every first-time visitor’s itinerary is the Cana Island Lighthouse, which is in Bailey’s Harbor and dates back to the 19th century. This uniquely designed lighthouse allows visitors to walk to the top via a winding staircase. The Eagle Bluff Lighthouse is also worth visiting and taking a docent-led tour to learn more about its history. Local companies offer guided tours of the lighthouses of Door County via trolley, kayak, and boat.
Hop-on, hop-off trolleys are always a fun way to get a “lay of the land” and learn about the history and culture of a new place. Hop on-board the Door County Trolley to learn about the area from a local guide by listening to a guided tour at any time of the year. Narrated tours are offered three or four times per day, and there are some exciting specialty tours as well that highlight the region’s wineries, craft breweries, lighthouses, and haunted past. In the winter, check out the wine tour via sleigh ride for a beautifully memorable experience. Tours typically run between $19 and $67 per adult.
It’s also fun to learn about the region’s maritime history on a scenic boat tour in Door County. One local company, Fish Creek Scenic Boat Tours, offers daily rides on a 69-passenger boat that is partly covered and partly open-air. These tours last 1.5-2 hours and cost $39 per adult. You can see a lot of local attractions on one of these rides, such as Egg Harbor, the islands, Peninsula State Park, and Millionaire’s Row. Meanwhile, Bella Sailing Cruises offers daytime and sunset cruises on-board sailboats that last a couple hours and run between May and September. This part of Wisconsin is truly fascinating out at sea because there are more than 275 shipwrecks in Door County, many of which aren’t even very deep down in the water.
Summertime is a magical time to visit Door County because this is cherry picking season. There are cherry orchards here that allow visitors to get out in nature and pick homegrown cherries right off the trees. The Wisconsin Cherry Growers Association lists orchards where you can pick your own cherries on its website. These include Alexander’s Cherry Orchard, Cherry Lane Orchards, Choice Orchards, Hyline Orchards, and others. The best time to come to the area to pick cherries is in July and August.