Take Everyone Hiking In The Ridges Sanctuary
Right down the road from zip-lining on the edge of Baileys Harbor, is The Ridges Sanctuary, one of the nature preserves created over 80 years ago to protect the ecosystem of this area. Start in the Cook-Albert Fuller Nature Center and learn about the scope of the sanctuary and local plant and animal life. You can also book a guided hike if you prefer.
After exploring the visitors center, head out to the Hidden Brook Boardwalk, a third of a mile completely accessible trail showcasing the flora and fauna of the area. Dont miss the range lights built-in 1869 to help guide ships to safety.
The Ridges is open year-round, so if you go in winter, be sure to bring your snowshoes!
The Farm Door County Wisconsin
The Farm is a living museum and visitor center located on a working farm. They are open seasonally and offer visitors an opportunity to experience farm life. You can observe and feed baby farm animals such as piglets, lambs, and goat kids. You can also watch chicks hatching and learn how to milk goats. The farm has a number of interesting farm tools and implements on display as well as pioneer-style log buildings you can explore. The property also has nature trails where you can walk and enjoy the natural surroundings and exhibits related to the areas farming heritage. The experience is only open seasonally and is great for a full day of family-friendly fun.
4285 WI-57, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235, Phone: 920-743-6666
How To Get To Door County
If you plan to fly to Door County, the closest airport at forty five minutes away is Green Bay Austin Straubel International Airport .
You also have the option of flying into Milwauke International Airport which is about two and a half hours away from Door County.
PS: Make sure to call ahead of time to ensure that they have the right size of car seat for your child.
Aiden rides in a five point harnessed car seat at home, however all they had was a high back booster. Im glad that they ended up finding one because initially they offered me a backless booster which I didnt feel comfortable with.
Planning a trip and wondering how to get affordable flights? Then click the links below to read exactly how I am able to get flight deals, save on flights and more.
If you happen to book your flight into Milwaukee like we did, then make sure to stop at Smoke Shacke for some really yummy BBQ before you drive down to Door County.
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Check Out An Arts & Crafts Fair
Fall in Door County means several arts & crafts fairs. Soak in some visual beauty through these visual handicrafts, and you may even find your next favorite piece, too.
- Gills Rock Art Festival, at Gills Rock Coffee, 12625 WI-42, Ellison Bay, Door County
- When: Saturday, September 3 Sunday, September 4, 2022 10 am
- 15 artists displaying their latest works and demonstrating their techniques using various media.
- Featuring works from over 80 artists from throughout the Midwest.
Day Two Of Our Door County Vacation
We kicked off day two in Door County with kids having breakfast at Door County Coffee & Tea Company. Just go ahead and order the cinnamon french toast roll and thank me later! There was no play area here but we played UNO while we waited and the food came out pretty quickly.
Door County Maritime Museum
After stuffing our faces we went to the Door County Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay . We explored the Shipwreck Exhibit as its interactive and the most kid friendly one. There is a simulated video where you can steer a ship wheel and see it crash as well as crates the kids can open and see the contents of what youd find on a ship. The museum is open 7 days a week except major holidays. Hours for the museum are: January-March 10am-4pm, April-June 10am-5pm, July-Labor Day 9am-5pm, Labor Day-December 10am-5pm. Admission to the museum is $15 for adults, $10 for kids 5-17 and free for kids 4 and under.
After exploring the museum we were able to take a tour of the 100 year old tug boat, John Purves. It was a very good tour and the tub boat was named after our tour guides father so it was very special. We were able to see the engine room, bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and captains quarters. Tug boat tours are only offered from 10am-3:30pm May 1- October 29. If you dont want the tug boat tour admission is $5 cheaper.
Wood Orchard Market
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Find Fun In Unexpected Places
When you ask locals about their favorite places, you discover some true gems like PC Junction in outside Baileys Harbor. This train-themed restaurant is complete with model trains running along an indoor track delivering food to hungry guests. Note: If you want to sit next to the track, ask to sit along the counter area. This restaurant serves up a great burger and fries.
Outside is a family-friendly play area with giant cheese, playground, pedal cars, petting zoo and more. If parents dont want to play, they can gather around the fire pit area. There is no admission fee to enjoy this outdoor play area.
Rooftop Goats In Sister Bay
It wouldnt be Door County without a stop at Al Johnsons restaurant to see the famous goats on the roof . Its the kind of place where theres always a line to eat because folks love the Swedish bakery items, authentic dishes, and novelty of the goats. They also have a great gift shop.
Pro Tip: Sister Bay is also one of several small towns that offer summertime Concerts in the Park, great for live music. The family-friendly musical performances feature a variety of bands.
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Day Three In Door County
Door Artisan Cheese Company
Even though we found out there is way more to Wisconsin than cheese we still had to have some. Did you know the University of Wisconsin has the only Master Cheesemaker Program in the United States? In order to get in you the program you must currently be making cheese in a Wisconsin plant and hold a Wisconsin cheesemakers license for a minimum of ten years. With those types of requirements we know the cheese had to be good. The Door Artisan Cheese Company has their kitchen behind huge glass doors and you can visit anytime from 9:30-11:30am to see the process of how the cheese is made.
The head cheesemaker wears a microphone and you can ask him questions about the process. He even comes out to give samples of the freshly made cheese. After watching, we asked for a tour of the cave where they age all of their cheese. Anyone can get this free tour, you just have to ask!
Cana Island Lighthouse
After getting our cheese fix we headed to Cana Island to climb the lighthouse. It was on every list of things to do in Door County I read while doing research for our trip and I see why. Just getting to the island is an adventure! You used to be able to walk on a pier to get to Cana Island but unfortunately due to extensive snow this past winter the lake levels have risen so much its underwater. Now you can get there by taking a complimentary tractor ride across the lake.
Caseys BBQ & Smokehouse
Not Licked Yet Frozen Custard
Door County Brewing Door County Wisconsin
Door County Brewing Company is a family-owned and operated craft brewhouse that creates unique beers using as many local products as possible in their production process. The beers are mostly influenced by American, French, and Belgian brewing styles, although other styles of beer are sometimes available. You can visit their taproom and music hall, where you can taste their products and see for yourself. There is a whole calendar of live music and other entertainment events scheduled at the taproom and beer garden. As far as food goes, there are cheese boards and pretzels available on the menu as well as food trucks parked outside in the warmer months.
8099 WI-57, Baileys Harbor, WI 54202, Phone: 920-839-1515
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Hike To Old Baldy At Whitefish Dunes State Park
Wisconsins Door County is home to five state parks, including Whitefish Dunes State Park in Sturgeon Bay.
Its an absolute must to hike the 2.7-mile Old Baldy Loop Trail to reach the top of Old Baldy .
Old Baldy is the tallest sand dune in Wisconsin, rising 93 feet above lake level. The park also has a hands-on nature center and a white sandy beach along Whitefish Bay.
When conditions are right, its possible to go kayaking on Lake Michigans crystal-clear waters.
Where Is Door County
Door County is an easy drive from both Milwaukee and Chicago, so if you find yourself in these Midwest cities, be sure to make time for a side trip to Door County. It is located on a peninsula northeast of the city of Green Bay.
The land is bordered by Lake Michigan on the east and Green Bay on the west. With everything from state parks to water activities, its one of the best vacation spots in the Midwest for families. We promise its worth the drive!
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Enjoy Buttered Popcorn At The Drive
When was the last time you went to the Drive-In to watch a movie? Many cities dont have one anymore and most children have never experienced it. But between Fish Creek and Ephraim, youll find Skyway Drive-In Theatre, voted Wisconsins best drive-in theater. Watch a movie from your car or bring a lawn chair and sit outside.
Drive-In Movie Tip Bring food and drinks if you want them! You will be able to purchase snacks and drinks from the concession stand inside the theatre. Watching a movie outside can be difficult at night so prepare by bringing something that will help keep you warm when the temperatures drop.
Things To Do In Door County With Friends
When it comes to such vast cities like Door County, it might be a bit intimidating to find the right activity for you. Oftentimes, people tend to give up and just go sightseeing, and while this great city has a lot to offer in that way, you could be potentially missing out on some unique and unforgettable activities. Fun things to do in Door County with friends are around every corner, you just need to know where to look!
Door County is a huge city, and so is the number of ways in which you can have fun here. We hope youve found something to your liking, which is highly probable, especially considering how unique and innovative some of the activities listed here are. Have as much fun as you can, and dont forget to like the article
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Go On An Adventure Raft
If youve never been on adventure raft before, heres a hot tip: pack your poncho! Door County Adventure Rafting offers families the chance to ride in a safe high speed tour boat. Note: Kids must be capable of holding on to the boat as well as their parents. During the tour, youll cruise through the waves, get soaked and scream for joy, as you see and learn about some of the quaint islands and deserted beaches, all while taking in the breathtaking views of the shoreline of Peninsula State Park, the historic Eagle Bluff Lighthouse and many other Door County highlights. Some kids tend to be a little scared when the tour starts, but the majority are all smiles and begging for more once they get used to the speed. Insider tip: You will get extremely soaked in the back of the boat and the front is quite bumpy For minimal discomfort and right amount of bumps and splashes, try to get a seat in the middle.
Best Biking Stops On Washington Island
Johns Garden Goodies
As we biked, we came across an honor-system farm stand called Johns Garden Goodies, featuring homemade and homegrown goodies: sauerkraut, dill pickles, pickled beets, island maple syrup, and fresh vegetables. This is the kind of slice of life stuff I love.
Schoolhouse beach was a beautiful stop on our ride, with its white rocks and, again, the crystal-clear water that is a trademark of Door County.
Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm & Shop
Washington Island is known for its fragrant lavender fields. By our trip in September, the fields of Fragrant Isle were post-peak but still beautiful. I could see why its a popular place for wedding photos when the lavender is in full bloom.
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Rowleys Bay Restaurant Fish Boil
Its impossible to visit Door County and not partake in a fish boil. A fish boil is a tradition made popular by the Scandinavians who settled this area of Wisconsin. One of the chefs is responsible for cooking in a large cauldron of salt water filled with local whitefish, potatoes, and onions. These are brought to a boil over an outdoor flame.
At Rowleys Bay Resort, a story about the history of the fish boil and the local area accompany the food preparation. The event culminates in kerosene being thrown on the fire, causing the water to boil over the sides in an explosive display.
Afterward, all the guests head inside the restaurant for a fantastic buffet meal which includes soup, salad, multiple side dishes, and of course the whitefish and potatoes! Be sure to try the baked goods for dessert, they are beyond delicious!
Explore Lautenbachs Winery Orchard Market And Playground
Lautenbach has a variety of activities to stretch your legs along Hwy 42. Pick apples, sample wines, or find out if you have a talent for pit spitting! They have a playground for the kids as well.
For more information on Wisconsins best wineries, check out 15 Beautiful Vineyards and Wineries in Wisconsin.
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Day Four In Door County With Kids
Just three minutes from our resort is a quaint breakfast and lunch restaurant, Village Cafe. The breakfast potatoes were so good so I definitely recommend getting a side of those. We arrived early, around 7:30AM and were seated immediately. However, when we drove by later around 10AM, the line was out the door.
The Ridges Sanctuary
If you are an outdoorsy family you have to visit Ridges Sanctuary. As we were walking inside to pay our admission fee we saw two staff members catching butterflies to tag them before their migration. The kids were able to see them up close and personal which they enjoyed. Outside the nature center there is an interactive area for kids. They can make mud pies, add to the insect house and more. It was a really unique and fun thing to do for the kids.
When we went inside there were tables with different activities for kids. These included coloring butterflies, making caterpillars, and making a diagram showing the process of how butterflies come about. The activities in the nature center are free but if you want to hike any of the trials its $5 for adults while anyone under 18 is free. Ridges Sanctuary is open daily from 9am 5pm May October and only Monday Saturday from 10am 4pm November April.
Along the path there is a paleontologist area with additional tools for them to find fossils. We saw so many real animals as well including a toad, caterpillars eating on milkweed and more.
Fred and Fuzzys
Boathouse on the Bay
Take A Day Trip To Washington Island
Reserve your spot on the ferry and head over to take in the scenery, water activities, shoreline, and recreational opportunities Washington Island has to offer.
Filled with a host of outdoor activities like relaxing on Schoolhouse Beach, attending a music or theater event, visiting a lavender farm, renting a boat, moped or ATV or taking a hike, this island is a popular day trip for locals as well as visitors to the region.
Put this on your list of top things to do with the family when in Door County.
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Go Fishing In Door Countys Waterways
Snag yourself some dinner and go fishing in one of Door Countys many waterways. The Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal is well known for its salmon runs and Sturgeon Bay Harbor is always a great place to fish for trout, perch, or bass even in the off-season. There are plenty of charter boats available that will take you out into open water if salmon is what youre after.
Travel Tip- Make plans to do a classic Door County Fish Boil when in the area. We did the one at the Old Post Office Restaurant in Ephraim for their take on this old-time favorite. Save room for dessert because you dont want to pass on their cherry pie.