Door County is a destination for travelers of all types. Whether you are looking to dine or shop, Door Country has something that will suit your needs! Spring through fall provide endless activities with breathtaking views and winter brings its own unique charm.
Do you know what happens when you tell people in the South that you are going to Door County, Wisconsin – in February? Their eyes widen and their mouths begin to drop open and they look at you like you are CRAZY.
Wisconsin in the Winter?! Yes, in the winter! These folks are used to the cold weather and snow and they don’t let it slow them down.
And where is Door County? Door County is located in the upper part of Wisconsin on a peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan.
But let me tell you – you aren’t crazy if you go to Door County in the Winter. Or any other time of the year for that matter. Door County is an awesome place with really friendly people.
I was a guest in Door County in February and had an amazing time. I am going to share with you five good reasons you should visit Door County.
1. Dig Into the Local Cuisine!
Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant
Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant is a family-owned restaurant in the sweet little village of Sister Bay. The restaurant serves authentic Swedish pancakes, Swedish meatballs, and cups of hot chocolate that will make you drool.
The attached shop sells traditional Swedish goods and food that will bring out your inner Swedish chef. Be sure to pick up a box of pancake mix and a jar of lingonberry jam to take home with you. (If you don’t have room in your suitcase, you can always order it online from their store.)
If you dine during warmer weather, be sure to look for the goats that are on the roof grazing.
Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant is located at 10698 N Bay Shore Drive in Sister Bay, Wisconsin. It is open daily from 7:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Door County Coffee & Tea
Door County might not sit at the right elevation for growing coffee, but the people at Door County Coffee & Tea have figured out how to roast coffee beans to perfection at their 20,000-square-foot facility.
They roast more than 100 varieties of coffee. Not only that, they use only Specialty Class 1 Arabica coffee beans, which are the top 2% of what’s grown in the world. In addition to great coffee, you can enjoy a delicious breakfast (I enjoyed the strata) and shop for all of your coffee needs all in one place.
Door County Coffee and Tea is located at 5773 WI-42 in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It is open daily from 7:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Scaturo’s Baking Co & Cafe
I had plate envy when I had lunch at Scaturo’s in Sturgeon Bay. Everything looked so good! I ordered the Italian Chef Antipasto Salad and I highly recommend it.
However, if you are seeking comfort food, order The Seat Mac ‘N Cheese (pictured above). It’s made with a homemade three-cheese sauce and pasta, then topped with Marchant’s bacon, Renard’s 2-year white cheddar, and diced tomatoes. (Tip: It may not be on the menu, but you can request Diet Coke.)
Scaturo’s Baking Co & Cafe is located at 19 Green Bay Road in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. Check the Scaturo’s website for current hours.
A trip to Wisconsin would not be complete without stopping at a shop to pick up some fresh cheese curds. When you see Renard’s, you better pull over so that you can pick up some of the freshest, squeakiest cheese curds you will ever have.
Renard’s Cheese Store is family-owned and operated by the third generation of cheesemakers. The prices at the store were some of the best that I saw on cheese curds and jam.
Tip: Freeze your cheese curds after you buy them. Keep them in the freezer before you get ready to return home and then pack them in your carry-on luggage. You know, in case you get hungry on the plane or while waiting at the airport.
Rendard’s Cheese is located at 2189 Country Rd DK in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
Sonny’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria
In addition to cheese curds, you have to have something made with cherries when in Door County. (There are over 2500 acres of cherry orchards in Door County.)
At Sonny’s Pizzeria, you can delve into fresh-made pizzas, pasta, and dessert. The Door Cherry Pie is not to be missed. If the weather is nice, be sure to take in the views since Sonny’s is located on the waterfront at Sturgeon Bay.
Sonny’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria is located 129 N Madison Avenue in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It is open Sunday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.
Shipwrecked Brew Pub
When in Egg Harbor, you have to stop at Shipwrecked Brew Pub. The cozy interior has a nautical theme that fits naturally in this lakeside community. There you can sample their beer by ordering a Plank ‘O Brews.
They also serve a pretty mean Texas Brisket Sandwich (smoked brown sugar-rubbed beef brisket sliced thin & piled on a Sheboygan roll with caramelized onions and creamy horseradish sauce). I ordered my sandwich with a side of coleslaw.
Shipwrecked Brew Pub & Restaurant is located at 7791 WI-42 in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. It is open on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday from 11:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. and on Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. The restaurant is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday,
2. Sample Local Libations!
Door County is a great place to pick up a bottle of wine and try some spirits.
Door County Distillery
Door County Distillery crafts its namesake products in small batches in an artisanal copper pot using water that contains natural limestone and mineral notes from the Door Peninsula.
Their brandies and whiskeys are likewise small batch made and flavored by Door County natural ingredients like Door Peninsula cherries. There is a wine bar, too, where wine tastings are available.
Door County Distillery is located at 5806 WI-42 in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It is open from 9:00 al.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Harbor Ridge Winery
If you spot Moai head lookalikes, then you have arrived at Harbor Ridge Winery. The icons have become, more or less, the mascot of the winery and you will spot their likeness on a few of the varieties of wine that they produce and sell. (I highly recommend Knockin’ Heads Red if you like smooth, slightly fruity wine.)
The people at Harbor Ridge Winery are passionate about their business and are some of the nicest people you will meet. In addition to wine, you can shop for all-natural soap (the cherry almond is my favorite!) and authentic Wisconsin cheese at the winery.
Harbor Ridge Winery is located at 4690 Rainbow Ridge Ct in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
Mojo Rosa’s is the kind of place you go to unwind and just be yourself. The restaurant offers a variety of Mexican dishes, $10 Tapas, burgers & chicken, broasted chicken, and soups & salad.
If you are thirsting for beer, they have over 99 to choose from. Personally, though, I think that the Cherry Margarita should become their signature drink – it was the best margarita I have ever had. Seriously.
Mojo Rosa’s is located at 7778 WI-42 in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin. It is open Sunday and Monday from noon until 9:00 p.m, Thursday from 4:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from noon until 10:00 p.m.
If you are in downtown Sturgeon Bay on the weekend (well, Thursday – Sunday), Starboard Brewing is the place to be.
Starboard Brewing is Sturgeon Bay’s first nano-brewery and has some pretty tasty beer on tap. (My favorite was Winter Long, the one on the right.) Not sure which one you would like? You can order a flight and discover which one will be your new favorite.
Starboard Brewing Company is located at 151 N 3rd Avenue in Sturgeon Bay, Wisonsin. It is open Wednesday and Thursday from 3:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., and on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.
3. Enjoy a Sleigh Ride and Fish Boil!
If you are in Door County when there is snow, then you have the opportunity to take a sleigh ride through the cherry orchard and dreamy woods by Lautenbach’s Orchard Country Winery. The 30-minute ride is led by two beautiful horses pulling a large sleigh. The jingling of the bells adds to the ambiance of the experience. After the ride, guests can shop at the winery and sample local wines (for adults only, of course) and ciders.
Lautenbach’s Orchard Winery is located at 9197 WI-42 in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Check the Lautenbach’s website for up todate hours.
Over 100 years ago, Scandinavian settlers would boil freshly caught fish over an open fire. The tradition continues today at the White Gull Inn where diners can watch the fish boil over and then go inside and enjoy the fish along with potatoes, coleslaw, and fresh-baked bread.
My favorite part of the experience was the cherry pie that came along after the meal. It is made with a sweet crust and topped with whipped cream.
The White Gull Inn is located at 4225 Main Street in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Fish boils are served on Fridays with seating taking place at 6:30. Reservations are recommended. (Call 920-868-3517 for prices and to make your reservations.)
4. Take In the Arts!
Stephanie Trenchard and Jeremy Popelka are true artisans. From the moment you step foot inside their studio/gallery, you will see displays of their gorgeous art everywhere.
The handcrafted glass pieces will remind you of fine Murano glass that is made by artisans in Italy, as it should since it is made in very much the same way. The couple’s art has been featured around the United States.
Popelka Trenchard Gallery & Glass Studio is located at 64 S 2nd Avenue in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. It is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
Door Community Auditorium plays host to some well-known artists. In 2015, music greats such as Melissa Etheridge, The Charlie Daniels Band, and Lyle Lovett & His Large Band were among the headliners.
Previous artists include Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Rosemary Clooney, Harry Belafonte, Jeff Tweedy, and Alison Krauss. DCA also hosts coffeehouse concerts, which are fun little, intimate performances by yet-to-be-famous artists such as Deathfolk. (Click here to hear them sing Come on Up to the House.)
Door Community Auditorium is located at 3926 WI-41 in Fish Creek, Wisconsin. Check out the Door Community Auditorium website for a list of upcoming events.
5. Enjoy the Scenery!
While I was in Door Creek, I was a guest at The Landmark Resort in Egg Harbor. The resort is a hotel/condominium complex that provides the comfort of a home and amenities of a resort, such as indoor swimming pools, a sauna, and a whirlpool. I was fortunate to be in a two-bedroom unit that had views of Green Bay. I was able to enjoy my morning coffee with the incredible view you see above.
This beautiful home is located in the village of Fish Creek. Completed in 1875, it was the first to be made of lathe and plaster and is the oldest remaining residence in the village.
Today, the house is known as the Alexander Noble House, a historic Greek Revival farmhouse that stands as a cherished piece of Fish Creek’s rich history. This charming landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places since February 23, 1996, continues to evoke the essence of a bygone era while offering visitors a glimpse into the past of Door County, Wisconsin.
How To Get to Door County
There are a couple of airports that you can fly into to get to Door County: the Austin Straubel Airport in Green Bay (one hour drive to Sturgeon Bay) and the Appleton Airport is the next closest (one hour and twenty minutes to Sturgeon Bay). From there, you can rent a car or make other arrangements for ground transportation.
More to Do in Door County
There are over 300 miles of shoreline, beaches, and bluff in Door County. There is something there for everyone – fishing, golfing, biking, exploring the outdoors, and exploring the rich maritime past at Door County Maritime Museum.
My advice to you should you get the change to go to Door County – GO! See why the community of quaint villages and towns has won numerous awards and accolades.