Make Door County, Wisconsin, Your Next Destination


Story and Photos by Julie Diebolt Price


ON BIG BLEND RADIO: Photographer and journalist Julie Diebolt Price shares her adventures in Door County, Wisconsin. Watch here in the YouTube player or download the podcast on PodBean.

Famous for picturesque coastal towns, 300 miles of shoreline, and ten waterfront towns, Door County, Wisconsin, is much more than having “something for everyone.”

With the scenic beauty of the Bay of Green Bay on the west and Lake Michigan on the east, Door County delivers incredible memories in any season of the year. Countless cherry and apple orchards, fall foliage, Death’s Door, shipwrecks, 11 lighthouses, art galleries, boutiques, hiking trails, fish boils, and cheese curds offer endless entertainment opportunities.

I visited Door County for five days in the fall just as the leaves were donning their gold and crimson colors. Following are the highlights of great food, fun experiences, and incredible scenery.

Door County, a peninsula in the northeast corner of Wisconsin, is about 52 miles from end to end and 18 miles wide in the south and two miles wide at the northernmost point.

Driving distances from Sturgeon Bay:

  • Green Bay is about one hour southwest
  • Milwaukee is two and a half hours south
  • Chicago is about four hours south
  • Minneapolis is about five hours west

The Door County Coastal Byway is a 66-mile scenic loop in the Niagara Escarpment bluffs, the Bay of Green Bay, and Lake Michigan.

The towns are easily walkable, but you’ll want a vehicle to travel around the peninsula.

Start your Door County visit with a stop at the Visitor’s Center. The friendly staff will help you sort out the things you want to do. They have maps, guides, and lots of advice to complete your visit.

The best time to visit Door County is May through October because many businesses close for the winter. However, winter sports and activities make Door County a year-round destination.

Door County is home to five state parks. All, except Whitefish Dunes, offer camping. Other activities include hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, cross-country skiing, sledding, and more.

Newport State Park, Ellison Bay
Newport State Park protects 11 miles of the Lake Michigan shoreline, earned wilderness-designated status in 1974, and is a Dark Sky Park

Peninsula State Park, Fish Creek
Peninsula State Park is the third-largest state park, with a nature center, theater, bike trail, golf courses, and Niagara Escarpment (a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve). Eagle Tower, open seasonally from May 1 to October 31, is one the most popular attractions in Door County. The Eagle Bluff Lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.

Potawatomi State Park, Sturgeon Bay
Potawatomi State Park is on the southwest side of the peninsula. The eastern terminus of the Sturgeon Bay Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is near the defunct observation tower in Potawatomi State Park.

Rock Island, Washington Island
Rock Island State Park is off the northeast coast of Washington Island and is only accessible by passenger ferry. No vehicles are allowed on Rock Island.

Whitefish Dunes, Sturgeon Bay
Whitefish Dunes State Park, in the southeast corner of the peninsula, was established in 1967 to preserve and interpret the highest dunes in Wisconsin.

Farmer’s Market
Sturgeon Bay Farmer’s Market is an excellent destination for the freshest vegetables, fresh and dried flowers, handcrafted products, and food vendors.

Trolley Tours
The best use of your time and money is a trolley tour with Door County Trolley. From the narrated scenic overview to ghost, wine spirits and brew, and lighthouse tours, the guides deliver fun and educational packages for all ages.

Washington Island
At the northern tip of the Door County peninsula, a five-mile ferry ride crosses the once-treacherous waters of Death’s Door. There are more than 40 miles of backroads to explore on Washington Island.
There may be no better way to see Washington Island than aboard a Segway The Door tour. We visited a historical museum, stone-covered Schoolhouse Beach, a lavender farm, the Norwegian Stavkirke church, and more.

Belgian Chapels
Belgian Chapels are wayside votive chapels and represent an old-world religious tradition. Most wayside chapels are tiny houses of worship open to anyone at any time. I was able to visit three of the 14 chapels.

Sister Bay is a convenient, central location to explore the peninsula.

Many vacation rentals, cottages, lodges, and inns are available in Door County. I sampled three while I was there. The Marina View VRBO in Sister Bay was my favorite. Within a short walk to town, it offers a stunning view of the bay, enormous windows in the living room and bedroom, and a balcony with a view over the marina.


One-of-a-kind shops make Door County one of the Midwest’s shopping destinations. You’ll find something unique if you want art, food, or artisan goods.

My visit to Sister Golden in Fish Creek garnered me Fair Trade products that will always remind me of my visit to Door County.

Al Johnsons Swedish, Sister Bay
Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik is known for traditional Swedish meals and live goats grazing on their grass roof during the tourist season.

Chop, Sister Bay
Chop is open year-round and is an American Steakhouse featuring steaks, seafood, and cocktails.

Wild Tomato, Fish Creek, and Sister Bay
If live pizza tossing excites you, look no further than Wild Tomato Wood-Fired Pizza and Grille in Fish Creek and Sister Bay. The casual atmosphere includes a wide selection of craft beer, wines, and a Kid’s Menu.

The English Inn, Fish Creek
The fantasy display of a knight in shining armor clinging to a rearing steed decorates the front entrance of The English Inn. This 100-year-old lumber mill building became a restaurant 50 years ago and has an old elegant supper club feel.

Waterfront Mary’s Fish Boil, Sturgeon Bay
Waterfront Mary’s Bar and Grill is at the end of the road on the Sturgeon Bay shoreline. Fish boils were started by Scandinavians who needed to feed many people, and now it’s a spectacular tourist attraction.

For more about Door County, visit

BONUS:  Free DownloadJust for Big Blend Radio Listeners, Visitors, and Big Blend’s Parks & Travel Magazine Readers, download my FREE Door County, Wisconsin 5-Day Itinerary. This itinerary starts in the south at Sturgeon Bay and completes at the northern tip of Washington Island. All in five exciting days!

Julie Diebolt Price is a professional photographer, educator, author, and journalist. She helps solo entrepreneurs establish companies with imagery and business training. She educates and mentors aspiring photographers. As a journalist who loves to travel, she creates memorable experiences and shares them with words and pictures. More at

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