People might hesitate to think of Wisconsin as a summer destination, but Door County proves otherwise is true. At the end of August, 360 Magazine was able to spend some time in this beautiful area, connecting with nature and the local cuisine. Door County features an array of activities based in its spectacular natural environment, for both those seeking a more tranquil getaway and for the thrill seekers. All this paired alongside local eats made for an outstanding end of summer getaway.
A favorite of summer tourists, Door County becomes a hub between Memorial and Labor Day each year with summer visitors arriving from the more metropolitan areas of Milwaukee, Chicago, Green Bay, and the Twin Cities. Generally, the population is just under 30,000 but swells over the summer with tourists. Ithas earned the nickname “the Cape Cod of the Midwest.” Local industry includes the aforementioned tourism, but their fishing industry as well as local agriculture also are economic staples for Door County. to five state parks and ten lighthouses, Door County is known for its natural scenery above all else, as well as their beaches. Its location makes it the perfect location for all kinds of getaways, from a family adventure, to a couple’s retreat, or even for a late summer wedding destination.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, not all travel is virus friendly. Luckily, as Door County’s out of doors experiences are the area’s focal point, travel to this area is far more in line with social distancing andgovernment advisories compared to other options. Safety and health precautions were taken throughout this experience. The outdoor adventure focus made it the perfect getaway during these complex times.
Starting off our stay at Bayshore Inn lodging, we were immediately impressed with both the indoor and outdoor swimming pool, gym, game room and private beach. Their evening bonfires were especially fun – reminiscent of the best parts of summer camp! Our rooms were also incredibly spacious and featured a balcony along with a full kitchen. A fireplace, while not as helpful in August, would make a winter stay beyond cozy. Our first dinner, at the nearby Fred & Fuzzy’s Waterfront Grill in Sister Bay kicked off our stay perfectly. A purple and orange Wisconsin sunset colored the sky over old-fashioned cocktails.
During our stay, we quickly came to appreciate the raw beauty of Door County. Kayaking at the Door Country Adventure Center proved to be a remarkable experience. Taking a kayak along the Lake Michigan shoreline, we were able to witness the geologic wonders of Cave Point County Park – more natural sights to Wisconsin than we ever expected. Moving along the water felt like we were paddling through a still mirror – gorgeous. After a mile from our start point, the coves and caves of the area began to reveal themselves both above and below the waterline. This can only be experienced from the point of view of the water and navigating this area by kayak seems to be the best option by far to see these phenomenal geological sites.
An immediate standout was a bike ride along the Sunset Trail. This 10-mile bike path through all types of landscapes truly conveyed the varied scenery including Weborg Marsh, cedar and maple tree groves, and cliff communities. It begins near the Fish Creek entrance to Peninsula State Park and would be suitable for most novices but warned the hills can invite a bit of a challenge. Some of our party had to “walk” rather than “ride” up a few hills. Yet the views are worth it and not to be missed! Towards the end of the trail is one of Door County’s ten lighthouses which offers classic coastal charm. For those not faint of heart, there is cliff-jumping as well. Wisconsin’s one and only. Our experience was nothing short of heart-stopping. The thrill of leaping into stunning waters is well-worth facing any fears!
At Wisconsin’s only wildernessstate park, Newport State Park, we had the opportunity to go stargazing. Away from the bustle and pollution of the city, the night skies were flooded with stars. There is something particularly spiritual about the natural world by night.
The next morning, another unique experience along the Door County coast was that of morning paddleboard yoga. Bringing our yoga afloat on the waters of Lake Michigan proved a new experience but was very beginner-friendly and inclusive. The boards were weighted down with anchors to ensure that keeping balance was on us – not the waves! Both breath work and more advanced yoga postures are included with classes with Bay Shore Outfitters, and a paddle along the shore of Sister Bay afterwards was the perfect way to cap the morning.
Door County’s cuisine dazzled throughout our stay, but especially at Sonny’s Italian Kitchen and Pizzeria were our tastebuds set alight. A family-friendly restaurant overlooking Sturgeon Bay, their Chicago-style pizzas, tasty appetizers, and pasta dishes all impressed. Another culinary standout included a fish boil at the Old Post Office Restaurant. This dining experience is unique to the region, featuring Lake Michigan whitefish caught by local fishermen, paired with potatoes and a classic cherry pie. It proved to be a meal that was tasty, educational, and true to tradition, fun to share with others. Other treats like cinnamon rolls Grandma’s Swedish Bakery, Door County cherry margaritas, or tacos from Taco Cerveza made for a deliciously varied experience.
All in all, the experiences 360 magazine had in Door County, Wisconsin have transformed our understanding of the state forever. The natural beauty of the area isn’t to be underestimated – with the striking vistas along Lake Michigan, it was the perfect way to end summer 2020.
Below are links to where 360 Magazine stayed, ate, and adventured!