Ultimate Guide for Visiting Door County, Wisconsin For The First Time

Before I ever went to Door County, the only thing that came to my head for Wisconsin was cheese, cornfields, and the cold. Three years ago I had never heard of Door County, let alone have ever gone to Wisconsin. In 2019, I visited for the first time and I fell in love. I was so in love that I was crazy enough to pack my stuff up and move there for two months during the summer of 2020. Since living there, I have been back a few times and it remains in my top 3 favorite places in the US. There is just something about the Midwest charm, the natural beauty, and the peaceful nature of the peninsula. I am not technically a local, but enjoy this blog post where I describe my favorite places to go when I lived there!

Must-Do Activities

I am a fan of outdoor activities, so I apologize in advance because most of these activities have to do with the outdoors

  • Kayak the clear blue waters of Peninsula State Park and hike alongside cliffs: My personal favorite hike is Eagle trail. Through the trail, you get to see rugged cliffs, the stunning lake, and I would consider it to be moderate. If you want to kayak, head down to Nicolet beach and rent a kayak there! Tip: if you want to kayak but want to avoid crowds, go kayaking through Door County Adventure Center at Rowleys Bay Resort.
  • Visit a Certified Dark Sky and See Thousands of Stars at Newport State Park: Newport State Park is one of only 18 designated Dark Sky Parks in the United States. It is one of the darkest places in the Midwest and that allows you to see stars for as far as the eye can see. If you go stargazing here, please familiarize yourself with the rules of the park. They can be found here.
  • Jump on to the Ferry and Visit Washington Island: Washington Island is a unique island. It is home to the largest lavender field in the Midwest and to a gorgeous limestone rock beach. Both times I have gone, I had my car for transportation on the island. You also have the option to bring bikes or rent bikes. In my personal opinion, I have found it extremely helpful to bring a car rather than biking.
  • Grab a book, a towel, and go enjoy Sister Bay’s Public Beach: This beach is small but mighty. Throughout the year, they host multiple different events at the beach or the public park that it is attached to. If you are interested in seeing the list of events, click here.
  • Simply Walk Around all the Towns: When I lived in Door County, I lived in Ellison Bay and which is one of the smaller towns. My personal favorite town is Ephraim due to its beauty. The towns with the most shopping and restaurants will be Sturgeon Bay, Sister Bay, Egg Harbor, and Fish Creek.
  • Catch a Sunset on the West Side of the Peninsula: I will stand by this statement forever, Door County has the most beautiful sunsets in the country. I have never been to a destination where the sunsets are beautiful almost every single night. My personal favorite place to watch sunsets is Ellison Bay Community Park.

My Favorite Coffee Shops

I don’t know about you but I am a coffee fanatic, so I spent maybe too much money in Door County on just coffee.

  • Kick Ash Coffee in Ellison Bay: My favorite coffee shop to sit for hours and read a book. It is super cute, and their drinks names are very funny.
  • Skip Stone Coffee Roasters in Sister Bay
  • Door County Coffee & Tea Company in Carlsville

Best Shops in Door County

I always enjoy shopping in town on rainy days or bad weather days. Sister Bay, Egg Harbor, and Fish Creek all have multiple shops through the main portion downtown. Below I listed all my favorite shops!

  • Ecology in Sister Bay
  • Spot in Sister Bay
  • Main Street Shops in Egg Harbor: Features many small shops. Great place for families, because there is a large variety for everyone.
  • Sister Golden in Fish Creek: This shop has been featured on HGTV!
  • On Deck Clothing in Sister Bay and Fish Creek: My personal favorite place to get Door County souvenirs

Best Restaurants in Door County

Unfortunately, I am a poor college student, so I have not been able to eat in every single restaurant in Door County. I have compiled a list of my top five favorite places to grab something to eat in the county!

  • Shoreline Restaurant in Gills Rock
  • Grandma’s Swedish Bakery at Rowleys Bay Resort: get the pecan roll… trust me.
  • Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor in Ephraim
  • Chef’s Hat Cafe in Ephraim
  • Wild Tomato Pizza in Sister Bay: I tried a lot of cheese curds during my time in Wisconsin, this place wins #1 overall!!!

I hope this was useful information to anyone traveling to Door County for the first time. Please be sure to respect the locals, pick up your trash, and be kind to service workers! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out! And don’t forget to subscribe to the mailing list and be notified every time I post 🙂

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