The many villages
with their Cape Cod style architecture are charming. It is
not surprising that this area is frequently referred to as
the mid-western Cape Cod. It’s a world without any chain
restaurants or big box stores.
How delightful. How retro.
It’s also located on the imaginary line that places
it half way between the Equator and the North Pole.
Villages with names like
Egg Harbor, Fish
Creek, Ephraim (where by ordinance, buildings must be
and Whitefish Bay
are only a few of the delightful destinations. There is a
different story to be learned about each village’s name when
you visit. Some names are historical and some humorous.
Surprisingly, the villages manage to maintain an
Door County is a relatively small land
area, about 70 miles long, but offer visitors much to see
and do. Live theatre is a feature of the
Theatre in Peninsular
State Park Amphitheatre (open air) in Ephraim.
Birch Creek Music Performance Center features a diverse
program in the historic Egg Harbor barn.
Playhouse (TAP) features live performances in a
converted Sturgeon Bay movie theatre.
the peninsula plus three on the mainland are a bonanza for
lighthouse buffs. The county boasts a total of eight local
to warrant a brochure publicizing the Door County WINE
winery offers a distinctive array of wines with their own
labels and of course the ever popular tastings.
Art happenings abound in almost every
village. The Door
County ARTS MAP helps visitors find things of special
fact, colorful and informative brochures about the venues of
Door County are available at almost every stop visitor’s
Every village has an abundance of
eateries, with water views whenever possible, that make
choosing just the right one a toss of the dice.
Since this is a tourist based economy, most
restaurants feature menus for all meals.
Locals will bend
over backwards to be helpful and answer almost any question.
It was a relief finally landing in
Green Bay after a long travel day.
Driving on the
bridge over Sturgeon Bay Canal onto the Door County
peninsular, I arrived in time for dinner at
The Cookery in
Fish Creek with its laid back atmosphere, unique local
specialties and local beer. The Cookery’s menu included
interesting selections of local fish, imaginative food
combinations and a nice choice of selections for
This 70-mile sliver of land defies a
single description as a destination. It has 300 miles of
shoreline, is famous for its endless rows of cherry trees, a
collection of unique communities, boutique shopping,
picturesque lighthouses, and two ferry-only accessible
islands on its north end which transport visitors to yet
Before leaving the peninsular, consider the many available
outdoor activities from which to choose: hiking, biking,
boating, fishing, camping and other possibilities.
The ferry to
(depicted in the header)
travels over waters so treacherous that early French
explorers named the area “Portes
des Morts” or Death’s Door.
This is where Door County got its name. Have no fear
though. You are traveling in a large ferry not a birch bark
In 1850, Washington Island became home
to the second oldest Icelandic settlement in the US.
An interesting stop on the way to the Rock Island
ferry while still on Washington Island is
a replica of church whose design was common in Norway in
medieval times. It is definitely a picture taking moment.
The ferry to
deposits passengers in a state park without cars or
Reservations for primitive camp sites can fill up almost a
year in advance of the season. Far removed from any light
pollution, this has got to be one of the best night sky
viewing places I've ever visited.
Short driving distances between
villages and other places of interest on the peninsula are
easily managed allowing visitors to tour much of the area on
their own with the aid of the numerous available free
brochures. But a time saver when it comes to finding special
places to visit is to take one of the many
Door County Trolley
narrated tours. Experienced drivers/guides relate tales
about local history, visit villages, and out of the way
places which visitors might never discover on their own.
Not to be
missed is the area’s famous
FISH BOIL at one
of the eateries featuring this treat. The fish boil was
originated by Door County’s Scandinavian settlers over
100 years ago to economically feed large groups of fishermen
My first experience with one was at
Rowleys Bay Resort
in Ellison Bay which also has a large restaurant facing a
bay of the same name.
Dramatic finale to preparing
a Fish Boil
Water in an iron cauldron is brought to
a rolling boil. At the proper time the “chef” adds kosher
salt, onions, red potatoes, veggies if desired, and
then chunks of fresh local lake caught white fish while the
fire is being tended to.
For the finale, kerosene is poured into the
ring surrounding the pot. What it does is to create a
very hot fire which can easily soar to ten or more feet in
height sending the scum on the top of the ingredients that
have been cooking in the pot out over the sides including
the grease and fat from the fish removing any fishy
taste. At no time, despite the intensity of the fire which
stuns and amazes first time viewers, is any of the food
final product is delicious chunks of Lake Michigan white
fish with any fishy taste totally gone.
Door County, recently named a Top 5
summer getaway, is also a hotspot for winter activities.
The area does get enough snow to host winter activities as I
saw by the extension on a fire hydrant in Sturgeon Bay which
sported a bright orange plastic on top giving me
a hint at snow
|Snow height indicator
Because of an amazing number of
restaurants, wineries, and other places of interest on the
peninsula, I can only report on the ones personally visited
and even then there is not enough room here for me to do
justice to all that I did visit.
During my visit to Door County, I found
that all of the restaurants at which I stopped had
delightful, knowledgeable servers and generally unhurried
don't mean slow, I mean relaxed.
Of special note is
& Ice Cream Parlor in the village of Ephraim.
Opened in 1906, it
is a landmark.
As would be expected, this is not a new era chrome and glass
soda/food counter, original Wurlitzer Juke Box, and other
remnants of the past make for an old timey atmosphere where
families keep returning generation after generation.
The food is good and
portions generous but keep lots of room for the ice cream
Breakfast was shared with friends at
Door County Coffee &
Tea Co. in Sturgeon Bay, a mecca for coffee lovers.
Their coffee experts buy beans from around the world
and import only ‘Specialty Class 1 Arabica beans’ which are
then roasted and ground on the premises.
coffees are available to take home and there is a restaurant
in which you can try their coffees while dining.