Part of the beauty of Door County is that there is something for everyone. While your vacation will look a little different with kids than without, there is plenty of fun to be had either way! We personally have been enjoying Door County with our kids for the past 8 years. It is so amazing to see them experience this slice of paradise for the first time. While we love taking adult vacations too, when we’re vacationing with our kids our motto is, “if the kids are having fun, we’re having fun.” We really try to choose activities and restaurants based on what they will enjoy, and sometimes, we can mix in a little adult fun along the way ;).
1. The Ridges Sanctuary
We mentioned The Ridges in our post, Top 5 Hiking Spots in Door County. While not all kids will jump at the chance to go for a hike, most kids can get on board with playing in the mud. There is a large grassy area in front of the nature center, and during the spring, summer and fall they have a mud pie station set up with mixing bowls, muffin tins, spoons and buckets. Make sure you dress the kids in their play clothes because this attraction is impossible to avoid!
Our kids also love the Family Discovery Trail. It is open May through October and is on the other side of highway 57 from the rest of The Ridges so it is easily missed. The discovery trail is so fun for kids because it features a bone dig site and a fort-making area!
Finally, the nature center is a great place to spend some time with your kids and is in-doors so it's a great go-to when the weather is bad. Besides all of the neat exhibits, there is usually a craft project set up for the kids to do. And in the summer, they breed monarch butterflies so you can check out the cages full of caterpillars, chrysalis and monarchs!
The Ridges is located on Highway 57 in Baileys Harbor, just a 5-10 minute walk from the Harbor House!
2. Hands on Art Studio
If you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day, Hands on Art Studio in Fish Creek is a great option! There are several buildings with different art projects and themes in each, including ceramics, canvas, wood and metal painting, mosaics, fused glass and jewelry making. There are also classes offered here so if you’re intimidated by coming up with your own project, take a class and follow along!
3. Visit a Farm
There are two great petting farms in Door County that your kids will love. The Farm is located just north of Sturgeon Bay and is actually a living museum of rural America. Visiting the Farm gives kids an idea of what it is like to live and work on a farm! It’s super hands-on with opportunities to bottle feed the animals, milk a goat and watch chicks hatch!
Plum Loco Animal Farm is another great farm to visit, where kids can pet and feed the animals, as well as play in their play farm village. Plum Loco is located between Egg Harbor and Sturgeon Bay.
4. Visit Seaquist Orchards
Seaquist Orchards is a great place to get the kids sugared up and then let them burn off their energy. They have a fun playground and a giant maze set up in the woods, which is a good challenge even for adults! You can also stroll through the farm market and pick out some treats from the bakery (try the apple cider donuts!) or fresh cherries and apples when they are in season. Seaquist Orchards is just north of Sister Bay on Highway 42, making it a quick 5 minute drive from either the Sister Bay Chalet or Hillside Hideaway.
5. Play at a Playground
There are several great parks with playgrounds throughout Door County. If your kids need to release some energy there is no better place than a playground. The playground at the Sister Bay Beach is a favorite of ours. The playground is made of a large ship, plus there are plenty of swings! Bonus: The town of Sister Bay allows you to enjoy an adult beverage while out and about. We’ve been known to grab a beverage from Wild Tomato or Stabbur across the street and relax at the park while the kids play!
Another great playground is behind the library in Baileys Harbor. There is plenty of climbing equipment, swings for both big kids and babies and a tree fort!
6. Hit the Lanes
If you need another indoor activity for those cold or rainy days, why not take the kids bowling? The Sister Bay Bowl is a great little vintage bowling alley. While they don’t have bumpers for those younger bowlers, they do have ramps, so you can help your child push the ball down the ramp and see how many pins they can knock down.
If you’re up for making the drive to Sturgeon Bay, Cherry Lanes Arcade Bar is a hidden gem of indoor activities. If the word “arcade” congers up images of flashing lights and a guy walking around dressed as a mouse, fear not. This is a really classed up arcade/bowling alley. The atmosphere is a far cry from Chuck-E-Cheese, with exposed brick and trendy lighting. As the name suggests, there are arcade games and they also have pool tables and a few lanes for bowling. The food is surprisingly good as well!
7. Visit the Library
Door County has invested a lot in their public library system. Each of the main municipalities has its own library. We especially enjoy the Sister Bay library and the Egg Harbor library for their interactive kids sections. Both feature a designated play area with some quiet games and toys as well as a craft for the kids to do.
8. Mini Golf
If your kids are a little older, mini golf is always a good time! Especially if they’ve had to patiently wait for a table during the busy summer season, why not treat them to a round of put-put after dinner? Pirate’s Cove Adventure Golf is located on the South side of Sister Bay and is a great mini golf course.
9. Enjoy Some Ice Cream or Custard
There are a number of great Ice Cream shops in Door County. Door County Ice Cream Factory on the North side of Sister Bay has wonderful homemade ice cream and a large selection of flavors. Wilson’s Restaurant and Ice Cream in Ephraim is a classic and Not Licked Yet Frozen Custard in Fish Creek is also great. These ice cream shops are all seasonal so be sure to check online before you go to make sure they are open. And while you will likely have to wait a while for your sweet treat, Wilson’s and Not Licked Yet both have playgrounds nearby to entertain the children while you wait!
10. PC Junction
PC Junction is an adorable train-themed restaurant just south of Baileys Harbor. They even deliver your food on a train if you sit at the bar. Outside there is a ton of fun to be had with the kids. There is a playground, yard games and best of all, pedal go-karts that the kids can ride around the dirt track. And, not to mention, Stone’s Throw Winery is across the street! So there you have it, a little something for the kids and a little something for mom and dad.