The 14 Best Things to do in Door County

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You’re a laidback traveler, but you want something special this next vacation — that “je ne sais quoi” that wakes up your sense of wonder, tastebuds, and inner adventurer. Perhaps you enjoyed a city-slicking trip to Chicago last summer and crave something more tranquil this time.

Door Country offers endless fun things to do on your next vacation — from scenic boat tours and hiking trails to magically serene beaches and inspiring art galleries.

But nobody likes traveling without a plan. Which breweries serve that delectable cherry lager, and where can you find the best fish boil?

Maybe you want to try catching a view of the legendary sturgeon swimming in Eagle Harbor, or glide through Door peninsula on a segway tour!

Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered with our roundup of the top best things to do in Door County.

1. Go on an Adventure in Whitefish Dunes State Park

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Imagine every outdoor activity in existence — you can probably do each one at Whitefish Dunes State Park. The impressive sand dunes (highest in Wisconsin), lush forest, and breathtaking Lake Michigan views are a sweet bonus and easily establish it as one of the best state parks in Door County. Plus, the park has a nature center where you can view historical art displays and learn about the latest events. For example, this January, you can ski or hike along groomed candlelit trails!

Lake Michigan touches 300 miles of beachy shoreline in Door County, but the beaches in Whitefish Dunes State Park are remarkably exquisite. Bring a speaker, towel, and snacks as you soak some rays and scrunch your toes into the soft, warm sand. 

Summertime in Door County treats you with smooth, calm waves — a real treat for kayaking and canoeing. Rent one at the Door County Adventure Center or the Peninsula Kayak Company. 

More activities in Whitefish Dunes State Park: 

  • Hiking trails with views of the Great Lakes and forests on theOld Baldy Loop Trail 
  • Fishing for northern pike, walleye, panfish, and bass (smallmouth and largemouth) at Clark Lake
  • The Village Site to explore maritime history, with two archaeological digs and a recreated village

2. Go Shopping in Sturgeon Bay

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Door County is filled with lovely small towns with local shops, but Sturgeon Bay has some especially charming ones for every traveler. 

Does the occult pique your interest? Jon and Teresa Mueller opened Within Things in 2018, spending years choosing the rarest and most intriguing items that channel historical and creative depth — from antique African masks and Mithras candles to recherché poem collections and prismatic prints. 

Wander a few steps down N. 3rd Ave, and you’ll end up at Bliss. Hosted in a restored historical building, Bliss accompanies a marketplace of unique artisans and retailers. Think of it as a self-aware and more engaging version of the average department store. High-quality, cozy cushions, esoteric decor, and show-stopping accessories are on the menu at this unique boutique. 

Don’t forget to visit the farmers Market downtown to continue your quest for unique crafts and gifts. Plus, you’ll find fresh florals, jams, tasty produce, Wisconsin-famous cheese curds, and ready-made meals to fuel your shopping mission.

The perfect gift, fashion statement, or snack is at your fingertips in Sturgeon Bay.

Check out more stores: 

  • Alley Katz for affordable yet trendy threads
  • Wilkins and Olander for upscale women’s fashion
  • Dancing Bear for unique kids’ toys

3. Indulge in Seafood at a Fish Boil

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Juicy, succulent whitefish steaks with coleslaw, roast potatoes, and heaps of butter — are you drooling yet? Scratch your seafood itch by attending a Door County traditional fish boil! 

Norwegian and Swedish settlers brought the tradition to Door County in the late 19th century. Traditionally, you’d cook pounds of whitefish steaks over an open fire and serve them with onions and potatoes. Today, the boil master addresses the crowd with a short history of the fish boil and what to expect. He’ll add the fish last, throwing kerosene in the mix to create a fiery display (think Saganaki, the Greek fire-cheese, but on a much larger scale). This is the perfect, family-friendly activity, with dinner and a show. 

Eat your fish with decadent butter and fresh lemon wedges, and finish everything off with a slice of cherry pie. Yum! Luckily, you can find many great restaurants that host fish boils in Door County. The trick is to make reservations in advance. 

Check out fish boils at: 

  • Pelletier’s Restaurant & Fish Boil in Fish Creek
  • The Viking Grill in Ellison Bay
  • The Old Post Office Restaurant in Ephraim

4. Take a Class at the Peninsula School of Art

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Watercolor painting, pottery, ceramics, photoshop — the possibilities for creative expression are endless at the Peninsula School of Art. The institution offers child and adult classes, usually in the form of day-long or weekend-long workshops. It can be a really fun family-friendly activity

Check their website for the latest classes. You’ll appreciate the variety, featuring expert metalworkers, enamellers, and mixed media artists. 

Planning on a long stay? Consider applying to the school’s artist-in-residence program. Fish Creek is a quaint, peaceful town with natural beauty to foster creative expression. Drive on over to Nicolet Beach or spend the day at Champagne Rock Park for much-needed quiet inspiration. 

But maybe you’re not much of an artist. That’s OK — you can still appreciate the fruits of other creative professionals’ labor at school’s year-round exhibits. Its Guenzel Gallery is family-friendly, inviting travelers of all ages to take in the talent. 

Explore other activities at the Peninsula School of Art: 

  • Artist Talks and Interviews for unique insights into the inspiration behind artists’ works
  • Door County Plein Air Festival to see artists paint nature outdoors in real-time
  • Open Studios for independent printmaking, painting, clay making, and metalworking

5. Get Tipsy at Stone’s Throw Winery

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Door County is the wine country of Wisconsin with fantastic wineries, specializing in sweet cherry wine. If you’re craving the supple, sweet flavor of California grapes without the Napa Valley crowds and prices, we’ve got the place for you: Stone’s Throw Winery. Based in Baileys Harbor, the winery features wine made with California grapes, shipped, crushed, and transformed into delectable wine within 36 hours. 

The winery also hosts two separate restaurants with farm-to-table meals. Enjoy fresh veggie flavors from Milwaukee-native suppliers and olive oil from Tuscany. 

Some wineries have bad reputations for disruptive parties — you can let out a sigh of relief because Stone’s Throw won’t permit bachelorette parties on their grounds. Just high-quality service, savory flavors, and tranquil vineyards. 

Enjoy diverse flavors at Stone’s Throw Winery: 

  • Smoked duck breast with rich, Applewood undertones at the Tuscan Wine & Tapas Bar
  • Various juicy wines at the winery tasting room
  • Barrel-fired pizza at the seasonal restaurant

6. Catch a Play at the Peninsula Players Theatre

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Have a pension for the performing arts? Then the Peninsula Players Theatre is a must. Watch a classic or contemporary play and mingle in the 16-acre woods, with lush, soothing trees and scenic views of Green Bay as your backdrop. Each square foot of the theatre grounds were thoughtfully decorated to delight your visual senses — fairy statues and water fountains, lanterns, and pretty florals mesh delectably with the natural landscape. 

The theatre has been in business for a whopping 86 years, so they know what they’re doing. Enjoy your walk to the Luna Bar, which sits under twinkling fairy lights. The theatre also features musicals, a lovely, family-friendly experience. 

Tickets range from $41-$50, with discounts for large groups and students.

Experience more at Peninsula Players Theatre: 

  • Backstage tours to see the set and meet the talented staff
  • Post-show discussions to learn more about the theatre’s process and production
  • The Play’s the Thing for the winter play reading series

7. Relish Limestone Cliffs at Cave Point County Park

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Limestone is a sedimentary rock with a unique layered look, with many existing for millions of years. This makes Cave Point County Park’s limestone cliffs a true natural wonder to behold, attracting thousands of onlookers every year. 

The 15-acre park links to Whitefish Dunes State Park through the 2.5-mile Black Trail. Kayaking through the cliffs offers breathtaking views of the lake and cliffs, but a hike is adequate to take in the scenery, too. If you’re an experienced scuba diver, you can even explore the park’s historical shipwreck remains!

You might feel hesitant to visit Door County in the Winter, but Cave Point County Park is a spectacular site in the colder months. Ice freezes into smooth, fulsome layers atop the limestone and forms into little icicles below each layer — a must for your photo album or Instagram. 

But if you visit in the summer, a boating experience is a fabulous way to connect with nature. Take the reins and rent a jet ski, pontoon, or motor boat and traverse through caverns, islands, and lighthouses. Or, if you prefer a more relaxed experience, enjoy a guided boat or kayaking tour. 

Check out more activities at Cave Point County Park: 

  • Picnic on the park’s lush green lands
  • Cross-country skiing for a winter wonderland experience
  • Kayaking tour for laid-back scenic views

8. Golf or Hike at Peninsula State Park

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Peninsula State Park attracts a million visitors every year. Maybe it’s the smooth, 18-hole golf course. But more likely? It’s the 8 miles of tranquil Lake Michigan shoreline, inviting you to dip your toes into its soft waves or picnic with a picturesque view. 

Into golf? Perfect your swing at Peninsula State Park’s 18-hole course! The 69-yard drive will challenge even the most experienced golfers, but you’re welcome to take a short learning course or private golf lesson there as well. After your course, enjoy a cold one and burger at the clubhouse restaurant. 

But hey, golf can be a bore to some. You have 3,776 acres of hiking trails and greenery to explore through hikes, mountain biking, or even hunting.

You don’t need to travel far to see a play or musical. The park is home to the Northern Sky Theater, a combined indoor and outdoor theater to watch musicals with the most precious backdrop — a dark sky with twinkling stars. 

Check out other activities in Peninsula State Park: 

  • The Cedar Nature Center to feed over 47 bird species
  • The Eagle Lookout for a scenic view from over 170 feet of elevation 
  • Nicolet Beach for a refreshing swim

9. Take a Walk Down Memory Lane at the Door County Maritime Museum

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Right on the coast of Sturgeon Bay, you’ll find the Door County Maritime Museum, which offers an impressive variety of attractions year-round. Traveling with a group of history buffs? Or perhaps you want to add some easy education to your family vacation. 

Take your pick from any of the museum’s fascinating exhibits. The second floor offers a history lesson about World War II, focusing on the crew men's experiences, local ship construction and journeys, and more.

But if you want a more interactive experience, the John Purves ship tour is a must-see! The 40-minute tour takes you aboard the John Purves, a refurbished tugboat from 1919. Explore the ship’s cabins and wheelhouse, as a knowledgeable guide shares stories about life aboard the ship. 

Finally, the museum offers various events year-round, like the wooden boat-building class! This workshop is open to experienced and beginner woodworkers — a phenomenal experience with 25 full days of crafting!

Explore more at the Door County Maritime Museum: 

  • Sentinels of the Shore exhibit to see an impressive replica of the Door County Sherwood Point Lighthouse Lantern
  • The Cana Island Lighthouse to climb the spiral staircase up the historic lighthouse
  • Peterson Gallery for handmade vessel models and historical letters

10. Plant and Pick at Hidden Acres Farm in Sister Bay

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Door Country has plenty of small towns, but maybe you crave that next level of quaintness and intimacy. Sister Bay is an 800-person village with a charming marina, colorful live music scene, and organic farms. Hidden Acres Farms features a community garden, a place to weed and plant vegetables and flowers — the best part is the farm allows you to pick a few pieces of the harvest to take home with you!

Day 2? Hit the coastline!

Walk along the marina boardwalk and watch a golden sunset while indulging in traditional American surf n’ turf at the lakeside Waterfront Restaurant. A short distance southeast and you’ll come across Pebble Beach — a special spot where you can unwind, enjoy an ice cream, or take a dip. Plus, the view of the bay is sublime. 

If you have a full day to spare, consider the scenic boat tours. Many include a guided tour, taking you across the bay and past the two Sister islands. It’s a family-friendly activity where you can take in stunning lake and forest views and even see pelicans!

Check out other fun things to do in Sister Bay: 

  • Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik for Scandinavian fare
  • Frykman Studio Gallery for oil paintings, Eagle Tower carvings, and custom puzzles
  • Steampunk Espresso Delicatessen for quality coffee and tasty sandwiches

11. Respect the Wild at Newport State Park

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Visiting Ellison Bay in the summer? You’re in for quite the treat. Newport State Park has 48 different sports where you can stargaze — yes, you’ll see the aurora borealis! It’s Wisconsin’s only park with a wilderness designation, meaning the land and ecosystems are protected from human interference. 

You won’t find your average campgrounds in Newport State Park. This one-night getaway is for travelers seeking true connection with the values behind a nature preserve. There are limited facilities and equipment to maintain the wilderness designation. 

However, you can enjoy the park with more guidance if you’re not one for camping. Join one of the park’s wilderness days, where you can take a guided hike and attend a campfire workshop. Or, accompany researchers from the University of Madison as they share telescope views of the heavenly night sky. 

Pro tip — before or after your adventurous trek, check out Death’s Door Maritime Museum close by!

Check out other fun things to do in Newport State Park: 

  • Herb and mushroom walks to learn about foraging
  • Trails of Newport State  Park Challenge to test your endurance
  • Annual Candlelit Skis to spice up your everyday cross-country ski trip

12. Embrace Your Inner Foodie in Egg Harbor

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Do culinary creations get you pumped? Egg Harbor is your must-see destination in Door County. The small village has a tiny population of 250 and produces some of the country’s finest Wisconsin cheese. Visit Wisconsin Cheese Masters for the Wisconsin-famous rich, creama kasa or the casa bolo mellage.

Continue your culinary journey to The Fireside Restaurant — a cajun-style eatery for the best shrimp n grits, chicken and waffles, and of course, key lime pie. 

Finish the trip off with a trip to Horseshoe Bay Farms. A historical agricultural landmark, the farm has been in business since 1917. Today, you can tour the farm and its most recent art installation, Stickworks. Somehow, artist Patrick Dougherty got hundreds if not thousands of sticks to bend and curve gracefully, forming a series of cone-like, connected structures. 

Check out other fun things to do in Egg Harbor: 

  • Hatch Distillery Co. for vodka and other liquor tastings
  • Door County Trolley for a ghost or winery tour
  • Plum Bottom Gallery for handcrafted jewelry, pottery, glass, and paintings

13. Observe Biodiversity at The Ridges Sanctuary

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Ever read the Secret Garden? Door County’s not-so-secret equivalent is The Ridges Sanctuary — but it’s equally beautiful. Its 1,600 acres host endless white spruce and balsam fir trees, inviting you to breathe in and experience their lushness. 

Year-round, experienced guides will walk you through the lands, sharing observations of rare birds and 25 different orchids. If it’s winter during your visit, enjoy snowshoeing through the hiking trails while observing the snow-heaped trees and striking landscapes. 

Here you can also view the Baileys Harbor Range Lights — two lighthouses built in 1969 yet still operating smoothly!

Check out other activities at The Ridges Sanctuary: 

  • Monarch Madness to learn about and watch monarch butterflies
  • Festival of Nature for community building and farm-to-table goodies
  • Naturalist guides to learn more about the sanctuary’s history

14. Washington Island

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The Door County peninsula offers a unique natural beauty, surrounded by water on three sides. But Washington Island takes that dreamlike feel to the next level with its complete immersion in Lake Michigan. Populated with only 600 people, Washington Island attracts many visitors for its exclusive tranquility, history, and relaxation. 

Not one for crumbly sand in your toes? Schoolhouse Beach takes that small stress out of beach bummin’ with its smooth, gray rocks canoodling the shoreline. Bring the kids and plan a picnic as you watch the water’s pristine, soft waves. Plus, enjoy a visit to Fragrant Isle Farm & Shop to see lavender fields in full bloom.

To get there, you’ll need to take the Washington Island Ferry — but don’t worry, it’s only a half-hour ride. 

Check out other fun things to do on Washington Island:

  • Pottawatomie Lighthouse, to learn about the history of Wisconsin’s oldest lighthouse
  • Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm and Shop to engage your olfactory senses and walk through a lush field of 20,000 lavender plants
  • Jacobsen Museum for an immersive experience with historical artifacts for free or a small donation

Experience Door County with Moonsail Vacations

Whether you’re soaking gorgeous views from the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse or searching for the best fish boil, Door County offers a peaceful, culture-filled experience across its 300 miles of shoreline. 

Ready to plan the ultimate vacation? Sure, you could go with a hotel — but where’s the unique touch and hospitality every traveler craves? Here at Moonsail Vacations, we operate with a small portfolio of vacation rentals in the Midwest that delivers big results. We make every effort to perfect your experience with charming details, impeccable service, and family-friendly accommodation. 

Book your Door County vacation today!