Imagine the perfect mix of Wisconsin heritage, lake living, and abundant opportunities to indulge in nature when staying at a local vacation home. That’s Door County — a lovely peninsula between Green Bay and Lake Michigan, peppered with over 20 parks along 300 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan.
Join a local fish boil, walk through a state park or two, take the kids cherry picking, marvel at historic lighthouses, and visit culturally rich museums and galleries. These are the tip of the iceberg when we talk about Door County’s rich attractions and activities.
A drive across the region will take you through quaint towns like Ephraim, Egg Harbor and Ellison Bay. But where should you stay?
Our favorite gems of the county are Baileys Harbor, Fish Creek, and Sister Bay. We’re locals with rentals across the area — meaning we have the inside scoop. It’s time to check in to Door County for a getaway to remember!
Sister Bay for Foodies
Highlights: Seafood, farmers’ markets, local restaurant gems, ice cream, beachfront living
Photo from shutterstock.com/Nejdet Duzen
If you’re a fine food fanatic and love small-town gems, you’re in for a treat. Sister Bay has become a local hotspot for farmer's markets, cheese curd tours, fish boils, and impeccable seafood restaurants.
So, what made all this culinary talent come to this small town of 1,000? It all started with Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant, a local restaurant owner with Scandinavian roots and goats on the roof. Yes, goats! Tourists would stop all day long just to watch the goats munch, bringing tons of attention to this small town.
After watching the goats and enjoying classic Swedish dishes like Swedish Meatballs with lingonberries, head to Al Johnson’s “butik” after lunch, where you can buy authentic Scandinavian clothing and gifts.
Clogs, anyone? Über cute.
Have a sweet tooth? We’ve got you covered! The Door County Ice Cream Factory has been satisfying sweet cravings since 1912, meaning they know their craft when it comes to their 30 flavors of ice cream — all made in-store!
Take your ice cream cone and head just under a mile and a half down the road to Waterfront Park, which fronts Sister Bay Beach. This area is right downtown and offers a picnic area, sandy beach, playground, and more. Even better, the pavilion often hosts live music in the evenings. Lay down in the grass and look up at the passing clouds, or head down to the water to cool off as you watch the sunset grace the horizon.
Where to stay in Sister Bay
Our Sister Bay Chalet is situated just north of Sister Bay on Bay Shore Drive. This adorable Swedish-style chalet is perfect for your family vacation, and comes well-stocked with ample cooking equipment, bathroom toiletries, fresh linens and even a toy chest for the kids.
We add a cottage-like touch with our wood stove and private deck. And if you’re a foodie? Staying at the Sister Bay Chalet puts you within walking distance of all the scrumptious restaurants and breweries in the area.
Fish Creek for Families
Highlights: Peninsula State Park, Founder’s Square, Fish Boils Downtown, Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
Photo from shutterstock.com/Alex C Wells
Fish Creek is a cultural hub of galleries, outdoor cookouts, and golf courses gently cooled by the bay breeze blowing past Fish Creek Harbor.
Walk down the beautiful and historic streets of Founder’s Square, where you can enjoy some of the best shops, restaurants, boutiques, and galleries in all of Door County. Founder’s Square got its name from being the home of Fish Creek’s founder, Asa Thorp — the sole inhabitant of Fish Creek before gaining popularity as a retreat for other townsfolk escaping the heat.
Hang on, how is this historical tidbit family-friendly? For starters, you can visit Thorp’s Old Log Home, built in 1849, for a unique cultural experience that your kids will enjoy. There’s the nearby Dippy’s Ice Cream, where you can reward the little ones with a cool treat after an afternoon of history and learning.
Fish Creek also offers ample opportunities for outdoor family fun. One of the best family-friendly bike trails in Door County lies within Peninsula State Park – the Sunset Bike Route, which brings riders all through the park. While there, check out Eagle Tower and the 850-foot-long canopy walk to catch the best sunset or sunrise in Fish Creek.
And when the day is over? We hear those bellies grumbling — it’s time to share one of the most iconic Door County traditions with your kiddos: the traditional Fish Boil. Head back to Founder’s Square and walk down Main Street. Many restaurants, like Pelletier’s or Kettle Black, put on the traditional Fish Boil! Indulge in freshly caught and grilled fish, buttery potatoes, and drool-worthy cherry pie for dessert.
Where to stay in Fish Creek
Pine Haven is a four-bed, three-bath house that sleeps up to eight people, complete with a large yard, walk-out patio, and fire pit for intimate summer nights and marshmallows. This home is modern with a cozy feel, fully stocked with everything you need to have an unforgettable getaway.
The best part? Pine Haven is an easy walk to shops, restaurants, and Peninsula State Park, where you can indulge in hikes, biking, and other nature-immersed activities with the entire family.
Bailey’s Harbor for Nature Lovers
Highlights: Guided nature tours, Toft Point State Natural Area, Kangaroo Lake Preserve, Ridges Sanctuary
Photo by Nejdet Duzen
Do you crave the solace of nature when you go on vacation? We invite you to explore the magic of Bailey’s Harbor — home to 24 parks with greenery, trees, and a shoreline to enjoy kayaking and swimming. Hike through the Ridges Sanctuary and enjoy a guided tour through the area’s diverse flora, like sparkling pink Joe-Pye Weeds and rich, violet harebells.
You can continue the plant kick at the Toft Point State Natural Area, where you can spot another 400+ plant species, including moss plants. But what’s that chirping in the distance? Probably one of the 17 types of nestling warblers! Keep your eye out and make things fun with a bird scavenger hunt. This area is bordered by impressive dolomite cliffs and limestone, enough to wow any traveler.
When you think of the word harbor, fishing might come to mind. And Baileys Harbor delivers on that vision with ample fishing opportunities at the Kangaroo Lake Preserve. The lake is surrounded by white cedar forests with touches of hemlock and hardwood. And in the water? You’re having bass fish for dinner since fishing yields include a variety of bass species, like rock, smallmouth, and largemouth bass.
Where to stay in Baileys Harbor
Bring up to eight people and your pets to the Harbor House. The home has an open layout that mimics the fresh, open air you experience while sailing on the water. You’ll enjoy newly renovated interiors, a flat-screen tv, free Wi-Fi, and gorgeous views of the lake.
Plus, you’ll be just a few houses down from the local coffee shop, brewery, and restaurants. Talk about a central location! Our clients also love the Harbor House’s proximity to Whitefish Dunes State Park, only a 20-minute drive!
Explore Door County with Moonsail Vacations!
Door County offers you a retreat into culinary indulgence, seafood medleys, nature appreciation, and lakeside relaxing — all of which can be found at Sister Bay, Fish Creek, and Baileys Harbor. Book your Moonsail vacation home today!
Whether you want a fun family- and pet-friendly vacation with your little ones or a romantic getaway with your partner, Moonsail Vacations is your trusted hospitality expert for everything Door County. Since 2016, we’ve been a favorite local source for rentals and vacation planning.