For those not familiar with the peninsula, Door County is a lot bigger than it seems at first glance. With 300 miles of shoreline, over 2,000 square feet of rural land, and several charming towns and villages to visit, there’s no shortage of things to see, do, and experience. So how do you make the most of your weekend getaway to Door County?
Each itinerary for a weekend trip is different, especially depending on the season, but here are some tried-and-true staples for both first-time visitors and long-time lovers of Door County to enjoy!
Friday Afternoon & Night
Just across the county line on your way up the peninsula, take a break from your long drive and refuel at Renard’s Cheese. This family-owned cheesemaking business produces high-quality and delicious gourmet cheeses, including Muenster, Monterey Jack, Smoked String, and over 50 flavor-infused specialty cheeses!
The Melt Bistro located inside the store serves homestyle comfort foods “with a twist,” featuring their own cheese and other locally sourced ingredients. It’s the perfect place to dine on some Door County classics before continuing on your journey!
Just a little further north but still in Sturgeon Bay is the incredible Cave Point County Park. This park is a favorite for locals and visitors alike, well-known for its scenic trails, underwater caves, and stunning cliff walls. Depending on the weather, you can hear the waves crashing into the caves that sound like thunder rumbling underground, or you can jump into the cool crystal-clear water below from the bluff (only when the water is calm, though!)
Pro Tip: Park at Cave Point County Park and hike the half-mile trail to Whitefish Dunes State Park if you’re not ready to purchase a park sticker yet. Whitefish Dunes is a beautiful park home to huge sand dunes and lush forest. Enjoy a picnic at the shelter, go for a dip at the beach, or explore miles of trails.
At the end of a long day, it’s time to check into your hotel. Typical check-in time is around 4:00 p.m., and the Landmark Resort sends text notifications to guests when their suite is ready. Centrally located on the peninsula, the Landmark Resort offers easy access to the Village of Egg Harbor and is just up the road from Carlsville.
After settling into your comfortable room, it’s time for dinner, and what better way to celebrate the oncoming weekend than with a Friday Fish Fry?! Carrington is the Landmark Resort’s on-site restaurant, and their unique Friday Fish Fry features a walleye fillet and two cod fillets hand-breaded and flash-fried, served with coleslaw, rye bread, and tartar sauce. Top it off with a Wisconsin Apple Pie, served with a slice of Renard’s sharp cheddar, for dessert!
If you need a bit of a pick-me-up after the big start to your weekend yesterday, stop by Door County Coffee for breakfast! Their coffee is locally roasted, with nearly 300 flavors to choose from (make sure to check out their rotating seasonal flavors)! If weather permits, sit outside on the flower-covered patio, or dine inside at their cute café and peruse the gift shop.
Just across the street from Door County Coffee is Door Peninsula Winery & Distillery, which is the perfect place to sample some of the fruit wines that Door County is known for! Door Peninsula Winery boasts over 200 awards won for over 60 wines, so it’s safe to say that they’re well-versed in their craft. Sample a flight or two at one of their tasting bars, or check out their outdoor patio that features a fire pit and fun outdoor games like cornhole!
After eating and drinking your fill, visit the shops in Fish Creek for some Door County bling! Fish Creek is the central shopping hub of the peninsula, featuring unique boutiques like Sister Golden and Blue Ivy alongside specialty gift stores such as Hide-Side Corner Store and Plum Bottom Gallery. Find the perfect souvenir for yourself or a gift for a loved one.
Sandwiched between Fish Creek and Ephraim is Peninsula State Park, considered to be Wisconsin’s most complete park. Featuring an 18-hole golf course, a sand beach, miles of biking and hiking trails, a lighthouse, and even an outdoor theater, there’s always something new to discover! The recently renovated Eagle Tower Observation Deck offers spectacular views of Lake Michigan sparkling in the sun; it’s a must-stop for any visitor at any time of year.
Not too far of a drive from Ephraim is Sister Bay, home of the iconic Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant. If you’re lucky, maybe you’ll see some goats grazing on the restaurant’s sod roof! While there are several lunch options to choose from, give in to your cravings and order the Swedish Pancakes with lingonberries and powdered sugar—it’s absolutely worth it! Next door is the outdoor bar Stabbur, with delicious, handcrafted cocktails and an extensive beer and wine menu. The Stockholm Cooler is my personal favorite—who can resist the Swedish Fish garnish?!
Sister Bay is the perfect place to spend some time on the water, with several kayak, boat, and paddle board rentals available. Recline on a pontoon under the hot summer sun, crest the waves in your own personal kayak or jet ski, or take a tour around the shoreline in a sailboat. When in Door County, time on the water is a must!
With dusk drawing nearer, end your day with a Door County staple—a fish boil! The White Gull Inn has by far one of the best and most popular fish boils in the county, and you’ll have to make a reservation during the summer. If you’re not familiar with a fish boil, don’t worry—it’s a dining experience exclusive to the peninsula. A fish boil features freshly caught Lake Michigan whitefish cut into chunks and cooked in boiling hot water with baby red potatoes. When the fish is ready, the Master Boiler tosses a handful of kerosene onto the flames underneath the pot, and the massive burst of fire leaves the fish perfectly cooked. The White Gull Inn serves their fresh hot whitefish with lemon, melted butter, garden-fresh coleslaw, homemade baked bread, and delicious Door County cherry pie for dessert!
Dessert’s been mentioned already, but you can’t end a beautiful summer night in Door County without a stop at Wilson’s Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor! Wilson’s story begins all the way back in 1906, with a small family-owned store selling ice cream and candy, and it’s a legacy that continues to this very day. With their ice cream specialties, sundaes, floats, shakes, and variety of ice cream flavors to choose from, Wilson’s begs to be revisited every time!
Now with Wilson’s ice cream cone in hand, walk down to the Anderson Dock in Ephraim to watch the sun set on the horizon. The Hardy Gallery on the dock showcases decades of names and dates scrawled on the walls. Here, graffiti is an acceptable form of art to commemorate the thousands of boaters, tourists, and locals that have visited and loved Door County over the years. See if you can find an empty space to leave your mark! (No carving or spray paint, please)
The beautiful sunrise signals the coming end of your getaway, but there’s no need to worry—there’s still plenty of fun to be had before you go! No matter if you’re an early riser or a late sleeper, Carrington at the Landmark Resort offers Sunday brunch from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. for guests, locals, and casual visitors alike. Enjoy Door County Cherry Waffles paired with a Landmark Bloody Mary or Carrington Spiked Coffee to put some pep in your step!
With 300 miles of shoreline, there’s no lack of beaches to visit in Door County! If you’ve already walked along Whitefish Dunes State Park’s beach, check out Egg Harbor’s Village Beach, with an expanded playground for the little ones and walking paths for you to explore. Or visit Waterfront Park in Sister Bay, the largest public waterfront in Door County, with its 600 feet of sandy beach, an outdoor stage, and kayak and paddle board rentals.
On your way out of the peninsula, make sure to stop by Sonny’s Italian Kitchen & Pizzeria for a last-minute lunch. Enjoy delicious authentic Italian pizza overlooking the beautiful bay from the second floor or downstairs at Bridge Up Brewing. A local favorite is the Escarpment, a citra pale ale that pays homage to the stunning Niagara Escarpment carved by glaciers thousands of years ago. Cheers to your last day in Door County—for now! We already can’t wait for next time!