First time to Door County? I’m sure you’ve heard lots of wonderful things about it. Since Door County Boy and I have been coming up so many of you have asked what should we do? What do you recommend? Happily, there are dozens of things to do! But more importantly, there is fun to be had on your way up! Here are a few tips for your drive up to Door County.
After you pass Sturgeon Bay, you will hit a fork in the road. Your GPS will tell you to take 57 all the way up to Sister Bay. If you do that, you will be on the Lake Michigan side of the peninsula. However, it is much prettier on the Green Bay side of the peninsula, although truthfully, it’s a bit of a tie. If you want to stop along the drive up both sides offer sites that are worth pulling over for. If you’re in a hurry, by all means, take 57. It’s 10+ minutes quicker to get to Sister Bay.
Along 42 here are my favorite things to do when I am showing off Door County with my friends. The quaint, the quirky and the cool.
Jorns’ Sugar Bush Maple Syrup
As you roll down the hill into Egg Harbor you will see crossroad T. Take a right on T to Jorns’ Sugar Bush Maple Syrup. Here you will find a small shop, not attended by a clerk. You must walk into the shop, turn on the lights and ring a buzzer. A sweet old woman will come out to help you. If you like maple syrup, this family-owned company does not cut on quality. Sap leaving the tree will be processed into syrup in less than 24 hours, resulting in a high quality, light syrup. The syrup is delish but the shopping experience is unforgettable!
Main Street Market
Need groceries? This is one of the largest stores on the peninsula. Just an FYI.
Edgewood Orchard Galleries
I am not an art gallery person. Truly. But this is one gallery you must see and if you have kiddos they will like it too. The setting is as exceptional. Housed in a stone fruit barn built in 1918, the gallery has been restored and includes a bricked courtyard with bistro tables and chairs, a sculpture garden, leaded-glass windows and the beauty of nature with sculptured works of art. You’d be fine to relax here for a while not even venturing inside.
There is a small walking path in the woods (The Sculpture Garden) and that is exactly what you must check out.
The art inside is beautiful too. There are affordable custom jewelry pieces, and a wide range of media: Painting, sculpture, and more. The artwork here is gorgeous and enhanced by the surroundings. Upstairs are more pieces you can pick up, examine, and possibly bring home.
Sweetie Pies in the Settlement Shops
There simply is no better pie on the peninsula. It pains me to say this because there are terrific pies all over (and that’s another post!). But here you will find one of the largest selections, hot, yummy, flavorful. We indulge many-a-weekend and purchase a whole pie. We ALWAYS get the Chocolate Chip Pie. To be honest, I do not even LIKE chocolate chip cookies (very much) but this pie? You will think you have died and gone to heaven. Truly out of this world. Even better when warm. Just sayin’.
Need a wine break? A bottle of wine to go? A taco? A quick beach run? Fun stuff for kids? A dose of the yachting high-life? Then this is YOUR town! There are a lot of shops (and an endless supply of them) and a few great places for mom and dad to chill out before checking in to the Inn.
If the kids have been going stir crazy, let them loose at Fish Creek Beach. It’s shallow and warm. It’s a tiny beach, but you can’t miss it.
Hungry? Try Taco Cerveza.
Want a great bottle of wine for later? Stop at Fish Creek Market.
Kitchy stuff for kids? Stop at Fun Stuff.
Sit down dinner? Try the Cookery or Gibralter Grill.
Want to see a fleet of beautiful yachts? Walk down the Fish Creek Marina. It’s a beautiful stroll and a wonderous sight to see!
Need to shop? Endless rows of shops.
Coffee break? Try Craic Coffee or Blue Horse Coffee shop.
Here’s another town you can stretch your legs at. For a great photo opp, head to Francis Hardy Gallery at the Anderson Barn. What a great place to stop and check out the stunning view. Of course, there’s Wilsons for ice cream. The kids will enjoy a clown sundae. And Beach People is a fun shop for all ages. Kids will love it and they can play a quick game of badminton or bean bag toss while mom shops.
Now you’re getting into some action. There’s the Sister Bay Beach and quite a few great places to eat and relax. Here’s where you’ll see Al Johnson’s, the famous place with the goats on the roof. I’d recommend stopping for a photo, but consider eating elsewhere. I have my favorites in Sister Bay: Door County Creamery, Wild Tomato, Bier Zot, Roots Inn and Restaurant, Lure, Chop and for pub food try Husby’s or The Boat House.
You must check out the beach as well. Or the outdoor beer garden, Stabbur. At Stabbur there is a giant Connect Four game, giant Jenga and other fun outdoor games for kids. If you’re lucky, they may even pass out Swedish Fish to the kiddos! If you’re driving up to Door County during the week there are movies and concerts in the Sister Bay park.
Have a hankering for something sweet? My very favorite ice cream is in Sister Bay and made right on the premises: Door County Ice Cream Factory. It’s located on the north side of town. There is a small pop-up shop closer to the center of town, but just know they have limited flavors.
There is the Piggly Wiggly in this town in case you need groceries.
As you head out of town, take a left on Beach Road (just next to Door County Ice Cream Factory). Head up the street Hidden Acres Farm. Alongside the road is the cutest little walk-in lending library I have ever seen!
Nevermind this awesome shop, take the kids and all adults to the rope maze outside. I dare you not to cheat to get to the middle. It’s nearly impossible. Of course, the shop is full of such great treats that I assure you, you will not leave empty-handed. In the fall there is an inside haystack maze as well, only for little ones. Adults certainly can try it, but I’m warning you now, you may get stuck. 😉
As you proceed to the next town (if you’re staying further north) I recommend you check out this fun scenic overlook. It is off 42 just before you arrive in Ellison Bay. It’s really quite pretty.
Now you have come to my new favorite towns. Next to the Viking Grill, you will see the dragonfly and butterfly murals. Please stop and take photos. It’s so very cool and was just painted this summer (2018).
You’ll see the Pioneer Store, your last chance to grab groceries or even a movie to rent. And don’t forget to always gas up at The Last Stop. We have new owners and they are as friendly as can be. In Ellison Bay style, they will fill up your tank for you and make sure every bug has been removed from your windshield. I love this station and try to fill up my tank here as much as possible.
You’re now at the tip of the peninsula!
Check out the beautiful sunsets awaiting you at Hedge Hog Harbor. Or travel down the road to check out the winding road! Turn off Kenosha Drive to the Town Park and head down the newly built stairs along the cliff. It’s a fun easy descent and you will have a private commune with nature! The kids will love it!
My other most favorite shop in Door County is this delicious pie shop. Grab a pie for your visit but don’t forget to come back and take a few frozen pies home when your stay is over. These pies do make the long drive back, but if they don’t, take one anyway and bake it at the house you are staying. Four Berry is my very favorite!
There’s plenty to do in Door County! These are just a few things I like to do on our way up. We live in Gills Rock so we’ve stopped at all of these places along the way, sometimes not arriving at our destination until sunset. Getting there is part of the journey, right? So why not take advantage of the drive and make it memorable too!?