This Door County Weekend Itinerary assumes you will arrive on Thursday and leave on Sunday (giving your two full days to enjoy Door County from sunrise to sunset) but feel free alter it to accommodate your visit. It also assumes you do not have cooking facilities in your bed and breakfast.
What to Pack
I know you are probably a seasoned pro at traveling with kids, but as someone who is up almost every weekend of the year, I have found a few things very necessary.
- Picnic blanket
- Extra blankets (You’ll need them if you are at the drive-in or spending some time outside in the evening. It gets cool in Door County at night.)
- Flashlights, sparklers or glow sticks (No evening in Door County is complete without these nighttime brights.)
- Layers of clothing… shorts, pants, long sleeves and short sleeves (Even though it’s warm during the day, Door County breezes and evenings cool things off.)
- Shoes with closed-toes for the kiddos (hiking)
- Crocs for the kiddos (easy on/easy off and SAND… need I say more?)
- Extra towels and swimsuits that you keep in the car, just in case. Afterall, the water is so close and you don’t want to miss an opportunity to put your toes in, which leads to knees, which leads to… if you have kids, you understand where this goes.
Door County Weekend Itinerary
Arrival: Stop at a Roadside Market for Cherry Pie
As you enter Door County Peninsula, you will see several markets and orchards on the side of the road. I highly recommend stopping on your way in for some fresh fruit and slices of pie. Save the pie! You’ll need it later on your first night!
Looking for a great place to eat out? Here are some suggestions for a Thursday evening dinner with your family depending on where you’re staying.
Wild Tomato (Sister Bay)
Thursdays are a better bet for dinner here as the crowds flock to this delicious pizzeria. The best part is its location: on the water and next to the park. Kiddos can roam the playground and parents can keep an eye on them while waiting for a table. It doesn’t get any more family-friendly than this!
There’s also a location in Fish Creek.
Casey’s BBQ and Smoke House (Egg Harbor)
Casey’s is casual dining at its best. Casey’s uses a Southern Pride Smoker with Door County Cherry Wood and a signature dry rub and slowly smokes their meats, resulting in an unforgettable smokey flavor and a pink cast to their smoked meats. The meat is so tender and flavorful; you won’t even need the BBQ sauce! The fries are served piping hot. Prices are reasonable, and there is outdoor seating with lots of open grassy areas — perfect for kids. If you’re feeling adventurous, order their Smoked Whiskey Old Fashion with smoked maraschino cherries!
The Cookery (Fish Creek)
The Cookery is a great American style restaurant that is very family-friendly. The food is excellent, albeit a bit more pricey. The wait is not too bad during the week, but if there is one, kiddos and family can wait outside the restaurant on a few benches. Bring a ball that is soft (as opposed to a softball) to toss around while you wait, or walk across the street to the tiny playground. As long as your cell phone can receive calls (reception is spotty in Door County), you won’t miss when your table is ready.
Dessert & Sunset
Door County Pie
Did you get a chance to pick up a pie at any of the orchards on the way up? If so, spread out a blanket, dig in, and watch the sunset at any number of places.
Breakfast: At Your B&B
If your bed & breakfast or cottage serves breakfast, take advantage. Tomorrow I have a couple great breakfast places to choose from.
Morning: Peninsula State Park
There are several ways to explore the park so I’ll give you a few options.
Bike / Rent a Bike
If you brought your own bikes you’re all set. You may want to park outside the park unless you have a State Park Permit. Daily permits can be purchased on site.
Renting a bike? You can stop at Nor Door across the street from the southern entrance to the park and get fitted for a bike. The folks at Nor Door are super friendly and helpful; their bikes are in tip-top shape, and they will make sure you have the right bike for each kiddo in the family. You can also rent a bike from Edge of Park (they are right in the southern entrance to the park); I’ve heard great things about them, but I have not rented a bike from them.
One thing to note: you’ll be sharing the trails with walkers/hikers on many of the paths.
Sunset Bike Trail is approximately 5 miles and keeps your bikes off the roads.
Stop in at the Park Station and pick up a trail map. All of the walks/hikes are pretty nice and somewhat easy. Most of the trails will accommodate a stroller too. The trails are wide in most places and clear of overgrowth. You share the trails with bikers so be aware. Trails stop and start at various points in the park so you may need to bring the car into the park. A park sticker is required.
Peninsula Park has 8 miles of shoreline so you can definitely cover a lot of ground if you drive through the park. There are plenty of places to stop and look out at the water or even go for a short hike. Eagle Bluff Light House is a cool attraction. Visitors are now welcome to step inside as there’s a little gift shop. You can also check out the White Cedar Nature Center with your kiddos. Door County Boy loves to check out the large stuffed black bear and the huge light-up map of the park. There are field guides and other kids’ items for sale there as well.
Other things to check out:
Lunch: Fish Creek
Since you’re close by, I recommend walking around Fish Creek for lunch. There are a number of wonderful places and you’ll be sure to find something the suits your family’s needs.
Afternoon: Mini Golf at Red Putter
To the north of Peninsula State Park are a few miniature golf places — all of them we’ve tried and enjoyed more than once! I’m recommending the Red Putter today because it’s fairly inexpensive and the holes are a blast. You’ll be able to locate it quite easily — look for the oversized white rocking chair! Red Putter is old-school with one-of-a-kind holes with delightful challenges. At just $4 a game, it’s definitely affordable.
There are two other mini golf courses further north of Peninsula State Park, Pirates Cover, and Johnson’s Park. Door County Boy and I have played at these several times over the years. Pirate’s Cove has spectacularly themed holes, and Johnson’s Park has a batting cage and go-karts.
Dinner: Wild Tomato or Lure
If you haven’t already had dinner at Wild Tomato, please do so tonight. Otherwise, check out Lure. Friday night speciasl include a Perch Fish Fry with Cherry Pie for a reasonable price. Lure specializes in seafood of course, but the menu has many other options, including a children’s menu.
There are a number of other great places to dine in Sister Bay and I recommend checking any of them out!
Dessert: Door County Ice Cream Factory
I will say it again, no trip to Door County is complete without a trip to the Door County Ice Cream Factory. You can find a small scoop shop in downtown Sister Bay, but if you’d like more flavors, drive to the north side of town to stop in their main shop. Deaths Door Chocolate and Door County Cherry are incredible!
Whatever you do tonight, do not miss the sunset. If possible, grab your dessert before the sun goes down and watch the sunset while enjoying the ice cream. If you go to the main shop, you can walk down the road to catch the sunset with ice cream cones in tow. If you were at the scoop shop, head to the Sister Bay Marina. Kids can play on the playground afterward to run off some of their sugar. This is also a good opportunity to use those blankets I suggested you bring.
Pack for the day
- Swimsuits, beach towels, and beach toys
- A change of clothing for dinner, unless you plan to head back to your room or cottage after the beach
- If you are planning on heading to the drive-in as suggested below, no doubt you and the kids will be glad you brought along pillows, stuffed animals, and PJs.
Breakfast Outside: Good Eggs
It’s California surf life meets midwest eggs & cheese. Imagine that. Affordable, fun AND delicious! Serving only wraps, you’ll love how easy it is to feed the family (no mess). Eating is outside only, and if you like, order ahead via their awesome app and grab a blanket and head to the beach (it’s right across the street, almost). Good Eggs will notify you when your order is ready. Trust me; you’ll love this place!
Shopping: Beach People
Since you’re close by, head over to Beach People and pick up a few fun things to use for the day like a ball that bounces on water, squirt guns, floats or parachute men. Kids will explore in this store, dads will enjoy the outdoor seating area and the whole family will have fun playing bean bag toss or badminton in their front yard.
Beach: Ephraim’s Beach
Head over to Ephraim’s Beach. It’s not a large beach, instead the beach is small and quiet (most of the time). The best things about this beach:
- shallow forever — great for little ones!
- super clean water
- soft sand
- shower for your feet
- restrooms with working plumbing
- changing area
- beautiful view of Peninsula State Park — if you’re lucky you might even see an eagle fly overhead to the park!
Dinner: Gibraltar Grill in Fish Creek
Since you’re heading to the drive-in tonight, plan for an early dinner and someplace close. I recommend keeping it simple for dinner since a day at the beach tends to tire everyone out. Rushing to a nice meal leads to stress. Who needs that on vacay?!! If you can cook at the place you’re staying, go for it. But if you want a delicious meal prepared for you, head to Gibraltar Grill in Fish Creek. This place seriously has the best burger on the peninsula. There are other options too, and sometimes even live music (Cookie the folk singer or another lone artist cooing while you dine).
Movie: Door County Drive-In
If the family is not already worn out from a fabulous day in Door County Heaven, then head on south on 42 to the Skyway Drive-in for a double feature. That’s right, two movies for the price of one, although younger humans will be fast asleep for the second show. Plan to arrive early so kids can take advantage of the playground beneath the giant screen (and you can avoid the long line to get in). If you do arrive early enough, snag a seat on the bench up front. With pillows, lots of blankets and stuffed animals, this makes for a perfect way to see a movie. If you’re lucky, you may even see a shooting star. And don’t forget the popcorn!! OH SO GOOD.
Pssst. Don’t forget the bug spray either!